nostalgia wrestling

Paul's Memorable Moments in Wrestling #2

2:05:00 PMPaul Clemente

This piece of wrestling history was again, a point in time where I was young enough to believe in the brutal ballet that came on TV twice a week. I remember watching this story unfold with utter disbelief as I haven't seen anything like this in pro wrestling at the time.

It was 1992, the Pirates had a division title, Super Nintendo was eating away hours of my life, and this man debuted in the WWF:





Keep in mind wrestlers during that age usually looked like this:



Papa Shango was scary as hell. He came out to creepy music, he had a smoking skull wand, and did this weird seizure where his mouth would flutter while his eyes would roll in the back of his head. He captivated my young imagination, as he debuted on Sunday morning Superstars (which was on i notch above mute on the TV to avoid our parents catching us watching such "filth") 

Back then a wrestling roster was not big enough to maintain quality matches throughout a whole show, and two actual superstars fighting eachother was a huge deal. Usually Sunday's program was filled with a mid-level card guy beating up the Brooklyn Brawler. Papa Shango took on a no name jobber, and besides his actual appearance, I lost interest quick.

Until this happened:


I looked at Ian with disbelief. Did he just set that dude on fire? How? Why? What?! I needed to see what was next from this guy. What will he do next? How do I buy his action figure? I need answers!

Then came Wrestlemania 8, where the new huge bad guy Sid turned on Hogan by changing his name from "Justice" to "Viscous" after he left Hogan hanging during a tag team match. Bret Hart was coming into the spotlight with a 5 star match against Piper. Randy Savage fought WWF newcomer Ric Flair, and Undertaker was turning into a good guy by stopping a Jake Roberts attack on Miss Elizabeth. It was going to be a good card, and Ian and I had a poorly constructed plan to watch the scrambled PPV that night.

It was the main event, and I don't care what you say back then EVERYONE was a Hulk Hogan fan. Hogan was going through his match theatrics against a sloppy Sid, and for no reason this happened:


There were so many strange things about this, first why Papa Shango came in the first place. I chalked it up to him just being evil, but he had no beef with anyone. It was so random, and between the scrambled technicolor blurs of the show, I really had to ask the next day if what I saw was correct.

Secondly, the Ultimate Warrior coming back. He was gone (fired) for almost a whole year, and wrestling tends to be very good about burying your memory of a departed superstar. He was also rumored to be dead, (before the internet) so as a kid I believed it. So the Warrior coming back was a huge deal, and him coming to the rescue of the top dog Hogan was an even bigger deal.

Now Shango was pissed that the Ultimate Warrior stopped him from beating up Hogan and thwarting his plan to .... well who knows why that all happened. 

The line was clearly crossed according to Mr. Shango:


Things were a little quiet for a few days and The Warrior took on Brian Knobbs of The Nasty Boyz. It was a nothing match as no one really beat The Warrior unless it was on PPV. Brian Knobbs pulled off Warriors wrist guard showed it to the crowd and stomped it in front of a tempermental crowd. The match went on for a handful of sluggish minutes until this happened:


What was he doing?! What was he going to do?! I need answers! 

The Warrior beat Brian Knobbs, and did his victory tour of the squared circle, and Papa Shango was back! This time shit got crazy. It was spell time for Shango:


Now thinking this was just a psyche out tactic I blew it off as just that. The Warrior then grabbed his stomach in pain and collapsed to the floor writhing in pain. I was shocked (and 12) and they had some suits from the back some to the ring and assist The Warrior, which was then a tactic only reserved for the most severe emergencies. The helped an injured Warrior to the back leaving me wondering, what on earth was going on. 

Then we got an update:


Even at an early age I though vomiting was funny, but this creeped me the hell out. The invincible Ultimate Warrior actually (lol) puking on the "physicians" which tried to valiantly remedy a stomach cramp with a stethoscope.

So next week I had, had, had, to see what The Ultimate Warrior had to say about the curse. Was it real? Would it happen again? Well if anyone can "Mean" Gene Oakerlund was gonna get to the bottom of it. Then during the interview haunted me for years:


What in the Holy Hell was that?! Black Blood? Seeing Warrior "act" stunned and scared really threw me through a loop. The Warrior was this unstoppable force who squashed everyone in his way, and now hes scared of something? This was getting too crazy for me.

Next week, needless to say Shango was at the top of my interest. He had a match against some jabroni, and I knew The Warrior would have to extract revenge. Shango went into curse mode:


He just set that dude on fire! What?! I've never seen anything like that before, and although a bit silly now; I was genuinely concerned about Papa Shango's regard for human life. I was so entralled with these events around Shango where I could not turn away.

Ever the professional "Mean" Gene, wanted to figure out once and for all what is going on. This man was gonna ask the tough questions, and demand the answers we all deserve by now. "Mean" Gene was sometimes the victim of a little hazing, but he's untouchable right? I mean, he wasn't a wrestler, the man was just trying to do the job he's paid to do ....


Cursing "Mean" Gene was like breaking the fourth wall. Shit was serious now. Something needed done. That man obviously was not Chris Hahn:



The Warrior enlisted the help of The Undertaker to take out both the Bezerker and Shango. Bezerker tried to stab Undertaker with a sword so the beef was fresh and the match was heavily anticipated. The match was a 7 minute clusterfuck of oversized oafs axehandeling eachother to death. 

At least there was some HUSS HUSS HUSS:


Anyways they squared off for a few weeks taking their match on tour all over the place, having the Warrior squash Shango. It ended very anti-climactically with the final match not even making it to TV. It was released on Home Video, and somehow no one cared. Not even me. 

I later found out the Warrior failed a drug test, and really couldn't take the story any further. The Warrior was fired a few months later. 

Papa Shango tooled around the WWF for a little under a year, where he had a few failed title shots even with Bret Hart and Tantanka. They started to bury his character by making curses "illegal" (no joke) and he faded away right after being on the first ever Monday Night RAW.

I guess what connected me the most to this angle was the uniqueness of it all. Before Papa Shango the The Warrior was made to be invincible; no one beat him, but Shango was the first guy to make him look weak and powerless. The stunts performed during this storylline were cheesy now, but to a 12 year old kid, and in a time where wrestling wasn't outted like it was in the late 90's it was pretty terrifying. Just being that involved with a story line in wrestling is what made it special. Yes, it looking back it was a silly circus, but for a few months it was real to me.


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