The Godfather has been announced as the second inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016. The announcement was made on the February 22, 2016 edition of WWE Monday Night RAW.
Godfather (born Charles Wright) does not have the stereotypical Hall of Fame worthy career full of high profile main events, World Championships and worldwide accolades. But in a Hall of Fame decided on essentially by the whims of Vince McMahon and top WWE brass, The Godfather makes total sense.
He began training to become a pro wrestler after other wrestlers noticed his size and unique tattooed look. He cut his teeth in Jerry Lawler’s USWA territory in Memphis in the early ‘90s before getting the call to the big leagues of the WWF.
In early 1992, Wright debuted in the company as Papa Shango, a voodoo priest dressed like Baron Samedi, a legend in voodoo lore. He made his first big appearance at WrestleMania VIII and then embarked on a rivalry with fellow Hall of Famer Ultimate Warrior. It was in this rivalry that Shango that used “voodoo spells” to taunt Warrior. But ultimately the rivalry went nowhere and Shango was left directionless through the end of 1992 and into the first half of 1993. He disappeared from the WWF in late 1993.
A year later he returned to the company in a completely new role. Gone were the voodoo and the face paint and in were a crew cut and a singlet. He was now christened Kame “The Supreme Fighting Machine,” an early take on a UFC-style MMA character. He was almost unrecognizable to young fans except for the upper body tattoos that were a dead giveaway. He joined Ted DiBiase’s “Million $ Corporation” and feuded primarily with The Undertaker throughout 1995. After that rivalry ended, he faded away and left the company again in early 1996.
He returned to the company once again a year and a half later, in the summer of 1997. Now known as Kama Mustafa, he joined Faarooq’s black militant group called The Nation of Domination. He was the enforcer of The Nation for a year, until the summer of 1998 when the members of the stable starting expanding their own personalities. Kama became known as “The Godfather of The Nation,” which quickly dropped to simply “The Godfather.”
Even quicker The Godfather became his announced in-ring name. His character became even more pronounced. In addition to the sunglasses, jewelry, cigars and fedoras, Godfather began bringing “hoes” with him to ringside. He would offer his ladies to his opponents in exchange for not wrestling him. By the start of 1999, the gimmick had been turned up to eleven and Godfather was adorned in garish clothes, and his entourage grew larger and larger. In the wild days of the “Attitude” era, Godfather was a wildly over fan favorite and his entire shtick was a huge hit.
He even won the prestigious Intercontinental Championship at the Backlash pay per view in April 1999 and held it for a brief period. He was still wildly popular but as the clock turned to the new millennium, his character drew criticism from the Parents Television Council. To combat that, Godfather was repackaged into The Goodfather, a man who renounced his old ways and joined The Right to Censor. The stable was wildly hated by WWE crowds, but was successful in that regard. At one point Goodfather won the World Tag Titles with Bull Buchanan.
Once the WCW InVasion took place in the summer of 2001, Wright disappeared from WWE TV. He returned again at Royal Rumble ’02, but this time The Godfather was legit. He was now part of a legal escort service. Not surprisingly the new character did not get over well and he disappeared again shortly thereafter.
Over the years since then, Godfather has made sporadic appearances on WWE TV, usually to a great surprise “pop” from the audiences. He has never made a full-time return to pro wrestling since then.
When it comes to WWE, Charles Wright was a loyal foot soldier for many years for the company. Over the years he worked four (or five) distinct characters while part of the organization and found success throughout. He was incredibly well liked backstage and drew a reaction on-screen. He is certainly not the first choice that comes to mind when thinking of WWE Hall of Fame candidates, but according to WWE’s internal guidelines, he certainly fits the bill.
He joins Sting as a member of this year’s announced inductees. His long-time travel partners John “Bradshaw” Layfield and Ron Simmons (also known as Bradshaw and Faarooq of The Acolytes) will do the honors to induct him. This year’s Hall of Fame ceremony will be held on April 2, 2016, inside the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas. This is the night before WrestleMania XXXII.