The Latest Episodes of INSIGHT with Chris Van Vliet
Feb. 1, 2022

WWE Hall of Famer The Godfather Is An Absolute Legend

WWE Hall of Famer The Godfather Is An Absolute Legend


Charles Wright is better known as The Godfather (@thegodfather). He is a WWE Hall of Famer and also performed under the names Papa Shango, Kama Mustafa and The Goodfather with Right to Censor. He joins Chris Van Vliet at the Blue Wire Studios in Las Vegas to talk about his legendary career, his friendship with The Undertaker, being discovered working as a bartender at a strip club, having his first wrestling match against Jerry "The King" Lawler, his time in the faction "Right to Censor" with Ivory, Stevie Richards, Val Venis and Bull Buchanan, being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and much more!

 

It’s awesome that we get to do this in person. How long have you been in Vegas?

“I moved to Vegas in 1984. I just got out of college playing football, and I moved down here from northern California.”

I think it’s amazing that you have been so many characters. I’m curious, which character did you pitch and you thought ‘This is absolutely going to work.’ And maybe it didn’t.

“Well the one that did was The Godfather. It was not pitched to me, my wife came up with it. It wasn’t that I should be a pimp, but she said ‘If you can make people see you for who you really are. You are not a voodoo man, you are not an ultimate fighter, you are not a nation member. Just be who you are, we are sitting on something there.’ I didn’t want to be a pimp, I hated pimps. But everything she asked me to do that I didn’t want to do, it worked. The Godfather was never pitched to me. My wife and I came up with it on our own. At the time I am in the Nation of Domination, and they are building The Rock. So me and D’Lo Brown are just walking to the ring with the Rock, and when it was time for Undertaker or Steve Austin to do the finish, we are feeding into it, that’s all we are doing. So my contract was coming up, and I’ve got to come up with something different, I’m still under contract with WWE to this day. So we grew out my hair, built this character and it kind of just took off. I was wrestling Bradshaw, and I am Kama Mustafa. It’s the popcorn match, the one that no one cares about. So we are beating the hell out of each other for 12 minutes, and I said to Bradshaw ‘Let’s try something different.’ So we went to the agent, Jack Lanza, and we tried something. 

So I went out there with no girls and said ‘People, I’m just gonna come out and say it, I’m a pimp.’ [Chris laughs] See how you laughed there? Everyone laughed. We went out there for 12 minutes and no one cares. But that night I say ‘I’m a pimp. And right here in Cleveland, Ohio, you have some of the best ho’s ever born!’ Now I have no girls with me, I offer John [Bradshaw] the girls instead of fighting me. I don’t have girls, I say they are in the back or in the limo, and people are chanting ‘Take the ho’s! Take the ho’s!’ We were getting no reaction and now they are chanting. So he goes to the back and start going ‘Stupid redneck.’ They start booing me. John comes back, hits me with the clothesline, 1,2,3. I get up, put on that hat and say ‘Man, pimping ain’t easy.’ And the place would pop. We did it 2 times on the road, and we get to TV, Vince pulls me into his office and says ‘Charles we might be onto something here.’ 

You hadn’t pitched this to Vince yet?

“Nope. I was there as Kama and Rock did all the talking. I said to him ‘Rock, call me The Godfather.’ He’s like ‘What?’ I said ‘Just call me The Godfather.’ So he goes ‘My man here The Godfather…’ And once he did that, everyone called me The Godfather, nothing to do with the WWE. Vince then came to me, and I’m known to know my way around a strip club or 2. When I came here in 1984, I was from The Crazy Horse. The guy who owned it before me had his head cut off and they found it in the desert.”

Can you rank your other characters from most over to least over in your opinion?

“In my opinion, The Godfather by far is the most over. Then Papa Shango, Kama in The Nation of Domination, Kama the Supreme Fighting Machine, and last and very least The Goodfather, I hated that.”

When they told you that you would be joining Right To Censor, did you think they were joking?

“I knew it was coming, because that’s when Vince went public and had people to answer to. They were going from cable to network, and they were cutting out DX with the ‘Suck it!’ They were cutting out the puppies, this and that, and they were after me! You had this black guy calling girls ho’s, talking about how pimping ain’t easy and telling people to smoke weed!”

I think between yourself and Val Venis there were a lot of issues there.

“We were a tag team for a bit called Supply and Demand. Those were the days.”

I think the people now don’t realize that RTC [Right to Censor] was the PTC, basically taking a stand and saying ‘We don’t believe in what you guys stand in.

“Right, and I hated it. As soon as they told me what I was doing, that was why you would see me come and go all of the time. I always had the strip clubs here in Vegas, so I always had means of making money. So when I was not having fun and not making money, I would leave. I would go to Vince and I would say ‘Hey Vince. It’s time for me to go.’ He would just laugh and say ‘OK Charles. We will call you in a year or so and see if you want to come back.’ And that was how that would go.”

Did you think at any point in time that The Godfather would be a Hall of Fame character?

“It depends how you would look at it. Money wise, yes. Even though it was a mid-card character, it was over like a top character. It sold a lot of merchandise, still sells merchandise, and when I go to these signings, there are still people who want to see The Godfather, which is so cool.”    

So when did the girls first start to appear on TV?

“Vince says to me ‘Charles. Do you think you could go and get some girls?’ I’m like ‘Vince are you joking? Me and Taker are in the strip clubs every night.’ So I go and grab The Undertaker, and we go to a strip club, this is during the day, we grab 3 or 4 girls and take them back to the WWE/F, they sign them, pay them, we take them on tv and they [WWE] don’t ask me anything, just tell me to do what you do. I was doing the same thing I was doing with Bradshaw, but just with girls. And I swear I went from walking through an airport and maybe some people notice you, to the next day, people are like ‘Godfather! Where are the ho’s?’ It got over the second it got on TV.”

So walk me through this pitch with you and The Undertaker at the strip club?

“Well more than likely we were there the night before, so they probably knew who we were. But it wasn’t hard. And after the first time that we did it, Vince took it over. And Bruce Prichard, it was his job to get the girls. He would just call a strip club and ask them to send girls. It got over so fast that the strip clubs would then call the WWE and say ‘Hey, you’re in Connecticut, we would love to supply the girls.’ And WWE would pay the girls good. But then the girls started getting crazy on TV, so Vince was like ‘We need to back off on these strippers a bit.’ So instead we started getting actresses, and let me tell you, the actresses were worse than the strippers. But it was just a good time bro.”

When did you realize that The Godfather was not going to work anymore with the way that the world was shifting?

“When they said you can’t be on Saturday morning, you can’t be on Sunday morning, you can’t be on Monday until after 9pm. You can’t say this, you can’t say that, you can’t call the ho’s, say pimping ain’t easy or tell people to smoke weed. Vince said ‘Charles I’m fighting for you, but they are coming for you bro.’ And I knew that they were. They called me into that office, said ‘This is what we are going to do [Right To Censor].’ I said ‘I’m not having fun anymore, I’m out.’ And I told the wrong people, and somebody told Vince that I was quitting. Next thing you know, Bull [Buchanan] and I are the Tag Team Champions, and I’m not going to leave with the belt. So they kept me there a little bit longer, but as soon as the belts were off I was out of there.”

Was there animosity from going from such an over character with The Godfather to Right To Censor and getting the heel heat?

“My answer is that I hated all of it. But it’s nobody’s fault, it was just hard. I know it is a work, but just going out all those years and being yourself and not just a character, and you are having fun. All of a sudden they take it away from you, I remember being in that office with Vince. I asked him ‘So no more ho’s?’ He said ‘No more ho’s.’ So I said again ‘No more ho’s?!’ I said it like 4 times. I didn’t want to be there no more it wasn’t fun and it was time to go. They tried to bring him back later as an escort and the girls were no longer called ho’s.”

I heard you took a lot of frustrations out on Stevie Richards, but it’s no fault of his, right?

“No none of it is. And I haven’t seen him since. But if I ever see him, and I’m not a bully, but I wasn’t nice to him. I was in a bad place and I blamed him.”

Did you smoke a lot of weed back then too?

“Oh yeah. I tried cannabis at 27 years old. I am Papa Shango, taking Vicodin, Percocet, drinking Jack Daniels with it all, but cannabis? No I ain’t taking that stuff. I tried it at 27 and things don’t hurt as bad as they used to. I’m like, you know what? We went to eat and it was the best burger that I ever had. It made me less mean, more creative and a more positive person. I always tell people what marijuana has done for me, it might not do it for you, but I don’t take painkillers, eat better and stay positive.”  

How much pain do you think you would be in without marijuana?

“I would be a mess. I would be on pain pills and drinking a whole lot more. But the CBDs and all that stuff really works for me, but I do have a large intake. I smoke a lot, more than RVD.”

How much wrestling would you say you have done while you were medicated?

“Well I have smoked it every day of my life since I was 27 so take it from there. I function well on it, I have had 10 dabs, 10 bong hits and 3 joints today. Like I said, it works for me.”

I feel like you would be a great Royal Rumble entrant.

“No. They tried to get me, but no. I couldn’t do it right now. It has been a few years but they have always been interested in me coming out first as Kama with the haircut, then go back and come back as Papa Shango bald. Then come back as Godfather with the girls at the end. They have talked about it but they have a problem with the girls now.”

Can you take me back to the Over The Edge pay-per-view? You were supposed to face The Blue Blazer that night. At what point did you realize that something was wrong?

“Owen, I had spent that whole day with Owen, he was such a great dude bro. I mean when I went to Japan for the first time, I was in Japan for 6 months and Owen was there. He taught me how to take the train, order food and get to the Dojo. I then spent 7 months in Germany and Owen was there, he taught me the same thing, get transportation, order cabs, he was such a great dude. He was supposed to do his thing first and I was then going to come out with the girls. I was behind the curtain and I was doing my normal ‘OK girls…’ I had a normal speech because every now and then the girls would fall or trip and they would feel embarrassed. So I would tell them ‘If you fall then this is what we are going to do. Don’t worry, you can’t do anything wrong, whatever you do, I will cover it. Just have fun.’ I was going through that speech where I was like the most important thing is to be fun and to have fun, don’t worry about anything else. Then all of a sudden whoever was over here [motions to the left], I want to say Bruce Prichard said ‘Owen fell.’ I said ‘Owen what?’ He then said ‘Owen just fell!’ It didn’t register, I’m like ‘Owen fell from what?’ And then everything went down. I see him when they wheeled him through the curtain and I was just like wow. My wife remembers more than me, because I guess I called her right after and I told her everything, and I don’t remember a lot of the things that I said, I was probably a little bit in shock. But he was a good due man, that was just sad.”

There is obviously a lot of chaos, and your match now is not happening. Who made the call to say the match isn’t on?

“At that point you can’t just put a match together like that with the girls, you have to at least script some of it. I don’t remember a lot of it to be honest.”

Wasn’t he going to win the Intercontinental Title?

“Yes. He was going to win because they realized that they put the title on me, but on me the title didn’t mean anything because I have the girls. All the title was, because I had such a show, not a wrestling show but a Godfather show. It had nothing to do with the wrestling, it was the before and after part that people wanted to see. It was something for the girls to carry out, so they were going to take it off of me and put it on Owen.”   

What do you think is the thing that people will most remember you for?

“I think it’s got to be The Godfather, the personality and the body of work. I’ve been involved as Papa Shango with The Ultimate Warrior, in The Nation with The Rock, then the Godfather, I was always in the mix. If you look at my body of work, I deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. I might have not been the most polished wrestler, but I was a hell of an entertainer.”

I end every interview talking about gratitude. What are 3 things that you are grateful for?

"My family, my life and my dogs."

Image credits: WWE