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Circa

2.28.02
Black History Month:
Pro Wrestling's Black Stars, Part 4

By DENNY BURKHOLDER
WrestleLine.com

This is the fourth and final part in Circa's look at the history of black performers in pro wrestling, in recognition of Black History Month in the United States. If you missed the first three installments highlighting the pioneering black wrestlers from the late 1800s through the 1980s, just click the links at the bottom of this column.

In the 1990s, wrestling evolved beyond the old school mentality and became more athletic and more sensational. As a result, the business experienced its biggest boom yet, and is still in pretty good shape to this day. The 1990s was also a hallmark decade for black pro wrestlers, some of whom went straight to the top. Likewise, the new millennium has already yielded many excellent prospects to lead the industry for years to come.

THE 1990s

RON "FAAROOQ" SIMMONS

Don't step to Ron: with power and finesse, Ron Simmons has run through competition in the ring just like he did as a star player for the Florida State Seminoles football team under Bobby Bowden. FSU retired Simmons' jersey in the early 90s. Don't be surprised to see him honored someday for his wrestling accomplishments as well.

Ron Simmons' college football career was evidence enough that he was a highly gifted athlete. He used that talent to hit pay dirt in 1992, when he became the first black world heavyweight champion of a Bill Watts-run WCW by defeating Big Van Vader.

Simmons' career has been decorated with other titles, from tag team titles in WCW (with Butch Reed, as masked maulers Doom) and the WWF (with Bradshaw) to the Florida State championship in 1986, his first major win as a pro.

Simmons is still a major player in the WWF as Faarooq, one half of the APA team with Bradshaw. He's still in great shape, and more titles are certainly not out of the question for this superstar. In fact, the APA head into WrestleMania X-8 in three weeks the heavy favorites to win the WWF Tag Titles one more time. "Damn," indeed.

BOOKER T

In 2001, the WWF purchased WCW, and a lot of great talent fell by the wayside. Some were accepted into the fold, but haven't found a niche yet. It's safe to say that Booker T - with a steady presence in the upper card, a few title reigns, merchandise, and endorsements - has enjoyed the most success of any WCW-turned-WWF wrestler in the past year. Can you dig THAT, sucka?

Booker T (Booker Huffman) became just the second black world champion of WCW with a win over Jeff Jarrett at Bash at the Beach 2000. Booker would be a crucial part of the world title picture for most of 2000 before taking some time off to heal in late 2000. It was long road for Booker, who spent most of his career in a very successful tag team with his real-life brother, Stevie Ray (Lane Huffman).

Booker T and Stevie Ray were one of the most decorated tag teams of the past 10 years in WCW as Harlem Heat, winning the WCW tag titles on 10 occasions. Harlem Heat is the most successful black tag team in modern wrestling history.

The brothers gained their first glimpse of the big time as The Ebony Experience in the Global Wrestling Federation in 1990. It was in these pre-WCW days with Global and other indies that Booker first used the infamous gimmick "G.I. Bro," which was briefly revived in WCW just prior to his big title win. When brought into WCW, they became Harlem Heat - Kane and Kole. They'd soon ditch "Kane and Kole" for "Booker T and Stevie Ray." Years later, in 1997 and 1998, Booker T would get his first real shot at singles glory. He turned heads with a best-of-seven series with Chris Benoit, and it became apparent Booker had the tools reach the top.

Now a key player in the WWF, he's already carved out his slice of the spotlight in feuds with The Rock, Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Rob Van Dam and other worthy opponents. He's selling TV dinners and Chef Boyardee Beefaroni (Beef-A- ROONIE?) in TV spots, and he can pop a crowd just by staring into the palm of his hand. The Book is here to stay.

As for big brother...

STEVIE RAY

Stevie Ray's singles career has been a far cry from Booker's, but the legacy of Harlem Heat alone makes Stevie Ray a success story. Although his brother has accomplished more in the ring, many fans consider Stevie Ray a solid "sports entertainer" himself, a skill he employed with some success in WCW, from Harlem Heat, to a stand with the New World Order faction, to his stint as a color commentator in 2000.

Stevie Ray is especially good with promos, and some of his sayings have become cult favorites among fans. His opponents were always "fruit booties," and the less desirable women in the audience were always "yaks." And of course, Stevie Ray's philosophy on asking touchy questions of other wrestlers was a simple, but affective one: "Because suckas gots to know."

And since suckas really DO gots to know, Stevie Ray has been working sporadic indie dates, but is essentially retired from the ring. He was recently featured on the first World Wrestling All-Stars pay-per-view show, taped in Australia in September 2001.

THE ROCK

What can be said about The Rock that you don't already know? Probably very little, but this tribute would surely be incomplete without the presence of The Great One.

In six short years, he evolved from a rookie babyface enduring unsolicited chants of "Rocky Sucks" to a bona fide WWF icon that holds those same crowds in the palm of his hand wherever he performs. He's perhaps the best wrestler of the past decade at cutting promos, he is unselfish in putting over his opponents, and his ring work gets better with each passing year. All that and a budding career in Hollywood to boot. Here's where it all started:

Duane Johnson is a third-generation wrestler, with mixed black and Samoan heritage. His grandfather is late WWF wrestler "High Chief" Peter Maivia, and his father is former WWF and NWA star Rocky Johnson. The Rock played football at the University of Miami before deciding to follow in his father's footsteps as a wrestler.

After a short stint in the USWA as "Flex Kavana," The Rock headed north to Connecticut, and the rest is history. Many titles and smackdowns later, the millions... and millions... have helped make The Rock one of the biggest stars the sport has ever seen.

And in case you've been out of the loop (Under a Rock? No, that's too easy), The Rock is currently slated to face Hollywood Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X-8, in a match that will pit two of the WWF's biggest stars of all time (arguably THE biggest, although The Rock's chapter isn't finished yet) against each other, one-on-one. That much charisma in the same ring could possibly melt your TV screen. please view with caution.

AHMED JOHNSON (TONY "BIG T" NORRIS)

Tony Norris was the first black WWF Intercontinental Champion as Ahmed Johnson in 1996. The former Dallas Cowboy quickly became popular for his ability to utterly wreck an opponent, finishing him off with his "Pearl River Plunge" powerbomb variation. He used several gimmicks and names before assuming the role of "Ahmed" in the WWF, including a stint in the Global Wrestling Federation in the early 90s as "Moadib."

Norris never quite reached his potential in the WWF due to a variety of problems, including frequent injury and increasing worries that he was too careless with the safety of his opponents. Norris took a few years off (except for the occasional indie appearance), finally returning to the spotlight in WCW in 2000 as "Big T," where he teamed with Stevie Ray in a feud with Booker T. That stint lasted just a few months. Time will tell whether Norris will return to the ring on a regular basis.

Norris was recently seen in a VH1 made-for-TV movie about MC Hammer, playing the role of a member of Death Row Records mogul Marion "Suge" Knight's posse.

JACQUELINE/MISS TEXAS

The WWF's Jacqueline has never been much for standing at ringside looking pretty. She has not only set a standard for black woman in pro wrestling, but she was also the first woman to consistently break the sex barrier by insisting on fighting men. Under the name Miss Texas, she taught many male wrestlers in southern independents a thing or two about wrestling, eventually shocking skeptics by winning enough matches to get ranked with the "boys" as a serious competitor.

In fact, Jackie is not only a skilled pro wrestler, but she's also accomplished in the field of Tae Kwan Do. She was kicking inter-gender ass in the squared circle long before Joanie "Chyna" Laurer, and is one of wrestling's under-appreciated stars.

Today, Jackie competes more often against other women. She's even taken up refereeing on the side, making her easily the most buff zebra in the WWF. But without Jackie's leadership and example, women like Chyna would have had a much more difficult time shattering the sex barrier.

THE GODFATHER

The Godfather (Charles Wright) changes gimmicks almost yearly, but his tenure on the WWF roster has been far longer than that of any other current or recent black WWF star.

Wright has been a player in the WWF for about 11 years, with the exception of a brief hiatus here and there. After competing in the USWA as "Soultaker," he entered the WWF in 1991 with the gimmick of shady voodoo master "Papa Shango." From there, the gimmick rotation began. There was Kama, the Supreme Fighting Machine. Then there was Kama Mustafa. Then came The Godfather, complete with a brightly colored pimp outfit and a parade of leggy "hos." The Right To Censor gimmick came to life in 2000, and thus began the clean- cut, tie-wearing "Goodfather" era. In the summer of 2001, he returned to being called "The Godfather," but wasn't dressing like a pimp anymore.

Now it's 2002, and The Godfather is a regular on WWF TV once again, with his bevy of beauties at his side. but the "hos" are now "escorts," and The Godfather is now legit. Did you catch all that?

History dictates that Charles Wright may not be known as "The Godfather" anymore by this time next year... or perhaps even this time next month. Wright might be the only WWF star that could throw his own gimmick battle royal without help from other wrestlers. But as the years pass, nobody can doubt this former Intercontinental Champion's place as one of the longest- standing black stars in the WWF's modern history.

D-LO BROWN

Observers have been raving about D-Lo Brown for years, and rightfully so. With a vibrant personality and the ability to pull off very crisp maneuvers (including a sweet frog splash), D-Lo has been one of the best-kept secrets in wrestling. He has multiple WWF European titles and an IC title to his credit, but to watch D-Lo compete in the ring indicates he's got a lot more in him. As his former theme song states, we're looking at the real deal.

D-Lo teamed with Chaz (formerly Headbanger Mosh) as part of Tiger Ali Singh's Lo-Down stable last year, before moving on the Puerto Rico and making indie appearances in Florida and elsewhere. However, he is still under WWF contract, and has begun working for Les Thatcher's Heartland Wrestling Association, in anticipation of being called back up to the WWF. Here's hoping D-Lo's next run in the big time is a successful one.

2 COLD SCORPIO

Scorpio (Charles Scaggs) is an international star that can adapt easily to any style, be it an aerial assault, hardcore brawling or mat wrestling. He's held titles in ECW and WCW, although he's never won a major singles world title. Scorpio's encounters with the likes of Sabu, Tazz, and Owen Hart have been exciting and memorable.

Stateside, Scorpio's major title wins included reigns as WCW Tag Team Champion (with Marcus "Buff" Bagwell), ECW Tag Team Champion (with The Sandman), and four separate reigns as ECW TV Champion.

Scorpio competed as Flash Funk in the WWF with minimal success before returning to the indy circuit and Japan. Currently, he is working for Mitsuharu Misawa's Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan, known simply as "Scorpio."

NEW JACK

"The Original Gangsta" New Jack is infamous for bringing a diverse assortment of weapons to the ring with him, which he uses to bloody opponents. He is one of the most intimidating stars in wrestling, and spent recent years terrorizing ECW before returning to the independents at the end of 2000.

New Jack (Jerome Young) first gained fame as one-half of tag team The Gangstas (with Mustafa Saed) in the Smoky Mountain organization in the early 90s. Once they arrived in ECW, The Gangstas helped redefine the term "hardcore" in ECW's formative years with violent matches against The Public Enemy, Terry and Dory Funk, and a newly-formed Dudley Boys. New Jack stood out as the utterly fearless Gangsta with his insane leaps from balconies onto his opponents, who would be lying on a table beneath him. New Jack has picked up where black stars such as Abdullah the Butcher left off, maiming any wrestler foolish enough to engage him in combat.

Since ECW's demise, New Jack has worked primarily for California-based XPW. On Saturday, February 23, he defeated Vic Grimes in what was billed as a 40-foot scaffold match.

VISCERA/MABEL

Nelson "Mabel" Frazier debuted in 1991 and teamed with Mo (Bobby Horne) as Harlem Knights in the USWA. The team soon jumped to the WWF as Men on a Mission, with a rapping manager named Oscar.

The duo scored the WWF Tag Team Titles for two days in 1994 and enjoyed moderate success before Mabel turned heel and went solo after winning the 1995 King of the Ring tournament. His stint as King Mabel was short-lived, and he soon returned to the independents. Years later he would resurface in the WWF, first to challenge 1998 King of the Ring Ken Shamrock as Mabel, and later as full-time heel Viscera.

Frazier was released from the WWF in 2001.

SAPPHIRE (JUANITA WRIGHT)

Juanita Wright's moment of wrestling fame was fleeting. But for someone who enjoyed the business as much as she did, it probably meant a great deal to her.

A native of St. Louis, Wright reportedly wrestled in the Missouri area in the mid- 1970s as "Princess Dark Cloud." But she is best remembered as "Sapphire," the spunky fan who became Dusty Rhodes' manager in the WWF in 1990, only to leave him for Ted DiBiase's wealth. Wright even got to wrestle in the "Big One," teaming with Rhodes against Randy Savage and Sherri Martel at WrestleMania VI in 1990. Sapphire scored the winning pinfall over Sherri.

Juanita Wright passed away September 10, 1996, in St. Louis. She was 61.

TEDDY LONG

Teddy Long has been both a referee and manager in his wrestling career, and is currently filling the third man role in the WWF. He refereed for years in the NWA/ WCW, eventually trying his hand at managing.

Long managed the Skyscrapers (Danny Spivey and Sid Vicious) in the late 1980s. He also managed a young Undertaker as "Mean" Mark Callous - first as Sid's Skyscrapers replacement, and later as a singles worker. Long enjoyed his highest profile while managing Doom (Ron Simmons and Butch Reed) and later Johnny B. Badd (Marc Mero) in the early 1990s. He seconded Craig "Pit Bull" Pittman in the mid-1990s, shortly before resuming his refereeing duties.

Affectionately dubbed "Peanut Head," Long remains one of the WWF's top referees in 2002.

VIRGIL/VINCENT

Mike Jones is best known as the right-hand man to many of the biggest names in wrestling in the 1980s and 1990s. Whenever Ted DiBiase stuffed a jobber's mouth with a hundred dollar bill in the late 80s-early 1990s WWF, Jones - as Virgil - was there to snatch it out again. Whenever the New World Order in WCW needed a sacrificial lamb to feel the wrath of their foes, they sent Jones - as Vincent - to do the job.

Jones debuted in 1985 and wrestled as Soul Train Jones, winning the Southern tag team titles with Rocky Johnson in 1987 months before moving on to the WWF and beginning his legacy as a "lackey." However, Jones did get his share of mid- card ring work in both the WWF and WCW, and in the grand scheme of things, ended up a much bigger success in the wrestling business than many people ever do. In 1991, he defeated DiBiase in singles matches at both WrestleMania and SummerSlam.

Jones continues to wrestle for various indie promotions today, usually as Virgil.

NORMAN SMILEY

Norman Smiley has been around for years, but the British grappler only recently gained a great deal of national TV exposure in the United States. He is best known stateside - for better or worse - as "Screamin' Norman," the hardcore wrestler who would much rather do his "Big Wiggle" dance than confront ornery opponents, yet still finds a way to win.

This persona certainly isn't a true reflection of Smiley's bravery. A 15-year ring veteran, Smiley has a great reputation in Europe, Mexico and other corners of the world, where he spent the majority of his pre- WCW career as "Black Magic."

Smiley is currently working for World Wrestling All-Stars, Florida promotions such as Future of Wrestling, and other indies.

D-VON DUDLEY

"D-VON! GET THE TABLES!"

One of the most popular Pavlovian catch phrases in the WWF's recent history has D- Von Dudley (Devon Hughes) all over it. Trained by "The Unpredictable" Johhny Rodz, D-Von Dudley debuted in 1995 and soon found himself a member of one of wrestling's more dysfunctional gimmick families, ECW's Dudley clan. He and Buh Buh Ray broke out as a tag team, scoring eight ECW tag titles while giving the Dudley Death Drop (3D) to the Gangstas, Eliminators, The Public Enemy, The Impact Players and every other team that came through ECW during their run.

Those who doubted D-Von and his partner's chances in the WWF were proven soundly wrong, as the team found itself legitimately contending for the biggest crowd pop at many live shows. Fans seemed to eat up everything the Dudleys did. In just over two years, The Dudleys have notched six reigns with the WWF tag titles, just two short of their ECW total.

In 2001, D-Von and his "half-brother" Buh Buh Ray were reunited with the runt of their clan, Spike, in the WWF. Shortly thereafter, The Dudleys turned heel again, and wound up with the sultry Stacy Keibler as their valet.

As one half of one of the WWF's mainstay tag teams, D-Von should be a major star for years to come.

JAZZ

Following in Jacqueline's footsteps, Jazz arrived on the scene in Extreme Championship Wrestling in 1999, and commenced to beating up any man in her path. Jazz gave Simon Diamond, Jason, Danny Doring and Roadkill plenty of headaches in the ring, and stood in the corner of Justin Credible at one time. When ECW folded in early 2001, many of its male stars fell by the wayside. But Jazz kept fighting, and came from out of nowhere to win a spot on the WWF roster later that year.

Jazz' impact on the WWF was fast and large. She started at the top, viciously attacking then-WWF Women's Champion Trish Stratus until she got her shot at the gold. Initially coming up short, Jazz finally wrestled the belt from Trish, and is the current queen of the WWF ranks.

With an assortment of moves ranging from a Hogan-esque leg drop to a fisherman buster suplex finisher, Jazz may be the most technically gifted female champion the WWF has seen in years. Will she get to display those talents at WrestleMania X-8?

MARK HENRY

Pro wrestlers make plenty of boasts about their skills, but there is reason to believe Mark Henry is legitimately the strongest pro wrestler active today. That's a big reason why the WWF signed him to a whopping 10-year contract in 1996, and recently gave him leave to compete in Arnold Schwarzenegger's World's Strongest Man competition. Six years after his WWF debut, Henry's still got the skills that brought him to the dance: he won the competition.

Henry was a favorite to win a gold medal in power-lifting for the U.S. at the 1996 Olympics before injury thwarted his chances. Many news reports about Henry during the Olympics mentioned his love for professional wrestling, and how a chance meeting with Andre the Giant during his childhood inspired him to pursue that goal. The Olympic dream eluded him, but the WWF did not.

Since that time, Henry has been involved in some of the WWF "Attitude" era's most infamous storylines, from the Nation of Domination faction, to his transformation into "Sexual Chocolate" (and his infatuation with Chyna, his tryst with a transvestite, and his pregnancy scare with the elderly Mae Young).

Henry has been working for the WWF developmental territories for most of the past year, and has lost some excess weight. He is expected to report back to the HWA or OVW and, in due time, the WWF.

OTHER NOTABLE NAMES

Listed below is a sample of other notable black wrestling stars that emerged in the 1990s.

M.I. SMOOTH/ICE TRAIN
CURTIS HUGHES
GANGSTA MUSTAFA
J.T. SMITH
UGANDA/BOTSWANA BEAST/KAMALA II
CRAIG PITTMAN
CLARENCE MASON/MR. BIGGS
MIDNIGHT (ANN MARIE CROOKS)
MO (BOBBY HORNE)
BOBBY WALKER
HARRISON NORRIS

As for the new millennium, some of the following names might break out soon. Some broke out in 2000 and are looking to keep their momentum going. Here are just a few black performers to keep an eye on as the decade progresses.

2000 and BEYOND

MAVEN

Last year, the WWF and MTV announced plans for a reality show in which a house full of young WWF hopefuls trained to become wrestlers as cameras captured their every move - in AND out of the ring. At the end, two lucky contestants - one male, one female - would be awarded a WWF contract. The show was a surprise hit for the WWF and MTV. But for Texas native Maven Huffman, it was the realization of a dream.

Maven is of mixed black and white heritage, though he considers himself black. A former middle school teacher and college baseball standout, Maven improved each week as the cameras spied on his training. Approaching the one-year mark from the time he started training, Maven is still improving, and has enjoyed his share of WWF TV time. Recently, he eliminated WWF icon The Undertaker from the Royal Rumble, defeated him on TV for the Hardcore Title (with assists from Al Snow and The Rock), and worked a SmackDown main event tag team match with Triple H as his partner, against Kurt Angle and The Undertaker. Maven still reigns as WWF Hardcore Champion while the WWF and MTV head into Tough Enough's second season.

Undoubtedly, Maven is still very green and needs plenty of practice before he can be considered a big-time player. But the indications are that Maven is not taking his chance at stardom for granted, and that he is a great person, a hard worker, and a potential asset to the WWF down the road, should they stand by him.

SCOOT ANDREWS

You name the indie, and Scoot Andrews has probably conquered it. The 30-year old Florida native is in spectacular shape and has plenty to boast about when it comes to his wrestling ability. Then again, if you're going to call yourself "Black Nature Boy," you'd better bring the goods.

Perhaps a more fitting nickname for Andrews would be "The Total Package": He's got intelligence (including a college degree in sociology). At 215 pounds, he can wrestle on the mat, he can brawl, or he can keep up with cruiserweights (as evidenced by his recent Super 8 tournament performance). And he's a top name in almost every indie in the United States, from Florida to New England, California to Texas, Missouri to the Mid- Atlantic. Many consider Scoot Andrews one of the top two or three indie wrestlers not signed by the WWF. But with frequent appearances in WWF dark matches and Jakked tapings - and an ever-improving skill level - it may not be long before Scoot Andrews is a household name.

SHARMELL SULLIVAN

The WWF's latest Diva has been limited to backstage interviews and small skits so far. But for someone that's been in the business as briefly as Sharmell Sullivan, she's already worn several hats.

Sullivan broke into the big time as Storm of WCW's Nitro Girls troupe. In 1999, WCW decided to give some of the Nitro Girls more involved roles. Thus, Sharmell was transformed from Storm into sultry valet Paisley, the right-hand female for The Artist (Prince Iaukea) and later Kwee-Wee (Allen Funk). She even got to try her hand at color commentary on episodes of Nitro and Thunder.

As WCW began to feel the economic crunch that would eventually lead to its downfall, they released several female members of the roster in 2000, including Paisley. She briefly joined a singing group of former Nitro Girls called Diversity5, before the WWF offered her a contract in the summer of 2001.

Since then, Sullivan has been honing her skills both in the WWF and in Ohio Valley Wrestling. Reportedly, she does not rule out actively competing in the ring as her skills improve.

CHILLY WILLY FRAZIER

Remember that ECW wrestler from the company's last couple years that danced down the aisle to the tune of Q-Tip and DMX, wearing a top hat over his blonde hairdo? Remember the legit tough guy that could put the hurt on ECW's best, all with a smile on his face and a bounce in his step?

Well, you should. after all, he hails from YOUR HOMETOWN! Chilly Willy competed in toughman competitions for fun (for FUN!) in between his regular gig as "Everybody's Homeboy" for Extreme Championship Wrestling. He was always announced as being from the very same town in which the show was being held, to the delight of local fans.

Despite a nice fan following, Chilly Willy was never more than a mid-carder in ECW. His most memorable program involved a brief partnership with New Jack. Time will tell if Chilly Willy ever resurfaces from wherever he lives, to once again compete on a major scale. He has taken various indie dates since ECW's demise.

"PRIME TIME" ELIX SKIPPER

What time is it? What TIME is IT? Prime Time, baby. PRIME TIME!

Elix Skipper wasn't around WCW for very long, but he sure made a major splash in the company's final year. The former Canadian Football League player became a member of heel stable Team Canada with Lance Storm, Mike Awesome and Jim Duggan. He was handed the WCW Cruiserweight title by Storm in August 2000, holding it for a month and a half. Just before WCW was sold to the WWF, Skipper and fellow up-and-comer Kid Romeo became the inaugural Cruiserweight tag team champions (and remain one of just two duos to ever hold those belts) last year.

Skipper was in phenomenal shape, had tons of charisma, and possessed an arsenal of jaw-dropping cruiserweight maneuvers, including a Matrix-esque counter to the clothesline that had to be seen to be believed. Skipper literally bent over backwards to entertain fans, and for his efforts, he was one of the initial WCW stars signed by the WWF.

However, Skipper never made it to WWF TV. He performed for the HWA and OVW for several months before the WWF released him (and many other original WCW crossovers) in late 2001.

With talk that the WWF will split the roster and revive the cruiserweight division soon, there is always a chance that Skipper could be picked back up. He is still an amazing athlete. He still has tons of potential. And most importantly -

This is HIS house! HE built this house! Ya'll didn't know?

ERNEST "THE CAT" MILLER

Ernest Miller broke into WCW in the late- 1990s as a friend of Glacier against foes Wrath and Mortis. Miller was a legitimate three-time karate champion and a friend of then-WCW head Eric Bischoff.

After the Glacier angle failed and it became apparent that Ernest Miller was not getting over as a babyface karate fighter, his gimmick was enhanced - enter the cocky, James Brown and Muhammad Ali- worshipping heel "Cat." THIS Ernest Miller danced in the ring, proclaimed himself "The Greatest" at every turn, and never missed a chance to remind fans that he WAS INDEED a three-time karate champion. He talked big, he dressed to impress, and when he got riled up, implored fans: "Somebody call my momma! I'm gonna whoop somebody's ass!"

This version of Ernest "The Cat" Miller was far more successful with fans. Soon, he was able to turn babyface again and strut down the aisle with valet Ms. Jones at his side. While his ring work may not have been amazing, he definitely had the sports entertainment thing down pat.

Miller recently teamed with Rick Steiner at the World Wrestling All-Stars pay-per-view last week, defeating Lenny Lane & Lodi.

K-KWIK

K-Kwik worked his way up the ranks in Memphis (as K-Krush) before winning a spot on the WWF roster in late 2000. From there, his chance at fame hit a few snags.

He was originally paired up with Road Dogg Jesse James as a tag team that rapped its way to the ring to a tune called "Get Rowdy." Crowds didn't seem impressed with the gimmick, and Road Dogg was soon released from the WWF for his own reasons. K-Kwik was kind of left hanging with the "Get Rowdy" rapping and dancing gimmick that casual fans didn't care for, and hardcore fans downright despised.

For his part, K-Kwik was a very athletic and promising newcomer. He was visibly a bit green, but occasionally was able to put together an impressive match (mostly with lighter, faster wresters that complimented his style). K-Kwik never shook the "Get Rowdy" gimmick, performing it right up until his release in the summer of 2001. The best the WWF did for K-Kwik was toy with a heel turn and include him in the WWF anti- Alliance team in that angle's early stages, but it wasn't enough.

K-Kwik is certainly in great shape, though, and has always shown flashes of brilliance in the ring. If he continues to improve in other wrestling organizations, he should be a top candidate for another WWF run in the future.

OTHER NOTABLE NAMES

SHELTON BENJAMIN
"THE HUSSLA" TIM MOXLEY
DERRICK KING
ANTONIO BANKS
BIG MAC DADDY
MS. JONES

[Note: This tribute is by no means an exhaustive list of every black performer in pro wrestling's long and storied history. Exclusions are unintentional and were not done out of spite, but rather in the interest of keeping this already-large column to a respectable size. I apologize in advance for any omissions, and I welcome your feedback.]

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