During the 1990s, the WWF had a working relationship with Memphis-based USWA. Over the years, wrestlers like Razor Ramon, Ahmed Johnson, and Papa Shango passed through the promotion and won their Unified Title. In fact, in 1993, a heel contingent of Bret and Owen Hart, Randy Savage, Koko B. Ware, and Tatanka, all babyfaces in the Federation, feuded with hometown hero Jerry Lawler. Their leader? None other than “The Voice of the WWF,” Vince McMahon, who once wore the promotion’s belt around his “slivet waist” (I think he meant “svelte”) and laughed wickedly.
Clearly, USWA existed in a universe parallel to that of the mainstream wrestling promotions. I mean, where else could you see Giant Gonzalez and Bret Hart team up for a Sharpshooter?
The weird relationship between WWF and USWA storylines continued all the way up to the latter’s dying days, when Memphis got its own offshoot of the Nation of Domination, and USWA felt it could improve Faarooq’s quasi-Black Power faction with Tracy Smothers.
|See, before Survivor Series 1996, the Nation of Domination was just a concept tossed around between Ron Simmons and attorney Clarence Mason. At that pay-per-view, the Nation made its first appearance as Faarooq’s entourage, consisting mainly of nameless suits, plus two familiar faces to Memphis wrestling fans: JC Ice and Wolfie D, better known as PG-13.|
|See, any nation worth a damn had to have its own rap song, and someone in the WWF was apparently impressed with the musical skills of PG-13, who made a few appearances in the Federation the year before (and were basically made to look like idiots against The Smoking Gunns). I guess the WWF felt it could trust PG-13 to make a family-friendly rap, since their MPAA rating suggested they would use the F-word no more than once.
|Sure, there were lyrical problems from the get go, with the opening lines containing boasts the NOD never backed up:
Ahmed Johnson dissed Faarooq repeatedly, yet as far as anyone knows, PG-13 never laid a hand on Mrs. Johnson.
|But their induction into a revolutionary faction like the Nation of Domination gave Wolfie and JC the confidence to build their own Nation, confined mainly to the Mid-South Coliseum and the Memphis TV studio where USWA taped their shows.|
|PG-13 running their own Nation offshoot sounds about as ridiculous as Stevie Ray leading his own division of the nWo, but stranger things have happened…
|This version of the Nation differed from the WWF version in that in the USWA, every new member was given a new Muslim-sounding name.|
|While the WWF’s Nation was clearly trying to evoke decades-old images of the big scary black militant, mixing the Nation of Islam’s bow ties with the Black Panthers’ raised fist salute,|
|…in its early days the WWF would only take the racial and religious overtones so far. The group’s theme wasn’t about politics, but mostly about how Faarooq was going to win wrestling matches. Plus, the next three wrestlers to join after Faarooq were white guys.|
|(And as for leader Faarooq Asad, any reasonable wrestling fan today would assume that he first ditched his “slave name” Ron Simmons when he formed the black separatist group. Not so. He took on the name, “Faarooq” months earlier upon becoming a Roman gladiator.)|
|But in the USWA, the Nation bestowed upon its members new names to go with their new, militant identities. And all of those names were really, really stupid.|
|Take the grappler formerly known as Reggie B Fine: He was dubbed, “Kareem Olajuwon…”|
|…not to be confused with NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar…|
|…or Hakeem Olajuwon, then the starting center for the Houston Rockets.|
|Big Black Dog became Hakeem Muhammad,|
|…also not to be confused with Hakeem Olajuwon (or Muhammad Ali).|
|And speaking of The Greatest, the aforementioned and decidedly Caucasian Tracy Smothers took on the name, “Shaquille Ali.”|
|Now I have no idea where that name came from, honest!|
|(And while he moonlighted as a black militant with a mash-up for a name, he continued wrestling in the WWF as Oklahoma’s Freddie Joe Floyd, itself a mash-up of the Brisco Brothers’ real names)|
|All that was missing was an O’Neal Abdul-Jabbar.
|Prospective members had to recite the confusing Nation of Domination pledge, which read, “I pledge allegiance to the Nation of Domination for which it stands, under one nation under Faarooq, with liberty and justice for no one.” In other words, we were to understand, the Nation of Domination stood for the Nation of Domination, which was under the Nation of Domination, which was under Faarooq. It’s too bad Oxford Kama wasn’t around to proofread this mess.|
|Excuse me: Oxford Kama Mustafa.|
|But if creeds weren’t your thing, that was fine, too. Even cowboys got to hang with the Nation without having to officially join.
|Unlike the WWF’s NOD, which became an expressly and exclusively black faction by mid-1997, the Nation that PG-13 was building in late ’96 was open to all colors of people: black, white, and even blue.|
|The only common thread was an allegiance to Faarooq, who, as you may have inferred from the pictures in this induction, never ever appeared in the USWA. So PG-13’s Nation of Domination wasn’t about race or religion; it just happened to change every new member’s name to a mangled version of a black Muslim sports star. Once PG-13 had run out of famous black Muslim athletes to steal from, they decided to delve into other famous African-Americans.
|The Spellbinder, best known to WWF fans as Phantasio, the wrestling magician…|
|…became Elijah, as in Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad.
|The former Spellbinder’s commitment to the cause was strong enough to warrant changing his name, but not strong enough for him to stop wearing his mime face paint.|
|Every great faction needs a manager, and the USWA Nation was no different, recruiting skinny white manager Randy Hales (best known for, according to Doug Gilbert’s infamous shoot promo, allegedly smoking crack in the TV control room), who was rebranded, “Randy X.”|
|I suppose “Randy Malik El-Shabazz” would have been too much of a mouthful for Dave Brown.|
All of this nonsense would have been excusable had this version of the Nation been played for laughs, but amazingly, the stable was played completely straight, actually dominating TV tapings and even capturing numerous titles in the promotion, including the company’s
“world” heavyweight title.
So, come to think of it, contrary to the headline for this induction, this group lived up to the name, “Nation of Domination” far better than the WWF’s version ever did.
And you thought the USWA’s Nation was just a joke? Think again.
PS: They also re-named Jacqueline, “Moesha,” after the UPN sitcom starring Brandy.