There have been tasteless gimmicks in pro wrestling, tons of them in fact. But when you think of the very top (or botttom?) tier, the name “Saba Simba” is inevitably mentioned. I mean, Tony Atlas was a WWF tag team champion less than a decade before he was given a new gimmick, one in which we were no longer supposed to recognize him…although Roddy Piper famously did and thus I guess we were supposed to know they were the same guy. What on earth was the logic in play here? Let’s head back to the December 1990 issue of WWF Magazine and let’s find out!
The magazine tells us that Atlas was dissatisfied with his life and began to reflect inwardly. And by that we mean he flopped on the couch and watched the boob tube. Let’s had it over to the magazine here: “Finally one night, he was watching television. The program was about the culture of Africa. As an Afro-American, atlas watched the program intently.” I’m not sure what’s more bothersome, the idea that there was another show on television that was quite this stereotypical or that this publication dubbed him, and I am just quoting here, an “AFRO-AMERICAN.”
Holy smokes, this text is…just wow. But my favorite part is that he got his name in a very organic manner, precisely that by happenstance as they were trying to come up with a new monicker, we got not one, not two not three not four not five not six but a FULL SEVEN LIONS roaring in succession. Am I the only one who is shocked we didn’t get a reenactment of this on WWF Superstars?
So yeah…not only did Saba Simba appear on television, but he was in the magazine, had publicity photos, the whole nine yards. On the plus side, this gimmick did not last long. But that it happened at all meant it lasted far too long.