Some older fans out there might recall a movie from the early 80’s called “The Jerk”. It starred Steve Martin, who begins the movie by narrating the following: “I was born a poor black child.”
Apparently, someone in the WWF thought that was funny, and set out to duplicate the “white man thinks he’s a black man” schtick. Enter Akeem, the African Dream.
In the late 80’s, the WWF acquired a talent by the name of the One Man Gang. He was a big, burly man, who allegedly was 6’7″, weighed in excess of 400 pounds, and hailed from the bad streets of Chicago. He had been on the wrestling scene for quite some time, having gained noteriety in the old World Class area with Gary Hart (who called him “Moon” for some unknown reason).
It seems as though the WWF felt he wasn’t over enough with this image, so they decided to give him a makeover.
Enter the Doctor of Style, Slick, who contacted Mean Gene Okerlund to come to a parking lot for a very special ceremony.
As you may recall, Slick was your stereotypical black pimp type character. Hell, his theme song was “Jive Soul Bro”, and the video for it featured him eating a bucket of fried chicken.
Yeah, the late 80’s WWF wasn’t too politically correct, and it was about to get a whole lot worse!
Slickster explained this was to be the greatest night in history – a night which would always be remembered for a miraculous transformation, a night in which a man would return to his African roots.
Slick told Gene that he couldn’t bring him to Africa, so he would bring Africa to Gene!
Cue the Saba Simba Players, complete with chanting, shields, spears & Gene making a racial comment or two.
Suddenly, from an old trash barrel came a huge puff of smoke…and a big white guy who bore a striking resemblence to the One Man Gang.
With one major difference…
…his outfit looked as though it had been made by the fine folks at Paas!!
As the big man shuffled his way over, Slickster explained that he was no longer the One Man Gang, but that he was now Akeem, the African Dream.
The “natives” chanted his name in agreement while Gene protested.
Gang, err, I mean Akeem, came out and told Gene that he had “returned to his roots” in a vaguely ethic kinda way.
He then did a funky dance to get the point across.
As a final rite of passage, Slickster gave him a boom box.
Apparently, the part where they shared a watermelon was edited out.
You see, now this huge white guy was actually a HUGE BLACK MAN! GEDDIT??
Of course, the whole thing was horribly racist. He’d dance about, talk in slang, and basically looked like the world’s biggest easter egg.
He was, for the lack of a better term, a buffoon.
Now for the shocking part – all this malarkey didn’t get Akeem over at all! Go ahead, pick your jaw up off the floor. I know that’s hard to believe.
No, he was more of a laughing stock than ever. He was mired in meaningless feuds, meaningless tag teams, and meaningless matches until he left the Federation in the early 90’s. He wound up floating about the wrestling scene, even appearing on the dreadful Heroes of Wrestling PPV in a match so unspectacular that I didn’t even review it.
Now what does THAT say about your career?
Slick (talking like the Jive Soul Bro he is): “Brutha, it’s time for it to start right now – let the ceremony beeeeginnnn…”
Gene: “What is this? I was here all alone, and all of a sudden…I cannot believe this! Maybe I’ll re-up my subscription to National Geographic!”
Slick (bellowing): “BEHOLD – AKEEEEEM!”
*natives chant ‘Akeem…Akeem…Akeem’*
Gene: “Akeem? Wait a minute Slick, wait a minute. 430, 450 pounds I recognize this man as the One Man Gang!”
Akeem (doing his best Slick impersonation – you know, when you’re impersonating Slick, you should know your career is going down the crapper): “Hey hey hey Brutha…..didn’t you hear, you thick headed foooool? From now on I will be known as Akeem! I was reborn tonight, the greatest night in his-tor-reee!”