Wrestler of the Day – May 30: Kamala

Today it’s off to the deepest jungles of Africa for Kamala.

Kamala started off in the indies under generic names like Big Jim Harris. Eventually he became Kamala down in Memphis and would be a traveling attraction like many other monsters around this time. One of his stops was in the Carolinas where he challenged Magnum TA for the US Title at Great American Bash 1985.

US Title: Kamala vs. Magnum TA

This is from the Great American Bash 1985. Kamala recently had his foot/leg amputated so the timing is appropriate. Kamala jumps him before the bell and it’s on. Magnum fires off a cross body and hammers away on the big man. You know Kamala never did much other than get beaten up. I never remember him winning anything of note and he’s usually just around because he’s big.

Kamala wants a test of strength but Magnum is a lot smarter than that, popping him in the jaw instead. Magnum gets knocked down by a chop and kick as Kamala takes over for token reasons. A choke somehow counts as a cover and gets two. Kamala grabs Magnum’s chest in a weird claw move then splashes him twice. Magnum is on his stomach so it doesn’t count. That’s an old standard for moon belly man. Back to the claw which wastes more time. Magnum makes his comeback and gets an easy slam. Kamala walks into the belly to belly and we’re done.

Rating: D. Kamala as usual isn’t interesting. He was supposed to be this savage and all that but it just didn’t work at all. He did his thing and that thing never was all that interesting. This is the definition of a house show match and the whole idea was to set up a quick match for Magnum to look good in. This was pretty weak.

It was soon off to the WWF where Kamala would get to work with some big name stars. Here’s one such match from November 20, 1986.

Ricky Steamboat vs. Kamala

I think we’re in Philly here. Ah yes Dick Graham is doing commentary and he never left that city. Kamala wants a test of strength to start and the commentators aren’t sure about this. Steamboat naturally tries to speed things up so Kamala busts out a leapfrog of all things. He adds a big kick to take over. Craig asks a good question: why does Fuji have a cane if he doesn’t have any issues walking?

Kamala grabs the armpit of Steamboat in a new twist on the rest hold. You know, since we’re nearly two minutes into the match and he’s tired already. Kamala looks fatter than he typically does here. He gets what could be classified as a modified chokeslam to send Steamboat flying. Steamboat has had next to no offense in this.

He tries to get some shots in and since Kamala is a monster, very basic offense is enough to take him down and have him reeling. Steamboat beats up both managers and lands a shot from the middle rope to put Kamala down to one knee. He tries to go up again but gets slammed down thanks to some nefarious means called Mr. Fuji. The big splash ends this clean in rather surprising fashion.

Rating: C. When’s the last time you saw Steamboat more or less get squashed? This is likely when he was about to head to the NWA so Vince was trying to make him seem as worthless as possible. The timing from earlier would seem to agree with that and Kamala wasn’t around until about 88 so yeah this is part of the Steamboat Sucks Tour which would result in him winning the world title from Flair. Go figure.

And this one from December 6, 1986.

Kamala vs. Tito Santana

We’re told this is in Rockford, Illinois and it’s at a Superstars Taping. Since this is a dark match there’s no original commentary so Johnny and Craig do it for us. Neither are any good so the sound is incredibly annoying. Tito tries to stick and move but has to avoid the Wizard and Kim Chee (Kamala always had two managers) at the same time.

Kamala wants a test of strength and holds his hand up for about 45 seconds as we’re told what a dark match is. We’ve been on this Kamala wanting a test of strength thing for over a minute now. The announcers keep offering suggestions as to what he’s doing such as wanting a basketball to palm or waving to friends. Shockingly, he was trying to hurt Tito’s hand. This is idiotic.

Tito steps on his hand but gets chopped in the head for his efforts. More Kamala dominance as he chokes away. Who wanted to see a tape of Kamala dominating like this? This match has been 50% choking, 50% of Kamala holding his hand in the air and 50% Tito throwing right hands. For some reason they keep going to wide shots. The Wizard trips Tito and the splash ends it, thank goodness.

Rating: F. This was AWFUL. I don’t know who thought dedicating almost 15 minutes of a tape to Kamala was a good idea, but it certainly didn’t work. He was good for crushing jobbers, not Hall of Famers. This was incredibly boring as most of it was choking or that stupid test of strength thing that Tito walked around for a few minutes because of. I see why this was a dark match. Just terrible.

Here’s a first in this series: from the next day on Wrestling Challenge, albeit taped weeks earlier.

Kamala vs. Jack Foley

These old Foley squashes are becoming kind of a tradition. Ring announcer Mel Phillips screws up by saying Foley weighs 147lbs. A slam, a splash, and a top rope splash destroy Foley in about 40 seconds.

Why not again? This time from January 25, 1987.

Kamala vs. Nick Foley

Yes Nick, even though the announcer introduces him as Mick Faley. Foley is now from Boston and weighs 249lbs. That’s quite the weight gain in six weeks. Chops and the splash do the job here. Well Foley does the job but you get the idea.

Kamala would be part of a one night tag team tournament on March 15, 1987 in Toronto.

First Round: Kamala/Sika vs. Killer Bees

Sika is more famous for being in the Wild Samoans. Has Kamala ever actually won anything? I don’t remember a thing that he actually accomplished. The camera angle is odd at this show as it’s from an angle and the ring is kind of up on a platform if that makes sense. The crowd is kind of small too. The ring looks small too. Valiant isn’t a good talker but he’s energetic as all goodness. Sika and Brunzell start. For some reason Kamala starts climbing the ropes. Ok then.

No clue why the heels are teaming together. Oh apparently they’re a semi-regular tag team. As always the idea of them registering for a tag team is very funny. Their manager, the Grand Wizard, would be replaced by Mr. Fuji, who Shawn Michaels LOVES. They get a double slam on Kamala which was kind of cool. We get to the formula stuff here as Blair, the less talented of the faces, gets beaten down a lot.

That ends though due to the first instance of something I’m sure you’ll hear a lot of tonight: heel miscommunication. A hot tag to Brunzell and a quick dropkick gets the win for them. On replay, you can see how awesome that one was. He kicked Sika right in the freaking face.

Rating: C+. Not bad for an opener at all. They used your standard formula here but at an accelerated pace. To be fair though, the heels are pretty much crap here though and that’s hurting things. Bees were their usual solid selves, but they were being held down here by bad opponents.

What better way to show off Kamala than put him on SNME #11?

Kamala vs. Jake Roberts

The snake clears things out immediately. WWF should have paid for a snake fear seminar or something given how afraid half the roster was of them. Well not Kamala though as he just completely sucks. He scared me to death when I was a kid though so he can do whatever he wants. Jake gets out of a bearhug by stomping on Kamala’s foot. That’s just mean.

Vince wants to know about Kamala’s dental plan. Was there a face commentator that could stay on the match for more than 8 seconds in this era? This is a pretty basic match with Kamala dominating before Jake makes a short comeback. Kim Chee, Kamala’s other manager, runs in and blasts Jake in the back of the head and a splash ends Jake. Chee unmasks as Honky Tonk Man for a beatdown on Jake.

Rating: D. Not much at all here. This was just to do the ending angle which is odd as Honky won at Mania and yet he’s the one continuing the feud. Anyway, Kamala was always pretty awful and this was no exception. Just a boring match all around and nothing of note at all.

And since he’s a monster, why not a World Title shot? From June 27, 1987.

WWF World Title: Hulk Hogan vs. Kamala

Yes Kamala is the focal point of this tape. Allow that to sink in a bit. Thinking this is in Philly but I’m not sure. Ah make that Boston. Hogan hurts himself on a slam attempt and Kamala goes to work. I think you know the story here. Kamala tries some chops on the mat but here comes Hogan as he rolls out of the way. He fires away with lefts and drills Kim Chee for good measure.

Kamala drills Hogan as he goes after the manager and gets a shot with a foreign object. Hogan bleeds a bit but at this point even him suffering can’t save this. We have five minutes left in this and I could go for some Benny Hill music to get us through it. Lots of choking by the darker skinned man. Nice bit of trivia: both of these two have put out albums.

Kamala goes up but Hogan crawls away so he climbs back down. This is painfully boring as there’s no way Hogan doesn’t win the match to end the tape. Oh and Gorilla has NEVER seen Hogan take this much of a beating before. Splash gets two and Hulk begins his seizure. If you don’t know the rest of this match, you’re an idiot.

Rating: D. Typical Hogan match to end this. Hogan matches in the 80s really were a dime a dozen. That’s what’s kind of surprising about the Andre match: it was an extended match of what he did every night but it got 90,000+ to watch it. Again, this was the Kamala tape. Do I need to explain to you that this was bad?

Kamala would jump from the big companies to the smaller territories quite often in his time so it’s hard to keep track of him for long periods of his career. Here he is in the USWA in December 1991.

Unified World Title: Kamala vs. Jerry Lawler

Lawler is defending, having beaten Kamala for the title recently. Kamala jumps him to start and pounds away, sending the champion down into the corner. Jerry’s face is slammed into the mat for two and some headbutts easily stop a comeback attempt. Choking ensues and Lawler gets chopped down for one of the slowest two counts I’ve ever seen. Jerry comes back with right hands but is easily knocked out to the floor.

In something that wasn’t done back in the day, Kamala picks up the announcers’ table to ram Lawler head first, but he shoves the referee down in a rage. Lawler is put face first on a camera before going back inside. It’s still not a DQ so Kamala splashes Jerry for a very close two. Another splash gets another two so Kamala sends the referee into the corner. A third splash misses and Lawler takes the strap down. The right hands drop Kamala and the middle rope punch only gets two. They brawl on the floor and a fireball to Kamala is finally enough to draw the DQ.

Rating: C+. Wild match here and it actually worked very well. In the USWA, the title changed hands VERY often, with Kamala taking the belt about four times in five months with two vacancies in between. It’s such a different world down there and a very interesting one to say the least. I liked this way better than I was expecting to.

Kamala was soon brought back to the WWF as Harvey Whippelman’s soldier in the war against Undertaker. Their first showdown was at Summerslam 1992.

Undertaker vs. Kamala

Kamala was Undertaker’s Monster of the Month at this point and is managed by Harvey Whippelman. Undertaker rides to the ring on the back of a hearse to kill even more time. Taker fires off uppercuts to start and chokes away in the corner before avoiding a charging Ugandan. Harvey breaks up Old School but Kamala can’t hurt Taker at all. He clotheslines the dead man to the floor but Taker no sells everything Kamala throws at him. Back inside and Taker easily chokeslams him down and hits the Tombstone but Kamala’s other manager Kim Chee comes in for the DQ.

Rating: D. Nothing to see here as it was setting up the coffin match at Survivor Series. This was during the bad period for Undertaker as he fought a bunch of monsters with no particular rhyme or reason. Kamala was nothing special and spent most of his career trying to be intimidating but getting destroyed every time.

We’ll come back to that later, as first we have to see Kamala challenge for the Intercontinental Title on October 28, 1992.

WWF World Title: Bret Hart vs. Kamala

Sean Mooney and Hayes are the commentators here. Sean gives analysis. That’s cute. We start with a feeling out sequence and Bret working the arm. Something tells me Bret is going to be the one doing ALL the work here. Sean wants to know why Kim Chee won’t take his mask off, with theories being that he’s a criminal or owes alimony to his wife. Bret actually tries a test of strength but is smarter than that and suckers Kamala in and stomps on his foot.

Kamala takes over and it’s just your standard match at this point. Kamala grabs Bret’s man boob I think. That’s what it looks like at least. A modified form of the 5 Moves of Doom doesn’t work. See what happens when you screw with them? Chee gets up on the apron, Kamala lunges for Bret when he grabs Chee, rollup keeps the belt. Kamala jumps him afterwards but Harvey gets splashed. Don’t worry as he would recover and go on to become women’s champion later on.

Rating: D. This was weak to put it mildly. The grade is ALL Bret. He is the one decent thing in here…which makes this sound better than it was seeing as how there are only two guys in the match but you get the idea. Kamala was just a place holder here and not a very good one at that. Boring match, but the next one makes up for it just a bit.

The rematch with Undertaker was the first Coffin Match at Survivor Series 1992.

Undertaker vs. Kamala

Kamala immediately runs from Taker and they head to the floor for more not fighting. Back in and Kamala pounds away with almost no effect. Taker hits the yet to be named Old School and Kamala is in trouble again. A clothesline sets up some choking by the dead man but Kamala chops him to the floor. This is really dull so far. Kamala rams Taker head first into the steps and hits him in the back before we head inside. A kick to the chest puts Taker down for all of a second. Kamala slams him a bunch of times and three splashes. The urn is knocked into the ring and Taker sits up. An urn shot to the head pins Kamala.

Rating: F. Seriously, that’s it. That’s IT? This is one of the biggest matches on the show and this is all we get? Just a dull match with nothing more than a few shots to the back and a quick ending. This didn’t even make six minutes and Taker didn’t even break a sweat in crushing Kamala. Nothing to see here and it was completely worthless, much like Kamala.

Kamala would return soon after this as a face with Reverend Slick trying to turn him into a civilized man (including teaching him to bowl). Somehow this earned Kamala an Intercontinental Title shot on Raw, June 28, 1993.

Intercontinental Title: Kamala vs. Shawn Michaels

This is during KAMALA IS A MAN phase where Slick tried to humanize him a bit and it was just painfully bad. There was a tape where the theme of it was Kamala, in wrestling gear mind you, learns to bowl. It’s as bad as it sounds. This is from Raw in late June/early July of 93. Clearly the world was BEGGING for this showdown. June 28 apparently.

Shawn isn’t sure what to do here. Bobby talks about taxes and Vince FREAKS about Bobby not having many taxes based on what he made last year. Holy unintentional shoot Vinceman! Kamala is moving out here as he gets Shawn to back up and try to hide. Shawn avoids a chop as we talk about the Slam Yokozuna thing which was rather awesome in the payoff for it.

Kamala gets a bearhug for a LONG two. Kamala uses basic stuff to attack Shawn but a running knee eats buckle to give Shawn the advantage that most people expected him to have. He swears at some fan in the audience and Vince isn’t pleased so he plugs something instead. Figure Four is blocked by Kamala so Shawn stomps away some more.

We list off some athletes that won’t slam Yokozuna. We mention Dave Letteman leaving NBC which really dates this show. Here’s Kamala’s comeback as he uses a lot of chops to fight back. Does he think he’s Asian or something? He’s messing up his stereotypes. Kamala hits the splash on Shawn’s back but messes up and tries for a pin with Shawn on his stomach which was a thing he did because he was stupid. Chin Music to the back of the head ends this.

Rating: C-. Not horrible actually if you can believe that. Kamala had a chance out there and they kept it short enough to make sure that the fans didn’t get bored with it and that Kamala didn’t overstay his welcome etc. It’s not a great match or anything really but it’s certainly fine for what it was: a quick TV title defense.

Kamala would leave the WWF soon after this and head to WCW where he would join the Dungeon of Doom. One of his only major matches was at Bash at the Beach 1995.

Kamala vs. Jim Duggan

Please, I beg of you, MAKE IT QUICK! Thank goodness the bell rang. Wait is that a good thing? At least Duggan is getting the face pop like he’s supposed to. Oh and Zodiac has joined the Dungeon. That’s Brutus in case you’re confused. Not sure why you would be as it’s been two weeks with his latest gimmick so it was time for a change. Duggan hits him. Kamala doesn’t sell it. Kamala hits him. Dugan oversells. At least it balances out.

And let’s talk about Hogan for a bit. Sure why not. Some large man showed up on the preshow and scared Hogan. He would be known as the Giant. What a brilliant name. The fans don’t seem to be that interested in this. Duggan slams him. The Three Point Clothesline hits. Kamala falls before it hits but whatever. And Zodiac hits Duggan with Kamala’s mask for the pin. I hate this show.

Rating: F. Boring, contrast of styles, stupid ending. You pick the reason why it sucked. Again, why is this match happening in 1995? Aren’t there other guys you could have out there that are, you know, not old? It makes no sense so that’s why you know it’s WCW. At least it wasn’t long.

Kamala would disappear soon after this and never show up as a permanent fixture ever again. He would appear in the Insane Clown Posse’s promotion for a bit but we’ll look at a one night appearance he made on Raw, June 26, 2006.

Kamala vs. Umaga

This is the result of Kamala attacking Jim Duggan the previous night and Kamala standing up for his fellow legend. They do the big collision spot to start before Umaga kicks him down. Manager Kim Chee is destroyed as well and takes a running hip attack in the corner. The middle rope headbutt and Samoan Spike easily end Kamala.

Ok so Kamala didn’t have the best record, but he was there for one reason: to make the other guys look good. I was TERRIFIED of him as a kid and would regularly cover my eyes whenever he was on screen. Seeing Undertaker destroy him in 1992 was the best thing I had ever seen and that was exactly why Kamala was out there. There’s nothing wrong with letting people beat your brains in every night. As Brian Pillman once said: “I’d love to be the highest paid loser in wrestling.”

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