Remembering Ray Charles

By Korbid Thompson
Updated: February 13, 2007
Ray Charles
Ray Charles

NEW JERSEY—As I think back to WrestleMania II on April 7, 1986 at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, the now late Ray Charles was on hand to sing “America the Beautiful” to kick off what would be a history making event, as the World Wrestling Federation would bring you pay-per-view entertainment from 3 different locations.

To be honest, I’m not sure how much of a wrestling fan Ray Charles was, but it just goes to show you that such a legend can cross over to any age group, any genre, any time. Charles will be long remembered for a lot of things, other than appearing at a wrestling event over 18 years ago. If there’s one thing that I will remember him for, it’s for just being a damn good musician.

In other news, WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero will meet the re-invented John Bradshaw Layfield in a Texas Bull Rope Match for the belt at the Great American Bash on June 27th. Remember, Bradshaw was the beneficiary of the firing of former WWE superstar Ron Simmons.

Speaking of being fired, it was recently revealed that Bradshaw was fired for an indiscretion of his own. During the WWE’s recent tour in Germany , Bradshaw, in his heel character, gave a Nazi-like signal to the crowd, in an attempt to draw some heat towards him. Well, it did – from his other employers at CNBC. You see, Bradshaw was hired as a financial analyst for CNBC, at least until that happened. Soon after, he got his walking papers. Now, will Vince McMahon still hand him the keys to the kingdom – whether he’s ready for it or not? After all, did you know that Eddie Guerrero is only the second Latino wrestler to ever represent the WWE as champion? Pedro Morales was the first. Actually, even with the small number of two, there have been more Hispanic champions in the WWE than African-Americans in the past 35 years. Go figure, right?

Before I forget, I know that I touched on this a couple of weeks ago, but congratulations goes out to NWA-TNA for surviving two years in the pay-per-view market. I was one of the skeptics who never thought it would work long term. However, the Jarrett family has proven a lot of people wrong. Now, with their Fox Sports Net telecasts beginning last week, they will have a chance to grow even further. I also have to give them credit for using Ron “The Truth” Killings as one of their signature champions. It was an opportunity that Killings would have never received in the WWE, so he definitely made the right move. At this point, even the thought of Killings going back to Vince McMahon should be avoided, simply because the spotlight just simply wouldn’t be the same for him there. He has built a career, and NWA-TNA is where he needs to see it through. I don’t see why that wouldn’t happen. I wonder if he could use a manager? Hint, hint: Theodore Long.

On a final note, don’t look for Jazz to be in the women’s title pictue at all in the near future. She lost her match on Raw to WWE Women’s Champion Victoria, and believe me when I say that title shots are hard to come by, so I’m sure that Vince will spin the carousel around towards Nidia, and her exploding boobs somewhere in the near future. Now that Trish Stratus is no longer the trophy girl, Vince has a new apple of his eye, and it ain’t Jazz. That much, I can tell you.

Updating a couple of stories, Booker T. is now involved in a 4-way match for the United States Championship at the aforementioned Great American Bash, with the defending champion being John Cena. Now, the deal with Cena is that he has become the so-called hip-hop wrestler that I’m sure Vince wanted Booker T. to portray. Well, he’s got his Eminem icon now. Besides, Booker is due to take an extended leave soon, so I’m not sure if being the U.S. champ will fit into his future plans. We’ll have to wait and see, I guess.

If there are any other updates in the African-American wrestling community, I’ll be sure to plant them here. Until then, peace…