Oscar from Men on a Mission – The Power of Positivity

Men on a Mission exploded onto the WWF scene in June of ’93 by infusing energy and positivity during some of WWE’s most challenging years in the New Generation Era. Mabel, Oscar, and Mo (M.O.M.) became instant crowd favorites. However, while Oscar had fans waving their hands in the air and on their feet thanks to his infectious rhymes, M.O.M. wasn’t always highly regarded behind the scenes by the other talent, and The Kliq could be especially cruel.

Pro Wrestling Stories spoke with former Men on a Mission frontman Oscar about their legacy, how he sees wrestling today, and why he didn’t continue in the company after the team’s abrupt heel turn.

Men on a Mission: Mabel, Oscar, and Mo.
Men on a Mission: Mabel, Oscar, and Mo.

An Interview with Oscar from Men on a Mission

From 1993 to early 1995, their popularity of Men on a Mission saw them quickly rising the tag team ranks and living the dream. After wrestling as heels for smaller wrestling promotions such as the USWA and PWF, Mabel and Mo entered the then-WWF as babyfaces led by the charismatic rapper Oscar. His rhymes entertained people and carried the message of the “power of positivity,” a mindset that replicates his outlook on life today.

Taking a Chance With Macho Man Randy Savage and Vince McMahon

In a Las Vegas casino, a chance encounter while performing with comedian Andrew Dice Clay offered Oscar from Men on a Mission, real name Greg Garard, an opportunity of a lifetime to impress one Randy “Macho Man” Savage. This incredible leap of faith led to Vince McMahon hiring him. We later found out that being fearless and rapping has consistently helped him obtain gainful employment.

"I heard a commotion, and I saw a bunch of people surrounding someone, which turned out to be ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage," recalls Oscar. "I approached Randy, who was really nice about it, and said that I had a singing telegram for him. I didn’t know Vince McMahon was with him until he told me to go ahead, and I did a Macho Man Randy Savage rap for about thirty seconds. They were all flabbergasted and amazed because, on the spot, I was able to include other wrestlers such as Mr. Perfect, who was also there. After this, Vince McMahon told me to give him a call on Monday."

Our conversation shifted quickly to wrestling in general. Oscar spoke candidly about the differences he perceives now in wrestling compared to when he worked in the business and watching it as a child.

"One of the biggest drawbacks and differences between wrestling now and then is that before, stars were able to create themselves," according to Oscar. "You had big, gigantic stars built for longevity. Now, the star factor is controlled and held to a minimum. That’s why now if somebody leaves the company, it’s not a big deal.

“Wrestlers of the past created their forever longevity by taking the character they created or was handed to them, and they were able to really bring it out with their own ideas and personas. Nowadays, you don’t have that, at least not to the level of the Attitude or Ruthless Aggression Eras, or back when wrestling had your Harley Races, Gorgeous Georges, Ric Flairs, The Undertakers, what have you. Those were iconic characters, and there is no formula today to make characters like that. Character-wise, it is nowhere near like it used to be today."

As the conversation progressed, we both agreed that John Cena and Dwayne The Rock Johnson before him might have been the last of these iconic characters recognized worldwide.

Oscar reminisced about how he first fell in love with professional wrestling, a world he was fortunate enough to be a part of later.

"When I was about seven or eight years old, I remember my father brought us into the living room late at night on a Saturday. He sat us down, and we watched wrestling. I remember Bruno Sammartino and Ivan Putski were the first guys we saw, and they were so entertaining that I was hooked after that."

He continued, "Seeing it on television was one thing, but seeing them at Madison Square Garden and Sunnyside Gardens, that was like Christmas morning! Those guys put on a show! A live show back then was a show! Your managers like Lou Albano, The Grand Wizard of Wrestling, Freddie Blassie– they really knew how to be a part of the show and not just be outside of the ring. They knew how to talk. They knew how to cut promos. The people today can learn promo cutting from watching those amazing managers. We [Men on a Mission] could have learned from them," Oscar said.

When asked if he and Men on a Mission watched old school tapes to perhaps emulate or learn something from the managers and wrestlers mentioned above, he emotively admitted that he didn’t.

"Nah. Once you spend eight hours a day dealing with wrestling, you weren’t going to deal with wrestling afterward," he explained. "You would want to go find a party, go find girls, try finding something to eat, and then get some sleep.

"Before wrestling, I used to work at a nightclub, and when I left the nightclub to get into a cab to go home, the last thing I wanted to hear was some music on the radio. I’d pay the guy an extra five dollars to turn it off. So no. After wrestling, we weren’t trying to get ready to work afterward because it was enough."

Suppose wrestling was a competitive sport and not scripted. Oscar believes that watching tapes of opponents would have then been the norm, like in combat and team sports. However, because of what pro wrestling is, in his opinion, tape watching wasn’t necessary.

Vince McMahon, The Hands-On Boss

As echoed from wrestlers current and past, Oscar said that Vince McMahon was always in the thick of things and was very hands-on in the product while continually being approachable.

"The buck stopped with Vince. He was instrumental in the storylines, the matches, and every aspect of the product. In WCW, Vince’s counterpart was Ted Turner, but he wasn’t hands-on and in the day-to-day operation. He was the money guy. Even though he had Eric Bischoff, you had a lot of old-schoolers instrumental in putting their heads together to make things happen."

He continued explaining the differences between the WWF and WCW. "I was told that in WCW, things were done in a committee," he said. "If you wanted to change your persona, you had to go through quite a few people to determine whether that was feasible. If you wanted to change the look of your hair, the same thing. In the WWF, you just had to stop Vince in the hallway and discuss whatever it was with him, and he’d tell you right away, and that was that. And that was really good, black and white, cut and dry. In five minutes, you’d know what the situation was," said Oscar.

He continued, "Before the wrestlers even came in, there would be production meetings where Vince relayed his ideas or concerns, and the agents would then talk to us. And if you had any questions, you could talk to Vince McMahon. He wasn’t there for the house shows, but he was there for every TV taping, and every pay-per-view, Vince was there. You’d see him throughout the night and speak with him often. I don’t know how it is today. It’s my understanding that it isn’t like that anymore, and I’m not sure how accessible a Tripe H or a Stephanie McMahon is nowadays. Vince McMahon always had an office backstage at the arena, and he’d sit down with you and tell you what’s what."

Oscar On Men on a Mission Turning Heel

"In my opinion, the heel turn by Men on a Mission was the worst decision at the worst time, and I’ll go to my grave saying it because the babyface M.O.M. that was really over with the fans had not developed to its full potential," Oscar stressed.

According to Oscar, "Mo and Mabel wanted to be heels the whole time. They didn’t see it the way I saw it, and I’m a ‘big picture’ kind of guy. The whole ‘big picture’ to me was the whole babyface aspect of it and the heights we could’ve reached. But they started as heels in wrestling [USWA and PWF], and they knew that better and were experts at it. That whole babyface thing was uncharted territory they never got comfortable with. So once the opportunity came up to become heels once again, they grabbed on one hundred percent."

Before landing in the WWF in 1993, Men on a Mission called themselves Harlem Knights (Bobby Knight and Nelson Knight) and were heels in the USWA and PWF. When starting out in North Charleston, South Carolina, they called themselves The Death Squad. Once the chance arose to turn heel once again while in the WWF, there was little hesitation.
Before landing in the WWF in 1993, Men on a Mission called themselves Harlem Knights (Bobby Knight and Nelson Knight) and were heels in the USWA and PWF. When starting in North Charleston, South Carolina, they called themselves The Death Squad. Once the chance arose to turn heel once again while in the WWF, there was little hesitation. [Photo: bobbyhorne.com]
In the beginning, Oscar was portrayed as the team’s positive rapping leader, the frontman, as we both called it. But as time passed and the heel turn seemed imminent, Mabel got more attention. And as big and agile as he was (billed at 6’9" and almost 500 lbs), how couldn’t he eventually become the focal point? We both praised Nelson Frazier Jr. (Mabel, who would later become Viscera and Big Daddy V) on his various talents in the ring.

 

“The first match I saw M.O.M. take part in, I couldn’t believe the things I saw him doing. As tall as he was and as big as he was, that man moved in the ring like he was one hundred pounds. I couldn’t have been prouder or more impressed. I was like, ‘Oh my God, we’re going to be billionaires, I can’t believe this man can move like this!’"

Speaking about Mabel’s agility, he quickly remembered agile big men like Bam Bam Bigelow, and Yokozuna immediately came to mind as well.

“Yoko was mega-huge but what he could do was unbelievable!” exclaimed Oscar.

Most would believe that leaving the WWE would’ve been a tough decision for Oscar. Perhaps it was, but his convictions and what he stands for outside of wrestling’s fictional world always came first.

"Me personally before wrestling, I had a positive persona. When I was just a rapper, I’d go to schools and talk to kids about drugs, staying in school, bullying, anything and everything that I knew that sent them the message of the power of positivity. No matter what the situation was, there was no way that I would allow myself to be perceived as a bad guy. I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Oscar tries his hardest to see the positive side of things, and as a young wrestling fan, he rooted for his wrestling heroes to defeat the villains. But he admits that there were many iconic heels in wrestling that he loved because they played their role exceptionally well.

But he also acknowledges that it takes a unique talent such as a Macho Man Randy Savage, gifted with such raw talent and who did well as both. “If you can make people believe, then you can write your own ticket," he said.

"And that was the problem with Lex Luger," he offered.

"They wanted to put him in the red, white, and blue, bring him out as a superhero babyface and all that, but for some reason, he couldn’t make the people believe. If they would’ve been able to make the people believe what he was selling, today, he’d be one of the biggest iconic names ever. But for some reason, it just didn’t sell and didn’t connect with the people, and people aren’t stupid. When you can’t connect with something like that, then it won’t succeed."

Oscar believes that his character worked because fans saw him as legit, which won him over with them.

"In my case, before I was a rapper in wrestling, I was a rapper. So I was in wrestling what I was. But look at P.N. News. He just went out there and tried to do what they told him to do. But he couldn’t rap himself out of a paper bag. He wasn’t hip hop and it wasn’t very good. Someone like me who grew up in that culture ever since graduating from high school, who was in the thick of things on both the west and east coast side, resonated with the crowd, and they believed what I was and was selling when I got out there.”

"Vince struck a good one when he found an actual rapper to rap. And he wasn’t even looking for that; it just happened to happen. Vince McMahon isn’t a billionaire by accident. He’s always thinking on his feet and thought, ‘Oh my God, this guy could really get the crowd stirring,’ and so it was nothing for him taking a few dollars to experiment."

Men on a Mission at WrestleMania X.
Men on a Mission at WrestleMania X. [GIF source: WWE.com]
He proudly assures that he had complete creative freedom when writing the rap songs saying, “Nobody was going to try and help me write those. I came up with all those on my own. But with the vignettes, creative and the producers decided how those would go, but we pretty much worked together."

 

The first M.O.M. outfits were a patchwork of many colors and not Oscar’s idea. Still do this day, there is no love loss for them, "They looked like they were picked out from the Mission but like for real."

The later ones with purple and gold as the primary colors were his idea because his original denim jeans were purple, so he thought the others’ colors should match.

Problems Backstage, Jealousy, and The Kliq

Asked if he sometimes sensed jealousy with the talent in the back when Men on a Mission was received better than perhaps some of the main-eventers, Oscar feels that this caused them many unwanted problems.

"I’m not going to say why it happened because I can’t speak to the hearts and minds of men, but yeah, because people thought that Men on a Mission was going to flop and was just a goofy thing that wasn’t going to go anywhere. But when the crowd reacted as they did, and M.O.M. was over with the people like that, yeah, that got on the nerves of many people backstage. Believe you me, they didn’t try to hide it. The disgust of others was very prevalent and obvious. It didn’t make for an easy time."

According to Oscar (far right), Men on a Mission's success didn't bode well with many backstage. Also shown here are the colorful outfits Oscar takes no credit for. [Photo: postandcourier.com]
According to Oscar (far right), Men on a Mission’s success didn’t bode well with many backstage. Also shown here are the colorful outfits Oscar takes no credit for. [Photo: postandcourier.com]
I asked if the hatred and reported hazing towards them by The Kliq (Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, Triple H, and Sean Waltman) had something to do with M.O.M.’s success.

 

“It had a lot to do with it,” Oscar affirmed and offered his explanation on why he believed The Kliq acted the way they did.

"Their whole thing was that they were the alpha dogs and wanted everyone to know it, and believe me, they didn’t make any friends at that particular time in the WWF. This used to bewilder me because we were like only thirty guys, not like the NFL where you had hundreds of people vying for a top spot. You had thirty guys, and you’d believe with something like that, things would’ve been more of a brotherhood, with everybody trying to help each other. No, no, no. Everybody wanted the belts, everybody wanted to headline and have the top spot and whoever wasn’t happy wasn’t shy in showing it. It was really, really rough."

Even with the politics and jealousy, when M.O.M. went through the curtains towards the ring, fans and management expected a top-notch performance. Oscar believes that they always delivered a good show.

"No matter what was going on behind the scenes, you had to maintain a certain amount of composure. No matter what was being done, if you got mad and fought back or whatever, you were going to find yourself in trouble."

Men on a Mission – Accidental Tag Team Champions?

On March 29, 1994, at a house show in London, England’s infamous Royal Albert Hall, Men on a Mission became WWF Tag Team Champions. This occurred after the vast Mabel fell on Pierre of The Quebecers and stunned him. When the referee went to make his 3-count, Pierre did not kick out as was scripted. Two days later, to fix the error, The Quebecers regained the titles in Sheffield, England.

Oscar expressed frustration at what he saw as the company’s lack of a significant push or long-term plans when Men on a Mission finally obtained the tag titles. He wondered if this showed a lack of confidence by management or if it was a case of not knowing what to do with a tag team that was supposed to be a flop and believed to fizzle out quickly.

Men on a Mission (with Oscar on the mic in the background) held the WWF Tag Team Championships for two days until dropping them back to the Quebecers in Sheffield, England. Still, it was one of the team’s highlights in the WWF.
Men on a Mission (with Oscar on the mic in the background) held the WWF Tag Team Championships for two days until dropping them back to the Quebecers in Sheffield, England. Still, it was one of the team’s highlights in the WWF. [Photo: WWE.com]
"We didn’t spend enough time with the championships [two days in total], and our run could have been taken into a direction where we had more refined storylines, but just a whole bunch of different things happened. When M.O.M. turned heel and took me out of the equation, as the three-unit babyface, there was now nothing special about it anymore; two black wrestlers that were mean, nasty, and negative is all you had, and you could get that anywhere."

 

I asked if in that non-televised house show in London if Pierre unwittingly didn’t kick out of Mabel’s pin, thus indicating that M.O.M.’s title win was unplanned.

"To be honest, I don’t remember where I was during the pre-match get-together, and I don’t know how that happened. All I know is that we went out there… and if they knew they were going to win, they didn’t tell me!

“Mabel told me, ‘I want you to be surprised,’ his exact words. And when they won, I was just as shocked as the audience. I got in the ring, and to show you just how surprised I really was, I went in so fast I hit my head on the belt and blood began gushing out on my forehead! But maybe what you say rings true, because to this day, why we were only able to keep the belts for a weekend is a real mystery to me. It was a real letdown and made me really, really angry.”

I agreed, telling him that I thought they should have been allowed to keep the belts and return stateside as tag team champs instead of dropping them back so quickly to The Quebecers.

“We should have had a good year run," Oscar admits, "or at least been able to get them back as faces and done something with a storyline and kept them for a while and enjoyed them.

“I believe we worked hard enough to have that,” he added in a more subdued and despondent tone.

Men on a Mission, seen here backstage in London's Royal Albert Hall, held the WWF Tag Team Championships for two days.
Men on a Mission, seen here backstage in London’s Royal Albert Hall, held the WWF Tag Team Championships for two days. [Photo: bobbyhorne.com]
Oscar recalls being told shortly after winning the titles that they would drop them back to The Quebecers on another untelevised house show. With this news, the other members of M.O.M. became very unhappy too.

 

Although M.O.M. held the belts for only two days, it was more than most teams accomplish throughout their entire careers.

Men on a Mission – Often Imitated But Never Duplicated

Oscar is very proud of what Men on a Mission accomplished while in the WWF and believes that no matter how much others try, there can never be another M.O.M.

“I might be biased saying this, but Men on a Mission, when I look back on the whole thing, had something magical. That’s the reason why- it’s not said out loud, but it’s something that’s tried to be duplicated a thousand times. It’s like when they try and redo the whole Hulk Hogan thing. I mean, I’m not comparing us to Hulk Hogan. Still, they try and duplicate something that can’t be duplicated because you had three people that specialized in what they did.

“They found their footing, and once they found it, they knew how to work it and touch the hearts of the crowd. We knew how to rock the crowd and keep them going. There were a lot of nights where we were the best thing of the show because you had everybody on their feet, hands in the air, yelling, screaming, popping, and involved. How do you follow or duplicate that?”

Oscar gives Vince credit for taking a chance because hip hop and rap weren’t mainstream in wrestling before M.O.M. came onto the scene. The trio helped plant the seeds for this music and culture to be incorporated into wrestling.

"I’ll arrogantly say that rap and hip hop is mainstream in wrestling because M.O.M. put it there."

Oscar from Men on a Mission – Life After Wrestling

After leaving the WWF and wrestling altogether, Oscar went to Chicago to work in radio as an on-air personality. He co-hosted Mancow’s Morning Madness hosted by Matthew Erich "Mancow" Muller. He landed that job similar to the way he got his gig with the WWE: by rapping.

"Mancow had me call in and do a rap of the day and, for a while, had me as a contributor, and soon he brought me in as part of the show full time."

He also executive produced concerts and worked with a variety of artists.

He currently works for Staunch Moderates and is hard at work on a rap album for them. He rarely speaks with Mo (Robert Horne), who he calls Bobby, the other surviving M.O.M. member.

He considers winning the tag team titles as manager of M.O.M. one of his career highlights. WrestleMania X, staged in Madison Square Garden, holds a special place in his heart because it was the night he became an active participant in the same venue he used to sit in the nosebleeds with his father.

Watch the Men on a Mission WrestleMania X Rap:

As for his final thoughts for our interview, he hopes that wrestling takes a hard look at itself and “reverses back into the way things were before.” He also strongly believes that “if something is going to be the undoing of wrestling, it will be the lack of creation of stars because stars are what makes the world go round in sports and entertainment.” Like music, he believes wrestling is creating what he deems as disposable artists, not legends and icons that will be remembered years after he and I are gone.

“The best wrestling was before where there were stars people really wanted to see.”

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About Our Site / Meet Our Writers / Write For Us
Javier Ojst is an old-school wrestling enthusiast currently residing in El Salvador. He's been a frequent guest on several podcasts, has a few bylines on TheLogBook.com where he shares stories of pop culture and retro-related awesomeness, and his work has also appeared in G-Fan magazine. He can be contacted by e-mail at jojst1@gmail.com.