Umaga (wrestler) American professional wrestler

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Umaga
Umaga en Chicago.jpg
Umaga in May 2009
Birth nameEdward Smith Fatu
Born(1973-03-28)March 28, 1973[1][2]
American Samoa, U.S.[3]
DiedDecember 4, 2009(2009-12-04) (aged 36)
Houston, Texas, U.S.[4]
Cause of deathAcute toxicity[5]
Spouse(s)
L.T. Fatu
(m. 2001)
[3]
Children4[3]
FamilyAnoaʻi
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Armageddon 1
Eddie Fatu[6]
Ekmo[7]
Ekmo Fatu[1]
Jamal[1]
Osu Fatu
Umaga[7]
Billed height6 ft 4 in (193 cm)[8]
Billed weight350 lb (159 kg)[8]
Billed fromThe Isle of Samoa[8]
Trained byAfa Anoaʻi[1]
Debut1995

Edward Smith Fatu[3] (March 28, 1973 – December 4, 2009) was an American Samoan professional wrestler, best known for his time with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) under the ring name Umaga.

He was a member of the Anoaʻi family, a renowned Samoan wrestling family. During his first stint with WWE billed as Jamal, he was part of tag team 3-Minute Warning, with his cousin Matt Anoaʻi, billed as Rosey. He was released from the company in June 2003. In April 2006, Fatu returned to WWE under the ring name Umaga. Fatu went undefeated for many months on the Raw brand throughout much of 2006, before suffering his first defeat in January 2007. The following month, he won the WWE Intercontinental Championship for the first time, and won it for the second time in July 2007.

Early life

Fatu was born on March 28, 1973 to Vera and Solofa Fatu, Sr. Fatu was a member of the Anoaʻi family. His mother, Vera, was the sister of Afa and Sika of The Wild Samoans.[3][9] His two older brothers, Sam and Solofa, are also professional wrestlers, he was the uncle of The Usos and he was a cousin of Yokozuna, The Rock, Rosey and Roman Reigns.[3] On April 27, 2008, Fatu's mother died after a seven-year battle with cancer.[10]

Professional wrestling career

Early career (1995–2001)

Fatu trained with his cousin Matt Anoaʻi at the Wild Samoan professional wrestling school operated by members of their family. In 1995, with his training complete, Fatu debuted in his uncle Afa's World Xtreme Wrestling (WXW) promotion.[1]

World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment (2001–2003)

In 2001, Fatu, along with his cousin Matt, signed developmental contracts with World Wrestling Federation (WWF), and were assigned to Heartland Wrestling Association (HWA), adopting the tag team name The Island Boyz, and with Fatu using the ring name Ekmo. They won the HWA Tag Team Championship in November 2001 by defeating Evan Karagias and Shannon Moore. They also competed for Memphis Championship Wrestling (MCW), holding the MCW Southern Tag Team Championship on three occasions.[11]

Fatu (renamed to Jamal) and Anoaʻi (renamed to Rosey) made their main roster debut on the July 22, 2002 episode of Raw as 3-Minute Warning, a pair of villainous thugs.[1][12] They were hired as enforcers of Eric Bischoff, attacking random wrestlers each week, after Bischoff either gave people three minutes to entertain him before they were attacked or decided that three minutes of a segment was enough before the team appeared to end it.[12] They attacked numerous wrestlers at the orders of Bischoff, including D'Lo Brown and Shawn Stasiak. They also attacked non-wrestlers, including ring announcer Lilian Garcia and former wrestlers Jimmy Snuka, Mae Young and The Fabulous Moolah.[1] Their most notable event came when they attacked two lesbians.[13][14] In September, 3-Minute Warning began a feud with Billy and Chuck, interfering in their storyline commitment ceremony, and defeating them at the Unforgiven pay-per-view event.[12] Rico, Billy and Chuck's former manager, also began to manage 3-Minute Warning during this time.[1] During this time, Jamal gained a reputation for being reckless in the ring, injuring several performers, leading WWE to punish him by being on the receiving end of a Stink Face by his real-life brother Rikishi during the Royal Rumble match.[15] The team lasted just shy of a year, with Fatu being released from his WWE contract in June 2003, reportedly after his involvement in a bar fight.[1][16]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2003–2004)

On September 24, 2003, Fatu debuted in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) under the ring name of Ekmo Fatu, helping Sonny Siaki defeat D'Lo Brown in a casket match. He then formed a tag team with Siaki. From October to August 2004, he teamed with Sonny Siaki to defeat the teams of Shark Boy and Mad Mikey, Danny Doring and Roadkill, and America's Most Wanted. Fatu made his final appearance on August 11, 2004 NWA-TNA PPV, where he lost to Alex Shelley.

All Japan Pro Wrestling (2004–2005)

Fatu debuted in All Japan Pro Wrestling in late 2003 under his former ring name Jamal, immediately aligning himself with Taka Michinoku's Roughly Obsess and Destroy (R.O.D.) stable. He most often teamed with fellow members Taiyō Kea and Buchanan, though he began to receive a push as a singles wrestler in early 2004. Entering that year's Champion Carnival, he failed to advance past the group stages, though earned a major upset win over Keiji Mutō. In May, he began a feud with Toshiaki Kawada, setting his sights on Kawada's Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship. The two fought for the belt on June 12 in Nagoya, Aichi, where Kawada was victorious.[17]. After this loss, Jamal spent the rest of 2004 primarily focused on the tag division, and on December 1, 2004, he and frequent partner Taiyō Kea won the World's Strongest Tag Determination League tournament, beating Kaz Hayashi and Satoshi Kojima in the final.[18] The following month on January 16, 2005, they won the World Tag Team Championship for the first time, beating New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) representatives Hiroshi Tanahashi and Yutaka Yoshie. Following this win, he was once again pushed in that year's Champion Carnival, earning big wins over established names such as Kawada and Kojima on his way to the final, where he lost to Kensuke Sasaki in Tokyo.[19] With a strong record of wins against champion Satoshi Kojima, Jamal began to pursue the Triple Crown once again in August, culminating in a match between the two in Sapporo in September 1, where Jamal was once again defeated.[20] After this, he once again entered the Real World Tag League with Kea, however, they failed to advance past the group stages. Jamal left All Japan Pro Wrestling in December 2005.

Return to WWE

Undefeated streak (2006–2007)
Umaga at a WWE live event in 2006

In December 2005, Fatu had re-signed with World Wrestling Entertainment.[21] Fatu returned on the April 3, 2006 episode of Raw with a new character called Umaga, the same name of the final and most painful part of the Samoan tattooing process, meaning "the end",[22] he was depicted as a destructive savage who could be controlled only by his manager, Armando Alejandro Estrada.[23] Umaga attacked Ric Flair in his debut at the orders of Estrada.[24][25] He then defeated Flair at Backlash on April 30.[26]

In mid–2006, Umaga started a winning streak against the majority of the Raw roster, including going over top stars John Cena, Shawn Michaels, and Triple H. His next feud started at SummerSlam, where he was supposed to be an enforcer on behalf of Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon during their match against D-Generation X (Shawn Michaels and Triple H), only to be attacked by Kane as he made his entrance.[27] Umaga feuded with Kane for the next two months until Umaga won a Loser Leaves Raw match on the October 9 episode of Raw, sending Kane off of the brand.[28] After being separated by different brands, Umaga and Kane had one final match at Cyber Sunday, where Umaga again defeated Kane.[29]

Umaga, having still not been pinned, was then deemed the number one contender for the WWE Championship and placed into a feud with then-champion John Cena over the title. Cena retained his belt at the New Year's Revolution pay-per-view by pinning Umaga with a roll-up, officially ending his undefeated streak, which had lasted 34 televised matches and spanned from his re-debut in April 2006 to January 2007.[30] In that time, Umaga was never pinned or made to submit on television, but he suffered two losses by disqualification and another in a double countout.[31] For the rest of the month, Armando Alejandro Estrada played down Cena's victory, claiming it was a fluke, until a Last Man Standing rematch was signed for the Royal Rumble.[32] On an episode of Raw between the two pay-per-views, Umaga attacked Cena causing a worked injury to his spleen and putting the match in jeopardy.[33] Cena kayfabe refused a medical exam, the results of which could cause him to forfeit his title, and then defeated Umaga at the Royal Rumble after wrapping a loosened ring rope around his neck during an STFU.[34]

Intercontinental Champion and various feuds (2007–2009)
Umaga (left) at One Night Stand in June 2007 with Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon

Umaga was named Vince McMahon's representative for "Battle of the Billionaires" with Donald Trump at WrestleMania 23. Immediately after choosing Umaga, McMahon granted him a match against the Intercontinental Champion Jeff Hardy, which he won to take the title.[35] After Bobby Lashley was named Trump's representative, the two began a feud which lasted even beyond WrestleMania.[36] Umaga lost the Battle of the Billionaires' hair versus hair match and caused McMahon to get his head shaved.[37] Two weeks after WrestleMania, Lashley interfered in a match and helped a planted fan, Santino Marella, defeat Umaga for the Intercontinental Championship.[38] On April 29 at Backlash, Umaga, Vince, and Shane McMahon wrestled Lashley for his ECW World Championship in a Handicap match, winning the title for Vince.[39] Umaga would continue to be involved with that feud, competing at Judgment Day in the return match for the ECW World Championship, which was once again a Handicap Match with the McMahons along with Umaga taking on Lashley, which Lashley won. However, Lashley did not win the title because he pinned Shane and not the champion, Vince. The feud culminated at One Night Stand, with Umaga aiding Vince in defending the ECW World Championship against Lashley in a Street Fight, which Vince lost.

Umaga facing Triple H in November 2007

In June, Umaga was re-entered into a feud with Marella, the man who won the Intercontinental Championship earlier in April. When they met at the Vengeance pay-per-view, Umaga was solidly in control of the match, but lost by disqualification when he disregarded the referee's instructions and continued to punch Marella.[40] In a rematch on July 2, Umaga defeated Marella to win the Intercontinental Championship for the second time.[41] Not long after, he turned face by joining forces with John Cena against Carlito and Randy Orton.[42][43] After defeating both Carlito and Mr. Kennedy in a triple threat match at SummerSlam to retain the Intercontinental Championship,[44] he interrupted a match between Kennedy and the returning Jeff Hardy, assaulting Hardy and leaving him lying in the ring,[45] thus turning heel once again. One week later, on the September 3 episode of Raw, Umaga lost the Intercontinental Championship to Hardy.

Later that night, he teamed with Carlito in a handicap match against Triple H, after which Triple H struck him several times with his signature sledgehammer, injuring him.[46] He was given a match against Triple H at No Mercy, which was changed to a title match for the WWE Championship during the event when Triple H won the title earlier that night. Umaga was defeated by Triple H in their match.[47] At Survivor Series, his team lost to Triple H's team.[48] Coming up to WrestleMania XXIV, Umaga started a feud with Batista, but lost to him at WrestleMania.

On June 23, 2008, Umaga was drafted to the SmackDown brand, as a part of the 2008 WWE draft.[49] Umaga suffered a torn PCL at a live event in Johnson City, Tennessee on August 2. After two promos hyping his return to the brand, on the January 30, 2009 episode of SmackDown, Umaga returned with a new entrance theme, defeating Jimmy Wang Yang. Umaga then suffered his first defeat since his return against Triple H by disqualification on March 6 of SmackDown, after The Legacy attacked Triple H. On the May 1 episode of SmackDown, Umaga returned from a two-month hiatus, attacking CM Punk on multiple occasions, repeatedly interrupting Punk's attempts to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase.[50] At Judgment Day, Umaga defeated Punk, but would lose at Extreme Rules in a Samoan Strap match, ending their feud in what was Umaga's last appearance in WWE.[51] On June 8, 2009, WWE announced that Fatu was released from his WWE contract.[52] It was later revealed that his termination was due to violation of the Wellness Policy; even though this was only his second failure, his refusal to enter rehabilitation led to his dismissal.[4]

Independent circuit (2009)

On July 11, 2009, Umaga appeared at the World Wrestling Council (WWC) in Puerto Rico, defeating Mr. Anderson in a singles match. Four months later, Umaga appeared on Hulk Hogan's Hulkamania Tour of Australia. On November 21, 2009, Umaga teamed with Orlando Jordan to lose against his brother Rikishi and Brian Christopher. On November 24, 2009, Umaga defeated Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake. On November 26, 2009, Umaga and Orlando Jordan were defeated by Beefcake and Mr. Anderson. On November 28, 2009, Umaga wrestled his final match, losing to Anderson.

Personal life

Fatu and his wife L.T. had four children.[3]

During the weekend of August 30, 2007, articles posted by Sports Illustrated, the New York Daily News, and The Washington Post named Fatu as one of many superstars to have purchased pharmaceuticals from an online pharmacy, a violation of the WWE "Talent Wellness" program. Fatu specifically was said to have received somatotropin, a growth hormone, between July and December 2006, after the "No drugs from online sources" rule was instituted.[53][54] In June 2009, Fatu violated the Wellness Policy once again, and due to his uncooperation and refusal to attend drug rehabilitation, he was released from his WWE contract.[4]

Death

On December 4, 2009, Fatu was found by his wife in their Houston, Texas home, unresponsive and with blood coming from his nose. A 911 call was made and Fatu was rushed to a hospital by ambulance. He had suffered a heart attack and was pronounced dead at around 5:00 PM CST.[2][55][56] He was 36 years old. Toxicology reports revealed that Fatu had drugs hydrocodone, carisoprodol, and diazepam in his system. Houston medical examiners also found that Fatu had both heart and liver disease. It was determined that the combination of Fatu's drug use, along with his bad heart ultimately led to his death, and his death was officially ruled a heart attack brought on by an acute toxicity of multiple substances.[5]

Championships and accomplishments

Umaga is a two-time Intercontinental Champion

Luchas de Apuestas record

Winner (wager) Loser (wager) Location Event Date Notes
Bobby Lashley (Donald Trump's hair) Umaga (Vince McMahon's hair) Detroit, Michigan WrestleMania 23 April 1, 2007 [Note 1]

Footnotes

  1. ^ Stone Cold Steve Austin was the special guest referee.

See also

References

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  2. ^ a b Waldman, Jon (December 4, 2009). "Umaga dead at age 36". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved December 4, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Grinberg, Emanuella (December 5, 2009). "Wrestler 'Umaga' Edward Fatu dies of heart attack, friend says". CNN. Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Emanuella Grinberg (December 6, 2009). "Wrestlers grapple with problems in, out of the ring". CNN. Retrieved December 6, 2009.
  5. ^ a b "Eddie "Umaga" Fatu's Autopsy and Toxicology Reports Released". bleacherreport.com. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
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    listed as The Island Boys
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External links

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