Umaga (wrestler)

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Umaga
UmagaWrestler2009.png
Fatu as Umaga in 2009
Birth name Edward Smith Fatu
Ring name(s) Ekmo[1]
Ekmo Fatu[2]
Jamal[2]
Umaga[1]
Billed height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)[3]
Billed weight 350 lb (160 kg)[3]
Born (1973-03-28)March 28, 1973[2][4]
San Francisco, California, US[5]
Died December 4, 2009(2009-12-04) (aged 36)
Houston, Texas, US[3]
Billed from "The Isle of Samoa"[6]
Trained by Afa Anoa'i[2]
Debut 1995

Edward "Eddie" Smith Fatu[5] (March 28, 1973 – December 4, 2009) was a Samoan-American professional wrestler. He was best known for his appearances with the World Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Entertainment in the 2000s under the ring names Jamal and Umaga.

He was a member of the Anoa'i wrestling family and frequently worked as a part of a tag team – variously named The Island Boyz, the Samoan Gangstas, and 3-Minute Warning – with his cousin Matt Anoa'i. During Fatu's first stint with WWE, he was known as Jamal and Matt was billed as Rosey. In late 2005, Fatu returned to WWE. Repackaged under the ring name Umaga, Fatu went undefeated for many months on WWE's Raw brand throughout much of 2006, before suffering his first defeat under the Umaga name 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[edit]

Fatu was born on 28th March 1973 to Vera and Solofa Fatu, Sr.. Fatu was a member of the famous Anoa'i family. His mother, Vera, was the sister of Afa and Sika of the Wild Samoans.[5][7] His two older brothers, Sam and Solofa, are also professional wrestlers, and he was a cousin of Dwayne Johnson.[5] On April 27, 2008, Fatu's mother died after a seven-year battle with cancer.[8]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early career (1995–2002)[edit]

Fatu trained to become a professional wrestler at the "Wild Samoan Pro Wrestling Training Center" operated by his Uncles, Afa and Sika. In 1995, with his training complete, he started wrestling for Afa's World Xtreme Wrestling (WXW). The next year, both Fatu and his cousin Matt were brought into the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) to take part in an angle with Solafa Fatu, Jr., Fatu's brother and Matt's cousin, that ended up being quickly dropped.[2] Instead they were sent to the WWF's "farm territory" Heartland Wrestling Association, where they formed a tag team which stayed together through various promotions, including Memphis Championship Wrestling and Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, holding championships in both[9][10] under the names Samoan Gangstas and Island Boyz.

World Wrestling Entertainment (2002-2003)[edit]

In 2002 the team was brought back to the (now renamed) World Wrestling Entertainment as 3-Minute Warning, a pair of enforcers for Raw brand General Manager Eric Bischoff.[11] The team lasted just shy of a year, with Jamal being released from his WWE contract in June 2003, reportedly after his involvement in a bar fight.[2][12]

All Japan Pro Wrestling (2003–2004)[edit]

Fatu left WWE for All Japan Pro Wrestling, where he used the name Jamal, the same name he'd used as a member of 3-Minute Warning. He was again used as a part of tag teams, first forming a short lived team with Justin Credible before forming a more permanent team with Taiyō Kea. With Kea he held the World Tag Team Championship and won the World's Strongest Tag Determination League tournament in 2004.[13] The team also wrestled a stint in Hawai'i Championship Wrestling, holding the HCW Kekaulike Heritage Tag Team Championship once.

Return to WWE (2005–2009)[edit]

Return and feud with Ric Flair (2005-2006)[edit]

In December 2005, Fatu re-signed with World Wrestling Entertainment.[14] Initial signs pointed to a reunion of 3-Minute Warning, with the former team of Matt Anoa'i (Rosey) and Fatu (Jamal) wrestling in dark matches together before episodes of Raw.[15] However, Rosey was released from WWE before the team could be brought to the main show.[16]

Fatu at a WWE Raw house show.

Fatu returned on the April 3, 2006 episode of Raw with a new gimmick similar to that of Kamala and The Headshrinkers.[17] Now called Umaga, the same name of the final and most painful part of the Samoan tattooing process, meaning "the end",[18] he was depicted as a destructive savage who could only be controlled by his manager, Armando Alejandro Estrada.[19][20]Umaga participated in squash matches, destroying various jobbers,[21][22] until he dispatched Flair at Backlash at the end of the month.[23]

Various feuds and pursuit of the WWE Championship (2006–2007)[edit]

Mid-2006 saw Umaga winning matches against the majority of the Raw roster, including the likes of Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and John Cena, who at the time was still WWE Champion. His next actual feud started at August's SummerSlam, where he was supposed to be an enforcer on behalf of the McMahons (the heel gimmicks of Vince and Shane) during their match against D-Generation X (Shawn Michaels and Triple H), only to be attacked by then face, Kane as he made his entrance.[24] Kane and Umaga feuded for the next two months until Umaga won a Loser Leaves Raw match, sending Kane off of the brand.[25] After being separated by different brands, Umaga and Kane had one final match at Cyber Sunday where Umaga again defeated Kane after fans selected him over Chris Benoit and The Sandman to be Umaga's opponent for the night.[26]

Umaga, having still not been pinned in the WWE, 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.[27] In that time Umaga was never pinned or made to submit on television, although he did lose two matches by disqualification and another went to a double countout.[28] For the rest of the month, Estrada played down Cena's victory, claiming it was a fluke, until a Last Man Standing rematch was signed for the next pay-per-view, the Royal Rumble.[29] 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.[30] Cena kayfabe refused a medical exam, the results of which could cause him to forfeit his title, and then defeated Umaga by 10 count, after wrapping a loosened ring rope around his neck during an STFU.[31]

Intercontinental Champion (2007-2008)[edit]

Umaga at One Night Stand in June 2007 with Vince and Shane McMahon

Though he was out of the world title picture, Umaga was named Vince McMahon's "representative" for the WrestleMania 23 "Battle of the Billionaires" with Donald Trump. Immediately after choosing Umaga, McMahon "granted" him a match against the Intercontinental Champion, Jeff Hardy, which he won to take the title.[32] After Bobby Lashley was named Trump's representative, the two began a feud which lasted even beyond WrestleMania.[33] Despite Umaga losing in the "Battle of the Billionaires" hair versus hair match and causing Vince McMahon to get his head shaved,[34] the McMahons (Vince and Shane) continued to second him to the ring. Two weeks after WrestleMania, Lashley interfered in a match and helped a planted fan, Santino Marella, defeat Umaga for the Intercontinental title.[35] At the April 29 Backlash event, the team of Umaga, Vince, and Shane McMahon wrestled Bobby Lashley for his ECW World Championship in a Handicap match, winning the title for Vince.[36] Umaga would continue to be involved with the Lashley/McMahon feud, competing at Judgment Day in the return match for the ECW Championship, which was once again a Handicap Match with the McMahons along with Umaga taking on Bobby Lashley. The feud culminated at One Night Stand, with Umaga aiding The McMahons in defending the ECW Championship against Bobby Lashley in a Street Fight Match, which Umaga and The McMahons lost.

Eddie Fatu and Jeff Hardy signing autographs to US soldiers.

In June, Umaga was re-entered into a feud with Marella, the man who won his 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 referees instructions and continued to punch Marella.[37] In a rematch on July 2, Umaga defeated Marella to win his second and final WWE Intercontinetal Championship.[38] Not long after, he seemingly started a face turn, joining forces with John Cena against Carlito and Randy Orton.[39][40] After defeating both Mr. Kennedy and Carlito in a triple threat match at SummerSlam to retain his Intercontinental Title,[41] Umaga interrupted a Raw match between Kennedy and a returning Jeff Hardy, assaulting Hardy and leaving him lying in the ring[42] thus turning heel again. One week later, on the September 3 Raw, Umaga lost the Intercontinental title to Hardy in a singles match. 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.[43] 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. Fatu was defeated by Triple H in their match.[44] At Survivor Series his team of Montel Vontavious Porter, Mr. Kennedy, Finlay and Big Daddy V lost to Triple H's team.[45] Coming up to WrestleMania XXIV, Fatu started feuding with Batista, but he lost to him at WrestleMania. Upon Jeff Hardy's return, William Regal sent Umaga into the ring to "punish" Jeff, thus reigniting the feud between them. Umaga would go on to face Jeff Hardy at One Night Stand in a Falls Count Anywhere Match, which Umaga lost.

Various storylines and departure (2008–2009)[edit]

Fatu on the Hulkamania Tour.

On June 23, 2008, Umaga was drafted from the Raw brand to the SmackDown brand, as a part of the 2008 WWE Draft.[46] After having a short lived rivalry with Mr. Kennedy and Big Show, Fatu suffered a torn PCL at a SmackDown live event in Johnson City, Tennessee on August 2 during a match with Jeff Hardy. On the January 30, 2009 episode of SmackDown, Umaga returned to action with his unstoppable persona and won his return match against Jimmy Wang Yang. Umaga then suffered his first defeat since his return by losing to Triple H by disqualification, after Triple H was attacked by The Legacy (Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes). After a short hiatus, he returned on the May 1, 2009 episode of SmackDown, attacking CM Punk on multiple occasions, repeatedly interrupting Punk's attempts to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase.[47] At Judgment Day, Umaga defeated Punk, and on the May 22 episode of SmackDown, he spoke in English for the first time under the Umaga gimmick, when he challenged Punk to a Samoan strap match. At Extreme Rules, Umaga lost to Punk to end the feud, this was Umaga's last appearance in WWE.[48] On June 8, 2009, WWE announced that Fatu was released from his WWE contract.[49] 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.[3][50]

Independent circuit (2009)[edit]

After being released from the WWE. On July 11, 2009, Umaga appeared for the first time since his WWE departure at the 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 and Orlando Jordan were defeated by Brian Christopher and Umaga's brother Rikishi. On November 24, 2009, Umaga defeated Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake. On November 26, 2009, Umaga and Orlando Jordan were defeated by Mr. Anderson and Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake. On November 28, 2009, Umaga wrestled in his final match, defeating Mr. Anderson. Later that night, Umaga interfered in the main event match of Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair on several nights of the tour.

Personal life[edit]

Fatu was married, and had 4 children.[5]

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 a number of superstars to have purchased pharmaceuticals from an online pharmacy, a violation of the WWE "Talent Wellness" program. Fatu specifically was said to have received somatropin, a growth hormone, between July and December 2006, after the "No drugs from online sources" rule was instituted.[51][52] In June 2009, Fatu violated the Wellness Policy, and due to his unwillingness to seek rehabilitation, he was released from his WWE contract.[3]

Death[edit]

On December 4, 2009, Fatu was found not breathing with blood coming out of his nose, and was rushed to the hospital. He had suffered a heart attack, and was pronounced dead around 5:00 PM Central Time after suffering a second heart attack.[4][53][54] The official cause of death was acute toxicity due to combined effects of hydrocodone, carisoprodol, and diazepam.[55] Fatu was 36 years old.

In wrestling[edit]

Fatu attacking Brian Christopher
Chris Jericho facing Umaga on Raw.
  • Finishing moves
  • As Umaga
  • As Jamal
  • Signature moves
  • Stables
  • "The Samoan Bulldozer"[3]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Luchas de Apuestas[edit]

Wager Winner Loser Location Date Notes
Vince McMahon's hair Bobby Lashley with Trump Umaga with McMahon Detroit, Michigan April 1, 2007 WrestleMania 23

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b c d e f "Umaga Bio". SLAM! Sports. Retrieved July 30, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Emanuella Grinberg (December 6, 2009). "Wrestlers grapple with problems in, out of the ring". CNN. Retrieved December 6, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Waldman, Jon (December 4, 2009). "Umaga dead at age 36". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved December 4, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Grinberg, Emanuella (December 5, 2009). "Wrestler 'Umaga' Edward Fatu dies of heart attack, friend says". CNN. Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved July 4, 2013. 
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    listed as The Island Boys
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    name misspelled as "Eddy"
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External links[edit]