R. I. P. Edward "Umaga" Fatu (1973 – 2009)

Posted by Grey Saturday, December 5, 2009

Another tragic loss in the professional wrestling world, as Edward "Eddie" Fatu, better known to the general public as Umaga, passed away on Friday, December 4th.

Best known for his time with World Wrestling Entertainment, where he was a two-time Intercontinental Champion, Edward Fatu, gained kayfabe notoriety as the typecast "Wild Samoan" archetypal heel, Umaga, "The Samoan Bulldozer".

Hailing from the famous Anoa'i wrestling family, which includes cousin Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, his two uncles, who wrestled as The Wild Samoans in the 1980s, and brothers, Sam "Tonga Kid" and Solofa Jr. "Rikishi, Edward Fatu, 36, was born in American Samoa. Fatu's earlier wrestling career frequently required him to play the role of a part of a tag team – from The Island Boyz, the Samoan Gangstas, and 3-Minute Warning – with his cousin Matt Anoa'i. The 3-Minute Warning greatly boosted Edward's career, with both Edward and Matt billed as Jamal and Rosey, respectively. Subsequently, Fatu was repackaged under the ring name "Umaga", a gimmick not unlike that of Kamala and The Headshrinkers. The namesake, "Umaga" is the name of the final and most painful part of the Samoan tattooing process, meaning "the end", and Fatu was depicted as a destructive savage who could only be controlled by his manager, Armando Alejandro Estrada.

Fatu then went on an undefeated streak for months, putting on squash matches after squash matches, defeating the likes of Kane and Ric Flair until the streak culminated in a title opportunity against then WWE Champion, John Cena, in 2007's New Year's Revolution PPV. The remarkable winning streak, which lasted 34 televised matches and spanned from his re-debut in April 2006 to January 2007, officially ended when Cena pinned Fatu with a roll-up. Nevertheless, the feud picked up, escalating into a rematch for the title between the two in a Last Man Standing Match in Royal Rumble, which again sees Fatu's defeat.

Fatu's career high came in Wrestlemania 23, where Vince McMahon named Fatu as his representative for the "Battle of the Billionaires", against Bobby Lashley, then ECW Champion, who was Donald Trump's pick for the match. With the stipulation of this match being "hair versus hair" (an obnoxious pun on Trump's iconic hairstyle), the match were much publicized and ended with Vince McMahon getting his head shaved clean.

Subsequent portion of his career were stagnant, with no title opportunities in sight. Fatu went out with a longstanding injury in 2008, and returns later that year in strong form, igniting a fresh feud with CM Punk in Smackdown. However, after losing to Punk in a Samoan strap match at Extreme Rules 2009, Fatu were released from his WWE contract for having violated the WWE's Wellness Program and refusing to enter rehabilitation.

Fatu were last seen in Hulk Hogan's "Hulkamania - Let The Battle Begin" tour (covered in an earlier entry here) in Australia, in a tag team match with Orlando Jordan against his brother, Solofa Fatu Jnr (Rikishi) and Brian Christopher (Grand Master Sexay).

On December 4, 2009, Fatu suffered a heart attack in his sleep and was rushed to a local hospital in Houston, Texas, admitting into the Intensive Care Unit. He was pronounced dead in the evening after suffering a second heart attack.


WWE's condolence page on Fatu.

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