Dead Wrestler Wednesday: Umaga

WWE, TNA, Wrestling

The Samoan Bulldozer

Eddie Fatu, most fondly remembered as Umaga, was part of the famed Anoa’i wrestling family.  The nephew of Afa & Sika of the Wild Samoans, cousin to longtime partner Rosie, and brother of both the Tonga Kid & Rikishi, Umaga certainly had the pedigree to be a superstar.

Fatu made his debut on the WWE’s main roster as Jamal, one half of Three Minute Warning along with Rosie.  The duo served as the heavies of Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff for a few months, usually showing up to dismantle a defenseless victim after Bischoff would use the phrase “three minutes.”  The pair memorably put a beating on Stephanie McMahon at the wedding ceremony of Billy & Chuck and were the attackers of numerous other superstars throughout 2002.  After Eddie was involved in a barroom brawl, he was released from his WWE contract, and the days of Three Minute Warning were over.

Years later, in the Spring of 2006, Fatu returned to the WWE, this time as Umaga.  The Umaga character was a wild man, an uncontrollable force who needed a handler to guide him to and from the ring.  The savage beast was managed by Armando Alejandro Estrada, and debuted the night after WrestleMania 22 by attacking Ric Flair.  Umaga began an undefeated streak that would last for months, defeating notables such as Flair, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and WWE Champion John Cena.  He feuded with Kane throughout the summer of 2006, defeating the Big Red Machine in a “Loser Leaves Raw” match and effectively banishing him from Monday nights.

Umaga’s streak came to a close at New Year’s Revolution 2007 when he was pinned by Cena.  From there, the Samoan Bulldozer engaged in a high-profile feud with Bobby Lashley that culminated in Vince McMahon’s head being shaved bald at WrestleMania 23.  He enjoyed two reigns as Intercontinental Champion, beginning his first with a title victory over Jeff Hardy.  He’d later lose the belt to a debuting Santino Marella in Milan, Italy, from whom he’d recapture the title months later.  After a brief stint on Smackdown, Umaga was released from his WWE contract in June of 2009.  His termination was the result of his second wellness policy violation and refusal to enter a rehabilitation program.

Eddie Fatu passed away just 6 months after his WWE release on December 4, 2009.  At just 36 years old, his official cause of death was acute toxicity due to a combination of prescription drugs.

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