Edward Smith Fatu was born March 28, 1973 in African Samoa. He was a member of the Anoa’i family which has a long wrestling history. He is the nephew of the Wild Samoans, Afa and Sika and is the uncle of current superstars, the Usos. He is also a cousin of Roman Reigns and the classics Yokozuna and Rosey.
Trained by his Wild Samoan uncles, Fatu started in independent federations such as WXW (World Xtreme Wrestling) and very shortly thereafter was recruited into the WWE developmental territory, Heartland Wrestling Association (HWA).
Here, Fatu formed a tag team partnership with his cousin Matt Anoa’i and the two eventually became tag team champions in Memphis Championship Wrestling and Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling.
Fame shone on the two cousins when they entered WWE and appeared on Raw. Here Anoa’i was renamed “Rosey” while Fatu was re-named “Jamal”. The two behemoths stood over 6 feet tall and weighted over 300 pounds each. They were assigned to be enforcers for Eric Bischoff, collectively known as “3 Minute Warning”.
Bischoff would intimidate some wrestler each week on television and then informed them they had “3 minutes” to decide what to do. Within 3 minutes, Rosey and Jamal would storm into the ring and mercilessly attack the hapless victim. The two were indiscriminate in who they attacked be it older women like The Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young, or retired greats like Jimmy Snuka or even 2 lesbians kissing which Bischoff referred to as “HLA: Hot Lesbian Action”.
3 Minute Warning started feuding with Billy and Chuck who were assuming the role of a homosexual team about to be married. The Minutes attacked the two lovebirds during their commitment ceremony at the “Unforgiven” Pay Per View event. Billy & Chuck’s manager Rico, then started managing 3 Minute Warning on his own.
The team competed against many of the WWE tag team combos at the team, but never were awarded any championships. They lasted about a year together, but were forced to disband when Jamal was released from his WWE contract.
Fatu also left the WWE at this time and emerged in All Japan Pro Wrestling as the same character and name of Jamal. Here Jamal was successful in acquiring the World Tag Team Championship with a new partner, Taiyo Kea.
Fatu returned to the WWE, appearing on Raw in April of 2006. His gimmick had changed such that now he resembled a savage adorned in tattoos all over his body including his face and went under the name of Umaga. His manager was Armando Alejandro Estrada.
Umaga left a destructive wake in his path, squashing jobbers left and right and even the legendary but aging Ric Flair during the “Backlash” Pay Per View event. This earned him the nickname of the “Samoan Bulldozer”.
Umaga’s success continued as he defeated WWE A-listers like John Cena and Shawn Michaels. He started to feud with Kane who was a face at the time. The Big Red Machine lost a “loser leaves Raw” match against Umaga and was forced to defect to SmackDown!
Umaga had his sights set on the WWE Heavyweight Championship held by John Cena at the time. As Umaga, Fatu had an undefeated record at 34 wins, 0 losses by pinfall or submission at the time he faced Cena for the belt at the “New Years Revolution” Pay Per View event. Cena won by clean pinfall, ending Umaga’s winning streak. Umaga would then lose a “Last Man Standing” match to Cena, ended his championship pursuits.
WrestleMania XXIII rolled around and a storyline was created where the pre-president elect Donald Trump was threatening to buy the WWE from McMahon. A match was set at the Pay Per View event whereby Trump would chose a wrestler and McMahon would chose a wrestler. Whomever’s man won would be the owner of the WWE and whomever’s man lost would get their head shaven bald. Mr. McMahon picked Umaga, and Trump picked the red hot Bobby Lashley.
Prior to the WrestleMania “Battle of the Billionaires”, Umaga’s momentum continued as he acquired the WWE Intercontinental Championship from Jeff Hardy, causing significant doubt for Lashley.
As expected, Lashley emerged victorious, Trump (kayfabe) bought the WWE and Vince got his head shaved. The feuding between Lashley and Umaga was far from over, however.
The WWE Universe got introduced to Santino Marella who played the role of a fan in the audience. With the help of Lashley, Marella became the Intercontinental Champion by defeating Umaga.
Lashley held the ECW World Championship and put it up for grabs in a 3 on 1 handicap match against Shane and Vince McMahon and Umaga. Lashley succumbed and drop the ECW title to Vince of all people.
Lashley did get his revenge by regaining the ECW title from the McMahons with help from Umaga in a Street Fight at the “One Night Stand” Pay Per View event.
Umaga still had his heart set on a title, so he faced and successfully defeated the man who had defeated him, Santino Marella for a second run as Intercontinental Champion. He successfully defended the belt for about two months after which he dropped the belt to a returning Jeff Hardy.
Things were fairly unsuccessful for Umaga thereafter. He lost a title shot to Triple H, as well as a losing effort against Triple H’s team at the Survivor Series. He then feuded briefly with Batista and Jeff Hardy once again, losing to them both.
Umaga then feuded with the likes of Mr. Kennedy, Big Show and Hardy again with nothing really remarkable coming of it. Things picked up a bit when Umaga started feuding with CM Punk and defeated him at the “Judgment Day” Pay Per View event.
On the next Pay Per View, “Extreme Rules”, Umaga lost a Somoan strap match to Punk and this ended not only his feud with Punk, but his career in the WWE.
Umaga had purchased pharmaceutical drugs online which violated the WWE’s Wellness Policy. He apparently had acquired somatropin (a growth hormone derivative) and refused rehabilitation, resulting in his release from the company.
He continued to be active on the independent circuit thereafter, making appearances in Puerto Rico and taking part in the Hulkamania Tour of Australia.
In 2009, Umaga was pronounced dead with blood coming from his nose, a victim of an overdose of hydrocodone (a narcotic analgesic), diazepam (an anti-anxiety medication) and carisoprodol (a muscle relaxant) at the age of 36.
Another wrestler that left us far too young, Umaga was certainly a force to be reckoned with during his WWE tenure and his achievements will mark his place in history amongst Samoan grapplers.
Special thanks to Dr. Stephen Balsky for contributing the above wrestler profile.
Dr. Stephen Balsky is a chiropractor currently in practice in his native Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has been a wrestling fan since age 13 and is very passionate about the product, especially the “old-school” 80’s – 90’s era. He completed his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree in 2015 and currently is also working part-time as a professor in both business and healthcare.