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Umaga

Umaga is introduced by his manager at the 2006 Unforgiven PPV by his manager Armando Alejandro Estrada
- photo by Mike Mastrandrea

REAL NAME: Eddie Fatu
6' 4", 348 pounds
BORN:March 28 in Samoa
NICKNAMES: OG Ekmo, Ekmo Fatu, Ekmo, Jamal

Another in a long line of fine Samoan-born wrestlers, Umaga is actually Eddie Fatu, who began his wrestling career by training under Afa at the Wild Samoan Pro Wrestling camp before debuting in 1995 for Afa's World Xtreme Wrestling.

Fatu, known as Ekmo, and Kimo (later Rosey) would make a brief appearance in WWE in 1996, stalking Fatu (later Rikishi).

His first championship came when Ekmo and Kimo teamed as the Samoan Gangstas to defeat the Love Connection on May 24, 1997 and win the WXW Tag Team Championships. A second title reign began on September 17th when the Samoan Gangstas defeated the Mad Russian and the Russian Eliminator.

Ekmo and Kimo were later dubbed The Island Boys and, after being signed to WWE developmental contracts, were assigned to Les Thatcher's Heartland Wrestling promotion in Cincinatti, Ohio. Before they had worked too long with HWA, on June 21, 2001, Ekmo Fatu headed to Tokyo, Japan and teamed Matty Samu to defeat Hideki Hosaka and Yoshinori Sasaki for the Frontier Martial Arts Wrestlin Hardcore Tag Team title.

After several months of action in the HWA, the Island Boys defeated Shannon Moore and Evan Karagias to win the organization's tag team titles on November 14, 2001. Although they would lose the belts to Val Venis and Steve Bradley on December 8th, the Island Boys had one more title run in them before heading to WWE.

They appeared on WWE Raw in July 2002, where they were known as Three Minute Warning and became henchmen for Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff. Over the summer of 2002, Three Minute Warning (Ekmo as Jamal and Kimo as Rosey) attacked D-Lo Brown, Shawn Stasiak, Jimmy Snuka, Howard Finkle, Lillian Garcia, the Fabulous Moolah, Mae Young and even the midget MiniDust, not to mention the two young women that Bischoff hired for some Hot Lesbian Action.

However, Three Minute Warning really made a splash when they interrupted the wedding of Billy (now Kip James) and Chuck (Palumbo). They followed up their attack with a victory over Billy and Chuck at Unforgiven, and Booker T and Goldust and later the Dudley Boys (now Team 3D) on Raw.

In June 2003, Jamal was released by WWE. Heading to TNA, Jamal became Ekmo and teamed with Sonny Siaki after Ekmo helped Siaki win a casket match against D-Lo Brown. Ekmo and Siaki teamed in TNA quite frequently, especially against America's Most Wanted. By November 2003, Ekmo had left TNA to wrestle in Japan.

Wrestling once again as Jamal, he teamed with Justin Credible and made it to the finals of the All Japan Real World Tag League, losing to Satoshi Kojima and Kaz Hayashi. With the exception of an August appearance in TNA, Jamal stayed in Japan for most of 2004, competing for All Japan, and forming a tag team with Taiyo Kea, with whom he competed in the 2004 and 2005 Real World Tag League tournaments.

On January 16, 2005, Kea and Jamal defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi and Yutaka Yoshie in Osaka, Japan and won the vacant All Japan World Tag Team titles.

In December 2005, it was announced that Jamal had re-signed with WWE and would be returning after he finished his commitments in Japan. He would team with former Three Minute Warning partner, Rosey, but, on April 3rd, would be repackaged on Raw as Umaga. With his manager, Armando Alejandro Estrada, Umaga attacked none other than former World Champion Ric Flair, instantly making a name for himself on the Raw roster.

Umaga would defeat Flair at Backlash and go on to destroy scores of opponents in squash matches. He’d beat Kane in a "Loser Leaves RAW" match and at Cyber Sunday, and then go on to feud with WWE Champion John Cena.

Umaga defeated Jeff Hardy to win the Intercontinental belt shortly after Vince McMahon proclaimed "The Samoan Bulldozer" as his representative at WrestleMania 23 in his "Battle of the Billionaires" feud with Donald Trump. (Trump's rep Bobby Lashley defeated Umaga, resulting in McMahon getting his head shaved.)

Umaga would continue to feud with ECW Champion Lashley, culminating in a three-on-one handicap match at Backlash in which Vince McMahon would win the belt.

Although losing the Intercontinental title briefly to "fan" Santino Marella at a RAW match in Italy, Umaga would regain and then retain the belt in squash matches against Marella.

Almost immediately after his name was listed among those rumoured to have been suspended for violating the wellness policy, Umaga lost the belt back to Hardy and was "injured" by Triple H. A month later, Umaga would return to continue his feud with Triple H, losing to him at No Mercy.

Umaga wore down Triple H in a following handicap match, but Triple H was still able to get the better of him (thanks to his sledgehammer) in a Street Fight at Cyber Sunday. Umaga, however, did not fade away quietly, and the two combatants continued to go at it in tag matches, but Triple H continued getting the upper hand, including a victory of his team over Umaga's at Survivor Series. (Although it took both Triple H and Jeff Hardy to eliminate him.) They'd meet again in an Elimination Chamber match at No Way Out, but Umaga was gang attacked at one point, getting eliminated after being hit by everybody's finishing moves, before Triple H ultimately won.

WWE set up a quickie feud for Umaga against Batista to promote an inter-promotional WrestleMania contest. At WrestleMania 24, SmackDown's Batista prevailed in a match to determine brand supremacy. Umaga then took on Jeff Hardy who was returning from suspension, and lost to him in a Falls Count Anywhere match at One Night Stand. Soon thereafter, Umaga was drafted to SmackDown. But his stay there was short-lived, as he suffered a torn Posterior Cruciate Ligament at a live event August 2. Initially, Umaga was going to attempt rehabbing the injury and try to make it back in four to six weeks. The injury, however, didn't heal and Umaga was forced to undergo surgery. He wouldn't return to a WWE ring until the end of January 2009.

Umaga came back strong, squashing a series of smaller jobbers. He then began feuding with CM Punk, preventing him from cashing his Money in the Bank contract against Edge. Umaga even beat Punk at Judgment Day, but wouldn't leave it there. After attacking Punk with a leather strap during Punk's match against Chris Jericho on SmackDown, Umaga revealed he could speak English when he picked up a mic and challenged Punk to a Samoan Strap Match at the next pay-per-view. For reasons that only WWE Creative could justify, the two met just before their PPV match, and CM Punk inexplicably scored a pinfall victory over Umaga on SmackDown. At Extreme Rules, the Samoan Bulldozer wrestled his last WWE match, falling again to Punk.

The next day, WWE announced Umaga's release. A few days later, WWE clarified its action, releasing a statement that claimed Umaga's termination reflected his second violation of the WWE Wellness Program, and his subsequent refusal to attend a rehabilitation facility.

--- compiled by John M. Milner and Richard Kamchen

RELATED STORIES

  • March 1, 2010: Umaga died of ‘acute toxicity’
  • Dec. 4, 2009: Umaga dead at age 36
  • Dec. 4, 2009: Reaction quick to Umaga's death
  • Dec. 4, 2009: Umaga hospitalized in Houston
  • June 8, 2009: Umaga released by WWE