Wrestler of the Day – March 2: Umaga

Off to Samoa for some Umaga.

Umaga got his start up in Pennsylvania as Ekmo in a tag team called the Island Boyz. They would receive a dark match against the Haas Brothers (Charlie and his brother Russ) on September 18, 2001.

Island Boyz vs. Haas Brothers

The Island Boyz are more famous as 3 Minute Warning. Ekmo (Umaga) throws Russ around for a bit before it’s off to Kimo for a double headbutt and two. Off to Charlie who runs into a clothesline who gets sat on while attempting a sunset flip. The Haas Brothers finally hit a double dropkick to take over on Kimo for a bit but Russ just stands around a lot. The referee misses a tag off to Ekmo, meaning the big monster Samoans are the faces here for some reason. Kimo comes back with a pretty bad looking double suplex and the tag brings in Ekmo to clean house. A side slam from Kimo sets up a top rope splash from Ekmo to pin Russ.

Rating: C-. Very basic tag team match here but the heel/face dymanic was a bit head scratching. The crowd popped for the finish which is more than you can ask for in a match like this. Neither team looked all that great and I can’t say I’m surprised that Russ never made it up to the top level.

The Island Boyz would get hired and brought up to the main roster about a year later as 3 Minute Warning, a pair of enforcers for Eric Bischoff. Their first PPV match was against Billy and Chuck at Unforgiven 2002. You need the recap for this one.

We recap 3 Minute Warning vs. Billy and Chuck. This was one of those things that only happens in wrestling and soap operas. So Billy and Chuck were going to have a “commitment ceremony” (and yes it’s exactly what it sounds like) and the justice of the peace was really old. He started talking about how this could last and said it could be three minutes. He then changed his voice and pulled his face off, revealing that it was Bischoff in a prosthetic mask. The fat guys (Jamal and Rosey) beat up Billy and Chuck after that. Stephanie did the same on Raw and the match happened as a result.

 

Billy and Chuck vs. 3 Minute Warning

 

Here they’re just Rosey and Jamal but the 3 minute idea was still around. Jamal is more famous as Umaga. The fight starts immediately and Rico kicks Chuck in the head to take over. Rosey vs. Chuck starts us off. Cole talks about all of the people that 3 Minute Warning has beaten up, calling them a who’s who of wrestling: Shawn Stasiak, D’Lo Brown, Mini-dust, lesbians, Mae Young and Moolah just to name a few. I’m not here any more. I’m over there. That blew me away.

 

This is the fat boys’ debut and the fans make gay chants at Rico. A middle rope moonsault misses Chuck and this isn’t an incredibly interesting match. Billy comes in and cleans house but then tries to ram the Samoans’ heads together. And people wonder why he gets made fun of. Anyway, Rosey goes up for a splash but Chuck saves….by throwing him off the top with the hopes that Billy isn’t there anymore I guess. Jamal cleans house and superkicks Chuck but walks into a Fameasser. Rico comes in for a distraction and a Samoan Drop ends Billy to set up HLA later.

 

Rating: D. Well this was uh…..pointless? Why did this need to happen on PPV again? The match wasn’t very good at all and was just here to set up an angle later on in the night, which I’m sure won’t have any shenanigans at all. Billy and Chuck would split very soon after this after losing in the first round of the Smackdown tag title tournament.

The pair would head over to Raw and face various teams, including Kane and Rob Van Dam on February 10, 2003.

Kane/Rob Van Dam vs. 3 Minute Warning

Jamal (Umaga) slams Rob down to start but Rob takes out the legs and gets two off the standing moonsault. Rob goes up top but gets shoved face first into the barricade, allowing Rico to get in a cheap shot on the floor. Back in and it’s off to Rosey for a splash for two. The match keeps going slowly as Jamal comes back in, only to have Rob backflip out of a belly to back suplex.

A clothesline puts Van Dam back down for two but he ducks another clothesline which takes Rosey down by mistake. Kane gets the hot tag to clean house with all of his usual stuff. Rosey breaks up a chokeslam attempt on Jamal so Kane kicks both of them in the face. Rob comes in as well for his usual stuff and Rolling Thunder gets two on Jamal. Everything breaks down and it’s a chokeslam and Five Star to Jamal for the pin.

Rating: D. This is one of those matches where you can only say it existed. There’s just nothing else going on in this match and it showed badly. I have no idea who thought splitting up the tag titles in 2002 was a good idea but it was clear by this point that there was no way to support them. Hence why they went on for about five more years of course.

Umaga would be released in June, allegedly due to being in a bar fight. He would head over to TNA in a tag team with Sonni Siaki. That went nowhere so it was off to Japan for a bit before coming back to TNA in 2004, where he would be brought in to try and beat up Alex Shelley on August 11, 2004.

Alex Shelley vs. Ekmo

Ekmo runs over Shelley to start as Tenay tries to explain the Samoan family tree. A suplex puts Alex down and the running hip attack in the corner crushes his face. The managers (the reason for the story) chase each other to the back and when we cut back, Ekmo is down. I can’t stand stuff like that. Shelley cranks on the leg but Ekmo comes back with a spinebuster.

Shelley’s manager Goldilocks tries to come in but Desire (brought in Ekmo) comes back in for a catfight. Ekmo hits a top rope splash but the referee is with the girls. Shelley’s old partner Abyss comes in with two chair shots and a Black Hole Slam to Ekmo, giving Alex’s unconscious body the pin.

Rating: D+. This was all backstory but that doesn’t make it any easier to sit through. The match was short and Desire wasn’t bad looking though, so at least there was something to keep me from getting bored. This would be a one off appearance for Ekmo but it could have been far worse.

After another year in Japan it was back to WWE as Umaga, and old school Samoan monster. His first major match was against Ric Flair at Backlash 2006.

Umaga vs. Ric Flair

Umaga debuted less than a month before this so this is his first real match. When you need a new kid tested, call in Naitch. Flair jumps him in the aisle and that goes badly for him. We go into the ring for the bell and Flair gets pounded into the corner. Flair pokes him in the eye and hits him low a few times, only to get chopped right back down.

The running corner attack (NOT FROM RIKISHI YOU NXT ANNOUNCERS) misses and we go to the floor. Umaga misses a charge and hits the post and it’s time to go after the leg. The Figure Four is broken up and Flair is put in the Tree of Woe for a headbutt. The running hip attack sets up another headbutt which sets up the Samoan Spike for the pin.

Rating: C+. This was a total squash for Umaga but the idea here was perfect: Flair made Umaga look like a monster here which is exactly the point of something like this. Umaga would be a destruction machine, not losing until January when Cena finally put him down with a rollup of all things. This was a textbook example of how to put someone over using a legend.

Umaga would destroy everyone in his path for the rest of the year, including this match against Shawn Michaels on Raw from July 31, 2006.

Shawn Michaels vs. Umaga

The idea here is that no one can stop Umaga so Shawn is brought in to give him a real test while also tying in with the DX vs. Vince feud. Umaga also has Armando Alejandro Estrada as his manager. Shawn chops away to start and hammers away in the corner before hitting a low dropkick. Umaga misses a clothesline and Shawn bails outside as Vince and Shane come out.

We take a break and come back with Umaga uppercutting Shawn down. A kick to the face sends Shawn to the floor as the announcers talk about HHH being taken away for having Cuban cigars. Back in and Umaga hammers away on Shawn even more but Shawn won’t quit. We hit the neck crank on Shawn but he avoids the running hip attack in the corner.

Michaels comes back with chops and the forearm to put Umaga down but Estrada blocks the nipup. Umaga runs over Estrada by mistake but catches Shawn in the Samoan drop. The Samoan freaks out and loads up the announce table but Shawn avoids the Samoan Spike and goes low. The top rope elbow connects but Vince grabs the leg before Chin Music. Shawn takes the forearm but Umaga takes Shawn’s head off with the Spike for the pin.

Rating: C. This was a basic Shawn fights a monster match but it worked well enough. The interference made sense and helped advance the feud so it’s about all you can ask for. Umaga was getting some traction around this time and this was the kind of big win that he needed to put him a bit higher.

This roll would eventually earn Umaga a WWE Title shot against John Cena at New Year’s Revolution 2007.

Raw World Title: John Cena vs. Umaga

The big match introductions never get old to me. This is during Cena’s year long reign that made him so freaking hated. Umaga is just destroying him early on so cue up the Superman music for later. Cena has had maybe two moves in ten minutes. This is domination. Take out the Superman music and give us the Zeke Jackson music.

Cena hits the Throwback but he apparently hasn’t read up on his stereotypes as a shot to the head won’t hurt him at all. Ross references Yokozuna with Umaga, which is a bit much for my taste. The FU doesn’t work either. More or less the fatness of Umaga is too much. And it’s nerve hold time. That gave me a funny image of Samoans in a medical school learning how to do those holds. That’s rather amusing.

After the hold though he RAPS UP and starts his ending sequence, only to not be able to get the FU. Umaga goes for the running hip shot but Cena gets his feet into the chest and rolls Umaga up for the pin. I’ll give them that one: that was a lot more realistic than just getting the FU for the pin, and they kept Umaga looking strong.

Rating: B. Not bad at all here as this was in essence a throwaway show and a token title defense for Cena, although in the end it wound up paying off. That’s always a good sign as this wasn’t a terrible match at all and was actually pretty entertaining. They kept both guys looking strong which set them up for last man standing the following month.

As mentioned, the rematch was a last man standing match at Royal Rumble 2007. Cena has bad ribs coming in.

Raw World Title: John Cena vs. Umaga

Cena is defending and this is last man standing. Cena pounds away to start but Umaga barely moves. Umaga gets in a shot to the ribs and Cena falls to the outside, clutching his ribs. The champ gets sent into the steps and it’s all Umaga in the early going. They slug it out in the aisle and all of a sudden Cena’s punches work better. He tries to ram Umaga face first into the apron but Umaga screams and hits Cena in the ribs again.

Back in and Cena is in even more trouble with Umaga pounding on the ribs. A clothesline puts Cena down and Umaga brings in the steps. Cena knocks him off the apron though and throws the steps down onto Umaga’s (hands covering) head. It looked a lot better when Kane did it because you couldn’t see the hands but whatever. That draws a six count but more importantly it allows Cena to get a breather.

Umaga superkicks Cena down and it’s off to a bearhug. Since there are no submissions, Umaga lets Cena go and brings in some more steps. The steps are set up in the corner but Cena avoids the running hip attack (SEE??? IT WAS UMAGA AND NOT RIKISHI!!! SCREW YOU WWE ANNOUNCERS!!!) and blasts Umaga in the head with the steps. That only gets seven so Cena goes up and jumps into a spinning Rock Bottom, drawing some loud screams from the champ.

The Samoan cannonballs down onto Cena’s ribs but Cena finally knees him in the crotch to slow Umaga down. The Protobomb sends Umaga onto the steps but only gets about five as Cena hits the Shuffle to break the count. Cena tries the FU but Umaga’s weight causes Cena to fall face first into the steps. John is busted open so the fans tell him that he sucks. Ignore the fact that almost no one else could get a match this good out of Umaga I guess.

Cena gets up at eight and gets punched in the face some more, only to start Hulking Up. He pounds away on Umaga but walks into a Samoan Drop, driving the ribs and Cena’s shoulder into the mat. The Samoan Spike is blocked (for the life of me I do not get why they picked a thumb to the neck for Umaga’s finisher. The guy is a MONSTER and he pokes you in the neck?) so Umaga headbutts Cena down instead.

Umaga puts him in the Tree of Woe but Cena sits up in the corner to avoid a running headbutt. The top rope Fameasser takes Umaga down and Cena sends him shoulder first into the post. They head to the floor and Cena is covered in blood. With Umaga still laying over the ropes, Cena BLASTS HIM with a monitor to the head to put him down. Back to the floor but Umaga catches a diving Cena and drives him back first into the post.

Umaga puts Cena on the announce table and runs along the other tables, only to miss a splash and crash onto the ground. That gets nine and Cena has no idea what to do next. Estrada, Umaga’s manager, unhooks the top rope and tells Umaga to use the metal pole to blast Cena in the head. Cena catches a charging Umaga with the FU and hits him in the head with the pole. He hooks a kind of STF with the ring rope and Umaga is passing out. Umaga starts fighting up so Cena chokes him even more. FINALLY Umaga is out and Cena retains the title.

Rating: B+. This was a FIGHT which is what a last man standing match is supposed to do. I was digging the story they were telling here with Cena fighting a savage but having to become a savage himself to beat him. The fans didn’t like him at this point, but screw them as would you really rather have Umaga as champion? This was one of many awesome matches Cena had in this stretch, but OH NO kids like him so he must suck right? Give me a break.

Umaga would pick up the Intercontinental Title a few weeks later before being entered into the real main event of Wrestlemania 23, as Vince’s handpicked monster against Donald Trump’s handpicked man in Bobby Lashley. I’ll throw in the backstory again.

We recap the real main event for tonight’s show and the reason why this show was the highest drawing show ever for the next five years. Vince and Donald Trump both agreed to back a guy into a match and the losing billionaire would get their head shaved. This was when Trump was still a big deal and EVERYONE was backing Umaga because they wanted to see Trump bald. Oh except for Rock who actually cut a promo about wanting to see Vince bald.

Trump picked the ECW World Champion Bobby Lashley. Steve Austin was brought in to referee because this is Wrestlemania. The best part of the build was Lashley in a cage with Umaga on the floor. To escape, Lashley shoulder blocked the cage wall, knocking it down to the floor and nearly crushing Umaga in the process.

Bobby Lashley vs. Umaga

The barber’s chair gets its own entrance complete with some snappy music. Oh and Umaga is IC Champion. Trump coming out to a song with the only word being MONEY is perfect. Real money rains down from the ceiling, including $100 bills. To be fair this show brought in like 50 million dollars in PPV alone so they can afford a bit. They collide to start and slug it out with Lashley pounding him into the corner. Austin pulls Lashley off of Umaga since they’re in the ropes and Umaga gets in some shots of him own. Lashley goes up to the middle rope for a shoulder for two.

Umaga’s manager Armando Estrada is dragged in by Lashley and powerslammed down with ease. Lashley throws him out to the floor and low bridges Umaga to send him to the floor as well. Back in and Lashley misses a spear, sending him out to the floor this time. We head inside again and Umaga chokes away, only to be pulled off at four and a half by Austin. Austin has to do it again, this time by the hair for good measure.

A BIG clothesline puts Lashley down again and Umaga cannonballs down onto his chest for good measure. The Samoan drop puts Lashley down again as does a failed slam attempt. Vince gets up on the apron and gets dropped down by an elbow from Lashley, only to walk into a shot from Umaga to take over again. Umaga goes up and gets slammed down before being clotheslined down. Both guys down and Austin gets to nine before stopping so it doesn’t end in a draw.

Shane McMahon comes out to check on Vince as Umaga hits an uppercut to drop Lashley again. Austin has to pull Umaga out of the corner, earning him a Samoan Spike. Shane comes in and pounds away on Lashley until Umaga is back into things. The running hip attack crushes Bobby’s face and Vince throws in some trashcans. Shane hits the Coast to Coast to drive the can into Lashley’s face. A top rope splash from Umaga crushes Lashley and Shane has a referee’s shirt on now.

Austin breaks up the pin and beats up Shane for good measure, only to walk into another Samoan Spike. Trump isn’t sure what to do and shows off those great acting skills of his. Vince comes over to taunt him and TRUMP CLOTHESLINES VINCE! Umaga tries another Spike on Austin but gets countered into the Stunner. The spear from Lashley connects and it’s time for Vince to be bald.

Rating: D. This match sucked for the most part until Austin got going. The problem at the end of the day was no one on the planet with any idea what was going on here thought Vince was going to win. It also didn’t help that no one cared about Lashley because no one had ever given us a reason to. He was just kind of there for the most part and there was nothing more to him than he used to be a college wrestler and he’s muscular. Seriously, that’s Lashley’s story almost in full.

Umaga would lose the title to Santino Marella but got it back soon enough to defend against Jeff Hardy at Great American Bash 2007.

Intercontinental Title: Jeff Hardy vs. Umaga

Jeff is challenging and that Candace scene was in place of a recap. Umaga immediately takes him down and they go to the floor. Jeff fights back but walks into a Samoan Drop which must be like learning to walk at the Samoan wrestling school. Umaga pounds him down and hooks a nerve hold. Jeff looks more like he’s coming down off a really bad trip. Must be a Sunday. And now it’s back to the nerve hold for a VERY long time.

Jeff gets up and tries a slam but guess how well that goes. Umaga crashes down onto Jeff’s chest and then does it again. This has been a squash so far. A middle rope headbutt misses and both of them are down. Out to the floor and there’s a plancha, thankfully by Jeff so that the plate tectonics don’t shift. A dropkick gets two for Jeff. The running hip bump in the corner misses and Jeff hooks a Twist of Fate for two.

The fans are way into this too which is always a good sign. Umaga charges and hits the ring post. There’s a Swanton but Umaga BARELY kicks out. That seems to wake Umaga up though so he throws Jeff around like a skinny man that owes him drug money. The corner hip shot and the Samoan Spike kill Jeff deader than an overdose on every drug known to man and we’re done.

Rating: C+. This was one of the opening steps in the process of Jeff’s rise to the world title a year and a half later. He would show signs of hammering away on Umaga but then he would come up short. Jeff would continue to rise up and get closer and closer to the big wins, even getting the Rumble title shot in January, before FINALLY winning the title in 18 months. Yes Virginia, there used to be world title pushes that lasted longer than two months.

Umaga would begin to feud with HHH, who happened to win the World Title in the opening match of No Mercy 2007. Umaga had a match against HHH that night so it was made into a title match.

Raw World Title: HHH vs. Umaga

HHH gets to use King of Kings now that he’s champion. Umaga takes him down immediately so HHH fires back with a DDT. Thankfully Umaga remembers his racial stereotypes and no sells it. HHH low bridges him and we go to the floor. Umaga gets rammed into the steps and yells at HHH for it. My goodness it’s nice to see a Samoan monster that knows how to take a beating to the head.

Back in Umaga pounds him down but misses a middle rope headbutt. For some reason that slows him down but the Facebuster has no effect. Pedigree is countered but the spinebuster works just fine. Another Pedigree attempt is countered into a Samoan Drop and the Game has bad ribs. Out to the floor and HHH goes into the barricade. Back in for a bearhug as the champ is in trouble.

Umaga shifts up into a spinning Rock Bottom for two. The headbutt (this time not of the ropes) hits the bad ribs and is followed by a knee. Umaga pounds on the head of the Game and has him down in the corner. The running hip attack (SEE??? IT WAS UMAGA! NOT FREAKING RIKISHI YOU STUPID NXT PEOPLE!) misses, Umaga gets launched into the post and HHH hits a quick Pedigree to retain.

Rating: C-. Not much here as it felt like a Raw main event instead of a PPV title match. Then again this is only the second PPV title match out of four tonight so it’s ok if there’s a match with only about six and a half minutes. It’s nothing that great but it was good to allow HHH to look good. You know, like in a real title reign at a smaller PPV instead of in the third match of the night, but whatever.

Since he was out of the title picture, Umaga would be Rated RKO’s partner against Evolution on the Raw 15th Anniversary special.

Rated RKO/Umaga vs. Evolution

JR calls this the ultimate tag team explosion. Not quite but whatever. Joined in progress after a break with Flair coming in to face the freshly in Edge. Flair is in the whole “lose and you’re fired” period, but they’ve amended it to say that it’s only a singles loss that counts. Off to Umaga for a nerve hold and it’s Orton in again. Flair avoids a dropkick and there’s a tag to Batista. Everything breaks down and Edge takes a Bossman Slam. HHH and Batista hit stereo spinebusters on Rated RKO. Umaga comes in and shoves the referee for a DQ.

Rating: D+. This was nothing of note but it wasn’t supposed to be. The wrestling here isn’t the point and it would be a mistake to treat it as one. This was about a quick Evolution reunion when most of them were still popular so it’s hard to complain about it. It’s not like 2003 where they were ALL you saw on Raw.

Umaga wouldn’t do much for the first half of 2008 other than having a horrible match for brand supremacy at Wrestlemania XXIV against Batista. He would however have a match against Jeff Hardy at One Night Stand 2008.

Jeff Hardy vs. Umaga

Falls count anywhere. Jeff is in his whole chasing the brass ring phase here as he would be for most of 2008. Hardy charges straight at him….and down he goes. Whisper in the Wind out of nowhere gets two. It’s as fast as it sounds. Jeff jumps into a spinning release Rock Bottom (called a Black Hole Slam by JR) but is fine a few seconds later, hitting a plancha to the floor for two.

Into the crowd we go as Umaga sends Jeff flying to various places. Jeff finds a weapon in the form of a hollow traffic barrel which he chucks at Umaga’s head. Thankfully Umaga has studied his stereotypes and kicks Jeff in the face for two. Good boy. Umaga misses a charge into an anvil case and Jeff finds a fire extinguisher….which he can’t get to work. Finally he gets a shot off and Youmanga is staggered.

They’re in the back now and head into a stairwell where Jeff slides down the railing like you would see a little kid do, ramming into Umaga for two. To be fair that’s something that actually was logical so I can’t fault him there. Out into the concourse with Umaga getting two after throwing Jeff into a garbage can. They go outside and it’s all Samoan fat man. Jeff is rammed into a backhoe or something like that for two.

Basically the idea here is Hardy gets thrown into random objects before he can find something to jump off. They fight up to the production truck and Hardy hammers away which actually works to an extent. It’s kind of weird seeing a blue sky like that behind them. They climb a truck with Shawn’s face on it and Jeff kicks him off before hitting a huge Swanton onto an unseen Umaga for the pin.

Rating: C. Just a hardcore match here which was designed to set up the big spot at the end and give Hardy a win. Nothing wrong with that but there was nothing particularly great here at all. Umaga was a guy that you can only do so much with and Jeff wasn’t the kind of guy that could do something like that, which isn’t his fault. Not bad, but nothing great at all.

After being out a few months with a knee injury, Umaga would return in early 2009 before entering into a quick feud with CM Punk. From Extreme Rules 2009.

CM Punk vs. Umaga

This was a fairly weak mini feud that saw Umaga just destroy Punk at every time. Punk has MITB here and has been trying to cash it in for awhile but Umaga keeps stopping him. Oh and this is a Samoan Strap Match. Why do I not picture a lot of straps in Samoa? They’ll be tied at the wrist here and I think you win by pinfall or submission. There was never any real justification for Umaga to beat the tar out of Punk like he did but whatever.

I guess you could go with he’s a savage. I guess this is the four corner style. Dang it. There is however a helpful graphic in the corner saying how many you have in a row with Punk in green and Umaga in red. Still though I’ve never gotten a clear definition of what in succession means. I know what succession means but often times they just seemingly go with what fits best for the rules at the time. Umaga works on Punk’s arm as this match is just kind of odd.

Not sure why it is but it comes off as most odd to me. With Punk on the floor Umaga gets two buckles but instead of getting the third he goes for Punk. I didn’t know Samoans were such idiots. Aww Punk went for the GTS. That’s so cute. Grisham says Punk was undaunted. What does it mean to be daunted?

I’ve never heard of anyone being daunted but just undaunted. Fans are very behind Punk. Punk gets three but charges at Umaga instead and gets drilled. Well he deserves it for being stupid. Umaga gets three but Punk gets him to charge at him like a bull and Umaga goes to the floor. This is getting fairly repetitive.

Umaga gets pulled off the top and crashes to the mat. Punk gets three and with Umaga pulling away from him, for no explained reason at all, Umaga charges at him and gets caught in GTS so Punk can win. Ending was just stupid looking on Umaga’s part.

Rating: D. These matches were never very good and this is no exception. Also, there were far too many stupid moments here, mainly the ending. I love Punk, but this was just an incredibly pointless feud and thankfully this is the last one between them. Keep an eye on Punk though. He’s going places.

Umaga would be released in the fall before passing away due to heart failure in December 2009. His career wasn’t all that long but he was a talented guy who was better than most Samoan monsters. I don’t think he would have ever been a long term champion or anything, but maybe a very short title reign could have worked. He would have worked better in the territory days though and that’s a problem with the modern system. Umaga was a talented guy though and had good matches if given the right opponent.

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4 comments

  1. MikeCheyne says:

    I liked Armando Alejandro Estrada too.

  2. T.S Eliot says:

    Umaga lost the IC title to Santino during his feud with Lashley before regaining it to defend against Jeff, just to let you know.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Ah he did didn’t he. Thanks.

  3. rocko says:

    The one odd thing I remember about Umaga is I don’t remember him getting that many reactions. Like I went to ONS 2008 and it was complete silence for Umaga. I’m sure he did get reactions I just don’t remember them.