Wrestler of the Day – August 8: Rikishi

Time for a novelty act that took off: Rikishi.

Rikishi would get his start as part of the pretty famous Samoan Swat Team with Samu. They would appear at SuperClash III.

WCCW Tag Titles: Samoan Swat Team vs. Michael Hayes/Steve Cox

The Samoans are Samu and Fatu with Buddy Roberts as the Freebirds are split up for awhile here. Cox is a no name and this is all WCCW. Cox and Hayes are the only team to beat the Samoans ever and they’ve traded the titles for the last few months. Cox’s nickname is Do It To It. The 80s were a weird time to say the least. The rows of empty seats are kind of funny.

Hayes and Fatu start us off and Marshall can’t tell them apart either. Oh ok he called him Fatu. That helps some. Cox and Hayes work on the arm and it’s so weird to see Hayes as a face. Fatu misses a cross body and it’s back to the arm. Off to Samu as Hayes plays cheerleader. Heel miscommunication sends Fatu to the floor. Cox goes after him and eats table, shifting the momentum.

Big brawl breaks out and Roberts is able to get in a shot to Cox before sending him back inside. Samu slams him face first and the beating continues. Fatu (Rikishi) comes in off the top and Cox plays Ricky Morton for awhile. There’s a hot shot to Cox but a double clothesline puts both guys down. Hot tag to Hayes and everything breaks down. Cox and Fatu go to the floor as Hayes gets the DDT. Roberts comes in and drills Hayes though and Samu steals the pin to retain.

Rating: B-. Pretty good tag match here but it’s the late 80s so did you expect anything else? The SST would never lose the titles but would just leave the company, heading to the NWA again. Cox is a total no name and Hayes would be back in the NWA soon after this also I believe. Not bad here and a nice little surprise.

It was soon off to the NWA where the Samoans would participate in a WarGames match at Great American Bash 1989.

WarGames: Freebirds/Samoan Swat Team vs. Road Warriors/Midnight Express/Steve Williams

In case you don’t know the rules: two guys start for five minutes and then we have a coin toss (the heels will win) and the winning team gets to send in another man for a two on one advantage. This lasts for two minutes until the losing team gets to tie it up at two. After two minutes the winning team goes up three to two. You alternate every two minutes until everyone is in there and when everyone is in there, it’s first submission wins it. No pins.

Eaton vs. Garvin starts us off. Williams is still in his Hogan attire here which makes me laugh. As JR puts it, it’s Beautiful vs. Gorgeous in WarGames which got a chuckle out of me. Garvin controls early but it’s not like it means anything. The Freebirds beat the Express in a tournament final to win the world tag titles so there’s your explanation for this part of the feud. This is more or less back and forth with nothing really to report on.

Dangerously, the Samoans’ manager, says that Hayes will be next about 10 times. Eaton controls for the most part and works on the back of the mullet-tastic Garvin before throwing on a Boston Crab. After Dangerously shouts about Hayes being in next, Terry Gordy comes in next. That’s another great example of a great heel manager. He didn’t accomplish anything but he lied BECAUSE HE COULD. So simple yet so effective.

Gordy comes in and it goes badly for Eaton to put it mildly. Garvin has a glove and tape or something or his hand so this is mainly punching and stomping. He eats a lot of cage too as Garvin is mostly fine. Apparently Eaton failed in his mission to hurt him. Williams comes in to even things up and in one of the most mind blowing spot I’ve ever seen, he picks up Gordy, who is probably 290 at the least, and gorilla presses him EIGHT times into the cage. Just insane.

After some more choking the heels get us back to about even for Samu to come in as Eaton is more or less dead. Double fishhook on him by Garvin which looks very painful. Everyone is in one ring and they need to spread it out a bit. Eacon somehow gets back up and holds the heels off a bit until Animal ties it up again. Again they’re all in the same ring and it’s WAY too crowded in there.

Ah there we go as he and Samu head to the other ring. Much better. They hate each other because of a big beatdown the Samoans gave the Road Warriors and then they beat up Ellering, the Road Warriors’ manager. The Warriors cost the Samoans a spot in the finals of the tag tournament, which brings us here. Animal just destroys everyone as Fatu will be in next.

All six in the same ring still and it’s just stupid. There’s (Rikishi) Fatu to make it 4-3. The Samoans beat down Animal as Williams and Gordy are in the other ring now to space things out a bit. Eaton and Garvin are still fighting and here comes Stan Lane to even it up at four apiece again. That leaves Hayes and Hawk as the last two. The Samoans eat metal as Lane cleans house.

Dangerously to Hayes: Ok so when you go in you go over here. Hayes: I GOTTA GO IN???” Dangerously: There’s no one left! Hayes: Dang! Funny stuff. There are 9 people in the match and 9 are in the same ring. Hayes DDTs everyone to take out the faces and then goes off into the other ring to taunt Hawk. The fans want Hawk with one minute left. Hayes drops Eaton with a hard left and here’s the bird man.

Now it’s first submission wins. Hawk cleans house as it is on in a big way. The faces are dominating here as was the custom in WarGames once everyone got in. Dangerously tries to force the phone through the cage and turns around to see a referee with his arms folded looking at him. I need some wawa music there.

Mainly just punching now with nothing of note as far as flow or anything but that’s a good thing here as there isn’t supposed to be anything remotely resembling order. Look at the first name of the match: WAR. Doomsday Device on Gordy is blocked so Hawk kills Garvin with a clothesline and works on his neck, throwing on a hangman (Hawk grabs Garvin for a reverse neckbreaker and lifts him onto his back in a neck crank/choke) which gets the submission to end it.

Rating: B+. Very solid battle in there which was exactly what this was supposed to be. It’s not a classic or one of the best ever but this was quite good for the point of blowing this feud completely off and have all the feuds in there at once. This was effective for what it was supposed to be and the match was as fun as ever. Good match.

The Swat Team would participate in the Iron Man tournament at Starrcade 1989.

Samoan Swat Team vs. Steiner Brothers

Rick and Fatu get things going and it’s time for more SAMOAN YELLING. Rick doesn’t take time to translate and punches Fatu in the face instead. The fans are WAY into the Steiners here. It’s off to Scott for the power of the team with a slam. The Savage comes in and walks into a slam as well as the Steiners take over. The Samoans run to the floor and we get the classic Steiners pose of Rick on all fours and Scott standing over him.

After a conference with the Big Kahuna (that’s so fun to say), it’s back to Savage vs. Scott. Since nothing else has worked, the Samoan goes with the ancient tribal custom of poking him in the eye to take over. A headbutt staggers Scott and it’s off to Fatu for more brawling. The basics of the Samoan offense is as follows: kick, scream, forearm to the back, scream, headbutt, scream. Just picture that combination for about five minutes and you have the majority of this match.

The Savage comes in again and sends Scott into the corner before clotheslining him down for another near fall. The fans are trying to get behind the Steiners but they’re so tired after a show this long and uninteresting. Scott gets choked in the corner by Fatu as the Kahuna distracts the referee. A double headbutt puts Scott down for two but Rick comes in and bites the Savage. It doesn’t seem to have much of an effect as Scott is knocked out to the floor.

Back in and Scott’s sunset flip attempt is broken up before Fatu puts him in a bearhug. We’re under four minutes now as Scott is beginning to fade. The hold takes Scott down to the mat so Rick comes in to break it up, only to cause Scott to be double teamed. Back to the bearhug as the match continues to waste time until we can have extra drama.

A powerslam gets two on Scott with two minutes left. Scott grabs the Frankensteiner out of absolutely nowhere but Fatu tags out before Scott can bring in Rick. Savage misses a splash and there’s the tag, even though the referee didn’t see it. Rick cleans house but Scott throws Fatu over the top rope which is a DQ in WCW.

Rating: D+. Very basic tag match here and nothing all that special. At the end of the day, the Samoans are little more than a gimmick tag team and not much more. The Steiners were still new as a tag team so they weren’t able to carry a team like Fatu and Savage, especially in their fourth match of the night.

After a few years in the independent scene, the Samoan Swat Team would appear in the WWF as the Headshrinkers. Here’s one of their first matches from the 1992 Survivor Series.

Headshrinkers vs. High Energy

High Energy is Owen Hart and Koko B. Ware in really ugly pants. The Headshrinkers don’t get an entrance. I’ve always been a fan of the Samoans so I’m kind of looking forward to this. Samu and Owen start things off with Owen being thrown around pretty easily. Things speed up a bit and Owen avoids a big clothesline and hits a cross body for two. The fans are getting fired up.

Off to Koko who makes Samu miss a right hand which hits Fatu. Koko stomps on Samu’s bare feet but he tries to ram the Headshrinkers’ heads together but THAT DOESN’T WORK ON SAMOANS! No one ever accused Koko of being bright. Afa, the Headshrinker’s manager, CRACKS Koko in the back with his staff and Koko is in trouble immediately. Owen is draw into the ring by some Samoan bragging, only causing Koko to get beaten down even more.

Vince tries to talk about the main events and Heenan says stick to the subject. That’s a new one. Samu hooks a nerve hold on Koko but he’s too dumb to feel pain so it’s a clothesline instead and Ware is still in trouble. A chop gets two and Samu chokes a bit. Samu misses a corner splash and there’s the hot tag to Owen. Owen dropkicks both guys down and hits a top rope cross body on Samu for two. A spinwheel kick takes Fatu (Rikishi) down, only to get caught in a powerslam. Fatu hits a GREAT looking top rope splash to crush Owen and get the easy pin.

Rating: C+. I liked this match a lot more than I should have but I love the Headshrinkers. That top rope splash looked great and Owen sold it like the master that he was at it. Other than that this was a very basic match with power vs. speed and that’s the right choice for an opener. Good stuff here and I liked it a lot.

They would appear at King of the Ring 1993 in an eight man tag.

Steiners/Smoking Guns vs. Money Inc./Headshrinkers

Well, talk about a tough act to follow. This is nothing but filler here as I don’t think there’s any kind of a point to this match other than to give the crowds a chance to restart their hearts. There’s no story here that I can think of other than you have two face teams and two heel teams going at it. The Guns are about as new as possible at this point.

Ross says he doesn’t want to disrespect this match, so therefore we’ll be lucky to hear who wins. It simply can’t be worse than WCW was though. I will never forget a match between Ultimo Dragon and Steven Regal where literally over the entire course of an eight minute match there was not a single mention of either guy or the match itself until the very end where Tony said 2, 3 (he missed the one) we have a new Television Champion!

Yes, in a match not only on television, not only a title match, but a match where the title CHANGED HANDS, thereby making history as Gorilla liked to say, we have eight minutes of people talking about the NWO and not a word about the two guys in the ring. That’s just pathetic. Anyway, rant over. Scotty and Ted start us up so there we are. To say Heenan is happy is an understatement.

Now remember, we’re NOT going to talk about Yoko and the title match out of respect here. If we don’t talk about them anymore I’m going to scream from hearing about them too much. Ross is at least talking about the match so there’s that. DiBiase beats on Billy and hooks the Dream. Heenan says that Billy is fading into obscurity. I have too many jokes to pick from here. Billy gets a roll up out of nowhere to get the pin and the big brawl starts to the Guns’ awful music.

Rating: C. Eh what do you expect here? This was six minutes of just filler and it’s the absolute best thing they could have done here. No one was going to care about anything after what they just saw, so there we are. This meant nothing at all and it wasn’t supposed to. The wrestling is about what you would expect at a house show, but it wasn’t horrible or anything. This was much more about giving the crowd a breather instead of a real match, and there’s not a thing wrong with that.

We’ll skip ahead a year to King of the Ring 1994 when the Headshrinkers had won the Tag Team Titles.

Tag Titles: Headshrinkers vs. Crush/Yokozuna

Oh this isn’t going to be good is it? Crush is somehow the most athletic guy in there. The Shrinkers are the faces here and the champion as this match has zero context at all and is the epitome of a token title match. Geez we have Cornette, Fuji, Albano and Afa out there as the 80s circle of B-list managers is complete. Before you freak, yes I know Cornette was the top manager in Crockett but it’s my line so get over it.

Anyway, this really isn’t very good at all and I’m a fan of 75% of the wrestlers in this. Yoko actually loses a headbutting contest. That has never happened that I know of. Naturally there are a ton of botches in here as anyone would expect from these guys. This match, much like this show, is just dragging on and on. The heels take over like everyone expected them to.

They’re using the Colossal Connection formula where Crush is playing Haku and doing most of the work. Yoko isn’t up to the size of Andre yet but he’s getting there. Surprisingly there’s limited interference from a ton of one time heel managers out there.

Anyway, Crush beats up on Samu and hits a legdrop because Hogan is gone and everyone can use that move again since it’s a rather generic move to use. But heeeeeere’s Luger doing the only thing he knows how to do as he’s being annoying again. After a missed rollup, Fatu comes in and gets the rollup correctly for the pin. Weird ending.

Rating: C-. Like I said, this was a token title match. It wasn’t that bad but a lot of this grade is because I like most of the people in there. Ok correction I like one team but not the people on it (screw you Rikishi. Like we were going to buy you as top heel). The styles completely clashed here and while it was an ok match, it wasn’t ever going to be anything great, just like everything else on this show.

The team would split later in the year with Samu leaving. This left Fatu on his own, including in this match at In Your House IV.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Fatu

The undefeated Helmsley would eventually go just by his initials while Fatu would become Rikishi. At the moment though he’s trying to Make A Difference with wayward kids. To say the gimmick didn’t work very well is an understatement. Helmsley has a bottle of perfume to spray on Fatu but gets punched in the face for his efforts. Fatu takes him into the corner and pounds away, sending Helmsley to the floor before he can get his shirt off.

Back in and Fatu is sent face first into the turnbuckle to no effect whatsoever, so HHH throws him into the ropes with Fatu’s neck getting tied up in the cables. Helmsley pounds away at the tied up Fatu before dropping him with a piledriver. The shirt is finally off about three minutes into the match and Helmsley walks around for awhile. A neckbreaker puts Fatu down for two and a knee drop gets the same.

We hit the chinlock on Fatu, who looks to be nearly dead as a result. Back up and a clothesline turns Fatu inside out for another two count. A Pedigree is countered with a backdrop and Fatu scores with a superkick. Fatu hits a backbreaker to set up a middle rope headbutt for another two count. Lawler is losing his mind watching Helmsley get beaten up like this. A running Diamond Cutter puts Helmsley down again but Fatu misses the top rope splash, allowing Helmsley to hit the Pedigree for the pin.

Rating: C-. This actually wasn’t that bad despite Helmsley still being a glorified rookie. Fatu wasn’t completely huge yet so he could move around the ring far better than he would be able to later in his career. This wasn’t the best choice to open a show with but Fatu was popular enough to keep it from killing the crowd.

Fatu would fall through the floor after this, basically becoming a jobber. After a few months away, he would be repackaged as The Sultan and receive an Intercontinental Title match at Wrestlemania XIII.

Intercontinental Title: Rocky Maivia vs. The Sultan

Maivia is defending. Sultan is more famous as Rikishi and has Bob Backlund and Iron Sheik in his corner. Lawler tells Honky not to pick Rocky for his protege because there’s no future there. So much for the Memphis school system. Rocky starts off fast and knocks Sultan out to the floor. The managers try to calm the big man down but Rocky goes after him, only to wind up clotheslining the post.

Back in and Sultan runs him over with a clothesline of his own. He throws Rocky into the corner by the throat and hits another clothesline for two. Off to a nerve hold as Honky rants about how he already would have defended the title and been in the back combing his hair. Sultan goes up and hits a top rope headbutt for no cover. So we have a Samoan portraying an Arabian but hitting a headbutt to another Samoan. I’m so racially confused.

Rocky tries a sunset flip but Sultan grabs him by the throat to block. A belly to belly gets two and we hit the chinlock. The fans are very restless with this and rightly think it’s boring. Rocky fights up but they clothesline each other to stop things from getting interesting. Sultan starts pounding away again but Rocky starts feeling the soul and makes his comeback.

Maivia snaps off some punches to Sultan and gets two off a belly to belly suplex. The spinning DDT that Rocky doesn’t use anymore puts Sultan down and there’s his top rope cross body (finisher at the time) but the Sheik has the referee. Sultan gets up and hits a superkick for a very close two. A piledriver gets another two count for Sultan but Rocky grabs a rollup out of nowhere for the retaining pin.

Rating: D+. This got better by the end but man alive was it dull for the most part. It just kept going and Sultan didn’t have enough enough to make a match like this work. Rocky would get WAY better and the jump he’s made since Survivor Series to this point is remarkable. The fans would start to hate him though, which wound up being exactly what he needed all along.

Much like Making a Difference Fatu, the Sultan wouldn’t last either. He would disappear in 1998 and go to Texas for more training with Terry Funk. Fatu would return as Rikishi in late 1999 and quickly align himself with Too Cool. This led to a big push and a major tag match on Raw, February 7, 2000.

HHH/X-Pac/Chris Benoit/Dean Malenko/Perry Saturn vs. Cactus Jack/The Rock/???/???/???

Before the bell rings, Rikishi and Too Cool come out to even the odds. It’s a wild brawl to start and I’m not even going to try to call it. Rock and HHH are fighting on the ramp as Benoit and Cactus head into the crowd (DANG that could have been an awesome feud). Stephanie is on commentary and the fans are blowing the roof off the place. Grandmaster and X-Pac get things going and Sexay misses a middle rope knee drop.

Off to Saturn and Scotty, the latter of whom has a bandage around his head. He loads up the Worm (with five hops instead of four) but Malenko interferes before Scotty can cover. A big old suplex puts Scotty down and Dean comes in legally. Scotty gets in a shot and brings in Rikishi who runs Dean over. Off to Benoit who charges right into a Samoan Drop. He can’t suplex Rikishi but Benoit pounds on his back and is all like oh yeah boy you’re going and suplexes Rikishi down.

Jack comes in and pounds Benoit down into the corner. This is one of the hottest crowds I’ve ever seen. Jack goes for HHH and they head to the announce table. Saturn and Pac have to save HHH from death and we head back inside. HHH stomps Jack down in the corner and shoves the referee away. Off to Pac who almost immediately walks into a neckbreaker to take him down.

Hot tag brings in Rock and it’s spinebusters all around. Pac takes a Rock Bottom for two as HHH saves. Saturn kicks Rock down but Rock is having none of this Bronco Buster nonsense. Grandmaster hits the Hip Hop Drop but Pac gets up and kicks the goggles off Sexay’s head. HHH comes in again with the flying knee and it’s off to Saturn and Benoit for some double teaming.

Benoit suplexes Sexay down for two and it’s back to HHH. The heels are tagging incredibly fast. Grandmaster hits a double DDT out of nowhere on Benoit and HHH. There’s the hot tag to Cactus but the referee didn’t see it. Everything breaks down and HHH hits the Pedigree on Grandmaster followed by the Swan Dive from Benoit for the pin.

Rating: B. This seems like a match where the crowd reaction carried it to a higher level which is fine. It’s certainly better than I remember but it’s not as good as I’ve seen some people make it out to be. Anyway, you could see the great matches coming and this would give Too Cool a nice push, resulting in their only tag title run a few months after this.

Here’s a smaller tag match from Judgment Day 2000.

Too Cool/Rikishi vs. Edge/Christian/Kurt Angle

Angle is fresh and as goofy as ever here and I love it. He’s “all that” according to various teenage girls. He gives a nursery rhyme about chastity and “not shacking up with a bunch of guys, but stay pure by following his three I’s”. I love Angle from this era. Edge and Christian are tag champions here and bring out some bags. The mispronounce the name of the town and have a new Five Second Pose. They bust out banjos for one called Jug Band The out of context visual here is great.

Crowd pops BIG for Too Cool. Or is that for Rikishi? Their music is catchy if nothing else. The heels jump the dancers and it’s on. That doesn’t last long as Rikishi and his lackies clear the ring. Too Cool beats down Edge for a bit. Apparently Stephanie was in Shawn’s locker room earlier in the day and left smiling. I’m not sure how Becca would feel about that.

Scotty vs. Christian now with Scotty in control. Too Cool does some double teaming and Edge tries to emulate it, resulting in him getting crotched on the top rope. Grandmaster starts dancing and his pants fall down. Oh dear. Off to Rikishi now as this is moving a bit too fast for my tastes. Rikishi tries to drop his fat on Kurt but missed, giving Team ECK (Edge, Christian, Kurt, which is their actual name and not something I made up) the advantage.

Angle beats him down in the corner and the champions add in a beating of their own. Rikishi remembers he’s an upper midcard guy and fights them off to bring in Scotty. Edge illegally comes in so of course the referee believes that he made the tag. Off to Kurt and Scotty actually beats him down a bit. Crowd is all over Kurt here. Christian beats on Scotty for a bit as they’re tagging in and out that fast.

Scotty sets for a powerbomb and drops Christian back into a hot shot to bring in Rikishi. Is Grandmaster crippled or something? Can he just not come in at all? All three heels get stacked up in the corner and are splashed at once. Stinkface to Angle makes Lawler scream. Angle and Christian tries a DDT on Rikishi for no adequately explored reason and the fat man hits Kurt again.

Edge spears Rikishi down, being the only one with some intelligence on his team. He gets bulldogged down and it’s the Worm. And so much for that as Christian pops Rikishi with the bell. Grandmaster FINALLY does something by dropping the leg off the top to break up the easy pin and putting Scotty on Edge for the pin.

Rating: C+. This isn’t anything too bad and was a decent enough opener. It’s a fairly fast paced six man with some fun comedy spots and popular guys in there. This sums up this generation pretty well: I’m currently redoing the Mania reviews and am doing #13 at the moment. This match was more exciting than all but one match on that show and arguably a second. Let that sink in for a bit.

Rikishi would win the Intercontinental Title and enter the 2000 King of the Ring tournament.

KOTR Finals: Rikishi vs. Kurt Angle

The fans are burned out on these guys as you would expect them to be. We start on the floor of course. The stink face is blocked thank goodness. This could be on any Raw or Smackdown, which doesn’t say much to me. The one arm thing doesn’t make a lot of sense but it’s something I guess. Angle gets the stink face of course because that’s just so cool of a move right? Angle slam gets two.

Rikishi makes the comeback, including a freaking diamond cutter of all things, but takes a belly to belly off the second rope that I think was supposed to look a lot better than it did but the powers of the fat trump the powers of America and it’s just ok. That gives the crown to Kurt, and of course the ceremony’s tomorrow night, since that makes SO much freaking sense right? This reminded me of Razor vs. Owen in 94.

There was just NO FREAKING WAY Owen could lose it and it killed any heat the match had. Also, you have Jericho, Guerrero and Benoit available to be in the finals vs. Angle, yet the 400lb Samoan in a thong gets the spot? See what I mean when I say Vince doesn’t get it a lot of the time?

Rating: D+. This was exactly what you would expect these two to do, but it just wasn’t entertaining at all. Rikishi simply wasn’t any good and that was the problem. The size never worked at all as no one, not even greats like Austin or Angle could do anything with him because of the freaking size. It cut Kurt, a power guy, off here too and that’s just not a good thing whatsoever.

Rikishi would lose the title to Val Venis but get a chance at a rematch at Fully Loaded 2000.

Intercontinental Title: Rikishi vs. Val Venis

We’re in a cage here. Fink makes sure to point that out despite the BIG FREAKING CAGE around the ring. Apparently Tazz cost Rikishi the title a few weeks ago for reasons unexplained. Also Venis beat up Scotty, which apparently justifies this being in a cage.

Trish is Val’s manager here and is dressed in her more traditional attire here, meaning she still looks great. Apparently Rikishi gave Trish a stink face to start this. Lawler says can you imagine someone putting their fat in her face? There’s a bit of wishful sounding in his voice there. Lawler isn’t sure if this is no holds barred. Seriously? He follows this up by asking what happened to that long hair Val had? Ross: “well King I would assume he got it cut.” I love Ross at times. They’re rare but they exist.

Rikishi, ever the Rhodes Scholar, tries to climb over the top instead of going through the door like anyone with a freaking mind. Why do faces have to have so much stupid pride like that? Val takes over with some bad shots to the cage. To be fair though he’s having to deal with something that has its own gravitational force.

He hits a low blow to block a stink face and then hits a weird looking move that I think was supposed to be a bulldog but turned into more or less a forearm to the back of the head. I think it was a semi botch by one of them but I’m not sure. Rikishi of course does his inside out bump.

Val, also an idiot, goes up the cage as well instead of through the door. My goodness how hard is it to just walk through the thing? They fight on the top rope which Val wins, but with Rikishi down in the position for Val’s finisher, does he go for it? Of course not. Why should he when he can walk the ropes and hit an elbow instead? Val almost gets out but is caught by the fat that blocked out the sun.

They mess up badly though as Rikishi’s head is hurt by ramming it into the cage. He’s a Samoan so therefore his head can’t be hurt. Come on now people don’t you know your stereotypes yet? Val is bleeding and thankfully we don’t go to black and white to hide that. A Banzai Drop gets two as Val gets his foot on the ropes. Great, so in a match with no rules and where anything goes, the ropes are still allowed to break things up. That makes sense.

Thanks to Trish again ignoring all racial stereotypes and slamming the door on Rikishi’s head, the Money Shot gets two. Lita bounces down to the ring and whips Trish with the belt and rips her top off. The beating goes to the back as somehow this is less pointless than modern wrestling. We then get the spot of the night as Rikishi goes up top, and I mean to the top of the cage and dives off, completely crushing Val.

Do Samoans have a fetish for jumping off cages or something? This looked completely amazing and on the replay they mess up worse than I’ve ever seen as the camera totally misses Rikishi. I mean you see no wrestlers and only cage the whole shot. It’s rather funny actually. Since the referee is down from an earlier bump though, there’s no one to count. As Rikishi goes for the door, Tazz comes down and nails him with a camera so Val can pin him.

What the heck man? What’s the point in a huge bump like that unless you change the title with it? That’s just stupid. Oh yeah it’s a Rikishi match so it’s not supposed to make sense. How this guy would become top heel in about 3 months baffles me to no end.

Rating: B-. The match was fine, but seriously, what was the point of the huge spot if Val keeps the title? I know that’s what happened in MSG back in the 80s, but that was legendary whereas this was more or less forgotten a few weeks later. I don’t get it at all. The match was your run of the mill cage match otherwise though as I still hate pins in one of these. It’s not that hard to find a way for one of the guys to get out is it? That bump was INSANE though.

Then Rikishi revealed that he ran over Steve Austin a year ago because WWF didn’t want to make money with the story. This led to a fight at No Mercy 2000.

Steve Austin vs. Rikishi

This is no rules of course as Austin pointed out that he didn’t want a match but to hurt Rikishi which makes sense. Austin’s line of “this match is going to take brutality to a whole other level” is the iconic line here but it didn’t quite live up to it. No Austin yet remember. Rikishi comes out with the sledgehammer as I guess they’re foreshadowing the HHH involvement.

Rikishi demands that Foley come out here and declare him the winner. And before anything happens here comes Austin with truck. No reason for why he’s late or anything but why would we need that? It’s the same truck that Rikishi destroyed with the hammer. Austin is in shorts and the t-shirt which fits I think. Rikishi goes into the table as this is just a big fight.

Ross thinks Rikishi has no heart. Wouldn’t that mean he’s like dead? They’re in the crowd already as they never were in the ring at all. Austin whips him with his belt as this is just a big brawl. There just happens to be a rope under the ring but Austin goes over the table. It’s no sold of course and HE’S IN THE RING! And so much for that. Big chairshot takes the fat man down and I think he’s busted open.

Austin throws on JR’s hat for no apparent reason and wears Rikishi out with the chair. He knocks the Samoan into the back of the truck and drives the truck out of the arena. This isn’t going to end well is it? Austin puts Rikishi in front of a wall and backs up the truck but a cop car drives in front of it for the save. He gets arrested for old time’s sake.

Rating: D-. Yeah this failed. It was a big old brawl ending with the bad truck thing. The problem was that at the end of the day the Rikishi was way too fat and way too bad as a heel to be worth much. This feud bombed and everyone knew it which is why at Survivor Series Austin dropped HHH from a forklift instead of a Samoan.

Rikishi’s main event push didn’t last long but did include this awesome match at Armageddon 2000.

WWF Title: HHH vs. The Rock vs. Undertaker vs. Steve Austin vs. Rikishi vs. Kurt Angle

Angle is champion here. I remember the buildup for this and the question being who would take the huge bump. It more or less came down to Rock or HHH as Taker was too big, Rikishi was too big and Austin/Angle both had far too bad necks to take the risk. Rikishi is just so freaking worthless that it’s amazing. Angle comes out third which is kind of weird.

If I remember right Chyna made fun of his attire here as he complained about his package looking too small. Rikishi is mad at Angle for beating him up on Smackdown due to that alliance being broken. I think this is the debut of Rollin as Taker’s theme song. Rock walks straight in as Angle is staying outside for awhile. There are like 6 referees in there keeping people from fighting each other before the match starts. Austin gets a HUGE pop since we’re in the deep south. He throws Angle in and we’re on.

The match has to end in the cage. I’ll do what I can to keep track of what’s going on here but don’t count on much. Angle vs. Taker, Samoan violence and Austin vs. HHH if you’re curious. Lawler evaluates the talent in there at a billion dollars. And people wonder why the USWA went out of business. Leaping knee takes Austin down. We’re just standing around at the moment as we wait on the big thing to happen, likely involving vince. Rock beats on Angle in the ring while the other four fight on the floor.

And now there’s no one in the ring. Ok then. Ah make that Angle/Rock again. This really would have been perfect for the Chamber if it had existed at the time. They overhype everything here as it’s decent but really just a lot of punching so far. HHH gets rubbed into the cage by Austin. Lawler: Don’t rip his nose off! This really isn’t that interesting at all. A bloody HHH hits the Pedigree on Rikishi and Rock saves. I think that’s the first cover of the match.

Finishers a go-go in the ring and everyone saves. After some more basic stuff, Vince and the Stooges come down with a freaking hay truck and says he’s going to tear the cage down. There goes the door and you know what’s coming now. Foley comes down and runs the three guys off, saying the match is going to happen. HHH is outside and Austin follows him.

They fight up by the cars and everyone else comes up there too. Austin hits him with a boom camera and winds up going through a window to bust him open. Pedigree on Rock onto a car. Isn’t the point of a Cell match for the to stay in the Cell? Rock is bleeding….kind of. Ah that’s more like it. Ross oversells everything here, making it sound like it’s the best match ever or something like that. HHH takes a slingshot into a car in a cool looking spot.

Taker and Angle go back to the ring area and it’s all Taker. A chair shot busts him open as HHH and Austin climb the cage. They fight on top and HHH teases the big drop. Angle comes up too to get away from Taker. Stunner on the roof and Taker is up there now too. Rock and Rikishi are the only two not up there at this point. Angle is bleeding now and HHH climbs down to HUGE booing. Austin follows which makes sense.

And here come the Samoans. Taker gets a chair on top somehow and hits a SICK shot to Angle’s head. The fat man hits Taker though and stands tall. It’s just hard take him seriously in that thong though. Rock is on the floor as I don’t think he was ever up top. Angle gets down and it’s the two big men left. They slug it out near the edge over the truck and in the words of Mark Madden: FLY FAT MAN FLY! Austin stops dead to see what the thud was, as does Rock. Austin’s face is the most interesting part here actually.

The roof goes off as Austin and Rock slug it out. You knew that was Mania right there. What we didn’t know was that it would top off the best PPV of all time. Rock actually wins the fight and sets for the elbow. Cue HHH for the save as I wonder how we never got the triple threat with these three guys. Rock Bottom to Angle but Austin saves. Stunner to Rock and we get a back flip, but HHH takes out Austin with a neckbreaker, allowing Kurt to put his hand on Rock to retain and shock everyone kind of, ending the show.

Rating: B. This was good but a far cry from the other Cell matches. Like I said, this was perfect for the Chamber but this was still a big match. The first half or so is really weak until we get to all the finishers, but even then we were waiting on it to turn into the big war. Vince and the truck did that and once that happened it really took off and was the match I think they were shooing for. It’s good but it’s not a classic. Meltzer allegedly said it was a match of the year candidate. Must have been a very weak class that year if that’s the case.

After a bad tag team with Haku, Rikishi would miss a lot of 2001 with an injury. We’ll pick things up at Judgment Day 2002 with him back in the tag division.

Tag Titles: Rikishi/??? vs. Billy/Chuck

The partner for Rikishi will be announced in a bit. To the shock of no one, the partner is Billy and Chuck’s manager/stylist Rico. Billy vs. Rikishi to start us off here. DDT does nothing of course and Rikishi takes over. This is when there was only one set of titles at the time. Chuck comes in and hammers away which gets him nowhere for the most part. Suplex gets two.

The idea here is that Rico will lay down for his buddies so they can keep the titles so Rikishi is more or less in a handicap match. Belly to belly by Rikishi gets two. Billy comes in and gets beaten up by Rikishi too. Rico is just chilling on the apron at the moment. Dropkick by Chuck puts Rikishi down. Rico tries to help Chuck and accidently drops Chuck, giving him and Rikishi the titles.

Rating: D. Was there any point to this other than to give the crowd a breather? No? I didn’t think so. Moving on here as there’s nothing to say here. The title reign meant nothing if you didn’t guess.

For some reason WWE thought we needed Piper vs. Snuka again, but it modern times. Here’s how they started getting there at Backlash 2003.

Sean O’Haire vs. Rikishi

O’Haire was a guy with A TON of potential and an awesome looking gimmick that was similar to a devil’s advocate who said that everyone knew they did wrong things, but what’s so bad about that? Look up the promos as they’re really cool. Then he was put into a feud about Piper vs. Hogan and became Piper’s lackey and had his push ruined. This match is happening because of Piper hitting Snuka with a coconut almost 20 years ago.

Rikishi controls to start but Piper offers a distraction to shift momentum. O’Haire hooks on a chinlock as this match stops very quickly. Piper plays to the crowd and gets them to boo him, because keeping the focus on the guys in the ring isn’t a good idea right? O’Haire misses a spin kick and Rikishi splashes him in the corner. Sean escapes the Stink Face and Piper gets in the ring. He brings in the coconut but both guys hit kicks at the same time. Piper gets in again but Rikishi cracks the coconut over his head. O’Haire picks Rikishi up and hits the reverse Death Valley Driver for the pin.

Rating: D-. Piper sucked the life out of O’Haire at this point because no one was interested in Piper vs. Rikishi, which is what this was really about. Piper would be gone a few months later and O’Haire’s push would die. The Devil’s Advocate character was never mentioned again and we lost a ton of great potential. But hey, Piper got some TV time out of it right?

Another year, another tag team. From Wrestlemania XX.

Smackdown Tag Titles: Too Cool vs. Basham Brothers vs. World’s Greatest Tag Team vs. APA

That would be Scotty and Rikishi who are defending coming in. One fall to a finish again. Bradshaw and Shelton start things off with the Texan taking him down with a shoulder and getting two off an elbow drop. Doug Basham comes in to beat up Shelton now and it’s off to Danny. Shelton tags in Haas for a slam onto Haas’ knee in a cool spot. Scotty comes in to fight Charlie as this is going nowhere.

In another creative spot, Scotty skins the cat but lands in the Shelton jumps over Charlie’s back to land on Scotty for two. Charlie tags off to Doug for a kick to Scotty’s face. The hot tag brings in Rikishi to clean house and knocks Shelton to the floor to break up the German suplex. Charlie gets a Stinkface and Bradshaw launches Doug to the floor with a fallaway slam. There’s the Clothesline to Danny but Bradshaw walks into a Samoan Drop. Rikishi sits on Danny to end it and retain.

Rating: D. Whatever man. Seriously, I wouldn’t have remembered this match if you put a gun to my head, just like with the other tag title match. They’re just not interesting at all and there was nothing here to remember at all. There needed to be just one set of tag belts at this point and these matches make it painfully obvious.

Rikishi would leave the company soon after this and head to Europe where he performed and booked. We’ll get in two return appearances, including one on Raw, July 16, 2012.

Heath Slater vs. Rikishi

Kish looks decent. Thankfully he’s wearing a t-shirt here which is probably a telling sign for him. Slater sings a bit, takes a superkick, the Stink Face and a Samoan Spike of all things. Rump Shaker ends this at 1:11. See, THIS is how you do nostalgia. Not by having Dusty and Piper come out every three months.

And one more on January 6, 2014’s Raw.

3MB vs. Too Cool/Rikishi

This is as obvious of a match as you can get. Grandmaster and Jinder get things going with Grandmaster scoring with a quick dropkick. Off to Scotty who is still in good shape but gets punched down by McIntyre. Drew misses a charge in the corner and the bulldog sets up the WORM. Slater robs us of our gratification though and 3MB takes over again. The announcers spend the entire match arguing over whether Too Cool can be called the Hip Hop Twins, thereby making the whole thing about them instead of the legends.

Scotty clotheslines McIntyre down and makes the hot tag to Rikishi who looks incredibly slow. He does manage a superkick to Mahal for two but Slater makes the save. Rikishi clotheslines two Band members down and the Hip Hop Drop takes out McIntyre. Mahal tries a sunset flip on Rikishi but gets sat on for the pin at 5:24.

Rating: D+. The match sucked and the commentary was annoying, but this is exactly what modern nostalgia should be about. Too Cool is an act that’s old enough for people to reminisce but not old enough that they embarrass themselves in the ring. Nobody is hurt, the fans get to have a fun moment and everybody wins. Good stuff.

Rikishi is a one note character in the WWF and made quite a career for himself. When you’re a part of that Samoan family, good things are almost bound to happen to you. His matches weren’t all that great, but he was as good as you could get for an opening match that could fire up a crowd. The heel turn bombed but the fans accepted him again immediately after. He’s very talented, questionable gimmicks aside.

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