Although the gimmick only lasted three years, Eddie Fatu as Umaga became one of the most dominant heels in WWE. Debuting in 2006, it did not take Umaga long to be in the main event picture and championship hunt. In fact, on three consecutive Monday Night Raw matches spanning from mid-July to early August of 2006, he defeated John Cena, Shawn Michaels, and Triple H, respectively.
Despite being unable to win the WWE Championship from John Cena at both the 2007 New Year's Revolution and a following episode of Raw, Umaga defeated Jeff Hardy a month later to become Intercontinental Champion. He was also featured as Vince McMahon's representative in the hair vs. hair match, which was a feature of WrestleMania 23.
Interestingly, there was a rumor that Samoa Joe was supposed to portray the Umaga character instead of Eddie Fatu. Originally, Eddie was supposed to team with the late Matt "Rosey" Anoa'i as a Shield-style team, as Matt revealed during my interview with him on the Pancakes and Powerslams Show in 2016. However, plans changed, and Eddie become Umaga.
While the original plans changed for Eddie, Samoa Joe took some time to clear all the rumors of potentially being Umaga during a recent interview with Pop Culture.
"It absolutely, positively, couldn't be any more false," said Joe. "We never talked, like... What people didn't get is, they couldn't talk to me legally. I think I still had two years on my contract, I wasn't going anywhere. So, it's funny, I think people thought you could just walk away from a deal at that time. You couldn't. We never talked, I was never even brought up to be Umaga."
To Joe, being compared to WWE's version of a Samoan character was racist.
"I thought it was mad racist, cause it was like, I had just come on TNA and I was Samoa Joe, and it was like this prominently featured Samoan character, and then it was like, oh, well this is WWE's answer to Samoa Joe, right? No," said Joe. "You wouldn't do that if it was any other... Right? It was mad racist to me.
"Why would you come up with that comparative, because he's like... we weren't even the same character! We weren't even remotely anything like each other. But the fact that I was Samoan and he was Samoan, we were the same character. And I was like, what...what are you talking...? That's the comparison you draw?"
Samoa Joe made his WWE debut, via NXT in 2015, six years after Umaga was released and his unfortunate passing in 2009 shortly after. Since then, he has won the NXT Championship twice, and was recently defected to SmackDown Live as one of the brand's top heels after spending a year on Raw.
Source: Pop Culture