During the latest episode of the Grilling JR Podcast, Jim Ross talked about the short career of Umaga. Umaga was most memorable for his debut with the company, spending a year unbeaten, being involved in the infamous Battle of the Billionaires, and losing his Intercontinental Title to a fan [who later became Santino Marella] in Milan. Ross also talked about how Umaga was another member of the Anoa’i family, which was referred to as the Samoan Dynasty. He said that the dynasty was the real deal and The Rock took it to a whole new level, mentioning how great it would be to see Rock vs. Roman Reigns down the road.
“That Samoan dynasty thing isn’t a gimmick, it’s real,” Ross said. “I met Afa and Sika back in the mid-south days. I’ve known that family [since] the early 80s. I’ve been connected ever since, including recruiting and signing The Rock. I got lucky there, the right place right time, but you knew that DNA meant something. All those guys were players. The Rock set the mark.
“People are coveting a Rock vs. Roman Reigns match somewhere down the road. I don’t know if it will ever happen, there’s a chance, but it’s all up to The Rock. It isn’t up to anybody else, it’s up to him. His schedule is so crazy, he can’t afford to get hurt because he’s going to lose millions of dollars if he can’t work. Not that he’ll go broke, but nonetheless, he’s special.”
Ross also talked about how he was the one who would tell talent they were being let go by WWE during his time as head of talent relations. He said he was the one to tell Umaga, during his first stint with the company that lasted from 2001-2003, that he was going to be fired after reportedly being involved in a bar fight.
“I would deliver the news,” Ross said. “Try to do it in person if I can. You had a conversation about it. Vince would earmark it, sometimes it was brought up by others in the company. He would say we got to fix this problem unless you can tell me anything differently the best thing is to let him go, let [Umaga] mature because we’d sure as hell like to bring him back. We knew he was going to be great but you still cant make exceptions for someone who’s perceived to be out of control and dangerous, especially someone that big and strong.”
Ross said the company had high hopes for him though and knew if he fixed some of his issues, he could come back and be a major player. He said they seen potential in Umaga to the point where they believed he could have been the biggest star from the famous Samoan Dynasty.
“It was just that we had to make a change, and unfortunately, it’s going to cost you your job,” Ross said. “You’re going to get plenty of offers to go work, and I’m certainly not going to infer that we don’t want you back, but we have to see change, you got to get under control. This is not an outlaw territory, it’s not a bunch of indie dates. This is the real sh** here, this is the big time. It’s going to be up to the guy in the mirror. I gave him hope – you don’t want to leave the conversation negative.
“I’ve had some yelling and screaming issues with guys over the years and I just cut the conversation off. We’re done, we’re not doing anything constructive right now. You’re mad at me for something you did and I had to deliver the bad news. That ain’t fair to me, and you’re not being honest with yourself. [Umaga] was not that guy. I gave him hope that he could be a big star here, ‘you might be the biggest star in the entire Samoan family because you got skills that nobody has.’ Of course, The Rock came along and took that spot, but we had a good conversation.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Grilling JR with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.