Rikishi is a WWE Hall of Famer and spent a dozen years in WWE under various gimmicks. His last gimmick as Rikishi was one that got him into the HOF, but he also wrestled for years before ever getting noticed by Vince McMahon.
Prior to WWE, Rikishi teamed with his brother, Samu, to form the Samoan Swat Team. The tag team’s gimmick was similar to The Wild Samoans gimmick that Rikishi’s relatives had, and during this time, he and Samu wrestled all over the world. Rikishi was asked what the biggest run the Samoan Swat Team had when he joined Table Talk w/ DVon.
“Without a doubt, I’d have to say The Steiner Brothers. We actually started working with those usos in NWA, back in the day. Once we tied up, we knew of them, but once we got to work together, it was kind of right up our alley because we worked but we kind of worked snug. We were kind of stiff,” admitted Rikishi.
“We still try to find that way, but at the same time, as we kept working with these cats here, we didn’t know that they had a reputation of working stiff too. So, being married to those cats there and then, finally moving up to the WWE.”
The Samoan Swat Team wrestled the Steiner Brothers at NWA’s Starrcade in 1989. A couple of years later, Rikishi was part of The Headshrinkers in WWF, and his team again hooked up with the Steiners at WrestleMania IX in Las Vegas.
“I think it was when Yoko wrestled Bret Hart in Las Vegas. I’m not sure what WrestleMania that was when Hogan came and won the belt back from Yoko, but we actually wrestled The Steiner Brothers during that time in Las Vegas,” recalled Rikishi. “It was one of these matches for me that kind of went down in history… To be able to perform with these cats right here is probably one of the best matches we had in the tag team level.
“The easiest [team to wrestle]? I’d probably have to say you [D-Von] and Bubba [Ray Dudley]. Our matches are kind of, in a way, to work entertainment. Not to say I don’t love The Steiners, but when you’re working with somebody that you just care for, it’s not work. It’s like ribbing each other.”
Rikishi has many relatives in wrestling, including his twin sons The Usos. But Rikishi also has a twin brother himself, Sam Fatu, who teamed with Haku as part of The Islanders in WWE in the 1980s.
Sam Fatu is often forgotten when people bring up all of the great Samoan wrestlers, but Rikishi heaped praise on his brother.
“My brother there, he doesn’t get enough credit the way he should be, meaning that because of the new era, they don’t remember him. He is the youngest professional wrestler to ever sell out the Madison Square Garden. To this day, my brother holds that record at the age of 17,” revealed Rikishi.
“At 17, he doesn’t know how to read. He doesn’t know how to write, and back in the day, they didn’t have GPS. So he had those maps but he didn’t read, so what he would do when he would go eat, he would have a fan that recognized him, get those highlighters, and highlight the road.
“Most of the time, he would tell the fans he would give them tickets because they knew he was hot. He was like Hulk Hogan hot, Jimmy Snuka hot back in the day at 17 years old. He was like the Jeff Hardy back in the day.”
Rikishi is part of the legendary Anoa’i family that also includes Roman Reigns, The Rock, and The Wild Samoans. That family has unfortunately been hit with many tragedies over the years, as well, that led to premature deaths of family members Yokozuna, Rosey, and Rikishi’s brother, Umaga.
Another tragedy hit the Anoa’i family recently, and Rikishi revealed that another member has passed away.
“My father got hit with the COVID-19 on October the 4th. He’d been in the hospital for two months and finally, he laid to rest on October the 4th. I celebrated my brother, Umaga, he passed away December the 4th. My last name has four letters, F-A-T-U. Fatu in English means heart,” stated Rikishi.
“I sit and I think about it. I missed him and I was so lost when I lost my father. I start to think about what I could have done better. What could I have done to even try to save him? The most difficult time for me was to watch my father take his last breath to a damn iPad.
“I think about all what’s happening that has led that moment up to that, to where I was denied the access to hold my father’s hand. I was denied the access to be there with him to his last dying breath. It makes me wonder, D-Von, that we’re not through yet. There’s something here for us that we have not done, my brother.
“So, what I’m saying to everyone that’s got hit with this COVID-19 that’s going through some hard times, keep going onward, upward. Keep going forward because there is something that’s ahead for you that needs to be accomplished in your life. So, with love and respect, to all of you out there listening, thank you guys.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Table Talk w/ DVon with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.