You probably don't need to be told this (what with all the Foreign Wrestling Heels
running around), but Professional Wrestling
isn't very culturally sensitive. Nowhere is this more evident than in the character of the Wild Samoan (or Tongan, or Fijian, or Marquesan, or...
). Basically, in wrestling world, if you come from a small South Pacific island, you talk in grunts, groans, and gibberish, you devour raw fish on the way to the ring (not prepared
raw fish like sushi either, just plain, whole, raw fish)... and you destroy everything in your path in the most brutal manner possible
. Oh, and your head is hard enough to break concrete
Fortunately, this is on its way to becoming a Discredited Trope
, with the broadening characters for islander wrestlers (such as Samoa Joe
, the Badass
submission expert - Rosey, the erstwhile sidekick to wrestling Superhero
The Hurricane - Rikishi
, the hip-hop dancing sumo wrestler who rubs his gargantuan, thong-covered ass into his opponents' faces... yes, you read that right) - Roman Reigns
, the cerebral technician who takes advantage of wolfpack tactics to overwhelm his foes - and not least of all The Rock
would count as well (his mother was Samoan, but his father was black). However, it does have a way of cropping back up from time to time.
This kind of character tend to have a very specific moveset which perpetuates over time and it's often adopted by non-Samoan wrestlers. Moves like savate kicks, hip attacks
, diving splashes
, reverse piledrivers
, nerve holds/thrusts
and the ubiquitous Samoan drop
are the most common.
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- Afa and Sika, the original Wild Samoans (incidentally, Afa is the patriarch of the Anoa'i Wrestling Family, whose members make up most of the other examples).
- Samu and Fatu, the Headshrinkers. Fatu would become far more famous as Rikishi.
- The late Umaga (Samoan for "The End"), who was actually a subversion of this trope before he began to embody it. He portrayed Jamal of Three Minute Warning, basically a gangsta, during his WWE run at the turn of the century. He continued on as Jamal in Japan after getting released. Even as Umaga he was at least portrayed as being highly intelligent (despite being socially inept enough to gnaw on the intercontinental championship) and spoke fluently (albeit not in English).
- Haku/Meng, a wild Tongan.
- In real life this was half true. Outside of the ring he was very quiet, respectful, and well spoken........until you pissed him off and lord help you at that point. Right, Jimmy Jack Funk?
- Jake "The Snake" Roberts once joked that, if he ever had to fight Meng in real life, he'd need a tank and a gun with one bullet. The gun was for himself if the tank failed to stop Meng.
- Haku currently works as a body shop manager at a Toyota dealership in Orlando, FL.
- King Konga/The Barbarian/Sione Vailahi was also a wild Tongan.
- Haku had a tag team partner named Tama, who became known as the "Wild Samoan Savage" while wrestling in the NWA. His real name is Sam Fatu, and is a member of the family.
- Sabu The Wildman (1945-2007), real name Ulualoaiga Onosai Tuaolo Emilio and better known as Cocoa Samoa, came long before and had no relation to the non-Samoan ECW wrestler of the same name.
- While "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka, a Fijian, wasn't the typical Wild Samoan archetype, he did still dress like Tarzan and grunt a lot.
- According to Urban Legend, Vince McMahon once got Snuka off of a murder charge, by claiming to the police that he was an illiterate simpleton who spoke no English. The real story is that it wasn't Vince's doing, it was Snuka himself; short version is that Snuka's girlfriend died in very questionable circumstances and, while no charges were ever brought, Snuka used his illiterate savage routine in his taped interviews with the cops to avoid saying too much. The Other Wiki has the details.
- Samoan wrestler Sivi Afi was New Zealand's answer to Jimmy Snuka, except he was more of a face and really only wild when a few bookers in the US tried to help him get over by having him act like established examples of this trope or claiming he was related to them.
- The Tahitian Savage, who was actually from Samoa.
- This trope is subverted, if you can believe it, by TNA's Samoa Joe. Not only does he speak fluent English in the ring and out of it, but he wears shoes as well! Unfortunately, he has suffered not from this trope, but from Badass Decay. It's made more sad when he was ROH World Heavyweight Champion, he reigned for twenty-one months.
- To give you an idea of how impressive that was, John Cena's longest title reign with the WWE championship was thirteen months. Worse still, in attempting to get rid of the Badass Decay, he headed into Wild Samoan territory, wearing face paint, biting people, covering himself in dirt and carrying a sling blade. Plus his entrance music had the nice addition of "...Samoa, nation of violence". This led to a moronic Face-Heel Turn at the 2009 King of the Mountain match that was regarded as one of the worst turns of all time.
- WWE then debuted their own completely normal Samoan, Manu, but what made it genuinely surprising is that it's Afa's son. He didn't last long, though.
- Currently in WWE are The Usos (who are the sons of Rikishi Fatu), who actually lampshade this trope by noting in their debut promo that they're not "your stereotypical Samoans."
- Roman Reigns, a third generation wrestler of Samoan descent, averts this, backstage at least. He's eloquent, a bit quiet and soft spoken during promos, but during a match or attack, he's every bit of the Screaming Warrior you expect him to be.
- King Adamo is an example of this in UPW and Pro Wrestling Zero 1. Incidentally, Samoa Joe's first wild Samoan was with this guy before he got sick of and walked out of Zero 1. Adamo's more regular partner, King Dabada (known as Alofa the Samoan Tank in WWC), is a even bigger example.
- Maifu and Saifu, the Nigerian Nightmares, are the Nigerian version of this trope. They are the NWS's resident pair of facepaint-wearing superheavyweights.
- Rodney Anoa'i (1966-2000), best known as WWE's Yokozuna from 1992-1996, played it straight early in his career as Kokina, then completely averted it as Yoko, who was billed as Japanese and a former champion Sumo wrestler. At 6'4 and debuting in the role at 505 lbs., and only getting heavier and fatter from there, he combined the Foreign Wrestling Heel and Monster Heel tropes until his face turn in early 1996 after his manager Jim Cornette sided with the newly arrived Vader against Yoko.
- Female example - TNA's Lei'D Tapa (Tongan). She overlaps somewhat with The Giant but still fits the trope. Though her Gut Check video was completely out of character. She is the niece of the Barbarian, though.
- From New Zealand comes Mana "The Polynesian Warrior", who is actually Maori, but was trained by the Trope Namers, teamed with Samu and Ekmo (Umaga) in MLW, and generally plays the trope straight.
- Doctor Gonzo from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is described as Samoan (though his real name was Oscar Zeta Acosta and he was Chicano). The charade carries over from the books, and was pretty much necessary to keep Acosta from being disbarred.
- Averted in Land of the Dead with Pilsbury, who remains calm and collected despite the Zombie Apocalypse, even when his Hot-Blooded teammate makes a small jab at Samoans.
- Amazing (and appalling) that it isn't discredited yet, as it was subverted as far back as Moby-Dick. Queequeg is an "islander" from somewhere in the Pacific, and Ishmael initially fears him as a dangerous savage, but he turns out to be a basically civilized and decent fellow with some peculiar cultural mannerisms.
- The plot of the novel Bora Bora by Spanish author Alberto Vázquez-Figueroa revolves around a crew of Polynesian sailors from the eponymous island tracking down for revenge a crew of savage pirates from Micronesia who had robbed their island some time in the 1660s. The pirates play the trope as good as possible, being at the same time cruel, wild, uncivilised, horribly tattooed, with no respect for laws of humanity and cannibals.
Live Action TV
- Non-wrestling example (though it's not too far off): the recent revival of American Gladiators included a Wild Samoan who went by "Toa" (the Samoan word for "warrior").
- And who coincidentally is a cousin of The Rock, a decidedly non-Wild Samoan.
- The Price Is Right's Bob Barker was infamously wary of any Samoans (or anyone who looked like one) who got to Contestants Row, given their alleged tendency to pick him up in bear hugs out of jubilation.
- There was some game show on Boy Meets World where the losers were attacked by Samoans. Even in the home edition.
- The Maori are portrayed this way in Deadliest Warrior.
- On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Jadzia's bachelorette party included one of these, a crewman named Manuele Atoa.
- Wizard deckhand Freddy Maughtai on Deadliest Catch embodies most of the stereotypes: his English is heavily accented (the show actually often captions his lines, though he's not that hard to understand), he will take fish out of the crab pots and begin to eat them raw (scales, bones and all), and most recently, when the Wizard spotted a walrus carcass (with valuable tusks) and tried to harvest it, they were having trouble getting a rope around it to haul it up. Freddy's solution was to strip down to his sweatpants and jump into the Bering Sea in January, when the water temperature is around 35 degrees Fahrenheit (about 2 degrees Celsius) to fix the rope around it. Ship captain Keith Colburn and the rest of the crew almost went nuts, and they quickly fished him out. Keith was extremely frightened by Freddy's actions, but Freddy himself seemed to view it as no big deal. Of special note was that being in water that cold for one minute generally results in the beginning stages of hypothermia. Freddy was in the water for two minutes, and according to Keith, his skin didn't even feel cold. He was back working on deck within minutes, once he'd changed into dry clothes.
- Heavyweight boxer David Tua certainly qualifies, at least early in his career. And yes, he is Samoan.
- A few kickboxers fit this trope as well: Mark Hunt, Ray Sefo and Mighty Mo (although, considering his susceptibility to knockouts he may count as a subversion).
- A disproportionate number of American Football players come from American Samoa. According to a 60 Minutes piece on the subject, it helps that they're taller on average than other Americans, have a strong warrior-culture influence, and spend a great part of their day from a young age in hard agricultural labor, as compared to the more sedate lifestyle in the US mainland.
- Averted by Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is of Samoan descent (albeit born and raised in the US) and is every bit the warrior during the game. However, off the field, he is very soft-spoken, laid back and sweet-natured.