Solofa Fatu Jr.
(b. 1965) is a Samoan
-American Professional Wrestler
best known for his work in WWE
in the 1990s and early 2000s as Fatu
, The Sultan
and, especially, as Rikishi.
He debuted in 1985 in the International Wrestling territory in Montreal
as Alofa the Polynesian Prince.
He switched to the Fatu name when he and his cousin Samu started teaming in the World Wrestling Council promotion in Puerto Rico as the Samoan Swat Team. They would go on to compete in World Class, the AWA
and many other promotions. In 1992, they arrived in WWE and were renamed the Headshrinkers. This lasted until Samu left in 1994 and was replaced by Sionne (The Barbarian)
, who left in 1995. Fatu was repackaged with a gimmick based on his own life, as a street-smart, tough Samoan who had survived getting shot and wanted to use that to send an anti-drugs/anti-violence message. He was billed as "Make a Difference" Fatu. In late 1996, Mr. Bob Backlund
brought back The Iron Sheik
as the co-manager for Sheiky's new discovery, the Sultan. This gimmick had Fatu wearing a mask and not speaking. He jobbed a lot in this gimmick and he disappeared in early 1998. He returned in late 1999 as Rikishi Phatu (shortened to just Rikishi after a couple months), doing a dancing sumo gimmick, which got over far more than anything he had done before. He had a brief heel run from late 2000-mid 2001 after he claimed to have been the one who had run over "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
at Survivor Series 1999
. He suffered an injury that put him on the shelf for a while and when he came back he was a face and his previous heel run was never acknowledged. He left WWE in 2004 and would go on to compete in TNA
as Junior Fatu and for numerous independent promotions. Among his in-ring achievements, he is a former WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion
, a former 2x WWE World Tag Team Champion
(1x w/Samu and 1x w/Rico
), a former WWE SmackDown! Tag Team Champion
w/Scotty 2 Hotty, and in 2000 Pro Wrestling Illustrated
gave him their "Comeback of the Year" Award.
As usual, you can find the basics at The Other Wiki
"Back That Trope Up!":
- Acrofatic: As Rikishi, he's a 350 lb fat guy who could fly off the top of cages.
- Angry Samoan Man: He claimed that he ran over Austin because of how Samoan wrestlers had been mistreated by WWE. This flopped because he had never shown any signs of this in the whole time he had been doing the Rikishi gimmick.
- Ass Kicks You: Has several moves for this purpose, the Stink Face being his best known.
- Badass/Determinator: He got shot and was clinically dead for three minutes. What more do you need?
- Big Fun: As a face.
- Big Guy, Little Guy/Fat and Skinny: With Scotty 2 Hotty
- Cool Mask: As The Sultan.
- Cool Shades: As Rikishi Phatu.
- Cool Teacher: He and Gangrel trained Alexander Rusev
- Dark-Skinned Blond: After the Sultan gimmick.
- Didn't See That Coming: Rikishi had become so used to opponents fearing the offense of his tremendous backside that when Rico Constantino would actually spank him or beg for the Stinkface, it completely threw Rikishi off his game, forcing him to tag Scotty in and eventually lose their tag titles to Rico and Charlie Haas.
- Disguised in Drag: Dressed up as a woman to fool Eric Bischoff, who was looking for a lesbian to hire for his own twisted purposes.
- Does Not Like Shoes: As a Headshrinker. This became a plot point in his "Makin' a difference" Fatu gimmick, where he had difficulty climbing the ropes because he wasn't used to wearing boots.
- Expy: After his massive weight gain, of his cousin Rodney "Yokozuna" Anoa'i. Rikishi means "sumo wrestler" in Japanese. See It Is Pronounced Tro PAY below..
- Finishing Move: Samoan Splash; (as the Sultan): Camel Clutch; (as Rikishi), Rumpshaker (Yokozuna's Banzai Drop), Rikishi Driver
- Foreign Wrestling Heel: Attempted by Konnan in AAA by making him part of La Legion Extranjera, but it didn't really work out.
- Fun Personified: As a face, he would dance after matches with Too Cool.
- I Have Many Names: Fatu, The Sultan, Rikishi Fatu, Alofa the Polynesian Prince, Junior Fatu, JR Smooth, HUSTLE Rikishi...
- I Know Sumo: In kayfabe.
- It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: The word Rikishi is actually pronounced Rik-Shi, with the second i being silent. For simplicity's sake, WWE pronounced it "Ri-Kee-Shee."
- Laughably Evil: And not in a good way either. Turns out trying to make the guy most known for wearing a thong and sitting on people into a heel without radically altering his persona was not going to get him over.
- Power Stable: The International Squad of Terror, in the late 1990s version of NWA Mid-Atlantic.
- Power Trio
- Too Cool, with Grandmaster Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty
- The Samoan Swat team was one for a stretch with Tama and Samu
- Punny Name: When working with Too Cool and spelling his last name Phatu - 'phat' being a slang term roughly equivalent to 'cool.'
- Real Song Theme Tune: The Samoan Swat Team used Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry Be Happy" in the AWA and John Carpenter's "Halloween Theme" in the NWA/WCW.
- Ring Oldies: Still toured around the world at 49
- Spell My Name with an "S": When he started teaming with Too Cool his last name would either be "Fatu" or "Phatu".
- Stout Strength: Hit a Samoan Drop on THE BIG SHOW on the January 17, 2002 SmackDown!.
- Stuffy Old Songs About the Buttocks: For the WWE Originals album from 2004, he recorded a song called "Put a Little Ass On It."
- Tag Team
- The Samoan Swat Team/The Headshrinkers
- (in the UWA in Mexico): The Hawaiian Beasts, with Kokina (Yokozuna) and the Samoan Savage (The Tonga Kid/Islander Tama)
- Briefly, with Haku during his 2000-01 heel run.
- Take That: Not to anyone specific, but, on the September 5, 2002 SmackDown!, he explained to Edge that he had experienced "the ass of life," and that the Stinkface was his way of throwing everything bad he had experienced in his life back at people.
- The Voiceless: As the Sultan, makes sense because he had no tongue.
- Totally Radical: As "Make a Difference" Fatu.
- Wild Samoan: As a member of the Headshrinkers.
- Wrestling Family: Part of the Anoa'i family through his mother's side. Nearly every Anoa'i and their father (quite literally) has been part of WWE at some point in the last 20 years. More directly, though, his twin sons wrestle for WWE as the Usos and his daughter-in-law Naomi of the Funkadactyl.