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Wild Samoan

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"Years ago someone told Polynesian DNA that everyone was surrounded by sea monsters and it believed them. It made humans that were immune to head injuries, fast enough to run on the highway, and big enough to use the carpool lane. Putting two of them in the same ring is like telling your local tectonic plates to fuck themselves."

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 the Wild Samoan gimmick (or Tongan, or Fijian, or Marquesan, or...). Basically, in the 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. Most fans know literally nothing about Samoa other than the absurd amounts of wrestlers (and absurd amounts of NFL players) who just seem to appear out of thin air. We have seen no proof that the entire island isn't just one very large wrestling school.

Fortunately, this is on its way to becoming a Discredited Trope, with the broadening gimmicks 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) - Evie, the kicking kiwi - Roman Reigns, the cerebral technician who takes advantage of wolfpack tactics to overwhelm his foes - Jey Dewhurst, the Drag Queen diva - 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 gimmick tends to come with a very specific moveset which perpetuates over time and it's often adopted by non-Samoan wrestlers. Moves like savate kicks, hip attacks, headbutts, diving splashes, reverse piledrivers, nerve holds/thrusts and the ubiquitous Samoan drop are the most common.

The examples below cover the usage of this trope in professional wrestling, but also in other media as well.


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     Professional Wrestling 
  • 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).
    • Just to give you an idea of how strong kayfabe was in the eighties. Hogan purchased a gun, and was traveling in New Jersey with the Wild Samoans (pre-Hulkamania) when he got pulled over by a state trooper. He went for his registration and the gun fell out of his glove box. He begged the Samoans to explain that he was unaware of NJ guns laws, but they just looked at each other and grunted so as not to break kayfabe (they both spoke perfect English). They remained mute while being taken into custody with Hogan, because going to jail beats breaking character.
  • Samu and Fatu, better known as The Samoan SWAT Team (WCW) and The Headshrinkers (WWF). Fatu would become far more famous as Rikishi. Samu would go to New Japan Pro-Wrestling, where he would wrestle as 'Wild Samoan'.
  • 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 All 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 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. Not that it mattered anyway, as the next year, Samoa Freaking Joe was kidnapped by ninjas. And nobody was a bad enough dude to rescue him.
  • 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.
  • 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." When they perform a Haka, the commentators point out that athletes in Hawaii do that even if they aren't Polynesian. Then they did the Siva-Tau, the Samoan war dance, which is also used by many other Samoan athletes.
  • Roman Reigns, a third generation wrestler of Samoan descent (he's Sika's youngest son), 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. After his long-awaited Face–Heel Turn in 2020 he started playing up his Samoan heritage a lot more, portraying himself as the "Tribal Chief" and the "Head of the Table" and the leader of his extended Samoan clan, forcing his cousin Jey Uso into subservience in a brutal series of matches and dropping his flak jacket to wrestle shirtless. After beating Jey at Hell in a Cell Roman was met at the top of the ramp by Afa and Sika themselves, who acknowledged Roman as the head of the Anoa'i family by placing a lei around his neck. However this is something of a subversion of this trope, as despite leaning into his heritage, Roman is more of a cold, brutal, calculating heel than a wild Wrestling Monster.
  • King Adamo, known for wearing what looks like a straw ring around his neck, is an example of this in Ultimate Pro and Pro Wrestling ZERO1. Incidentally, Samoa Joe's first wild Samoan run 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 Māori, but was trained by the Trope Namers, teamed with Samu and Ekmo (Umaga) in MLW, and generally plays the trope straight.
  • Though he screams and wrestles barefoot, "The Mad Tongan" Sione Finau downplays this otherwise as his style is clean and at times even acrobatic.
  • All-Star Wrestling has booked Fiji Wildman who is, well what do you think?
  • Averted by WOW Women of Wrestling's Paradise. She was billed from Tonga, but didn't display any of the qualities usually associated with this trope.
  • Subverted by the Samoano Brothers Samoano and Tonga of Lucha Liga Elite. They certainly act like Wild Samoans but they are in fact Mexicans wearing Polynesian war masks. The actual Pacific Islanders such as Tama Tonga tend to be less wild (which is saying something considering Tama Tonga's war paint extends to his beard).
  • Subverted with Jacob Fatu, who is Samoan and is wild but is not a wild Samoan so much as a Wild Man with a werewolf motif.
  • Subverted with Lance Anoa’i, the son of Samu. Like Manu, he is a completely normal Samoan.


  • 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 
  • American Gladiators included a Wild Samoan who went by "Toa" (the Samoan word for "warrior").
  • 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 Māori 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.
  • Young Rock depicts the actual Trope Namers, Afa and Sika, but is overall a deconstruction of the trope. All of the Samoans in the story are well-spoken and only use the gimmicks in the ring. The The Wild Samoans themselves are shown to be jovial and friendly in contrast to their Kayfabe personas. Of course, Dwayne Johnson himself is a subversion of the trope.

    Video Games 

    Real Life 
  • Heavyweight boxer David Tua certainly qualifies, at least early in his career. And yes, he is Samoan.
  • A few kickboxers fit this trope: 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.
  • Many top-class rugby players are Polynesian (which includes New Zealand's Māori). While things are improving, there's still a tendency to overemphasise their strength and agression instead of, say, tactical genius or discipline (and vice-versa with white players).
  • The first non-Japanese wrestler to reach the second-highest rank in sumo (ozeki) was Konishiki Yasokichi (born Saleva'a Fuauli Atisano'e), a Hawaiian of Samoan descent. During his time in active competition, he was the heaviest man in sumo and dominated bouts with his sheer size and strength, and came close to being the first non-Japanese wrestler to achieve the highest rank of yokozuna. The second of two Americans who became yokozuna, Musashimaru, was also Samoan (the first, Akebono, was of native Hawaiian descent).