WWE Scrapbook, Part 2 of Paying Homage to Umaga: Life Without Armando Estrada
Umaga is the Samoan word for "the end," which is sad irony to the career of Eddie Fatu, better known as Umaga in World Wrestling Entertainment.
Today, I pay homage to the man who quickly gained a reputation as one of the most agile monsters in WWE history.
If you missed it, you can view part one here.
After putting Armando Estrada on the shelf, Bobby Lashley was ready to represent Donald Trump and beat Umaga, meaning Vince McMahon would be forced to swallow his pride and have his head shaved bald.
With "Stone Cold" Steve Austin as the special guest referee, Umaga and Lashley proved that all big men were not stiff.
Lashley won the match after Austin hit the Stunner on Umaga, setting up the spear.
With gobs of interference, this feud continued, with the McMahon family backing the Samoan Bulldozer, Umaga.
The team of Shane McMahon, Vince and Umaga beat Lashley for the ECW Championship at Backlash, after Umaga lost the Intercontinental title to Santino Marella, who had the aid of Lashley.
Vince McMahon was the new ECW champion, though—not Umaga.
The same match happened three times more, one of which being a street fight. Vince lost his ECW championship at One Night Stand when he was beaten by Lashley.
Umaga, in what seemed to be a demotion, re-ignited a feud with Santino Marella.
Marella had taken Umaga's intercontinental championship with help from Bobby Lashley. Umaga, now finished with Lashley, was looking to get the gold back in its rightful owner's hands.
The Samoan Bulldozer did just that, defeating Santino to capture WWE gold for just the second time in his career.
It wasn't, however, before Umaga lost by disqualification due to his refusal to stop delivering rapid punches to Santino's head in the corner.
For the first time in his WWE career, Umaga shifted to a tweener role for a few weeks.
He teamed with then-WWE champion John Cena to take on Randy Orton and Carlito.
Now with "Samoa" tattooed across his chest, Umaga looked to be re-branding himself a bit in the summer of 2008.
Orton and Umaga started the match, although the crowd was hot for Cena.
Umaga nailed the Legend Killer with an uppercut, whipped him off the ropes and layed him out with an elbow to the neck.
The Samoan pounded his opponent in the corner, showing no remorse for a man who was considered one of his biggest allies through most of his career.
Orton, though, shifted across the ring to reverse a Samoan Wrecking Ball and tag Carlito in.
The two double-teamed the Bulldozer right away like a pack of hungry wolves.
The stubborn Umaga didn't allowed Orton and Carlito to Irish-whip him, instead clotheslining the team, a move for which the WWE universe roared!
John Cena came in as backup, and this unlikely pair tossed Orton and Carlito out of the ring.
In disbelief, Cena and Umaga glared into each other's eyes as Raw went to commercial break.
Back live from New York City, Umaga slapped the hand of his usual foe to finish off Carlito for him.
Cena controlled the bout, attempting an F-U.
Carlito blindly tagged out, fought out of Cena's finishing moved and sent Cena through the ropes with a double-fisted strike.
Orton, a cocky, young, aggressive heel at the time, worked on his longtime rival on the outside while Carlito distracted the referee.
Umaga simply stood on the apron as a spectator during this ordeal.
Soon after Cena rolled under the bottom rope, Carlito decimated the WWE champion.
Keep in mind, these two had feuded for the United States championship on SmackDown in previous years, so they were not without history.
One could argue that Carlito's best work of his WWE career was with John Cena.
The heels kept tagging in and out, continuing the methodical dissection of Cena. The cliche that if you've seen one Cena, you've seen them all came into play, as it always does.
He leaped to Umaga for the hot tag, and the Bulldozer demolished Orton and Carlito.
To end it, Cena pinned Carlito after an F-U, with Umaga hovering around him.
Cena smirked at Umaga as the monster stood and watched him raise his gold above his head.
No attacks, not even a hint of dissension between the two left you wondering if Umaga was in for a full-fledged face turn.
Umaga beat Mr. Anderson and Carlito at SummerSlam but attacked Jeff Hardy during a match with Anderson.
This of course, took any seeds planted for a face turn and ripped them out of the ground. Umaga's status as a heel was set in stone for at least a little bit longer.
As it turned out, Umaga remained a heel through the rest of his career, though, not once fully a face.
Heck, it was extremely rare this monster would speak English on television, leaving us no real clue if he had any talent on the microphone.
Then again, that was the phenomenal thing about his character: He could get over and be interpreted perfectly without speaking a word that the audience understood.
He was just that good.
The next week, Jeff Hardy faced Umaga one-on-one for his championship gold.
Hardy was aggressive for Raw's opening bout, playing the role of David in this matchup of David versus Goliath.
The aggressive style was working up until a monster right hand to the chin of the the Charismatic Enigma, who was bouncing off the ropes hoping to knock this superheavyweight off his feet.
The newly-themed unpredictable Samoan Bulldozer maintained control over Hardy. Just when it looked as though Hardy would come back, Umaga thwarted his hope of once again becoming intercontinental champion.
Usually, Hardy's speed could play a role, but this big man was just as fast.
It was Umaga's failed Diving Headbutt that would turn the tides, dazing the monster by driving his own head into the canvas.
With a series of clotheslines, a dropkick, a sunset flip and a baseball slide, Hardy got Umaga flat on his back, only to reach a quick two-count.
Hardy measured for the Twist of Fate. Although Umaga reversed, Hardy leaped to the top rope for Whisper In The Wind.
Umaga was again reeling, but still alive to keep his title.
He hit the Black Hole Slam on a flying Jeff Hardy, only garnering a two-count.
Umaga was ironically the one to crash and burn on a top-rope attempt, when Hardy unbalanced the big man into an uneasy fall.
The Samoan kicked out just after three, sending him through the ropes and out of harm's way. Hardy looked shocked as the referee handed him the intercontinental championship.
Umaga recovered quickly from this upset loss, appearing in a match with Triple H for the WWE championship at No Mercy.
Trips struck Umaga with a sledgehammer in a two-on-one match also including Mr. Kennedy (on Umaga's team), and would later beat the giant at the pay-per-view to retain the title.
The two continued their rivalry into Survivor Series, with Umaga's team of MVP, Mr. Kennedy, Finlay and Big Daddy V getting the short end of the stick, as seemingly all do against the Cerebral Assassin.
This led into a WrestleMania feud with Batista, where they battled for brand supremacy. Batista represented the SmackDown brand, while Umaga represented Raw.
With Raw general manager William Regal claiming he pitied SmackDown's Batista just days before the epic WrestleMania encounter, The Animal proved he could go toe-to-toe with Umaga.
In the match, the two agile big men had a pretty good showing, somewhat similar to Umaga's match with Bobby Lashley at the previous year's WrestleMania.
Like that previous match, Umaga lost to give the fans a nice feeling about their favorites heading into the later matches.
To complete his Raw stint, Umaga lost to Jeff Hardy at Extreme Rules in a falls-count-anywhere match. It ended with a Swanton Bomb off a equipment truck outside, where cameras did not show the landing.
Umaga was then moved to the SmackDown roster, where he had a match with Triple H that ended at the hands of The Legacy (Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes.)
The Samoan soon got injured at an August 2 house show in Knoxville, Tenn., sidelining him for the coming months.
Upon his return, he sparked his first feud as a member of the SmackDown roster.
It would turn out to be his last.
This feud was sparked with Mr. Money In The Bank, CM Punk.
Punk was looking to build up a head of steam so he could cash in on Jeff Hardy and transform into a Straight Edge Messiah.
This culminated in a Samoan Strap Match at Extreme Rules in 2009.
Punk was competing in his last match until his career would skyrocket to all-new heights, while it was Umaga's last match altogether.
Referee Charles Robinson tied the leather strap around the wrist of the Samoan Bulldozer and the Second City Saint.
Jim Ross had already picked Umaga to win, and now he, along with Todd Grisham, were attempting to wrap their minds around how Punk was going to drag this superheavyweight around the ring to touch each ring post.
Umaga pulled Punk in but was met with a series of elbows to the face.
Punk's aggression continued with roundhouse kicks and the reversal of what was sure to be a splash into the corner.
Nonetheless, a simple two-handed slap to the chest left CM Punk reeling.
Umaga eased his way to touching the first turnbuckle, same with the second. Punk, though, got up and hit his flying knee out of nowhere.
The Bulldog failed, as did Umaga's splash.
Punk kicked the heart area of the Samoan monster, allowing him to touch the first two turnbuckles only to be slammed into the third. A Samoan Drop was next.
Umaga slowed things down by whipping the flesh on Punk's back with the leather strap. Punk, in agony, raised off the mat to taste the taped foot of his opponent.
The beatdown continued afterwards with another whip and two headbutts (one standing, one jumping). Umaga pulled Punk's carcus from the middle of the ring to the the post, using the strap to apply force on the Chicago native's shoulder, which was not-so-comfortably resting on the post.
Umaga slammed that same shoulder into the steel steps as he made his way back in the ring.
He hit a frontward suplex, landing CM Punk in position to take a super kick to send him to the outside.
Umaga touched the first two turnbuckles, but the 200-pound weight known as CM Punk was stopping him from reaching the other two. He failed to reach the third turnbuckle after stretching, walking right into a roundhouse kick to the skull.
Punk nailed a Springboard Dive off the rope. His GTS, however, failed, playing into Umaga's flying kick.
Punk dodged the turnbuckle in the nick of time, as a 350-pound giant was looking to crush him. He pulled the strap, already in between Umaga's legs, into a sensitive region.
After a couple minutes, Punk's Bulldog worked this time around.
He crawled his way to touching three quarters of the turnbuckles, yet a Black Hole Slam stopped him in his tracks and forced another new sequence.
Punk wrapped his legs around the bottom rope as Umaga slapped the third turnbuckle, not allowing him to bulldoze his way into victory.
Umaga chose to charge this time. Punk, though, pulled the top rope, and Umaga flew to the outside.
Punk again reached three turnbuckles, with Umaga's sheer strength not letting him touch the final one.
Umaga took control, climbing to the top rope.
Punk pulled him off, eventually hitting the GTS and leaping to slap the fourth rope, proclaiming a triumphant win in the process.
Just days later, Eddie Fatu failed to comply with the WWE's wellness policy, and refused to go to the required rehab.
Therefore, he was released from his contract on June 8, 2009.
Just months later, on December 3, 2009, Fatu died after being found not breathing, with blood coming out of his nose.
He was pronounced dead at the age of 36.
He is survived by a family enriched in professional wrestling history: uncles Afa and Sika, the Wild Samoans and Chief Peter Maivia; his brothers, Tonga Kid and Rikishi; his cousins, The Rock, Yokozuna, Matt "Rosey" Anoa'i, Samu Anoa'i and Afa Anoa'i Jr.; and his grandfather Reverand Anoa'i Amituana'i.
To read more of my work, along with many others, check out EnigmaticWrestling.com. Also, you can follow me on Twitter @THERYANFRYE.
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