On the April 3, 2006 edition of Monday Night Raw, the iconic Ric Flair pranced out to his music. He discussed his chance of earning a World Heavyweight Championship, likely boring the crowd after they had already watched 16 previous reigns as champion.
An unfamiliar man then arrived and interrupted, even beginning by speaking Spanish. This man soon revealed himself as Armando Estrada before telling Flair that his time in the limelight was over. It was time for a new hero to grace America's presence.
Flair interrupted numerous times, telling Estrada that nobody could beat the Nature Boy! He challenged Estrada to bring out this new comer, and Estrada did just that.
His name was Umaga.
Standing at a menacing 6'4", 350 pounds, Umaga had shoulder-length hair and pure black tights.
The man later nicknamed the Samoan Bulldozer immediately flattened one of wrestling's biggest icons, which is one of the biggest statements you could possibly make in your debut.
Umaga choked Flair out in the corner and hit his patented Samoan Wrecking Ball, soon to be followed by a couple of headbutts and a Samoan Drop.
Umaga had put the entire WWE roster on notice.
Umaga is the Samoan meaning 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 of one of the most agile monsters in WWE history.
Now with braided hair, Umaga took on Flair at Backlash, competing on his first WWE pay-per-view.
Umaga survived some cheap shots from the dirtiest player in the game to hit the horrifying Samoan Spike for the win. This attained his undefeated record after previously squashing multiple jobbers.
The upcoming month saw Umaga decisively beat consistent top stars such as Triple H, Shawn Michaels and John Cena.
Umaga's first of the three matches was against John Cena, who was recovering from losing his WWE Championship.
Cena controlled the pace as the two tangoed before the bell rang. He was channeling his anger towards Edge to Umaga.
Umaga though took control after a thumb to the eye and sending the Doctor of Thuganomics through Matt Striker's chalkboard.
The Bulldozer earned a rare pinfall victory over Cena with distraction by Edge and Lita.
His match with Michaels was a dominating and stand-out performer for the native Samoan.
His manager, Armanda Estrada, put Cuban cigars in Triple H's travel bag. H was teaming with Michaels at this time as D-Generation-X, but was ejected from the arena by authorities before the Michaels/Umaga match began.
To tilt the odds even more in Umaga's favor, Vince and Shane McMahon made their way out. Not only were they supporters of Umaga, but bitter rivals of Michaels and his tag team partner.
Michaels did put up a valiant fight in the closing minutes, but the still-undefeated monster was just too much with not two, but three men in his corner.
Umaga's next real program started at 2006's edition of SummerSlam.
Umaga was playing an enforcer role to the McMahons against Triple H and Shawn Michaels. He took out both men before brawling to the back with Kane.
This sparked a two-month rivalry with the Big Red Monster.
These two, agile for their ginormous size, put on a couple impressive matches.
This led us too a Loser Leaves Raw match on October 9 of 2006. The two giants traded strikes just as the bell sounded.
Kane cornered the Samoan Bulldozer and attempted a clothesline, but ended up on the receiving end of one instead.
The momentum shifted back and fourth, but Kane left Umaga on the canvas with a sharp elbow to the skull then a head-first plunge into the top turnbuckle.
Kane climbed on the top rope, only to meet a stiff uppercut by Umaga. A swift push to the backside sent the Devil's Favorite Demon reeling on the outside.
Kane still had more fight, however, reversing the Samoan Wrecking Ball into a chokeslam, which was reversed into a belly-to-belly suplex.
Kane continued to fight back in the match, only to be one-upped by the Samoan Bulldozer. Not ever a 350-pound top rope splash put this monster away.
Alas, with the help of Armando Estrada, Umaga jabbed Kane in the throat with the Samoan Spike to earn a three count.
While Umaga believed he had saw the last of Kane, that wasn't exactly the case.
At Cyber Sunday 2006, the two were selected by the fans to have one final match.
Umaga, as he had in all their previous bouts, emerged victorious.
With one less monster in his path, Umaga set his sights on John Cena and his WWE Championship to kick off 2007.
Cena accepted the challenge vocalized by Umaga's manager, Estrada, for New Year's Resolution.
It was the WWE Champion putting his title on the line against a Samoan beast that had yet to be pinned or submitted.
Something had to give.
Cena's aggressive start backfired, and Umaga brutalized the champion for the majority of the match.
Yet in vintage John Cena fashion, he escaped Kansas City, Mo. with the title still intact after a roll-up win.
Armado Estrada called John Cena's win a fluke, and general manager Jonathan Coachman granted Umaga another chance.
Coachman also granted Estrada the right to pick a stipulation that wound up being a Last Man Standing Match.
Leading into the Royal Rumble, both men pummeled each other, with Umaga even splashing Cena through a table.
With taped ribs before the match even started, Cena had a distinct disadvantage when facing off against the Samoan Bulldozer.
The only loss Umaga had suffered so far resulted from a roll-up out of nowhere, and now, he had to be beaten enough to be able to answer a count of ten?
Would appear to be blasphemy at the surface now, wouldn't it?
The two men met in the center of the ring for a stair-down, and Umaga struck first with a hand to Cena's face. Cena, though, responded with a multitude of strikes, which is a very underrated part of John Cena's in-ring work.
Umaga was difficult to daze however, with Cena failing to do so with punch after punch, and even an attempted jaw breaker didn't get the job done.
In comparison, one right hand to Cena's taped ribs brought him down.
Now outside, Umaga had no problems sending his opponent into the steel steps to the delight of Armando Estrada watching from ringside.
Umaga stayed in control for quite awhile, continually weakening the abdomen of the reigning WWE Champion.
Going for the first 10-count, Umaga only had enough damage to keep Cena down for a seven count.
Umaga slamed Cena to the mat with ease and grabbed the steel steps while Cena re-cooperated with assistance from the ropes.
Cena hulked up as Umaga reached the apron and began his comeback. He nailed the runaway train with the steps to leave him laying for the first time that night.
Umaga made it up by six, so Cena stayed on the attack until the amazingly athletic Bulldozer hit a flying kick to his face.
He slowed down the pace, working Cena's ribs again, this time with a simple bear hug.
The near-lifeless Cena dropped to the mat after a belly-to-belly suplex by Umaga out of the bear-hug.
Umaga set the steel steps and Cena up for what would have been a devastating Samoan Wrecking Ball, but the champion dodged in the knick of time.
Instead, Umaga was the devastated one after Cena bounced the steps off his skull.
The bulldozer recovered, hitting the tilit-a-world sidewalk slam upon getting his feet back under him.
Umaga then plunged off the second rope onto Cena's injured ribs twice. A third reach into the cookie jar didn't go as smoothly, with Cena kneeing the lower region of the monster.
Cena wasted no time, nailing his running one-handed bulldog and blasting Umaga's head off the unforgiving steel. Next Cena hit the Protobomb once again, placing Umaga on the steps, followed by the five-knuckle shuffle.
John Cena went for the F-U (now called the Attitude Adjustment), but the sheer weight of Umaga collasped him, making his head ironically bounce off the steel steps.
Cena and Umaga both got up by the count of nine. Cena, however, was bleeding.
Umaga, perhaps so close him and his loudmouth manager could taste the gold, pounded Cena to what many believed would be no return.
Blood seeping from the open wound on John Cena's forehead told the story of the viscous beating he had taken in this main event.
All of the sudden, dueling chants from the WWE Universe seemed to motivate the champ. He urged Umaga on as the blood began rushing from the cut even faster. At this point, he was wearing a crimson mask.
Cena attempted a whip-whip clothesline, being the victim of a Samoan Drop instead.
The Samoan Bulldozer stuck his thumb in the air proudly, calling for his deadly finisher that Cena somehow blocked.
Cena was tied up into the top turnbuckle for Umaga's Tree of Woe, causing blood to rush to his already bleeding head. Cena too reversed this maneuver, sitting up and making Umaga's head hit the mat.
Cena was once agin determined make a comeback. He hit his flying leg-drop off the top rope, then throwing Umaga shoulder-first into the ring post.
Cena grabbed the television monitor from the untrustworthy hands of Armando Estrada. He bashed the vulnerable head of Umaga with this monitor into the ring post.
Umaga still willed his way up before the referee's count reached 10. He was on the receiving end of an elbow to the spine that sent him through the ropes.
Dazed, Cena's jumping strike off the apron failed when Umaga caught him and slammed him into the ring post.
Umaga ran across the two announce tables, with the intent being to splash John Cena through the third table and into the next week. The problem was Cena moved out of harm's way, and Umaga splashed nobody but himself through the table.
Ultamitely, this one mistake cost the Samoan Bulldozer the match and rendered him incapable of becoming the WWE Champion, although he did get up circa Joe Fraizer before falling vicitim to the classic Cena comeback.
After unsuccessfully challenging for WWE Championship gold, Umaga won the Intercontinental title as a consolation prize.
To win it, the Samoan Bulldozer decimated Jeff Hardy.
His next program was with ECW Champion Bobby Lashley.
During this feud, Lashley pushed a wheelchair-reliant Estrada down the ramp into a few trash cans, effectively ending the relationship of him and Umaga.
The Extinct Manager-to-Monster Connection That was Used with Umaga's paring with Estrada
Armando Estrada was the perfect fit for Umaga.
He played a heel that did absolutely anything to give his client the win.
He put Umaga in matches that he thrived in and barked out orders for him to follow during those matches.
It was an ingenious pairing that was the last real use of the current lost art inside the WWE.
To put it simply: Estrada was the brains and Umaga was the beast. Together, they were pretty damn close to unstoppable.
Without Armando, Umaga seemed as if he had lost a little of his mojo.
One of the Most Agile Big Men Wrestling Has Ever Seen
Umaga was nearly 400 pounds of man, yet he could hit moves such as a splash, unlike some cruiserweights.
He could hit belly-to-belly and belly-to-back suplexes unlike some technicians.
And with a shadow of a doubt, Umaga had the power game that many big men don't have.
No matter what it was, if inside the squared circle, Eddie Fatu could do anything despite his limiting size.
The Perfect Rival for John Cena
In my opinion, the WWE really missed the boat by only having John Cena and Umaga compete at two pay-per-views.
Consider the two matches they put on, then think of all the big men Hulk Hogan defeated in his day.
Cena's era has had a lack of agile big men, though, only with older guys such as The Undertaker, Kane, Big Show and Mark Henry taking those spots throughout the last decade.
How about if Cena would have had a long term rivalry with Umaga?
How many more classics could we have been lucky enough to witness?
WWE Scrapbook is a new Bleacher Report series that will take a look at the careers of some of my favorite underrated WWE Superstars ever.
The second part to this Umaga tribute will be out later this week, where I cover Umaga's career without Armando Estrada.
Until then, keep in mind that EnigmaticWrestling.com becomes the new Enigmatic Generation of Wrestling when the clock strikes 2012. This launch will have many new series and exclusive interviews, so be sure to check it out.
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