WWE Hall of Famer Rikishi is part of the famous Anoaʻi family.
That family tree features a long list of incredible wrestling talent, starting with WWE Hall of Famer High Chief Peter Maivia.
Rikishi, 51, is the nephew of Sika Anoaʻi and Afa Anoaʻi, known as the Wild Samoans, and his cousins include the late Rodney Anoaʻi (Yokozuna), Samula Anoaʻi (Headshrinker Samu), Matt Anoaʻi (Rosey), Joe Anoaʻi (Roman Reigns), Reno Anoaʻi (Black Pearl), Afa Anoaʻi Jr. (Manu), Lloyd Anoaʻi (L.A. Smooth) and Dwayne Johnson (The Rock).
Rikishi is the older brother of the late Eddie Fatu (Umaga/Jamal). He is the twin brother of Sam Fatu (The Tonga Kid/Tama), and they have twins. Sam is the father of twins Marley and Myracle, and Rikishi is the father of twins Jonathan and Joshua Samuel, who currently wrestle in WWE as Jimmy and Jey Uso.
“I’m proud to be part of the biggest [wrestling] family to date,” Rikishi said. “We’re talking 20-plus strong, the Samoan Dynasty, in professional wrestling.”
What exactly made Rikishi want to become a professional wrestler?
“Watching my uncles,” he said. “I used to watch my uncles back in the day, every time they came on the TV. I was a kid back home in America Samoa, and my mother is their sister. So we would watch wrestling from home on the islands, and every time Afa and Sika and High Chief Peter Maivia came on the TV, the whole island just shut down and watched professional wrestling. There was so much pride and joy to be able to see my uncles and Peter Maivia put Samoa on the map. I was a big fan of my uncles.
“When I came to the United States and went to school, the rest is history. I visited my uncles, and just being around the business then -- watch how they train and what it is -- I got the itch.”
So who better to train him than those two legends from that dynasty.
WWE Hall of Famers the Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika) trained Rikishi, who debuted in 1985 in Montreal. He also wrestled for Carlos Colon’s WWC in Puerto Rico, Portland Wrestling, Fritz Von Erich’s World Class Championship Wrestling in Texas and WCW.
What was it like being trained by the Wild Samoans?
“It was very difficult,” Rikishi said. “They seek perfection. They seek commitment. They seek passion, and they pushed me to the limit. For me to understand this industry that I had no idea about, they really wanted to prepare me. It was everyday, traveling on the road with them, carrying their bags.
“To be on the road with them and to be in the locker room and listening and seeing all their matches and learning the fundamentals of professional wrestling -- which at the time I had no respect about the business because I was a young kid who didn’t realize how important this business was to both of my uncles and how seriously they took it. I like to sum it up as tough love, and I’m proud That I’m underneath their wing. They taught me everything I know in this industry, and that took me all the way to being a 2015 WWE Hall of Famer.”
Rikishi as Fatu formed the Samoan Swat Team with his cousin Samu. They won the World Class and WWC tag team titles, before signing with the WWF where they became the Headshrinkers, managed by the legendary Captain Lou Albano, who also managed the Wild Samoans. Albano helped lead both teams to WWF tag team gold. Later as a singles wrestler, the 400-pound Rikishi won the Intercontinental title.
“When you’re in this industry, when you win something as a prize, any type of title..being a WWE/WWF World Tag team Champion with my uncle Afa and the icon Captain Lou Albano, that was big for me. To share the big stage with them and winning that big prize, that’s what I’m most proud of...Also standing out on my own and winning my first Intercontinental championship by myself out there.
“So when you’re winning these type of titles that adds onto your resume, it’s a very proud moment for me and my family.”
Rikishi was inducted into the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame by his sons, the Uso twins.
Who called to tell Rikishi the good news and where was he?
“It was somebody from the [WWE] office, and I was at home,” Rikishi said. “I thought it was a rib, somebody playing a joke on me; so I hung up the phone. They called me right back, and I talked to a longtime friend of mine, who’s in charge of talent there, Mark Carrano, and he said, ‘Why’d you hang the phone up? This is for real.’
“It was exciting. It took me a long time to realize this thing was really happening. So I want to thank all the fans for recognizing me for all of my work and my career in professional wrestling. My uncles always taught us that without the fans there is no you. Much respect to all the Rikishi fans, all the Samoan Dynasty fans throughout the world.”
How about the creation of Rikishi and the Stinkface.
“It was a collaboration with myself and [WWE Chariman/CEO] Vince McMahon,” Rikishi said. “They wanted to do a spin-off of the late Yokozuna, but I wanted to add my own identity to it. I didn’t have a problem wearing a thong and bleaching my hair. I wanted to have some type of ideals of what would a sumo do and not do. Coming up with the dancing and stuff, I didn’t want to be exactly like my cousin [Yokozuna], which I couldn’t even fill Yoko’s shoes, respectfully.
“The first time I came out in that character the people knew it was me, but it was a different look, and when I took that kimono off, pretty much my whole bare ass was hanging out, and it was probably one of the largest pops I’ve ever heard [chuckles]. They say this, ‘Shake what your momma gave you.’
He did, and he introduced it up close and personal to many the opposition in the ring. Thus, it became a badge of honor to be ‘Stinkfaced.’
“The Stinkface made a lot of people famous,” he said. “If you made the Stinkface list, you were pretty much famous. I knew once Vince McMahon took the Stinkface, everybody else was gonna line up for the Stinkface, and that’s exactly what happened.
“It’s weird because when you see this big 400-pound dimple ass coming toward your way, you would think that a lot of them would want to steer away from it, but even a lot of the divas enjoyed it [laughed], and they’re still doing it today.”
Was there anyone in WWE who came close to being as good a dancer as Rikishi?
“Oh, absolutely not,” Rikishi chuckled. “Well, you know, I enjoyed dancing with the Hardy Boyz back in the day. We did a lot of stuff at the house shows, dancing with Eddy Guerrero, and I think I had Mark Henry dancing as well. Kurt Angle danced. There were a lot of people who enjoyed that part of the magic of Rikishi and Too Cool. [Others] coming out of their character and busting a move, they felt the magic that I felt every night from the fans. That part of our match was entertaining for wrestling fans, and they’d never seen that before...I had fun doing it.
“It was something I used to do when I was younger at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, and I kind of added it onto the match, and people bought into it, and they enjoyed it...It was a great ride.”
Talking current WWE superstars Roman Reigns and the Usos, carrying the Samoan wrestling torch.
“The boys and Roman Reigns are doing well,” Rikishi said. “All the family is proud of them, doing such a great job representing the family and continuing the legacy and the Samoan Dynasty. In our family, we don’t know why there are so many of us in wrestling. We think about it at the dinner table when we have big family reunions, and it just comes from a passion and love we have for the industry.
“We love professional wrestling. It started with High Chief Peter Maivia and then Afa and Sika. The teachings that they have. The respect for the business. You protect the business. You go out there and be the best that you can. Even if you’re not in the main event, you try to steal the show, because you can’t stop talent, and for my family, they’re continuing to do that, and I’m proud to say that.”
Rikishi also gives back to others in his extended wrestling family. He is working alongside his cousin Black Pearl and fellow WWE alum Gangrel at the Knokx Pro Wrestling Academy in Sun Valley, Calif., training wrestlers, most notably Miroslav Barnyashev, who is WWE’s Rusev.
“Between me, my cousin and Gangrel, we have 80-plus years experience,” Rikishi said. “Me and my cousin [Black Pearl-Reno Anoa’i] we opened up a wrestling academy in Los Angeles, and the brand is worldwide now as we have students from all over the world. One of our graduates, Rusev, the Bulgarian, is in WWE.
“So I want to help them fulfill their dream as a professional wrestler while leading them in the right direction to understand truly what the industry is. We teach these students -- these kids from diverse areas of the world -- exactly what our uncles taught us about this industry, and I’m proud to say, very happy to say, we are on tour in 2017 in Utah, Phoenix, Nevada, up and down the coast of California.”
For the 2017 Knokx Pro Wrestling Tour, Rikishi said to watch Italian Samoan Joe Parisi and also noted Prince Sergio, originally from India and the royal family. Furthermore, he spoke highly of Jezette Marie, who has been training for three years.
“She throws the ‘baddest’ clothesline you’ve ever seen in this industry from a female,” Rikishi said. “She’s somebody who needs to be seen and will be seen...She hurts me when she throws a clothesline. It’s that good.”
Rikishi will be appearing at Paradise City Comic Con from Friday, Dec. 9-Sunday, Dec. 11 in Fort Lauderdale.
“I’m very excited to come to South Florida to meet all my fans and personally meet and greet everybody and take photo opts together and to just say thank you personally,” he said. “I want to hear their favorite stories, their favorite Stinkface, their favorite match about myself, and for me to be able to shake their hand, I’m very much looking forward to that. I want to say thank you to all the fans who supported me throughout my career.”
Native American Tatanka, a WWE legend, and Leva Bates, aka NXT’s Blue Pants, will be there three days. WWE Hall of Famer Soulman Rocky Johnson will be at the event on Friday, Dec. 9 and Saturday, Dec. 10. Former WWE Superstars Cryme Tyme will appear on Saturday, Dec. 10 along with former WWE GM/Manager/Talent Teddy Long.
For more information about tickets and programming for Paradise City Comic Con, visit
About Paradise City Comic Con
Paradise City Comic Con is produced by Super Conventions, the team that also organizes Florida Supercon, Raleigh Supercon and Animate Florida. The event occurs through three days, and it is expected to draw 19,000 attendees.
Convention Event Hours and Agenda
Paradise City Comic Con is Dec. 9-11 at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 33316.
Convention Event Hours / Exhibition Room Hours:
Friday, Dec. 9: 12:30 p.m. – 1 a.m. / Noon – 8 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 10: 10:30 a.m. – 2 a.m. / 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 11: 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. / 10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.