The Wild Samoans, Afa, and Sika were the patriarchs of the Anoai family. After their time as a team in the ring, the next generation within the Samoan Dynasty would be with the Samoan Swat Team. Samula ‘Samu’ Anoai is the son of Afa along with Soloafa Fatu, who is Afa’s nephew. In the mid-1980s, Samu would compete in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, for Lutte Internationale promotion owned and operated by Dino Bravo and Gino Britto.
This was coincidently the first time the cousins worked together. After closed, the two would compete for Carlos Colon in Puerto Rico. It would be there where the Samoan Swat Team would be born.
The Samoan SWAT Team – The Second Generation in the Dynasty
Samu and Fatu’s time in Puerto Rico then lent itself an opportunity to competing for patriarch Fritz Von Erich and his World Class Championship Wrestling promotion. As part of the Freebird’s longstanding feud with the Von Erich’s, Buddy Roberts brought them to challenge Kerry and Kevin Von Erich for the tag team championships.
In fact, the duo defeated the Von Erich’s for the WCCW Tag Team Championships. They would later face Michael P.S Hayes and Steve Cox for those same titles. Despite losing the titles ever so briefly to them, they would regain them a few days later.
“That it wasn’t so much of a gimmick. We are as tough as people thought we were. The kids were scared because they thought we might eat them, and we might. But we take it seriously when we go out there.
Many people today, it’s so different than it was back then, we used to beat the hell out of each other and enjoy it, and some guys nowadays are afraid they’re going to break a nail and can’t go to the gym and workout. Back then, we had a lot to hold on to, but we’re still hanging in there.”
–Samu on the actual intimidation of The Headshrinkers.
By the Fall of 1988, the Samoan Swat Team became double champions. The duo captured the WCWA Texas Tag Team Championships as well when they defeated Jimmy Jack Funk and John Tatum. They would defend the WCCW Tag Titles at the AWA’s Superclash pay-per-view event.It was a time like no other. The duo had ridden on the wave of the success on their own. Although of the legendary Anoai’s lineage, both Samu and Fatu were building on the accomplishments of their families’ past but doing so on a global scale. In early 1989, Samu and Fatu departed World Class Championship Wrestling. Their departure led to both titles having to be vacated.
They joined Jim Crockett’s NWA and were managed by Paul E. Dangerously. The alignment with Dangerously came after Paul E’ ‘original’ Midnight Express (Loverboy Dennis & Randy Rose) left the company. But they would still continue the ongoing feud between Dangerously and the Midnight Express facing Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton.
By the Fall of 1989, Oliver Humperdinck, who was named ‘The Big Kahuna,’ would take over the managerial reigns for the Samoan Swat Team over Paul E Dangerously. The duo became a trio briefly as Fatu’s brother Sam who would compete as ‘The Samoan Savage,’ would join Fatu and his cousin Samu. But as time passed, both Sam Fatu (the Samoan Savage) and Solofa (wrestling just as Fatu) would assume the New Wild Samoan’s moniker while Samu would compete in singles action.
“Without a doubt, I’d have to say the Steiner Brothers. Yeah, we actually started working with those usos in WCW on the NWA back in the day. And it was like, once we tied up — we knew of them, but once we got to work together, you know, it was kind of right up our alley.
Because we worked, but we were kinda — we worked snug. We worked kind of stiff. We were still trying to find our way. But at the same time, as we kept working with these cats here, we didn’t know that they had a reputation of working stiff too. And so you know, being married to those cats there and then, finally moving up to the WWE [was the best run].”
–Rikishi on the Samoan Swat Team’s greatest rivalry in the team’s history.
Although their time ended in WCW, it didn’t mean their time as a team would come to an end. They would compete on the independent circuit worldwide, specifically in Japan, the US, and Europe. It was also during this time when they would team with their cousin ‘Kokina Maximus”. Kokina would later go on to compete as Yokozuna.
Upon joining the WWF, Samu and Fatu would be managed by Afa, the father of Samu and uncle of Fatu. It was also upon their entrance into the WWF that they would no longer be the Samoan SWAT Team but adopt a name reflective of the Wild Samoans. The Headshrinkers would be much like that of their forefathers before them. It was also later revealed that the teasing of a massive Samoan family member would be joining them.
That person was Kokina Maximus. But an injury to Kokina delayed his debut. When he did return, he was presented with the Yokozuna character. The relationship among the three of them were not shared.
“Rodney’s goal was to hit the big show in WWE. That’s where he wanted to go. We all wanted to go there. When that time came, and that call came from Vince McMahon, it was him and Big Sam to go in as The Headshrinkers.
This is where I jumped in and teamed up with Big Sam. It must have been God sent for him to get hurt because him getting hurt opened up the door for me to team with Big Sam and Vince liked what he saw with the Headshrinkers. When Rod was ready, they brought him up, and he never looked back.”
–Rikishi on the original plans for Yokozuna being a part of The Headshrinkers and how he replaced him.
When Samu and Fatu did debut, they faced a duo known simply as The Samoans. As quickly as the Samoan’s they would soon go. Samu and Fatu didn’t initially capture the WWF Tag Team Championship. They would face the likes of the Natural Disasters and the Smoking Gunns. But it wasn’t until 1994 when Samu and Fatu would defeat The Quebecers with Lou Albano by their side now as faces in the division.While their title run didn’t last long, their presence every time they stood in the ring did. Once Samu left the WWF, he was replaced with Seone (formerly known as The Barbarian). Seone’s stay was also short-lived as he would leave the WWF for WCW. His addition was short-lived as The Headshrinkers would, towards the end of their run would, help to elevate other talent.
What is interesting to note is that Seone’s departure from the WWF would ultimately lead to him joining Kevin Sullivan’s Three Faces of Fear and later Dungeon of Deam. Seone would join fellow Tongan wrestler Meng (also known as Haku) as the Faces of Fear.
Once the Headshrinkers dissolved, a new concept was toyed with using Samu and Fatu, along with the late Matt Anoai (later known as Rosey) would join them. The trio were the Samoan Gangsta Pary. Anoai and Samu would watch Samu in the stands, who was attempting to make a difference and be a good role model. The angle didn’t last long, and Samu and Matt would compete in ECW and engage in a feud there with the likes of Mustafa and New Jack, The Gangstas.
Today, the legacy of the Wild Samoans and the Samoan Swat Team/Headshrinkers is alive and well. With the likes of The Usos carrying on the family legacy in tag team wrestling, the increased mobility that both Samu and Fatu brought to the ring went beyond what Afa and Sika did before them. The same could be said about Jimmy and Jey Uso today. The Anoai/Fatu family wrestling legacy is alive, proving they are as prominent in wrestling today as they ever were.