No other family in wrestling has produced as many top wrestlers as the Anoa'i dynasty has. Much like the Harts, Von Erichs, or the Rhodes families, it appears that many Anoa'i children grow up dreaming of following in the footsteps of their wrestling ancestors.
What makes the Anoa'i wrestling dynasty different from other wrestling families however, is their size. The Anoa'i family is huge both in terms of how many members they have, and just how large some of those members are. The Reverend Amituana Anoa'i had six children, two of whom, Afa and Sika, became wrestlers. Those six children went on to have many children themselves, and more than a few of those children decided to wrestle as well. The Maivia side of the family tree would also produce a few high quality wrestlers, including one who is arguably the greatest of all time.
Still, you do not hear the Anoa'i family mentioned as much as the Harts, Rhodes or Flair families on WWE television today. Perhaps that is because most members of the Anoa'i family never used their real names while on television. In fact very few members of the family have ever used the last name Anoa'i while wrestling. Instead the WWE has most often cast the family in roles as primitive islanders with no last names, and sometimes no ability to speak. Then in recent years they have been given members last names such as "Reigns" or "Uso", instead of their real last names of Anoa'i and Fatu, which carry more significance in wrestling circles.
The Anoa'i family might be the most successful wrestling family of all time. Here are 15 things you didn't know about them.
15 The Rock Is Not Technically Related To The Anoa'i Family
Sometimes the Anoa'i family gets mocked for the broad definition of "relative" they use.
The Reverend Amituana Anoa'i considered Peter Maivia a "blood brother" and as such the Anoa'i family considers the Maivia family to be a branch of their own family tree. Peter Maivia, who promoted NWA affiliated wrestling shows in Hawaii, trained Amituana's son Afa to be a wrestler in the early 70s, the first member of the Anoa'i family to get into the business. Technically Peter Maivia is not a member of the Anoa'i family, although each side counts the other family as an extension of their own.
Afa would train his younger brother Sikia Anoa'i and the two would form the Hall of Fame tag team of "the Wild Samoans". The team started out in Calgary's Stampede Wrestling, but would wind up in the WWF by the early 1980s. Afa and Sika treated Peter Maivia as if he were an Uncle.
When Peter Maivia married his wife Lia, he adopted her daughter Ata as well. Ata ended up marrying Rocky Johnson. The couple would give birth to Dwayne Johnson on May 2nd 1972. So while The Rock is often referred to as being a member of the Anoa'i family, he actually does not have Anoa'i DNA in him. Technically, since Peter Maivia adopted his daughter Ata, The Rock does not have a direct blood tie to Peter Maivia either. He is the grandson of Lia Maivia and son of Rocky Johnson by blood however.
14 Multi-Generations of Tag Teams
Multiple generations of the Anoa'i family have formed successful tag teams.
The Wild Samoans
The first of these teams was Afa and Sika as the Wild Samoans. Overall Afa and Sika won 21 Tag Team Championships throughout their career, the majority of which coming from NWA territories or the WWF. The team was often managed by Captain Lou Albano, and adopted a primitive "Islander" gimmick.
Afa and Sika's sister Elevara married I'aulualo Folau Solofa Fatu. They had 3 boys that all became wrestlers. Rikishi and the Tonga Kid were twins, and in the mid-80s the Tonga Kid would team up Haku to form "the Islanders". Managed by Bobby Heenan, the Tonga Kid changed his name to "Tama", and would become the first member of the family to perform at WrestleMania.
Rikishi and Samu had been known as the Samoan Swat Team, but in the early 90s the WWF signed the team and re-dubbed them "the Headshrinkers". While they would win the tag team titles on one occasion, they were generally a mid-card tag team. The team was abandoned in the mid-90s, and Rikishi was re-packaged as "the Sultan".
While it was not emphasized on television, both members of 3-Minute Warning were members of the Anoa'i family. The team consisted of Matt Anoa'i (aka Rosey), who is Roman Reigns's brother and the son of Sika, and Eddie Fatu (aka Umaga) who is the brother of Rikishi and the Tonga Kid.
The Usos are now 2x Tag Team Champions, and have twice been voted the Tag Team of the year in the WWE. While in developmental they were managed by Tamina Snuka, who also has ties to the family. They are Rikishi's kids.
In addition to the above teams, the Samoan Gangsta Party and the Sons of Samoa have competed as well. Haku and Rikishi also formed a team for a short while in 2001.
13 Death in the Ring: Gary Albright
In 2000 a member of the family died while wrestling a match in Hazleton, Pennsylvania.
Wrestler Gary Albright was married to Monica Anoaʻi, the daughter of Afa. Together the couple had 3 children, 2 daughters and a son named Samuel.
Like many members of the Anoa'i clan, Albright wrestled for a time in Calgary with Stampede Wrestling. By the end of the 80s, however, the promotion was going under. Albright would spend some time on the independent scene and even wrestled in some shoot-style promotions. By the mid 90s he was wrestling with All-Japan Pro Wrestling regularly.
Albright was a big man, billed at over 350lbs. During a match with World Xtreme Wrestling, Albright took a face first bulldog and then collapsed in the ring. His opponent, Lucifer Grimm, rolled Albright on top of him for the pin. He was pronounced dead at the scene after having suffered what would later be revealed to be a heart attack. Albright also suffered from diabetes and had an enlarged heart.
12 Five Members Currently in WWE
Currently there are 5 members of the Anoa'i family on the WWE roster.
Jimmy and Jey Uso were born Jonathan and Josh Fatu and are the sons of Rikishi. Jimmy Uso married Trinity McCray, who WWE fans will know better as Naomi. Naomi's legal name is now Trinity Fatu.
Nia Jax is related to the Anoa'i family via the "blood brother" relationship with Peter Maivia. Her real name is Savelina Fanene, and she is The Rock's cousin.
Also on the roster and sometimes referred to as a member of the Anoa'i family, is Tamina Snuka. The reason Tamina is sometimes referred to as having ties with the family, is because her father, Jimmy Snuka, married a relative of the family. Tamina herself does not have any blood ties to the family.
Oh, and there's that guy who goes by Roman Reigns. You might have heard about him.
11 Uncle Tonga's Family Ties
Tonga Fifita, better known to wrestling fans as "Haku" or "Meng", has been very close with the Anoa'i family over the years. So much so that many consider him to be a member of the family.
Haku first teamed with Sam Fatu, better known as "the Tonga Kid" or "Tama", as the Islanders. Years later he would form a short-lived tag-team with Tama's twin-brother Rikishi.
The Rock considers Haku an Uncle, and credits him with his successful WWE tryout years ago. According to the Rock he was flat broke when he first had his WWE tryout so Haku gave him his first set of ring gear. The Rock would pay him back years later by purchasing him a truck.
Haku has 2 sons currently in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa are known as "the Guerrillas of Destiny", are members of the Bullet Club and the current IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. The two are considered cousins of the Rock and the Usos, though it is not clear if an actual blood tie exists.
10 Peter Maivia Disapproved of Rocky Johnson
Peter Maivia knew the kind of life that a pro wrestler in the 1970s led, and he had no interest in his daughter getting involved with those kinds of guys. So he was not very happy to learn that his adopted daughter, Ata, was involved with a wrestler he helped train and teamed with, Rocky Johnson.
It is said that Maivia had nothing personal against Johnson, just that he did not want his daughter dating a wrestler. The couple would wed, despite Maivia's approval, in 1978. 6 years before this however, the couple had a child together. Dwayne Johnson, better known as the Rock, was born on May 2nd 1972.
4 years after the marriage, Peter Maivia died of cancer at the age of 45.
Ata and Rocky Johnson ended up divorcing in 2003.
9 Lance Anoa'i on RAW
Lance Anoa'i is the grandson of Afa Anoa'i and the son of Headshrinker Samu. At 24 years old he is the youngest member of the family currently in the wrestling business.
Having made his pro wrestling debut at the age of 18, Lance has already built up a bit of a resume on the independent scene, competing for various small promotions and also occasionally for Tommy Dreamer's "House of Hardcore" promotion.
Lance also teamed with Rhett Titus on an episode of Smackdown in 2015. The hastily put together duo played the role of jobbers and lost to the Ascension.
Most recently however, Lance Anoa'i appeared on an episode of Monday Night Raw. He was one of the security guards that was positioned between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg in their face-to-face segment leading to the Survivor Series.
8 Three Sets of Twins
There appears to be a propensity towards producing twins in the Anoa'i family genes. One set of twins each ended up having sets of twins of their own.
Rikishi and Islander Tama (also known as the Tonga Kid) are twins, and each would end up having twins. Rikishi's kids are better known to wrestling fans as Jey and Jimmy Uso. In November of 2008, Tama's wife gave birth to twins as well.
Despite being twins, Tama and Rikishi's career only intersected for a brief period of time. After beginning their pro careers, Tama went right to the WWF where he was briefly billed as being Jimmy Snuka's cousin. He would soon after form a tag team with Haku, known as the Islanders.
Rikishi on the other hand, would spend the mid to late 80s as one half of the "Samoan Swat Team" with his cousin, Samu. Starting in the early 90s, Tama began teaming with his brother and cousin as well. In the early 90s however, the WWF signed Rikishi and Samu and named them "The Headshrinkers", with Afa as their manager. The WWF also signed Rodney Anoa'i, who then became known as "Yokozuna". But Tama never signed with the WWF again, and wrestled on the independents before retiring in 2011.
7 6x WWE Tag Team Championships
Tag Teams consisting only of members from the Anoa'i family have won tag team gold in the WWE on six occasions.
The Wild Samoans were the first to capture the titles, when they defeated Tito Santana and and Ivan Putski on a Philadelphia house show in 1980. They would hold the titles only a few months until they were defeated at Shea Stadium by the super team of Bob Backlund and Pedro Morales. The Samoans would win the titles back in a tournament the next month however. Tony Garea and Rick Martel defeated them a few months later. They would win the belts back again in 1983, defeating Jules and Jay Strongbow. They would drop the titles for a final time that November, to the team of Tony Atlas and the Rock's father Rocky Johnson.
The Headshrinkers would defeat the Quebecers for the belts on the April 26th 1994 episode of RAW. This was during their "good guy" period, when Captain Lou Albano (who managed Afa and Sika) was attempting to civilize them. They would drop the belts that summer to Shawn Michaels and Diesel.
The Usos have now won the tag titles on 2 occasions. The first was on the March 3rd 2014 episode of RAW, when they beat the New Age Outlaws, who had returned for a brief period. They would hold the titles for six months, until finally dropping the belts to Goldust and Stardust at Night of Champions. They would defeat Miz and Damian Sandow for their 2nd title win on the December 29th 2014 RAW. Finally the Usos would drop the belts a few months later to Tyson Kidd and Cesaro.
6 Lia Maivia Broke Ground for Women Promoters
Lia Maivia was a pioneer for women wrestling promoters after taking over the reigns of Polynesian Pacific Pro Wrestling following the death of her husband in 1982.
Peter Maivia succumbed to cancer at just 45 years of age, leaving Lia to provide for the family herself. The territory was responsible for bridging the gap between the WWE (WWF at the time) and many up and coming wrestlers. By the time of Peter's death, the Wild Samoans were already in the WWF, and Rocky Johnson would be there the following year.
As an NWA affiliate, Lia Maivia's "Polynesian Pacific Pro Wrestling" company recognized the NWA Heavyweight Champion. As such this would bring big names like Ric Flair and Kerry Von Erich to the territory. Those two would famously fight for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in a 1985 match promoted by Lia Maivia.
While Stephanie McMahon and Dixie Carter are the top women promoters of today, Lia Maivia broke new ground back in hers. She died of a heart attack in 2008, at the age of 81. It was the same year her husband Peter was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
5 Samoa Joe Shares a Distant Relative
Some wrestling fans have taken to describing the Anoa'i family of consisting of all Samoan wrestlers aside from Samoa Joe. Turns out that is not entirely true however.
In an article for Pro Wrestling Illustrated, Samoa Joe claims to share a distant relative with the Anoa'i family, though he is not considered a family member. Joe, real name Nuufolau Joel Seanoa, lived with his family in Huntington Beach California most of his upbringing. His family founded a Polynesian Dance Troupe in the 1980s, which Joe was apart of. Joe even performed with his family during the 1984 Olympic opening ceremonies in Los Angeles at the age of 5.
Samoa Joe has paid homage to his heritage multiple times throughout his career, even on occasion involving traditional Polynesian dance troupes into his ring entrances.
4 21 Members Have Wrestled
21 members of the Anoa'i family became wrestlers. 14 wrestlers with direct blood ties to the Anoa'i family have wrestled for the WWE, beating out any other family, including the McMahons!
Afa, Sika, Yokozuna, Rosey, Roman Reigns, the Tonga Kid (Tama), Rikishi, Umaga, Headshrinker Samu, Manu (was in Legacy briefly), L.A Smooth (briefly in ECW and WWF), Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso and now Lance Anoa'i all have wrestled for the WWE and all are directly related to the Anoa'i family. Reno Anoa'i also wrestled under the name "Black Pearl", but never for the WWE.
Other wrestlers related through the Maivia "blood brother" line of the family include:The Rock, Rocky Johnson, "High Chief" Peter Maivia and Nia Jax.
Also related to the Anoa'i or Maivia family line through marriage include:Jimmy Snuka, Tamina Snuka, Naomi, and Gary Albright.
3 Samoan Tribal Tattoos
Many wrestlers from the Anoa'i family dynasty sport tribal tattoos.
The first to do this was "High Chief" Peter Maivia, whose abdomen and legs were tattooed as a symbol of his position as a "High Chief". It is said that these tattoos were given to him over a 3-day period using only ink, a needle and a hammer.
In 2003, The Rock got his ancestral history tattooed on him in much the same way his grandfather did. The tattoos were given to him over a 3 sessions as well, and in interviews later The Rock would say each session was 20 hours long. The Rock would also say his tattoos pay tribute to his warrior spirit.
Umaga, the Usos and Roman Reigns all have similar style tattoos.
2 Three WWE World Champions
3 WWE World Heavyweight Champions have been members of the Anoa'i family dynasty.
The first to win a World Championship, was Rodney Anoa'i, better known as Yokozuna. When Anoa'i first started wrestling he was known as Kokina Maximus, and he competed in the AWA for a time. When the WWE brought him in however, they re-packed him as the sumo champion Yokozuna.
At WrestleMania IX, Yokozuna won the first World Title for the Anoa'i family, when he defeated Bret Hart in the main event. Moments later however, he would lose the championship to Hulk Hogan. At the King of the Ring PPV just months later however, Yokozuna would regain the championship by defeating Hogan.
The Rock won his first World Title at Survivor Series 98, winning a tournament for the vacated WWF Championship. Rock turned heel that night and joined Vince McMahon's Corporation.
Roman Reigns became the 3rd member of the Anoa'i family to win a World Championship, when he did so at Survivor Series 2015. Like the Rock did 17 years before, Reigns won a tournament for the vacated title. Unlike the Rock however, Reigns would turn down offered help from "the Authority".
Yokozuna, Reigns and the Rock have all main event'ed WrestleMania and won the Royal Rumble before as well.
1 Five WWE Hall of Famers
5 members of the Anoa'i family are in the WWE Hall of Fame.
The first to earn the honours were Afa and Sika, the Wild Samoans. They were inducted in the class of 2007, with Rosey and Samu giving the inductions.
The following year, 2008, the Rock inducted both his grandfather "High Chief" Peter Maivia, and his father Rocky Johnson into the Hall of Fame. For Peter Maivia, inducted posthumously, he was represented by his daughter Ata, the Rock's mother.
Yokozuna was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012. The Usos gave his induction speech, and he was represented by Rikishi and others in the Anoa'i family.
Finally Rikishi became the 5th member of the family to be inducted, when he went in with the 2015 class. Rikishi was inducted by his two sons, Jimmy and Jey Uso.