Monday marked the eighth anniversary of Umaga's death and Randy Orton posted a touching tribute on Instagram to the former WWE Superstar.
As much as we all love professional wrestling, one part of the business most fans likely wish they could change more than any other is the number of performers who passed away long before their time. It sometimes feels like there is no other industry like it when it comes to its stars dying young. The list of pro wrestlers who died suddenly and tragically is longer than any of us care to think about.
Monday of this week marked the eighth anniversary of the passing of one of those stars who was taken far too soon, Umaga. The Samoan's real name was Edward Fatu and he was a part of the legendary Samoan Dynasty. Fatu passed away at the age of just 36 back in 2009. He was found unresponsive with blood coming from his nose, and after he died it was discovered that he had suffered two heart attacks as a direct result of a drug overdose.
Despite his demons away from the ring, judging by testimonials from various WWE Superstars Fatu was a joy to be around in WWE. Randy Orton posted a touching tribute to Fatu on the anniversary of his death. The Viper worked with Fatu while he was Umaga in WWE and posted a photo of the two of them tagging together on Instagram. 'He was one of the most intimidating characters in the ring, but for those that knew him, he was one of the absolute funniest guys we knew', Orton wrote while also giving a direct example of that humor. Orton pointed out that in the photo he posted Umaga was wearing a pair of his trunks, and that they never fit him again after that night.
12/4/09 8 years ago, many people including me lost a true friend. He was one of the most intimidating characters in the ring, but for those that knew him, he was one of the absolute funniest guys we knew. Here’s proof. In this pic if you look closely, he is wearing my trunks. They never fit me quite right after that night! #RIPUCE
Edward Fatu actually wrestled for WWE under two ring names. His first run with the company was part of the tag team 3 Minute Warning. His partner was his real-life cousin (Roman Reigns' brother) Rosey who passed away relatively recently. His most successful run was as Umaga though, and during that second run, he became Intercontinental Champion.
PREVIOUSLY: FORMER WWE SUPERSTAR ROSEY PASSES AWAY
Fatu's time with WWE came to an end in 2009. He failed a drug test under the company's wellness policy and even though that only usually warrants a suspension, Fatu's unwillingness to go to rehab meant that he was released instead. Just six months later, he passed away. As Umaga, Edward Fatu may have had a bright future in WWE had it not been for the refusal to go to rehab and his death. His passing was a loss to the wrestling business and clearly, even though eight years have passed, he is still very much in the minds and hearts of many of his former peers.