When people think of the toughest wrestlers to ever live, names like Brock Lesnar, Ken Shamrock and Andre the Giant will no doubt pop up, along with a whole slew of other gargantuan greats from throughout history who are arguably worthy of the title. No list is complete, however, without mentioning Tonga ‘Uli’uli Fifita, better known as “Meng” from his time with the WCW and “Haku,” “King Haku,” and “King Tonga” from his WWE days. (In this article, we will use the names Tonga, Meng, and Haku interchangeably, regardless of what moniker the wrestler was using at the time.)
However, to simply say Meng was tough is not nearly enough. After all, this is a guy who’s such a beast and so legendary that he comes with an endless amount of unbelievable stories. He’s basically the Chuck Norris of wrestling.
The major difference between Haku’s stories and Chuck’s? Pretty much every one of the former’s was confirmed by at least one witness - and a big name at that. As you’ll soon find out, Meng was involved in some of the most hilarious, shocking, and sometimes disturbing events to involve a human being, let alone a wrestler.
15 Saturn’s Scenario
While doing an interview with YouShoot, former WCW wrestler Perry Saturn was given a hypothetical question. Who would win in an all-out, real life brawl between the following notoriously tough wrestlers: Meng, The Barbarian, Scott Norton, Jim Duggan, Fit Finlay, Scott Steiner, Rick Steiner, and himself? Although all of these folks have received their share of success in the promotion (and elsewhere), and some of them are legitimately large and scary dudes, Saturn’s response was nevertheless given without hesitation. “Tonga,” he said. “Nobody else would stand a chance. Not even a question. He could kill everyone without blinking and there is nothing anyone could do about it.”
14 It’s Just Business
Wrestlers can look quite intimidating when you come face-to-face with them in battle - whether in the ring or not - but frightening just in casual conversations? That’s all Meng. In fact, former WCW head Eric Bischoff claimed numerous times that Meng was never fired because nobody was brave enough to actually do it. Don’t believe Bischoff? Consider this tale: “He was talking to me, Tammy, and Chris Jericho,” late wrestler Chris Candido said of Haku. “In comes Eric Bischoff and Greg Gagne and they walk right in front of us and start talking to Meng. He looks at them and goes ‘Hey!’ And the entire locker room just froze. I was [thinking] ‘Man, these weren’t just funny stories, this guy must really be tough.’ And then Meng says, ‘Apologize to my friends, I’m talking,’ and everyone shuts up while Bischoff and Gagne apologize to me, Tammy, and Chris.”
13 The Hulk, The Rock and The Snake
Although Meng could destroy any mortal man, he still showed respect for some of the bigger names in the game, including Hulk Hogan. As for the Hulkster’s feelings about Meng? When sports commentator Michael Schiavello asked him who was the most legitimately tough wrestler he knew, Hulk didn’t even have to think about it. “Haku for sure,” Hogan said.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who is actually Tonga’s nephew (according to Johnson in a 2015 interview with Jimmy Kimmel), echoed this sentiment by calling his uncle “one of the toughest men in the world” and retelling the famous nose story (more on that later).
12 MMA Material
For a guy like Tonga, who had true strength, unrivaled power, and legitimate fighting skills, a jump to MMA would have made sense from an ability standpoint - however, at the time, not from a financial standpoint. And this scouting report isn’t just our analysis, it’s based on statements made by Meng’s peers. Goldberg once claimed that Meng "would have made a huge splash in the MMA world. I don’t know of a human being alive that could take out Meng in his prime. I really don’t.”
11 Two or Three Doors Down
Arn Anderson once asked The Barbarian who would win in a fight between him and Haku. The Barbarian simply shook his head and said, “Meng’s the man.” In another interview, Arn echoed this sentiment, stating that “bar none, the toughest wrestler I ever faced was Meng.” However, we wasn’t just referring to the toughest wrestler in the ring, because as he stated in his autobiography, Arn Anderson: 4 Ever, he believes there are three types of men in this world: tough men, wrestler-tough men, “and then there’s Meng.”
10 El Canek’s Worn Welcome
When Mexican wrestling superstar El Canek first faced Meng, he had never heard of the islander and knew nothing of his physical prowess. He quickly learned. El Canek was teamed up with El Satanico and Pirata Morgan against Haku, Dos Caras, and Villano III. Canek was then the reigning champ of the UWA, and he was shocked, offended, and angered that this Meng character somehow received a bigger reaction from the crowd than he did.
9 Pop Goes the Eyeball
One of the most famous Meng incidents involved wrestler Jesse Barr (known in the WWE as Jimmy Jack Funk), though the exact details are still debated. For some unknown reason, Meng completely flipped out backstage over something Barr did, and, as the legend goes, Tonga ripped Barr’s eye out. However, we’ll let the man himself step in here for clarification and confirmation. “I didn't take his eyeballs off,” Meng said. “I was ready to, my hands were in there, ready to take his eye off, but then I realized how stupid we were. Here we are, brothers on the road together. I told Jim after all these things, and he got fired for it ... It was something that happened at that moment."
8 It’s Just Business - Part 2
Former WCW exec Kevin Sullivan had plenty of reasons to fear Meng (more on that in a bit) which made even the easiest tasks a bit scary. “One time I asked him to do something that was completely wrong and he got a little upset,” Sullivan said, recalling a tale from his time as a booker. “That was the scaredest I’ve ever been in my life, and he wasn’t even that upset….Thank God.”
7 A Brutus Beating
Some guys ended up in trouble with Meng even when they never actually said anything to the guy. Brutus Beefcake once filed a minor complaint with the WWE, claiming that Haku was working too stiff. When management told the wrestler about it, he responded by immediately going out looking for Brutus. He found him in the shower, and choked him until he turned blue, at one point lifting the beefy Beefcake two feet off the ground. The other wrestlers only gawked helplessly at the scene unfolding before them. They of course knew that they should break up the scuffle, but everyone was too afraid to step in and intervene.
6 Meng Nose Best
Here’s one of Haku’s most famous stories, and the man himself confirmed it in an interview with World Wrestling Insanity. While staying at the nearby Marriott, Haku was drinking at an airport bar with Siva Afi. “There were lots of babyfaces there at the bar. So we went and sat in the other corner away from them,” Meng said. “When they were ready to close, we had a few drinks, and on our way out there were five guys just sitting there. Of course, the same thing came out. The ‘fake’ stuff. ‘Hey, are you guys with those guys - wrestlers? The fake wrestlers on TV?’ You know. I said, ‘Yeah. I'll show you.’ And I reached over without thinking - there are four other guys there - grabbed his face, and bit his nose off. Then the fight started. Me and Siva kind of cleaned house there and left. I'll never forget it."
5 The Case of the Mace
4 Spit It Out
3 A Million Dollar Story
Although Meng’s strength and toughness is insane, and the man himself seems a bit wacky when it comes to his mental state during fights, he still somehow doesn’t come off as completely unhinged. Like, if a bar fight broke out, you’d want him there on your side; you wouldn’t necessarily, for instance, worry that his animal instincts would render you collateral damage. In fact, sometimes Haku was apparently just trying to help out.
2 Tonga Fifita, D.D.S.
In a shoot interview, former wrestler/manager/commentator Bobby Heenan spoke extensively about how tough Meng was, calling him the toughest man he’s ever met in his life. It’s one of his stories about Haku, however, that is truly memorable. Heenan once witnessed Meng get into a bar fight where the wrestler “took his two fingers on his right hand - his index finger and trigger finger - and he reached into the guy's mouth and he broke off the guy's bottom teeth." Try to read that story without getting an uncomfortable chill.
1 Pardon My Frenchy
Former wrestler/manager Frenchy Martin couldn’t have illustrated the threat of Meng much better than this: “I’m going to tell you the truth. If you have a chance to go to hell instead, you might as well go to hell because he’s unbelievable,” Frenchy said. I’ve seen him [take] two guys by the throat like this, they were both fainting, and then a kick there, a kick there...he had six guys laying down in the bar there.” This is usually where security would toss Tonga, but Frenchy put out a warning. “The bouncer came in, but I knew the owner, and I said, ‘Get the bouncer out of there [or] he’s dead.’ And they got him out.”
Despite seeing it himself, Martin still shook his head in astonishment while telling the tale decades later. “He had been insulted by one egghead who was drunk, and there six of them on the floor within 30 seconds. So take my word and go to hell instead.”
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