How It Started vs. How It Ended: Umaga

Hello again everyone, and welcome back to the Rajah.Com exclusive, How It Started vs. How It Ended.

During this edition of the column, we’ll take a look back at Umaga's time in WWE.

Winds Of Change

Following his time in WWE as Three Minute Warning’s Jamal, Anoa’i family member Eddie Fatu returned to the promotion with a new moniker, “The Samoan Bulldozer” Umaga. Hailing from The Isle of Samoa, Umaga, and his manager Armando Alejandro Estrada debuted during a promo from “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, during the April 3rd, 2006 edition of Monday Night Raw. The segment ended with Estrada and Umaga standing tall after Raw’s newest Superstar dished out a savage assault on Flair.

The attack by Umaga led to the 350-pound Superstar’s first Pay-Per-View match at Backlash, where “The Samoan Bulldozer” faced Ric Flair in a straight-up wrestling match. Umaga essentially squashed Flair in the bout and put away the 16-time World Champion with a Samoan Spike in under 3.5 minutes.

In the months that followed Backlash, Umaga reeled off victories over the likes of “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Kamala, Triple H, and John Cena. Once September 4th’s Monday Night Raw taping arrived, Armando Alejandro Estrada roped Ric Flair into an impromptu match with Umaga, but the setup would quickly be halted by the return of Kane. After the surprise save from Kane, “The Big Red Machine” and Umaga rumbled into WWE’s Unforgiven Pay-Per-View, where Kane and Umaga went to war in a match that ended with a double count-out.

Umaga and his newfound opp continued to tussle for another Pay-Per-View cycle and ran it back for a high-stakes clash at Cyber Sunday. In the final moments of the hard-fought 8.5-minute contest, Umaga nailed Kane with the Samoan Spike and kept his unpinned streak alive.

Searching For Gold

At the following evening's taping of Monday Night Raw, General Manager Eric Bischoff forced WWE Diva Maria to go one on one with Umaga, or she would be fired from WWE. Assistant to the GM Jonathon Coachman dragged the former backstage interviewer to the ring, where Umaga showed no remorse for Maria. “The Samoan Bulldozer” hit a huge Samoan Drop on Maria, followed by a vicious splash in the corner, until Armando Alejandro Estrada signaled for the Samoan Spike on the apron. Just before Umaga pulled the trigger on the devastating Spike, WWE Champion John Cena stormed down the ramp to make the save and set up a massive title feud with Umaga.

The unpinned Number One Contender closed out 2006 with victories over Sabu and Jeff Hardy, before entering 2007 with his sights set on the company’s top prize. Umaga and John Cena squared off in a WWE Championship duel at New Year's Revolution, where “The Samoan Bulldozer” destroyed Cena throughout the match. In the last few seconds of his unbelievable display, Umaga set up for the splash on Cena, but the WWE Champion stopped Umaga in his tracks and retained his title with a roll-up.

The loss snapped Umaga’s 34-match un-pinned streak, but Estrada and “The Samoan Bulldozer” continued to be a thorn in the side of Cena, leading into the 2007 Royal Rumble. At the event, Umaga and John Cena went toe to toe in a Last Man Standing match, with the WWE Championship on the line again. Both men used the steel steps to their advantage several times from bell to bell and hit each other with the biggest moves in their arsenal for over 20 minutes until Umaga failed to answer the referee’s count of ten.

After having his WWE Championship hopes smashed, Umaga set his sights on Intercontinental Championship holder Jeff Hardy. Umaga and Hardy duked it out for the IC title on February 19th’s edition of Monday Night Raw, where “The Samoan Bulldozer” defeated Jeff in under six minutes, on the way to his first Intercontinental Championship reign.

Golden Opportunities

With gold finally around his massive waist, Umaga defended his title in a rematch with Jeff Hardy, and picked up a win against Eugene a week later, before aligning with Vince McMahon in the WWE Chairman’s feud with Donald Trump and Bobby Lashley. “The Samoan Bulldozer” and Lashley tangled in the Battle of the Billionaires at WrestleMania 23, where Umaga failed to defend the hair of Vince McMahon, and ate a stunner from match official Stone Cold Steve Austin to add injury to insult.

Three weeks after WrestleMania, WWE set up shop in Milan, Italy, where Vince McMahon gave any fan in the arena the chance to face Umaga for the Intercontinental Championship. A fan named Santino Marella stepped up to the plate, and Vince McMahon informed Santino that the match would be contested under a “hold harmless agreement.¨ As soon as the opening bell sounded, Santino blasted Umaga and rolled the monstrous Champion up for a near fall. Vince McMahon quickly chimed in from the ringside area and announced that the match now had a No Holds Barred stipulation, allowing Umaga to take full control of the impromptu showdown. With the rules in their favor, Armando Alejandro Estrada heavily interfered in the match and helped Umaga deliver a vicious mugging to the fan until Bobby Lashley ran in for the save. In the closing moments of the match, Lashley nailed Umaga with a thunderous chair shot to the head, and threw in a Spear for good measure, before dragging Santino onto Umaga for the win.

After landing on the wrong side of WWE’s “Milan Miracle,” the now-former Intercontinental Champion helped Vince McMahon win the ECW Championship at Backlash and aided the McMahons in their feud with Lashley throughout the summer of 2007. Once July rolled around, Umaga and Armando Alejandro Estrada redirected their attention to Santino, in an effort to reclaim the Intercontinental Championship. Umaga defeated Santino for the title on the July 2nd edition of Monday Night Raw in exactly three minutes, and duplicated the result the following week, allowing Jeff Hardy to enter the IC title picture. Hardy and Umaga tussled for the title on and off for months, until “The Charismatic Enigma” defeated Umaga in a Monday Night Raw classic on September 2nd.

Now a Two-Time former Intercontinental Champion, Umaga quickly entered the top of the card and challenged Triple H for the WWE Championship at No Mercy. Umaga aligned with Randy Orton on the No Mercy fallout edition of Monday Night Raw, and challenged “The Game” to a Handicapped match for the WWE Championship, but left the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan empty-handed. Umaga lost to Triple H on numerous occasions for the remainder of 2007, and into early 2008, until the calendar changed to WrestleMania season. Ahead of ‘Mania, Umaga defeated DH Smith, Super Crazy, and Hardcore Holly in consecutive weeks, before putting away former WWE World Tag Team Champions Brian Kendrick and Paul London in a Handicapped contest. At WrestleMania 24, Umaga and Batista suited up for a Super Heavyweight shindig on “The Grandest Stage Of Them All.” Umaga and Batista traded huge blows throughout the quick seven-minute slugfest, until “The Animal” hoisted Umaga onto his shoulders for a Batista Bomb and the win.

Gone To Soon

Once the dust settled from his WrestleMania clash with Batista, Umaga chased the Intercontinental Championship again and lost consecutive meetings with defending IC Champion Chris Jericho. After Jeff Hardy earned a victory over the Samoan in less than two minutes on Raw, Umaga entered a mid-card rivalry with Jeff, which ended with a Falls Count Anywhere match at One Night Stand 2008: Extreme Rules. Hardy used his agility to avoid the power of Umaga for most of the brawl, while both men fought from the ramp, to the backstage area, and into the outside parking lot of the arena. Jeff eventually lured Umaga into a risky situation atop the ladder of a WWE production truck, and kicked “The Samoan Bulldozer” down to the pavement, before delivering one of the most memorable Swanton Bombs of all time. The devastating high-risk maneuver helped Hardy put away Umaga for the final time, placing a sour stamp on the end of Umaga’s Monday Night Raw stint.

Several weeks later, WWE shuffled Umaga over to the Smackdown brand, where Umaga and Batista ran it back for a WrestleMania rematch. After losing the match via disqualification, Umaga reentered the win column with victories over Smackdown’s Number One Announcer Funaki, as well as Mr. Kennedy, before an untimely PCL injury forced the Samoan Super Heavyweight to the sidelines.

After nearly half of a year away from the ring, Umaga returned to action at a January 3rd, 2009 House Show in Tyler, Texas. By month’s end, Umaga reemerged on Smackdown, where he destroyed Kung Fu Naki in less than a minute and a half, ahead of a win over CM Punk at Judgment Day. During the Judgment Day fallout edition of Smackdown, Punk cost Umaga a win over John Morrison, setting up a Samoan Strap Match at June’s Extreme Rules event.

The Pay-Per-View loss marked Umaga’s final WWE appearance, as the company announced the following day that Eddie Fatu had received his release from the promotion. Six months later, Fatu passed away from a heart attack at the age of 36.

That's all for this installment of How It Started vs. How It Ended! Stop by next time for an all-new edition of the column, featuring former WWE Superstar Gail Kim.