Throwback Thursday: WWE Hall of Fame Showcase: Rikishi

A look back at the career of Rikishi.

 


(Rikishi)

 

Rikishi was another example of the Samoan heritage in the WWE and he used his size and speed to have a lot of great matches and rivalries over his years in the WWE.

Rikish came to the WWE under the name Fatu along with Samu as part of the tag team The Headshrinkers. They played up a “savage” gimmick and won the tag team titles a few times but soon after, Samu left the WWF to recover from injuries and was replaced by Sione (formerly The Barbarian). They were called The New Headshrinkers. The storyline reason for Samu’s departure was that he was not coping well with manager Lou Albano’s attempts to civilize him, particularly about wearing boots. The New Head Shrinkers were not very successful and soon Sione left for WCW.

Rikishi went through a “reformed gangster” type gimmick before being repackaged as The Sultan which soon also failed before Rikishi went to Dory Funk’s wrestling school to sharpen his skills.

After training at Funk’s, Fatu returned on the November 13, 1999 episode of WWF Metal as Rikishi Fatu, beating Julio Fantastico. “Rikishi” is the Japanese term for a sumo wrestler so, to further fit the gimmick he had gained some weight, bleached his hair blonde, and wore a thong loincloth.

Rikishi later made an alliance with the duo Too Cool (Grand master Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty) and even joined them in their post match dance celebrations which became a crowd pleaser.

Rikishi also became very popular for his infamous signature maneuver — the Stink Face. When his opponent was incapacitated in the corner of the ring, Rikishi would stand over his opponent and rub his ample buttocks on their face. This humiliating move was applied to many WWE greats, including Mr. McMahon, The Rock, Triple H and John Cena.

Rikishi, along with Too Cool, would go through a few feuds and even, in an allusion to Jimmy Snuka, splashed Val Venis from the top of a steel cage at the height of their rivalry. This moment is one that is very unexpected from a heavy weight but showed Rikishi’s commitment to putting on a good show.

On October 9, 2000 Commissioner Mick Foley used a slip of the tongue from Scotty 2 Hotty to implicate Rikishi as the person who had run over Steve Austin almost a year earlier at Survivor Series, the night after Rikishi debuted in the WWF. Rikishi would admit it, turning heel and saying he had done is so his cousin, The Rock, would have a chance at stardom. He ranted that white wrestlers such as  Buddy Rogers, Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund, Hulk Hogan and Austin had always been pushed, at the expense of Samoan wrestlers like Peter Maivia, Jimmy Snuka, Samu, Yokozuna and The Rock.

Austin and Rikishi would clash as Austin wanted revenge which would lead to a No Holds Barred match at No Mercy. The match went to a no contest when Austin dragged Rikishi to the parking lot and tried to run him over; a police car drove in front of Austin’s, saving Rikishi. Though arrested, Austin got some payback, cutting and bruising Rikishi’s face. Later that night, Rikishi interfered in The Rock’s WWF Championship defense against Kurt Angle, but “accidentally” kicked the champ, allowing Angle to Angle Slam them both and win the title. After several attacks on Austin by an unseen assailant, it became clear that Rikishi had an accomplice. During a handicap match pitting Rikishi and Angle against Austin, Triple H came to the ring, seemingly to aid Austin, but attacked him with a sledgehammer. Triple H then revealed he had masterminded the Survivor Series assault, and that he had hired Rikishi to drive the car.

While Austin began feuding with Triple H, Rikishi’s tension with The Rock boiled over. He lost their match at the 2000 Survivor Series. He then participated in a six-man Hell in a Cell WWF Championship match at Armageddon. Vince McMahon drove a flatbed truck ringside in an effort to dismantle the cage and stop the match. Before he could, The Undertaker chokeslammed Rikishi from the top of the cell onto the hay-covered bed. Angle later retained the title.

In January 2001, Rikishi won a Fatal Fourway match on SmackDown for the #30 spot in the 2001 Royal Rumble match. There, he eliminated The Undertaker, and was soon eliminated by The Rock. Later that year, on May 20, at Judgment Day, he injured his shoulder in the opening bout with William Regal, which caused him to miss much of the year and the entire Invasion angle.

Rikishi, after his injury and missing the Invasion storyline, returned in 2001 to deliver a Stink Face to Vince McMahon and becoming a face character again. Upon the WWE Brand Extension, Rikishi was drafted to SmackDown!. At Judgment Day, he faced Billy and Chuck in a “secret partner” match. His partner turned out to be Rico, Billy and Chuck’s stylist. Despite Rico’s best efforts to unfairly help Billy and Chuck, Rikishi and he won the match and became the Tag Team Champions. Rico would later cause his partner to lose the titles in a rematch.

Rikishi was not featured much in late 2002 and early-2003. He feuded with John Cena, Bill DeMott, and the Full Blooded Italians on SmackDown!. The return of Roddy Piper led Rikishi to challenge him as Piper had hit Jimmy Snuka with a coconut years ago on Piper’s Pit. At Backlash 2003, Piper’s protege Sean O’Haire defeated Rikishi after Piper got hit with a coconut by Rikishi giving O’Haire time to hit the Widowmaker on Rikishi. Rikishi eventually formed a tag team with Scotty 2 Hotty, and the duo defeated the Basham Brothers for the WWE Tag Team Championship on February 5, 2004, holding them for two and a half months before losing them to Charlie Haas and Rico. Fatu, however, was released by WWE on July 16, 2004, following repeated requests from WWE to lose weight.

Since his release Rikishi has made a few sporadic returns to the WWE screen, mostly for big milestones such as the 1,000 episode of Raw. He will be inducted by his sons Jimmy and Jey Uso.

Full Throwback Thursday 2015 Hall of Fame Preview:

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