Rikishi announced for WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015
To think of Rikishi as just another fun-loving dancer in WWE would be to grossly underestimate this fearless and charismatic big man from the islands. Rikishi was one of the most popular Superstars in WWE’s chaotic Attitude Era, and as announced on Raw, he now he becomes the third member of the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015.
Born Solofa Fatu, Jr., a member of the legendary Anoa’i family dynasty, Rikishi is the nephew of WWE Hall of Famers Afa and Siki, The Wild Samoans. With wrestling in his blood, he was competing by the time he was 20 alongside his cousin Samu as The Samoan Swat Team, and achieved immediate success by winning tag team titles in Puerto Rico’s World Wrestling Council, and the legendary World Class organization in Texas. In 1989, they joined the NWA under the leadership of Paul E. Dangerously, aka Paul Heyman, and spent a year battling The Midnight Express and The Road Warriors.
Arriving in WWE in 1992, The Swat Team was rechristened The Headshrinkers, and managed by Samu’s father, Afa. The team was an instant threat in WWE’s tag ranks, facing The Natural Disasters, The Steiner Brothers, The Smoking Gunns and others, and won the WWE World Tag Team Titles on a memorable episode of Raw in 1994. Fatu later drew from his real-life experience growing up in the ghetto of San Francisco and as the victim of a drive-by shooting by repeating the phrase “Make a Difference” in an effort to help clean up urban neighborhoods. And during 1997, he became the masked Sultan and challenged fellow Samoan Rocky Maivia for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 13 before Maivia gained fame as The Rock.
But it was during the heart of the Attitude Era that Rikishi found his greatest success. Having packed on the pounds, ‘Kish was one of the most popular competitors of the period. He danced his way to WWE Superstardom alongside the hip-hop duo of Grandmaster Sexay and Scotty 2 Hotty, known as Too Cool, and employed the smelliest maneuver in the squared circle: The Stink Face. The trio even managed to get some dancing in during the 2000 Royal Rumble Match at Madison Square Garden.
But the big man was about more than just boogieing, as proven by his brutal rivalry with Val Venis over the Intercontinental Championship. During a Steel Cage Match, Rikishi’s fearlessness was on full display as he dove from the top of the cage onto his opponent, evocative of fellow islander Jimmy Snuka.
Despite being one of WWE’s most popular personalities, Rikishi’s most noteworthy moment may be when he was revealed as the driver of the car that ran over “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in Autumn 1999. After admitting to the dirty deed, the Samoan claimed that taking out Austin allowed his cousin, The Rock, to become the company’s biggest star and win the WWE Championship. Following this, Rikishi battled both his cousin and Austin in memorable brawls.
Fans eventually forgave the big man for his heinous act, and he continued to see success before departing WWE in 2004. But Rikishi wasn’t done leaving his legacy. The proud Anoa’i tradition lives on by way of his sons, The Usos, who will induct their dad at the upcoming ceremony, and his first cousin, Roman Reigns. And now, he will join relatives like Yokozuna, The Wild Samoans and High Chief Peter Maivia by becoming a WWE Hall of Famer.
WWE.COM EXCLUSIVE: The Usos announce they will induct their father Rikishi
Tickets for the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony are on sale now at Ticketmaster.com, the SAP Center box office, and by calling (800) 745-3000.