Eddie Fatu, most-well known as Umaga in World Wrestling Entertainment, died Friday, Dec. 4, 2009. He was apparently found unconscious in his living room Friday morning and it is believed he suffered a heart attack. Shortly after being taken off of life support at the hospital, it is being reported that he suffered another heart attack.
The match embedded above is one of Umaga's best during his WWE run. It was a "Last Man Standing" match from the 2007 Royal Rumble pay per view against WWE Champion John Cena. It is arguably one of both Cena's and Umaga's best matches.
2007 was the peak of Umaga's career in the WWE. He initially began wrestling in the early 2000's in a tag team with his brother. They were known as the "Island Boys." They debuted in WWE in 2003 as "3-Minute Warning," henchmen of "WWE Raw" General Manager Eric Bischoff. Fatu was known as Jamal then and was released from WWE later that year.
He re-debuted in WWE the night after WrestleMania 22, in 2006. Now known as Umaga, he portrayed a Samoan Savage, who couldn't speak English and could only be controlled by his "handler," Armando Alejandro Estrada.
The second half of 2006 saw him go on a huge undefeated streak, defeating several undercard wrestlers and a few "bigger" wrestlers. This led to his challenges of John Cena at the beginning of 2007, and culminated with him representing Vince McMahon in a special challenge match against Donald Trump (who was represented by Bobby Lashley) at WrestleMania 23.
By the fall of 2007, Umaga's career was stagnating a bit. Things didn't pick up until the late spring of 2008, when Umaga was drafted to Smackdown. A long-awaited matchup with The Undertaker was stalled due to an Undertaker injury and Umaga's own momentum was stalled shortly thereafter by a knee injury.
Umaga returned to action full-time in 2009 and quickly began a program with CM Punk. It lasted all of two pay per views, as Punk defeated Umaga and days later it was announced that WWE had released Umaga from his contract. It then came out that Umaga had failed the WWE Wellness Policy (a drug test) for the second time, and refused to enter a rehabilitation facility at the company's request.
Speculation began as to what Fatu's next career move was. He shocked some people by not immediately signing with Total Nonstop Action and instead joining up with Hulk Hogan's Australian "Hulkamania: Let the Battle Begin" tour. The tour lasted for two weeks in the second half of November. He mainly wrestled former WWE star Ken "Mr. Kennedy" Anderson during the tour, but he did get involved against Hulk Hogan at one point. The TMZ cameras also caught him hanging out poolside with a few other wrestlers during the tour.
Statements and memorials poured in shortly after the announcment that he was in the hospital, and even more after his death.
From the Anoia family (Fatu was part of a large wrestling family, as his father, uncles, brothers, and cousins are all wrestlers):
On behalf of the Anoai Family and front office of WXW C4 it is our sad duty to announce that earlier today, December 4th, we lost another member of not only our wrestling family, but immediate family.
Eki "Umaga" Fatu passed away today in Houston at the age of 36. While we mourn the passing of Eki, we also remember all the good times that we were able to share with him and the smiles on the millions of fans faces around the world when he walked to the ring to do what he loved most: wrestle.
During this difficult time, we please ask for the fans and the press to respect the privacy of his family during this tough time. When there is more information to be made public, his family will do so. The worst thing that could happen would be to have false information about this horrible situation out there, only to make the situation even worse.
We'd like to thank everyone for their sympathy and prayers and ask that everyone celebrate the life of Eki Fatu.
Statement from World Wrestling Entertainment:
WWE would like to express its deepest condolences to Mr. Fatu’s family, friends and fans on his tragic passing. Mr. Fatu was under contract with WWE at various time periods and most recently performed under the name "Umaga." Mr. Fatu's contract was terminated on June 11, 2009.
The "Twitter-verse" was buzzing about Umaga's death, as "RIP Umaga" was a trending topic for several hours after his death. Several wrestling personalities sent out tweets mourning his loss:
Paul Heyman: The world is minus one very cool Samoan tonight. We offer our most profound condolences to the Fatu Family.
Maryse: prayers for UMAGA and all his family!
Howard Finkel: I am saddened by the passing today of Eddie Fatu, a.k.a. Umaga. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Tara: Rest in Peace Umaga We will love you always and we will all miss you.
Jeremy Borash: RIP Eddie Fatu
Matt Morgan: Me and my family’s condolences to Eckie(Umaga)’s family. This just plain out SUCKS! Yet another great guy taken from us too early.
Gangrel: Have a good journey ecki see you soon you where a ray of light in dark time one love uce
Bobby Lashley: Very sad day today. A good friend is gone.
Steve Keirns: Our deepest condolences go out to Eddie “Umaga” Fatu’s friends, family, and fans during this time.
Hurricane Helms: http://twitpic.com/s5mm7 - Adam, Big Uce, Matt & Shane.
John Bradshaw Layfield: Had a ball tag teaming with Eddie Fatu (known as Umaga in WWE) in some of my last house show (non TV) matches, I will miss my friend.
Ken Anderson: I'm very thankful to have had a private closed-door conversation with Ecki prior to our match a few days ago in Sydney. He insisted that we ... go out and tear the house down. We both had something to prove that night and in my opinion: Mission Accomplished! Our thoughts and prayers ... are with the entire Fatu family. Ecki absolutely adored his wife and was extremely proud of his children. I have so many amazing, funny, and ... heartwarming (sometimes gut wrenching belly-laughing) memories.
Matt Hardy: Just landed in Shreveport to go to work tonight-I'm very saddened to hear about Ecky (Umaga) & his family-please keep them in your prayers.
Shannon Moore: R.I.P Ecki....Mad love and respect.We will miss you and I will cherish the times we had togeather.
Dixie Carter: On behalf of everyone at TNA, our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Fatu family.
Chavo Guerrero Jr: Thank u 4 your prayers 4 Umaga. He will be missed!
JTG: RIP MY FRIEND
Michelle McCool: My heart & prayers go out to Umaga's family & friends....he was obviously loved by many!
Candice Michelle: My Prayers are with Umaga and his Family!
Torrie Wilson: http://twitpic.com/s5vns - Much love my friend. Much love
Lilian Garcia: Just heard news about Eddie aka Umaga. So sad. Loved him. Prayers 4 him & family. http://twitpic.com/s7bd8
Maria: So sad. Eddie was a friend. He loved wrestling and was a great entertainer. My prayers go out to Eddie's beautiful family. A great loss.
Chris Jericho: Eddie Fatu was an awesome guy and one of the brothers. I trusted him and that's a rare thing for me. I am devastated. Safe travels Oos...
It is too early to speculate on a cause of death, but obviously a lot of people are wondering how a 36-year-old athlete has a heart attack. That speculation is fueled even more by the fact that he lost his job with WWE after refusing to enter rehab after failing his second drug test. All that's really known right now is that Eddie Fatu had some sort of issue with drugs as recently as earlier this year. Autopsy reports usually take a few weeks to come back, so I guess we'll all know what happens around the beginning of 2010.
It's sad that a husband and father had to die. From a professional standpoint, it's sad in the fact that he was a highly-skilled professional wrestler. I don't think he'll ever go down as one of the "All Time Greats," but in terms of "big man" wrestlers, he was definitely one of the better ones. For a man his size to move around the way he did and execute some of the manuevers that he did was very impressive.
It's just a sad situation. If it were drug issues, it will likely open back up the debate about drugs in the wrestling industry. But, again, it's too early to speculate about any potential causes of death.
I just thought I'd post a few thoughts and some "tweets" from other wrestlers. Click here to see Umaga's "Alumni" page on WWE.com. It features photos and videos from his 2006-2009 WWE career.