Hello! Today, we will acknowledge the Anoa’i Family Wrestling Dynasty by learning about the bloodline. The family is well known for its success in the wrestling business, and it continues to grow. We will look at the family tree’s achievements and how everyone relates. This may be the most extensive piece on the Anoa’i Family you can find anywhere. Also, I’ve never researched them to this degree, so it will be educational for me too.
For anyone following it, I’m taking a brief break from the women’s revolution series. I plan on posting volume #3 before the end of the month. If you haven’t already, you can check out the first two here: Volume #1 / Volume #2
Sadly, none of the original Anoa’i Family members are alive today, but live on through their descendants. To understand how the family works, we need to know what the definition of “blood brother” is.
Wiki: Blood brother can refer two or more men not related by birth who have sworn loyalty to each other. In modern times, this is usually done in a ceremony, known as a blood oath, where each person makes a minor cut, usually on a finger, hand, or forearm, and then the two cuts are pressed together and bound. Each person’s blood now flows in the other participant’s veins. The act carries a risk due to blood-borne diseases. The process usually provides a participant with a heightened symbolic sense of attachment with the other participant.
Somewhere between the 1950s and 60s, the Anoa’i & Maivia families were forever linked when Reverend Amituana’i Anoa’i and Peter Maivia declared each other blood brothers. Because of this, their wives Tovaleomanaia Amituana’i (Leoso Ripley) & Ofelia Maivia became related as well. Therefore, their children would be related through the bloodline.
‘High Chief’ Peter Maivia
Of the Samoan Wrestling Dynasty founders, Peter Maivia was the first to pass away in 1982. He was by far the most famous family member in its early days, as he led them in to the wrestling industry. Maivia won many NWA titles, wrestled for the World Wrestling Federation, and was inducted in to the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008. He starred in the 5th James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice. Also, the character Maui in the 2016 movie Moana was based on him, and voiced by his grandson. Vince McMahon once said he was one of the toughest S.O.B’s he ever knew, but was still a ‘real wonderful, likable guy’.
In 1981, his doctor diagnosed him with cancer after ignoring symptoms and warning messages from his family to see a doctor. He died the following year at 45. Maivia played a huge part in the wrestling careers of his son Rocky Johnson, and grandson Dwayne Johnson. With his son, he also helped train Afa Anoa’i of the Wild Samoans, who would later train his tag partner Sika, and other members of the family.
Amituana’i, Tovale O & Ofelia
Tovaleomanaia Amituana’i was the second to pass away in 1988. It is unknown what she did for a living. Reverend Amituana’i Anoa’i placed an inscription on her gravestone saying “In Memory Of My Beloved Wife, Devoted Mother, Grandmother And Great Grandmother”. Rikishi posted this picture of a family visit on his social media:
Reverend Amituana’i Anoa’i passed away six years later, in 1994, at 80 years old. After looking around, I could not find any photos of the man who formed the bloodline with Peter Maivia. If anyone is aware of any, please let me know.
Peter Maivia’s wife, Ofelia “Lia” Maivia, lived for another 26 years after his passing. You could say she was the family’s original wrestling promoter, and was known (via Greg Oliver) as a strong-willed businesswoman. As the promoter of PPW, they once drew a crowd of 20,000 in 1985.
The way you look at it, her daughter could be the end of the bloodline. Although, I’m sure the family would challenge that. Lia Maivia had a daughter called Ata to her first husband. Peter Maivia would later adopt and change her name to Ata Maivia. A couple of years before the High Chief succumbed to cancer, Peter & Lia had a son together and named him Toa. We will talk about him later. In the late 90s and most of the 2000s, Lia Maivia looked over the entire family on behalf of Peter, Amituana’i and Tovale O.
From the Anoa’i side of the family, they had six children, including Afa, Leati (Sika), Elevera, Sipa, Afoa & Tumua. As we know, Afa & Sika teamed together to form the legendary tag team, The Wild Samoans. They were the first to win titles in WWE, by beating Ivan Putski & Tito Santana for the tag titles in 1980.
A few years later, Rocky Johnson (who married Ata against Peter’s wishes) formed the Soul Patrol with Tony Atlas. Together, they defeated his family members, Afa & Sika, for their tag titles. They became the first Samoan’s and African-Americans to claim gold in the company. Essentially, they showed that the family could produce champions. Without them paving the way, we may not have seen the third and fourth generations training to succeed in the wrestling business.
From both sides of the bloodline, all except Sipa had children who would later become professional wrestlers. This list includes:
- Afa & Lynn: Samu, Manu, Lloyd (L.A. Smooth)
- Leati & Lisa: Leati “Joe” (Roman Reigns), Matthew (Rosey)
- Elevera & I’aulualo Fatu Sr: Solofa Jr. (Rikishi), Edward (Umaga), Samuel (Tonga Kid)
- Afoa: Rodney (Yokozuna)
- Tumua: Reno (Black Pearl)
- Ata & Rocky: Dwayne (The Rock)
Peter & Lia’s son Toa, is 41-years-old and works mostly as a musician. Between 2003-2006, he worked at least 13 wrestling matches for the World Xtreme Wrestling promotion.
While researching, I came across a wrestler called (Prince) Peter Maivia Jr. One database suggests he is the son of Peter & Lia, and brother of Ata. I dispute this, because I cannot find any links between him and the rest of the family. Every source says that Peter & Lia only had two children, and if this guy was their son, it would mean they had three.
In Peter Maivia’s story, it is said that he gave the name to his “son” late in his career. To this day, he still goes by the gimmick on Twitter. A YouTube comment refers to him as “Peter Anderson Jr”, but I cannot find a wrestler by this name. I’m assuming Peter Maivia respected him enough to hand over the name so it would not be lost after his death. After all, Toa was a toddler in 1982, so nobody was ready to continue the Maivia legacy. His grandson, Dwayne Johnson, would be the next to adopt this name.
It’s safe to say that the third generation of the Anoa’i Family Wrestling Dynasty is the most successful. I can’t imagine any future generations being anymore so. There are so many champions here, the next generation would have to be extraordinarily dominant to beat it. What may strike some people are the age differences and how many passed away too young, like ‘High Chief’ Peter Maivia.
However, not every wrestler in the family had successful careers. Just because you were born in to it does not guarantee money & fame. It may get you an opportunity to prove yourself, but you still have to prove you belong. We’ll begin with the achievers, and end with those who couldn’t cut the mustard. I will not talk as much about the biggest names, just because I assume you are already aware of their careers.
Agatupu Rodney Anoaʻi (son of Afoa) set the bar for the family. He was the first to become a World Champion, after defeating Bret Hart at WrestleMania. Yokozuna later beat Hulk Hogan and ended Hulkamania to become a two-time champ. After that, he & Owen Hart claimed the tag team titles, following in the footsteps of his uncles The Wild Samoans.
WWE recently released a documentary about him on the network. I would highly recommend checking it out. Yokozuna is the original World Champion of the family, and no one can ever take that away. He passed away at the age of 44 from a pulmonary edema.
Afa’s son Samu is the cousin of Solofa, one of Elevera & I’aulualo Fatu Sr’s sons. Samu spent his early career helping his uncles, The Wild Samoans, defend the tag team titles. After a run in WCW, WCCW and other promotions, he & Solofa signed with the WWF alongside Yokozuna. They never interacted with their cousin, because WWE did not mention their family ties (Yokozuna was Japanese in kayfabe).
After two years of hard work, The Headshrinkers continued their uncle’s legacy by becoming the tag team champions. Samu would later be injured and never reach the same heights again. He has been working on the independent scene since 1996 and never officially retired. His last match was for MLW in 2018, when he tag teamed with his son Lance. He is the oldest active wrestler in the family.
Solofa Fatu had a rocky road after going out on his own. His “Make A Difference” gimmick, where he would talk about staying in school and saying no to drugs, didn’t get over with the fans. WWF then tried him out as The Sultan, a mute monster with no tongue. He had a shot at The Rock’s Intercontinental title, but the gimmick soon fizzled out.
Fans remember him fondly as Rikishi in the stable Too Cool, with Scotty 2 Hotty & Grandmaster Sexay. Others will remember his heel run, when he tried to kill Stone Cold Steve Austin with a car. He “did it for The Rock” because he was family, although The Rock never asked for this. Rikishi challenged for the WWF title several times, including in an Armageddon Hell in a Cell match.
WWE inducted Rikishi in to the Hall of Fame in 2015. As a two-time Intercontinental and three-time tag team champion, he is one of the most successful family members never to win a World Championship. He has not wrestled since 2017 and is retired. Some may say he is still… doing it for The Rock. If not, it will be for his sons, Jimmy & Jey Uso.
Rikishi & Tonga Kid are twins, being born on October 11, 1965. His uncles, The Wild Samoans, trained Sam Fatu. Initially working as a jobber, the bookers threw him into the deep end (on TV) to fill in for a wrestler who didn’t show up. The WWF saw potential and billed him as the cousin of Jimmy Snuka, helping him out in his feud with Roddy Piper.
Tonga Kid didn’t pick up many championships, but his time in WWF & WCW in the 80s was likely more than he ever expected. He wasn’t World Championship material, but he represented the family well in tag team action. His best partner was Haku as The Islanders, picking up several key wins, along with being managed by Bobby Heenan. They came close to the tag titles, but came up short to Strikeforce & The British Bulldogs.
Tonga got the chance to team with his brother Solofa & cousin Samu in WCW as the Samoan SWAT Team, before Samu left. He & Solofa formed The New Wild Samoans until they left WCW in summer 1990. For the rest of his career, he worked on the independent scene until his retirement in 2011. He recently appeared on an episode of Dark Side of the Ring, defending the honor of Jimmy Snuka.
Matt Anoa’i first appeared in 1995 as a supporter of Solofa during his “Make A Difference” gimmick. He was trained by his uncle Afa, and teamed with his cousin Samu. They had a brief stint in ECW, challenging many of its tag teams. The team got many title shots, but always came up short. He also had a singles match against The Sandman. After leaving ECW, he began teaming with his cousin Eddie Fatu, and were signed by WWE in 2001. The General Manager of Raw, Eric Bischoff, began talking about a new team in 2002, one which would deliver destruction in three minutes. He called them the 3-Minute Warning, and it composed of Matt (Rosey) & Eddie (Jamal).
They were a formidable team of savages who would do Bischoff’s bidding. The team had a lot of potential, but they won no titles, and WWE released Jamal in 2003. The Hurricane picked Rosey up and rechristened him S.H.I.T (Super Hero in Training). In 2005, they won the tag team titles and were soon escorted by Super Stacy (Keibler). This was the height of his career. As after they lost the titles, Hurricane dropped the gimmick to be himself, Gregory Helms. 2006 saw the return of Jamal to WWE, and 3-Minute Warning was teased to make a return. It didn’t happen, because WWE released Rosey from contract. He spent the rest of his career working for AJPW and independent promotions. Rosey was also helping his father Sika to run the promotion Epic Championship Wrestling in Florida.
While Sika is Samoan, his mother Lisa is Italian, making him half-Samoan, half-Italian. He was the older brother of Leati Joseph Anoa’i, famously known as Roman Reigns. Matt passed away in 2017 because of congestive heart failure.
I miss my Brother so much. He will be forever loved and never forgotten. #RIPMatt
— Roman Reigns (@WWERomanReigns) April 17, 2018
Eddie Fatu was the younger brother of Rikishi & Tonga Kid. As stated above, he initially appeared in WWE as the 3-Minute Warning tag team with his cousin Matt. Before this, he had trained under Afa and worked for his WXW promotion. During his first year with WWE, he got a reputation for being too dangerous, so management punished him by having Rikishi give him a stink face in the Royal Rumble. WWE released him in June 2003 for getting involved in a bar fight. Eddie spent the next two years working for TNA & AJPW.
After his cousin Matt was released, WWE repackaged him as Umaga. The name means “the end”, often referred to the last stage of the Samoan tattooing process. He was a destructive force, winning the Intercontinental title twice. Umaga’s biggest WrestleMania match saw him represent the WWE & Vince McMahon against Donald Trump’s Bobby Lashley. He lost, and via stipulation, Steve Austin, Trump & Lashley shaved off Vince McMahon’s hair. His most memorable feud was with John Cena, and they worked some of the most brutal matches Cena ever had. Also, Umaga had feuds with Triple H & CM Punk. For some unknown reason, William Regal would always call him “Umanga”, which WWE played with a lot.
After four years as Umaga, WWE suddenly released him from his contract in 2009. The reason was later revealed to be failing the wellness policy for a second time and refusing to go to rehab. For the rest of the year, he worked sparingly on the independent scene.
One of the saddest deaths in the family came on December 4th, 2009. His wife found him unresponsive at home, with blood coming out of his nose. Paramedics rushed Eddie to hospital, and doctors ruled it as a heart attack. They restarted his heart, but there was little brain activity. He later suffered a second heart attack and passed away. The drugs hydrocodone (a painkiller), carisoprodol (Soma, a muscle relaxant), and diazepam (Valium) were found in his system. He had both heart & liver disease. Doctors stated that the mix of the drug use with his poor heart meant he died of a heart attack brought on by acute toxicity by multiple substances. He was only 36 years old.
Years later, Rikishi had the following to say about his younger brother:
“It’s a great loss, not just for our personal lives, but also for professional wrestling as well, as the fans… You never expect to get a call like that. I’m having goosebumps right here sitting talking to you about it. My dealing with my brother’s loss was through the fans and the family. You would not believe how much heart, calls and emails, condolences from fans throughout the whole world. I was very proud of that. Also, to have so many people out of the business of wrestling, the Umaga character has touched everybody, good or bad.
It’s something that’s out of our hands. You never want it to happen to you personally. I’m very grateful that I had the last part of his life to spend with him in Australia. We had a heart to heart talk. We hadn’t seen each other in a while. With that note, everything was fantastic. So my heart is full, my heart is full. But I can only say this, I’m very sorry for the loss of professional wrestling, such a good wrestler.”
Can you smell what The Rock is cooking? Of course you can. Everyone knows who The Rock is. He’s arguably the most popular wrestler of all time. Do I need to bother writing much about him? It doesn’t matter if I do! I think, at the very least, we should list his crazy amount of achievements:
- WWE Championship (8 times)
- WCW Championship (2 times)
- WWF Intercontinental Championship (2 times)
- WWF Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with Mankind (3), The Undertaker (1), and Chris Jericho (1)
- Royal Rumble (2000)
- Sixth Triple Crown Champion
Box Office Movie Star, Producer, Business Person & Singer
There is no doubt. The People’s Champion is the most accomplished wrestler the family will ever have. I can’t see anyone being anymore famous or talented. His (& former wife Dany Garcia) daughter Simone Johnson carries on the Maivia legacy by training in the WWE Performance Center.
Joe Anoa’i is the son of Sika, younger brother of Rosey, and is half-Samoan, half-Italian. He originally planned on playing professionally in the NFL, and while he got signed and played in some games in 2007, his leukemia diagnosis lost him his place in the Minnesota Vikings. He returned in 2008 to play in the Canadian league, but was later released, and moved on altogether. Two years later, he signed with WWE and wrestled in their development territory FCW under the name Roman Leakee.
By 2012, WWE renamed him Roman Reigns, and he soon debuted on the main roster. As part of The Shield, he, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose made an immediate impact. The rest is history. Anybody who has seen WWE since 2012 knows the story of Roman Reigns. Management heavily pushed him, despite not having the experience, or the appeal, to carry himself into the main event scene. Yet, he & WWE persisted. I’d rather not go in to this too much, as the backlash from fans could be an article. It’s a topic for debate, but many will say Roman Reigns only won the fans over after turning heel in 2020. I see the “Tribal Chief” gimmick as the antithesis of “High Chief” Peter Maivia’s character. One was loved, respected, and didn’t ask for recognition. The other is hated, disrespected, and tells the people to acknowledge him.
Despite The Rock’s stardom, he never truly embraced Samoan culture while working as a wrestler. Although not fully Samoan, Reigns is keen to show the world the power of the Anoa’i family and its heritage. Effectively, he has taken over as the “Head of the Table” from his uncle Afa. Even his own father is beneath him now. The Rock may lead the way in Hollywood, but in wrestling & sports-entertainment, Reigns is the figurehead and hood ornament of the Anoa’i family for years to come. Even if The Rock returned, I would still expect this to be true.
Afa Jr. is the son of Afa and brother of Samu & L.A. Smooth. He originally signed with WWE in 2006 and worked in Deep South as Afa, before being called up in 2007. He joined up with Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase Jr, working as their heavy. After weeks of criticism from Randy Orton, Manu & Cody formed an alliance with him called “The Legacy”. Most fans won’t remember the original version though, because it wasn’t successful. Orton put them through tests to show if they were worthy, and both Manu & Sim Snuka failed. Ted DiBiase Jr. joined the group instead, and it went forward as Rhodes & DiBiase backing up Orton.
Afa Jr. was released from his contract a month later. Clearly, WWE management saw nothing in him. Since 2009, he has worked sparingly on the independent scene, and mostly for his father’s WXW promotion. He has picked up a bunch of titles, including several tag titles with his brother L.A. Smooth. However, you could say he might have been more successful at football. As a senior, analyst Tom Lemming named him upon the 100 best football players in the US. He is 37-years-old and his last match was against Mosh & Thrasher on October 2nd at the Heroes & Legends XV show.
I don’t think anyone in the family has had more ring names than Lloyd. Still, he is known for having worked in the WWF in the mid-90s, along with stints in ECW. In the early 2000s, he and his brother Samu formed The Headshrinkers tag team on the indies, while Rikishi was still with WWE. He spends most of his time working in his father Afa’s Wild Samoan Training Center. Most of his achievements are tag titles with many partners, and they don’t need to be part of the family. He recently lost the HLW tag titles with Afa Jr. to Mosh & Thrasher.
However, he starred in The Wrestler, as well as a Brisk tea commercial for Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs & Shaw movie. Lloyd seems to be multi-talented, although not as well known as his brothers.
We save Reno as the last third generation wrestler because no one bothered to make him a Wiki page. However, we can find out information about him at the KnokX Pro Wrestling Academy website:
“A native of American Samoa, Reno J. Anoa’i has over 20 years of experience as a creative and dedicated Wrestling Promoter and has a long history of producing wrestling events globally. Anoa’i produced the HULKAMANIA TOUR in Australia, coordinating Hulk Hogan’s first and only wrestling appearance in the land of OZ. During his tenure with NWE Wrestling based in Italy, Anoa’i produced over 200 live wrestling shows across Europe including sold-out shows in Italy, Spain, Scotland and Africa.
Anoa’i knows his way around the squared circle, both inside the ring and out; hailing from the infamous Samoan Dynasty Family and is known in the business as a “Triple Threat” PRODUCER, PROMOTER and WRESTLER, Wrestling under the moniker Count of California “Black Pearl” he also held the WWC Tag Team Champion Belt in Puerto Rico. First ever NWE European Champion over Scott Steiner. Additionally, Anoa’i also owns and operates KNOKX PRO WRESTLING ACADEMY, a full service wrestling facility in Los Angeles, CA. where he helps train the stars of tomorrow.
To shake up the wrestling business, Anoa’i created THE TERRITORY LEAGUE showcasing TEAMS of wrestlers representing their respective cities in exciting matches. In his community, he is actively involved in several charities, including Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Anoa’i is a college graduate of Chico State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology. Additionally, Anoa’i has been making memorable appearances in national television commercials, most recently as a Luchador for Fruit of the Loom & “Polynesian Chief” in the national Capri Sun Epic Adventure campaign, KFC KENTUCKY BUCKETS Football Player, Fruit of the Loom National Commercial as a Luchadore.
Even More Information of the World Famous ANOA’I WRESTLING FAMILY: SAMOAN DYNASTY/ANOA’I CLAN
The art of Professional Wrestling has been passed down through generations upon generations within the Anoa’i clan. Several members of the family have wrestled around the world and back with the knowledge of the wrestling business inside and out of the squared circle, always at the forefront of their minds. You can’t mention “Professional Wrestling” without mentioning the name ANOA’I — these fellas were BORN TO WRESTLE! WWE Hall of Famers AFA & SIKA ANOA’I known to the world of wrestling as the “WILD SAMOANS” followed in the footsteps of their uncle HIGH CHIEF PETER MAIVIA, grandfather of DWAYNE JOHNSON (THE ROCK) and many others followed into the “Family Business.” A business, which boasts a solid roster.
These “gentle giants” share more than a bloodline; their unique talents have become universally recognized as “ANOA’I TRAITS” from their massive ability, charisma and raw athleticism, coupled with devout honor of their Samoan heritage, it truly is hard to believe this many professional athletes hail from one family and one tiny island deep in the heart of the South Pacific! Many championships, Tag Teams and honors have been bestowed upon this family, however, the legacy continues…”
Gary Albright was often named the “Master of Suplex”, having transitioned over to pro wrestling from amateur. He won many things as an amateur, so he was a credible athlete. He married Afa’s daughter Monica to become part of the family. In his career, he won tag team titles, two of them with Stan Hansen and Dr. Death Steve Williams in AJPW. He also beat the British Bulldogs in Stampede Wrestling. Albright looked set to have an amazing career.
However, tragedy struck on January 7th, 2000. During a match for WXW, he collapsed to the canvas after taking a bulldog. His official cause of death was a heart attack, and was later found to be suffering from diabetes, blockage of arteries and having an enlarged heart. During a memorial show, co-promoted by WXW, AJPW and the WWF, close friend and family member The Rock opened it and paid tribute to Albright.
We have spent a lot of time talking about the Anoa’i family. If there’s one thing I’d like to do, it’s wrapping up this section with images of those taking it in to a fourth generation.
Some you may already know well, while others are still in development. There’s also another line to the family I’d like to bring up after this, although it’s not clear how it fits in. The Usos & Naomi are by far the most accomplished, as multi-time tag team and women’s champions.
Other Family Connections
It’s hard to pinpoint how, but Jimmy Snuka marrying Sharon Georgia linked their families with the Anoa’i Family Wrestling Dynasty. The only thing I can find is that Sharon’s Father was apparently a chief in Western Samoa (Snuka claims it in his autobiography). Did Reverend Amituana’i Anoa’i have more than one blood brother? We’ll never know. Either way, The Rock saw Jimmy Snuka like an uncle.
This would make Tamina Snuka his cousin, and through the bloodline, she would be related to the Anoa’i family; including Naomi when she married in to it. Other relations include Nia Jax, who is a cousin of The Rock. Her father, Joseph Fanene, was a first cousin of Peter Maivia. Former NXT and 205 Live wrestler Sean Maluta is Afa’s nephew on his wife’s side. Hollywood stuntman Tanoai Reed (Toa on the new American Gladiators) is the great nephew of Lia Maivia, The Rock’s grandmother. It’s impossible to know where they fit in to the Anoa’i Family tree.
It is sometimes assumed that Haku and his family have ties to the Samoan Wrestling Dynasty, but this is not true. The only connection is that Haku once teamed with Tonga Kid and it was perhaps implied they were on TV. There has never been confirmation of Haku’s family being a relation to Anoa’i by him or anyone else.
I have found all that I can, and hope this has been as educational for you as it has been for me. Please let me know if I missed anybody, I wouldn’t like there to be any exceptions.
The Anoa’i Family is vast and filled with characters. Wrestling wouldn’t be the same without it. I think it sometimes gets unduly criticized for getting preferential treatment, and that comes down to Vince McMahon’s relationship with it. He has known the family all his life, so it makes sense that he feels part of it. It’s on him if they get specially treated. If you were them, would you turn down opportunities?
Speaking of which, many of the Anoa’i family members have ceased their time in the ring. The Rock, Roman Reigns, Yokozuna, The Usos, Rikishi. So many have done well and we should be happy for them. Wrestling needs its families, and it’s cool to know we still have one producing the next generation. I highly doubt the fourth will beat the third, but time will tell. You never know. Some of us might be young enough for a fifth! Wouldn’t that be something?
Anyway, I know this has been a long piece. We should never need to cover the Anoa’i Family again. We have acknowledged them enough. Thank you so much for sticking with me, and I hope to see you again soon. Tofa!