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Interview with Samu of the Headshrinkers
by Marcus Madison on 2001-10-04

QUESTION: During your time with the WWF, you were involved in several feuds. How do you feel, the company could have done a better job promoting you?

ANSWER: I don't know I think they had it easy with our gimmick, cause it was a natural gimmick. We are 1st generation American Samoans with our parents coming from the island. We basically lived our gimmicks, with the lava lava skirts, sandles, etc. no matter where or what the weather was. It was our way of life, and as such it didn't cost Vince anything. Also, the Head Shrinkers/SST concept was basically the next generation of the Wild Samoans, but with a 90s twist on it. What I mean by a "90s twist" is that we were done up a little more with our costumes, music, entrances, etc. Plus, we had the guidance of my father (Afa "the Wild Samoan" Anoa'i).

QUESTION: On Television, fans usally saw you compete in tag team competition. Would you have preferred to compete in singles or what was it about tag team competition that appealed to you?

ANSWER: Fascinating question.. I should preface this by saying that I have been working in the business since I was 15. With that said, for the first seven or so years I was practically a singles competitor, sometimes touring with my dad and uncle, and by the time I was around 17, on my own. I worked all over, including the deep south and my first territory - Texas, with the Freebirds taking me under their wing (as my dad had done for Michael Hayes years earlier). By 86 or so, Fatu (known today as the WWF's Rikishi) had just finished up training with my father at the Wild Samoan Training Center (then located in CT). Once my dad gave the green light for Fatu (real name Solofa Fatu Jr.) to hit the road, he joined me in Canada, where I was ripping up the eastern territory (Montreal) as a heel with the late, great Eddie Cretchman as my manager. It was at this point that, that Fatu was broke in by me via "on site training." Initially, we were kept seperate, with Fatu getting his timing down while having a moderate run as a face. Once this was accomplished, I was strictly a tag team competitor for the better part of the next eight years. Flash forward to the end of my WWF run where I decided to go home and I joined up with my cousin Matt Anoa'i. Matt was known as Matt E. Smalls (today he is Kimo of the Island Boyz of WWF developmental fame) and we were collectively known as the Samoan Gangstas. We had a colorful run in ECW and a brief cameo in the WWF while Fatu was doing the ill conceived "make a difference gimmick." By 1997, I was beginning to work my single shots and by the end of the year, I was 75% of the time singles worker, which I remain doing to this day, while working with my brothers L.A. Smooth (Lloyd Anoa'i) & Afa Jr. (Anoa'i) on an infrequent basis. But I digress... To answer your question, I have no regrets with how my career has progressed over the past 12 years of tag teaming. I obviously am known for my major WWF run as part of the Head Shrinkers gimmick, but I believe strongly that I will have a strong impact in a singles capacity for a promoter's office before my time is up in the ring. When? Where? How? I can't even begin to speculate. I just know it.

QUESTION: Samu, you have worked so hard to attain the popularity you have.What is it about wrestling that has always appealed to you to continue to compete? Why?

ANSWER: Well this is a business you either live to love or get out. You have the passion or you go home. I have that passion and have worked extremely hard to retain a loyal following. Now, that following has been a pretty loyal one. They have seen me work at Madison Square Garden all the way down to the legion hall where my dad promotes in Hazleton for his WXW. The seeds for my popularity was of course planted by my father and uncle (Sika the Wild Samoan" Anoa'i) well before I was dropping victims in the ring. We became known as tough "mofos" because we had a succesful formula: work like we are away from the ring. Ask any of our friends or promoters. The Samoans are tough S.O.B.s in and away from the ring who don't take shit from no one. We're survivors and the fans understand that raw, innate characteristic. Don't get me wrong, fans change. Some come and some go, but they can relate to us because of this. An example of this raw energy was at the Samoan Swat Team vs. the Road Warriors. Back in the old NWA, it was one hot program - in the arenas and with the gates. And to sum up the passion I have for this business, the hardcore legend Terry Funk once told me I was like him, "we're born into this business and we will die in this business." Profound and dead on.

QUESTION: This question allows you to be more of a fan and not an actual athlete for a second. If you could face anyone past or present in a match or watch any match of any two wrestlers who would it be and what type of match would it be?

ANSWER: I would of liked to work with my cousin (Fatu) against Adrian Adonis and Dick Murdoch. I mean, I worked a lot with Murdoch, but with Adonis.. now that would of been a personal dream of mine. They were a great team and they didn't really like each other also, which made for some awesome "real" chemistry. They were as night and day as night and day could go. Adrian for one, was from New York, while his partner in crime was nicknamed "Captain Redneck" and was from Texas. I thought it was great chemistry and I always loved working the elders as you could learn so much and they were both GREAT teachers. That's another thing that my generation really has failed at... passing the fine arts of the trade down to the up and comers. It is something I hope to always be able to do. Its my legacy in the making, I suppose.

QUESTION: Along the recent success of your family members Rikishi and The Rock you have all maintained the great tradition that came before you. What do think has contributed to everyone's tremendous work ethic?

ANSWER: Well, it's in our blood. From my dad to Peter Maivia (my great uncle and the Rock's grandfather), it was what we did best and we all have an inner desire to be at our best.

QUESTION: As part of the team of the Headshrinkers you captured the WWF tag team championship, with Fatu. Can you describe your feelings on the entire experience?

ANSWER: it was a long time dream of mine that came to a reality and yes I was very happy and moved to know we had what it takes to be on top of the world. Some people criticisize our work ethic, but when was the last time you saw someone the size of Rikishi bump off the top of the cage and onto a truck like he did last year? Or, when I hit a flying head scissors (yes, that happens from time to time). Or, like the late, great Gary Albright who was celebrated amateur wrestler and All Japan tag team champ. And finally, think about how agile Yokozuna was. Think about how long he went in some of his top matches in the WWF. Think about how shocking his cardio was, considering his size.. We go hard and none of us go home. Always have, always will.

QUESTION: In either singles of tag action who offered the most competition to yourself? and Why do you think that is so?

ANSWER: I enjoyed my work with the Road Warriors, Steiners, Smokin' Gunns, the Freebirds, the Von Erichs, and Yokozuna & Owen Hart. In singles competition, I would go with Andre the Giant, Dino Bravo, Bruiser Brody, Murdoch, Stan Hansen, Great Kabuki, Jimmy Snukam Frank Duseck (early 80s), Gary Hart, Ken Mantel, Percy Pringle, Tom Renesto, Antonio Inoki, and a ton of the New Japan crew. I'm thankful to have worked all these greats that I have learned so much from.... Thank you guys. And for those who have passed on, may you rest in peace.

QUESTION: Are there any other wrestlers either past of present you would have like the opportunity to work with? and Why?

ANSWER: Well I pretty much worked everyone I grew up with and grew up watching. I'm still active and could probably work most anyone but let me see... I think i would like to work the Rock, since I used to have great matches with his father. Plus, Kidman and Kanyon since I helped train them. I think we'd have a few four star matches there.

QUESTION: The Samoan's were often recognized for being savages inside and out of the ring. Do you think that the characters should have changed and brought into the millenium or does would that cause them to lose their appeal to the fans?

ANSWER: I think the concept worked for the better part of the last thirty years or so, dating back to "High Chief" Peter Maivia's west coast run. Essentially, the Samoans were hardcore, before the term "hardcore" was coined. I don't mean to be conceeded in that statement, but we had some of the most brutal, bloodiest matches in a lot of the territories and introduced them to an alternative. But, in the past four or so years, I think it is safe to say that the concept has been evolving, starting with the Samoan Gangstas and most recently with Rikishi's "bad man" persona in the WWF. One can always learn and evolve, and I think my family is a good example of that as obviously, Samoan natives doing the savage gimmick just wouldn't get over today, like it did when we had our collective run with Vince from 91-95 with the shrunken head props, etc. It's good for business and the dynamics of the Samoan name in the industry, and as evident with the pop Rikishi, the Rock, and everyone else gets, the fans certainly approve of the evolution of the Samoan gimmick.

QUESTION: During your time in the WWF, Fatu and yourself were involved with a Gangsta's angle. How did the angle to an end? Or was it carried over into another company?

ANSWER: We have always been heels and Vince had just repackaged me as part of the Samoan Gangstas, with Matt. At the time, Fatu was doing the notorious "make a difference" gimmick and I was concerned with the direction of the characters. Basically, I didn't want them to turn the Gangstas face and negate the edgey Samoan persona, which occured when Fatu did the brief run with the "make a difference" gimmick. So, I went to the brass with my concerns, since our family had a history dating back nearly 3 decades. Unfortunately, they made it clear that we didn't have much to say on the matter so I bounced. Of course being young and stupid, I felt it was best to rebel and went with the renegades - ECW with Matt (who is going to have a tremendous future as part of the next generation of Samoans in the WWF soon).

QUESTION: Can you tell wrestling fans a little about Samu Anoai Online? What can they expect to see when they check it out?

ANSWER: Well, fans can check it out at: I try to interact with my fans on a regular basis via the message board. Also, you can download screensavers, check out family renunion pics, and much, much more! Check it out for sure!

QUESTION: You are currently training the next generation of pro wrestler's in the Samoan Training Centre? Can you describe the experience and who should fans keep an eye on out there?

ANSWER: yes, I help my dad as a training consultant when not on the road. For exensive training with me, I can be reached at Samu's Jungle Gym. I share my years of knowledge, experience, and advice in one training program that I think is quite valuable to those wanting to break into the business the right way. For your information, the gym is located in McKeesport, PA (outside of Pittsburgh). There are a ton of young hopefuls out there that just need the right direction and a few good pointers and many are close to being ready for that dark match with NY. Don't believe me? The proof is in the pudding... On the rare occassion when NY gives some of the boys on the indy circuit a dark match and they don't get it, they are left pondering why they didn't get picked up. Well, that is what my gym is for. It is a well rounded gym. And at the rist of sounding repetitive, the proof is in the pudding! We already have 4 students on developmental contracts for WWF as we speak which to me is great. My dad and I do a great job with these kids and it shows.

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Quotes from the boys: Ed Moretti says "Relax there kid. Who's calling this match...them or us? They bought the tickets to see us, not the other way around".
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