Interview with Samu of the Headshrinkers
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
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
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
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
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
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: www.SamoanGangsta.com. 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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from the boys:
Ed Moretti says "Hey kid, its already ten minutes in, people are going crazy, and we ain't even tied up yet".