Last updated on April 25th, 2022 at 08:39 am
For many years, Samoan wrestlers have been part and parcel of the pro-wrestling world. From Peter Maivia to Yokozuna to the Wild Samoans, all these wrestlers have made immense contributions to the WWE and other wrestling promotions.
When looking at Samoans in the wrestling world, one family comes to mind, The Ano’iai family. Just like the McMahons, the Harts and the Rhodes, the Anoiai have also had a great impact in the WWE.
One might also argue that the impact from this one family alone is greater than that made by all the other wrestling families and dynasties. Which when you come to think about is somewhat true.
From the early 1900s to date, the Ainoia family has produced some of the biggest professional wrestlers. Wrestlers such as Roman Reigns and The Uso’s are all part of this large dynasty.
That said, these are the 10 greatest Samoan wrestlers of all time.
10. Peter Maivia
A member of the famous Anoa’i family, Peter Maivia began his pro-wrestling career back in the 1960s. After making his wrestling debut, Peter Maivia began wrestling for various wrestling promotions in the UK, Hawaii and France.
In 1970, Maivia signed with the WWF where he ultimately became one of the most prominent wrestlers on the roaster. With the WWE, Peter Maivia went head to head with renowned wrestlers such as Ivan Putski, Bob Backlund and Superstar Billy Graham.
In 1978, Peter Maivia turned heel for the very first time in his pro-wrestling career. Despite having a rather illustrious WWE career, Peter Maivia did not lift any WWE title.
In 1981, Maivia left the WWF, returning to California where he managed to win the NWA Americas’ World title.
A year later, Maivia would take part in his last wrestling match before calling it quits.
9. The Usos
Arguably one of the greatest WWE tag teams of all time, The Uso’s definitely deserved a spot on the greatest Samoan wrestlers of all-time list. Despite being third generational superstars, The Usos have managed to make a name for themselves in a highly competitive industry.
Despite being with the WWE for about 10 years, the Uso’s have managed to win the tag team titles an impressive 7 times. Like many of the current WWE wrestlers, The Uso’s are homegrown talents as they began their pro-wrestling career under WWE’s developmental territory FCW back in 2009.
Ever since making their pro-wrestling debut back in 2010, The Uso’s have climbed through the tag division ranks and are now one of the most dominant forces.
Real-life twin brothers, the Uso’s are the sons of WWE Hall of Famer, Rikishi Fatu. Currently, the duo are part of the stable, The Bloodline alongside their cousin Roman Reigns.
Widely known as the Samoan Bulldozer, Umaga is also another American Samoan wrestler that rightfully deserves a spot on this list. Despite being one of the biggest WWE wrestlers of all time, Umaga was swift and nifty for a man his size.
When he made his in-ring debut, one thing was certain; Umaga was here to stay and conquer. The Samoan Bulldozer relentlessly attacked any wrestler who dared to step in the ring with him.
In no time, Umaga earned the reputation for being one of the most vicious wrestlers in the WWE. Umaga was not all about dominance.
As a matter of fact, his in-ring work ethic was quite impressive such that he went ahead to have what many have termed as “classics” alongside the likes of John Cena and Ric Flair.
7. Wild Samoans
Although they used various gimmicks throughout their illustrious wrestling careers, many wrestling fans know them as The Wild Samoans. Unlike many wrestlers on this list, The Wild Samoans often made the headlines for other reasons other than their in-ring work.
Their gimmick and uncivilized behaviour often caught the attention of many wrestling fans. From eating decomposing turkeys at ring-side or biting off chicken heads on live television, the Wild Samoans were true to their gimmick.
While you might argue that the WWE signed them for their entertainment value, the Wild Samoans were also quite solid in the squared circle. Prior to signing with the WWE, The Wild Samoans had gained extensive experience working for various promotions such as Stampede Wrestling, NWA Mid-America and World Wrestling Council.
Thus, when they signed with the WWE in 1979, The Wild Samoans would often challenge for the tag team titles. Ultimately in 1980, the Wild Samoans would win their first tag team titles in the WWE after they defeated Ivan Putski and Tito Santana.
6. Jimmy Snuka
A popular babyface and a high-flying wrestler, Jimmy Snuka’s illustrious wrestling career saw him become an icon and one of the most celebrated figures in pro wrestling. During his stint with the WWE, Snuka helped the WWE transcend into a global powerhouse and also played a crucial role in The Undertaker’s ascension.
Despite having a rather impressive wrestling career, Jimmy Snuka was often a subject of controversy. Jimmy Snuka would ultimately leave the WWE in 1985.
During this period, Jimmy Snuka would briefly make appearances for various promotions such as NJPW, AWA, PNW and CWA. In 1989, Jimmy Snuka would return to the WWE for his second and final stint.
During his second stint with the WWE, Jimmy Snuka would remain a headliner and main event wrestler. Snuka ultimately left the promotion in 1994.
One of the most decorated Samoan wrestlers, Rikishi has numerous world titles under his name. With the WWE, Rikishi won the intercontinental championship, two world tag team titles and the WWE tag team title.
During his first stint with the WWF, Rikishi mostly took part in tag team action as one-half of The Headshrinkers. As a member of the Headshrinkers, Rikishi would win the WWF World tag team titles.
In 1997, Rikishi would leave the WWE only to return two years down the line. In his second stint with the company, Rikishi came with a fresh look that mainly consisted of cool sunglasses, sumo wrestling gear and blonde hair.
In his second stint, Rikishi would hit his prime and in no time became a main event wrestler. It was also during this period that Rikishi began serving other wrestlers with the infamous stinker bomb.
In 2005, Rikishi left the promotion after failure to adhere to WWE’s health protocols regarding his weight. 10 years down the line, Rikishi was inducted by his sons into the WWE Hall of Fame.
4. The Rock
Even though one might argue that The Rock is not a full Samoan, he still makes this list due to his mother’s lineage. The son of Rocky Johnson and Ava Maivia, Dwayne Johnson is half Samoan, half African American.
A third generational superstar, The Rock managed to become one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. True to his gimmick, The Rock did not shy off from his opponents nor his regular smack talking.
Whether he was feuding with the WWE chair Vince McMahon or some of the biggest names in pro-wrestling such as Stone Cold or The Undertaker, The Rock took his jab as usual.
It’s his personality and trueness to his gimmick that saw him become part of some of the highest-rated segments in sports entertainment.
After a rather successful wrestling career, The Rock transitioned successfully to Hollywood, where he is now one of the highest-paid actors in the world.
3. Samoa Joe
A highly experienced veteran, Samoa Joe’s in-ring experience and work ethic have seen him become one of the biggest wrestling stars in recent years. Despite weighing more than 280 pounds, Samoa Joe is not only incredibly fast but also a string of counter-moves to use on any wrestler when they least expect.
Prior to signing with the WWE, Samoa Joe worked with various promotions across the globe such as TNA and ROH.
With the WWE, Samoa Joe picked up things from where he had left off winning two NXT titles and a United States championship along the way. Although he went after the World Heavyweight title somewhere along the way, Joe was unable to land the gold.
Throughout his wrestling career, the brainbuster has always been Samoa Joe’s finishing move. However, after a botched attempt on Jason Kidd, the WWE decided to ban the finishing move altogether.
2. Roman Reigns
You can call him “The Big Dog” or “The Head of The Table” or simply Roman Reigns. One of the most dominant figures in sports entertainment, Roman Reigns has managed to achieve what many wrestlers dream of in such a short time.
In just 10 years Roman Reigns managed to become one of the most decorated WWE wrestlers. Some of the titles won by Roman Reigns include the World Heavyweight title (3 times), the Universal title (2 times), the Intercontinental title and the United States Championship among others.
Despite being one of the biggest stars in sports entertainment, Roman Reigns also happens to be one of the most criticized wrestlers. Even though you might argue that Roman Reigns has a somewhat small arsenal of moves to pull from, his execution and never give up attitude is something to be admired.
Moreover, for a man his size, there is so little that his size can allow him to do.
As the Head of The Table, Roman Reigns does not back down from a challenge, neither does he condone disrespect. Currently, Roman Reigns is the face of Smackdown.
Standing at 6’4 and weighing more than 580 pounds, Yokozuna is arguably the greatest Samoan wrestler of all time. In his prime, the man, the myth, the legend was second to none.
A two-time world heavyweight champion, Yokozuna dominated the main event scene in the early 1990s. Looking back at the dominance and entertainment value he brought to the company, it’s clear to see why he is regarded as one of the greatest 90s wrestlers.
Despite his gimmick revolving around a Japanese sumo wrestler, Yokozuna has never taken part in Sumotori. As a matter of fact, he comes from the famous A’onai family line that includes the likes of Rikishi, Usos and Headshrinkers.
Under the guidance of Mr. Fiji, Yokozuna went on to become a dominant force in the WWE a few months after making his in-ring debut. In his second year with the company, Yokozuna would go ahead to win the World Heavyweight title at Wrestlemania IX after he defeated Bret “The Hitman” Hart.
Although he would drop the title in the same night after an impromptu bout against Hulk Hogan, Yokozuna would once again pick up the title two months down the line.
However, despite being impressive in his first few years with the WWE, a string of medical conditions due to his massive size would see the WWE release him in 1998.