Wrestling’s stinkface king: The legendary Rikishi

Harry Kettle

Professional wrestling is a little bit silly by design and as such sports entertainment, on the whole, comes with a tarnished reputation. People these days don’t look upon these world class athletes and appreciate them for their abilities because they instead focus on the fact that it’s ‘fake’ and that some of the featured characters over the years have been a little bit gimmicky – which is where Rikishi comes into the conversation.

Solofa Fatu Jr, also known as the legendary Rikishi, is a 51-year-old Samoan American former pro wrestler. In essence, you could begin and end your diatribe against him right there – but that would be a severe form of injustice.

From Headshrinker Fatu to The Sultan, the man we now know as Rikishi went through a parade of personas before finally landing a full-time role as a gyrating big man wrestler. The man mountain comes from a lineage of class and honour, with Samoans being extremely well embedded within the world of the squared circle.

So then, it may come as a surprise that most people remember him for shoving his arse in the faces of all of his opponents. They don’t want to talk about his championships or mobility, because instead why not joke around about the stench of a heavyweight machine’s rear end staining the nostrils of the likes of The Rock and Stone Cold?

The bloke has a hell of a lot more in his arsenal than just the stinkface, although we’ll openly admit that seeing a top ranked heel being embarrassed so masterfully was often a wonderful sight to behold. Oh, and if you didn’t strive to be a member of Too Cool when you were growing up then you’re lying to yourself.

Rikishi did so very much for this business, and yet nobody even bats an eyelid when talking about some of the best teachers and performers of all time. Sure the whole running over Stone Cold thing didn’t turn him into the monster heel that WWE may have desired, but it did open our eyes to what he could do.

From that point on we saw a different side to Fatu, and at one stage or another you could even have considered him to be one of the best all-round wrestlers in the company. Hell, the guy even managed to make falling off the top of the Hell in a Cell look elegant.

Rikishi’s legacy extends beyond his own personal time in the ring to his family. We’re talking about his cousins Roman Reigns and The Rock, his uncles The Wild Samoans, his brother Umaga and most importantly of all his sons.

Jimmy and Jey Fatu, known collectively as The Usos, possess that spark that we were all so blessed to witness within Rikishi throughout the course of his WWE tenure. You can tell that learning from their old man is what has turned them into the world class tag team that we see before us today, and it appears as if the best is still yet to come.

Though he may never have become a world champion in his own right, Rikishi was able to transcend the ‘fat’ label that he was burdened with and transformed himself into a chameleon both in and outside of the ring. From a comedy character to a bad ass juggernaut, there was nothing he couldn’t do; and his Hall of Fame induction two years ago exemplifies that.

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