Eulogy for Umaga
“When the death of Umaga was announced to us yesterday morning, there struck a deep and solemn note in our lives which, as it resounded far and wide, stilled the clatter and traffic of twenty-first-century life in many lands, and made countless millions of human beings pause and look around them. A new sense of values took, for the time being, possession of human minds, and mortal existence presented itself to so many at the same moment in its serenity and in its sorrow, in its splendour and in its pain, in its fortitude and in its suffering.
“The Samoan Bulldozer was greatly loved by all. He was respected as a Samoan and as a bulldozer far beyond the many realms over which he bulldozed. The simple dignity of his life, his manly virtues, his sense of duty, his gay charm and savage nature, his example as a son and a brother and a cousin in the Anoa’i wrestling family, his courage in hair-versus-hair, triple-threat, or falls-count-anywhere matches — all these were aspects of his character which won the glint of admiration, now here, now there, from the innumerable eyes whose gaze falls upon World Wrestling Entertainment.
“We thought of him as Vince McMahon’s representative in the “Battle of the Billionaires” at WrestleMania 23, bravely facing off against Donald Trump’s champion, Bobby Lashley. We thought of him when calmly, without ambition, or want of self-confidence, he assumed the heavy burden of the Intercontinental Championship and succeeded “The Rainbow Warrior” Jeff Hardy. We thought of him, so faithful in his study and discharge of the orders of his manager and handler, Armando Alejandro Estrada; so strong in his devotion to the enduring honour of Samoa; so self-restrained in his squashing of jobbers; so uplifted above the petty squabbling over title belts, yet so attentive to it; so wise and shrewd in choosing between the Samoan drop or the diving headbutt.
“All this we saw and admired. His conduct in the ring may well be a model and a guide to Samoans and other savage island grapplers throughout the South Pacific today and also in future generations. The last few months of Umaga’s life, with all the pain and physical stresses that he endured — his release from World Wrestling Entertainment for violation of its Wellness Policy due to his purchase of the growth hormone somatropin from an online pharmacy, and Umaga all the time cheerful and undaunted, undisturbed and even unaffected in spirit — these have made a profound and an enduring impression and should be a help to all.
“He was sustained not only by his natural buoyancy, but by the sincerity of his complex polytheistic faith and ancestor worship. During these last months, the Samoan Bulldozer walked with Auraka, the all-devouring Polynesian god of death as if he were a companion, an acquaintance whom he recognized and did not fear. In the end, death came as a friend, and after a happy wrestling tour with Hulk Hogan in Australia, and after a good-night to those who loved him best, he fell asleep watching television, suffered a heart attack, and bled profusely from his nose, as every man or woman who strives to fear the creator god Tagaloa and nothing else in the world may hope to do.
“From his debut on the April 3, 2006 episode of Raw to the New Year’s Revolution pay-per-view in January 2007, Umaga was undefeated. Never at any moment in all the perplexities at home and abroad, in public or in private, in house shows or televised matches, was Umaga ever pinned or made to submit. Well does he deserve the farewell salute of all World Wrestling Entertainment superstars and fans.
“It is at this time that our compassion and sympathy go out to his brothers, the Tonga Kid and Rikishi; to his cousins, the Headshrinkers; and to Rosey, his partner in the tag team 3-Minute Warning. Our hearts go out tonight to his uncles by blood, Afa and Sika, the Wild Samoans, and to his uncle by marriage, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, who sustained Umaga through all his toils and problems, and taught him the strategies of the Samoan strap match, the art of eating raw fish during interview segments, and the cultural significance of tribal facial tattooing. May they be granted strength to bear their sorrow.
“To Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, another of whose cousins is dead — former WWF champion Yokozuna having perished shortly after October 1999’s Heroes of Wrestling pay-per-view — there belongs the consolation of seeing how well Umaga carried on his legacy and bravely endured the heinous sledgehammer attacks of his mortal foe, Triple H.
“Now we must leave the treasures of the past and turn to the future. Famous have been the reigns of terror of the wildmen of Samoa. Some of the greatest periods in wrestling history have unfolded under their wildness. Now that we have Jimmy Uso now signed to a WWE developmental contract, our thoughts are carried back nearly a decade to his father, Rikishi, who, in many ways, embodied and inspired the grandeur and genius of the WWF’s Attitude era. Jimmy Uso has already been acclaimed as first of a new generation of the Anoa’i family legacy.
“Tomorrow, the proclamation of Jimmy Uso’s sovereignty will command the loyalty of his native island and of all other parts of the South Pacific. I, whose youth was passed in the august, unchallenged and tranquil glories of the World Wide Wrestling Federation era, may well feel a thrill in invoking once more the prayer and the anthem Fa’avae i le Atua Samoa!”
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