One of wrestling’s greatest families, the Anoa’is, is mourning the loss of a member who spread both terror and humour across the WWE during the early part of the 21st century. Matt Tapunuu Anoa’i passed away on Monday, April 17 at the age of 47.
Anoa’i will be remembered as Rosey, a member of Three Minute Warning and the Super Hero in Training tag team partner of Hurricane Helms, during his stint from 2002 to 2006 in WWE. He was the son of former WWWF Tag Team Champion, Sika, and the brother of current WWE star, Roman Reigns.
After a football career at the University of Hawaii and working as a bouncer in New Orleans, Anoa’i followed in his family’s footsteps into the wrestling ring.
Anoa’i was trained by his uncle, Afa (who had held the WWWF Tag Team Championship with Anoa’i’s brother, Sika) at the Wild Samoan Training Facility with his cousins, Eddie and Matt Fatu.
In 1995, he began his career in Afa’s World Xtreme Wrestling (WXW) promotion before teaming with cousin Samula Anoa’i (formerly one-half of the Headshrinkers and Samoan Swat Team). Together, the two Anoa’is were known as the Samoan Gangsta Party and Anoa’I working as Mack Daddy Kane, working in ECW before returning to WXW.
Teaming with cousin, Lloyd Anoa’i, he enjoyed two reigns as WXW Tag Team Champion and another as the World Wrestling Council World Tag Team Champions. He reteamed with Eddie Fatu to win the Frontier Martial-Arts Hardcore Tag Team Championships in Japan.
Anoa’i and Fatu were signed by WWE in 2001 and worked for the Heartland Wrestling Association, the WWE’s developmental territory, as the Island Boys. Anoa’i was Kimo and Fatu was Ekmo when they defeated Evan Karagias and Shannon Moore to win the HWA Tag Team Championship on November 14, 2001. They also worked for Memphis Championship Wrestling, becoming three-time MCW Southern Tag Team Champions.
In 2002, Anoa’I (as Rosey) and Fatu (as Jamal) were called up to the main roster as 3-Minute Warning, terrorizing WWE rings as then-Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff’s enforcers. 3-Minute Warning would carry out attacks on wrestlers and non-wrestlers alike at Bischoff’s orders, with their biggest feud coming against Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo during the Fall of 2002. Fatu was released in 2003.
After Fatu was released, Anoa’i’s character would undergo a dramatic change. Teaming with Shane (aka Gregory) “Hurricane” Helms, the pair would delight fans as a comedy act. Anoa’i as Rosey would initially be a “Super Hero In Training” under Helm’s guidance and the pair teamed against Chris Jericho and Christian and Evolution.
On May 1, 2005, Rosey and Helms would defeat La Resistance to win the World Tag Team Championship at Backlash. After dropping the titles to Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch on September 18, the team began to dissolve and Helms turned heel, then defeated Rosey on an episode of Raw.
Upon Fatu’s return to WWE in 2005, he and Anoa’I worked together in some dark matches before Raw, leading to speculation of a 3-Minute Warning reunion. Instead, Anoa’i was released in March 2006 and Fatu debuted as Umaga.
The end of his WWE career was not the end of Anoa’i’s in-ring career. He went back to the independent scene, including working for All Japan Pro Wrestling, Great Championship Wrestling, BAW Championship Wrestling and the Appalachian Wrestling Federation, and the Dynamic Wrestling Federation.
In 2007, he made a brief return to WWE, losing a pair of dark matches to Johnny Jeter and wrestling with Afa, Jr. in the Ohio Valley Wrestling developmental territory. He later worked with his father, Sika, running Epic Championship Wrestling in Florida.
His passing comes three years after being hospitalised after suffering congestive heart failure.
By John Milner