Eddie Fatu, probably best known to wrestling fans or anybody who reads my wrestling posts here as Umaga,died today at the age of 36 of what is believed to be a massive heart attack.
He hadn’t wrestled for WWE since being released in June reportedly due to his second violation of the company’s drug testing program, but had remained active in the business pretty much right to the end. His final matches took place on Hulk Hogan’s Hulkamania tour of Australia which concluded just a few days ago.
It never gets any easier to read and write paragraphs like those ones. Sitting here right now, even though I’ve been down this road far too many times before, I still can’t believe that wrestling has lost another one. Another one gone far too young, and probably, at least in part, due to circumstances that could have been prevented.
It’s times like this when I wonder how I can still watch wrestling at all. How, knowing what this business can do to people and what it allows those people to do to themselves, can I justify investing my time, money and emotions in it? I have no good answer for that question other than when it’s at its best, there’s nothing like it. Unfortunately when it’s at its worst it’s the same way, and for the better part of the last 10 to 12 years it’s been at it’s worst far more than is reasonable or acceptable. I’m not sure what’s more sad, the fact that yet another man has died without seeing his 50th or in this case even his 40th birthday and it won’t change anything about wrestling, or the fact that in just a few short minutes I, along with millions of others, will turn on this week’s Smackdown and try my best to move on as the machine keeps running. I suppose it makes sense to keep on keeping on as life always goes on, but it would be nice if those who have the power to make these decisions would recognize that the machine is in need of some real lasting repairs and do all they can to make those changes happen. The human beings who have literally given their lives to it deserve nothing less. What they don’t deserve is what they’re going to get, a sham of a drug and medical screening program that gets cut off at the knees when doing the right thing messes up storylines or makes somebody important look bad, and a corporate public relations message reminding shareholders and potential advertisers that the most recent corpse is not currently under contract so he’s not our problem.
In closing, I’ll get down off of my soapbox and simply wish my best to the family and friends of Eddie Fatu, and say thank you for the years of memories he gave to me and to all of us. His death may not fix the sport, but his life most certainly made it better.