Jey Uso has discussed the legacy Samoans have made in the professional wrestling business going back to Peter Maivia up until now where Uso sits at the right hand of ‘The Tribal Chief’ Roman Reigns.
Uso is part of the legendary Anoa’i family that extends to include the likes of Rikishi, Rosey, Yokozuna, and The Rock. For decades the family has been part of the wrestling business and members of the family have been prominently featured in WWE.
Speaking to Yahoo Sports, Uso discussed the legacy his family has in the business, beginning with what wrestling means to Samoans.
Jey Uso began:
“I think the Samoan people have made wrestling. Pro wrestling is right down our alley, we’re just physical people, strong, quick. I feel like we were just made to do this. Being a part of it now and seeing all of the blood that has been laid before me, the whole family tree, it’s very humbling and I’m so proud I am part of this.”
“As I’m a part of the business now and as a man, you see Peter Maivia rocking the traditional Samoan tattoo, known as the Pe’a, right there, my mind is already blown because at that time they probably looked at him like he was crazy. That was telling me that he wasn’t afraid to show people who he was. The heritage, being proud of who he was. The tattoos, that’s our thing, we wear the markings on the skin to show the world who we are, what we are and how we are.”
As times changed, the presentation of Samoan wrestlers changed with it. A prime example of that is Uso’s father Rikishi who started out portraying outdated stereotypes before making his mark with Too Cool in the Attitude Era.
“The cool thing is that my dad was part of those stereotypes when he was with the Headshrinkers. When my dad gets with Too Cool and dyes his hair blonde, now he’s adding layers to his character. Now he starts dancing, now he’s got these hip-hop guys with him. That was a feel-good moment. Same thing with The Rock. He was so witty and when he started cutting those promos, the way he talked and looked, you wanted to be around him.”
“These guys gave off great energy and that’s what Samoan people are, period. We’re happy people. We’re very, very family-oriented. I think that’s what resonated with people and it started to bleed through the screen, to the point where people started to realize that these were fun, cool dudes.”
As far as the style of Samoan wrestlers goes, Uso says they can do it all but there’s one move that is sacred:
“I think our style is really in our blood. Hard-hitting, real gritty. We can jump off ropes, we can stay on the ground, we can be powerful, we can do it all. I feel like me and my brother are the lightest Samoans ever. I like to keep it original, but there’s of course the Samoan Drop.”
“That move has been handed down generation to generation and I like that. No one is taking that from us. That’s a special move. You can do a Superkick, everyone does the Superkick, but it used to be called the Savate kick back in the day when the Samoans were hitting it. There’s the splash, the Superfly Splash or the Samoan Splash, people use that too, but that Samoan Drop, that’s in the vault.”
Jey Uso then talked about his cousin, WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. Uso had previously challenged a changed Reigns for the title but eventually came round to his way of thinking and now acts as his right-hand man.
“My cousin is on the way to greatness right now. I’m so proud of him as Joe. He’s killing the game. I’m so happy we’re on this roller coaster together. You know how when you grow up, you probably had little cousins that you were rocking with every single day and then life hits you and you’re separated. Before you realize it, it’s two or three years before you see each other. I’m grateful that I’m still there with them. I get to go to work with them every week, I still see them every single week. I like that part, it’s like we’re still kids in our mind. It’s a blessing to me.”
In what has been a male-dominated world, the female side of the family is now having an impact in WWE in the form of both Nia Jax and Tamina.
For Jey Uso, the two women are a big inspiration:
“They’re the first Polynesian women doing pro wrestling at this level. We’re so used to the men. I hope they do know the impact they have. I hope they know how many little girls on that island, who look like them, are being inspired. They’re not petit, but they are in shape. Samoans we don’t always have six-packs and stuff, but we have that power.”
As for the future, Jey Uso says that the legacy of Samoan wrestling and the Anoa’i family is expected to continue in the years to come:
“We have so many cousins. The wrestling world has no idea how deep we really are. I know they think we’re deep now, but ten years from now we’re going to be talking about our children being WWE champions.”