While Rikishi may be more well known to newer WWE fans as the father to Jimmy and Jey Uso he was a huge star in his own right during the often revered Attitude Era.
Rikishi actually entered the then WWF in 1992 as Fatu, one half of the Headshrinkers, a role he played with reasonable success until 1995. After the short lived ‘Make A Difference’ Fatu and the slightly more successful ‘Sultan’ the hugely athletic big man saw his popularity soar with the creation of the ‘Rikishi’ character.
In a recent interview with Chris Van Vliet, Rikishi discussed the origins of his most famous role, and how he was initially hesitant assume the character. The former Intercontinental Champion had been coming to end of his deal as The Sultan and was weighing up what to do next.
“We [me and Vince] had that meeting and away we went. He came up with the idea of wanting to do a Sumo. As soon as he said that, I thought of my cousin Yokozuna. I didn’t want to do a sumo character because my cousin had already done it. Then Vince was like “Yours will be different. I want you to show your butt with the shoot sumo gear.” When he said that I said “So you mean everything showing the whole thing [my ass] on TV?” He said yes, the real thing. I’m 90 days out from this Sultan contract. I’m thinking first about my kids, I didn’t want them other kids to start ribbing my kids. So I took the drawing home and said I would get back to you [Vince].”
The man who famously ‘did it for The Rock’ went on to detail how he knew that the character and new attire would draw negative comments from fans and even fellow wrestlers, but he was determined to make it work.
Following the transformation, Rikishi enjoyed a hugely popular run as a fan favourite until turning heel late in the year 2000, becoming involved in the ‘Who ran down Stone Cold’ storyline. This would eventually lead to him competing in the first ever six-man Hell In A Cell match at Armageddon in December of that year.
During the match Rikishi was famously pushed from the top of the cell by The Undertaker, recalling the spot he described being “Full of anxiety” in the moment.
Rikishi would leave WWE in 2004, although he has returned to make one off appearances on numerous occasions. The former member of Too Cool was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame in 2015.