Dot Net Flashback: What new WWE arrival Jacob Fatu said about The Bloodline in 2023

By Colin McGuire, Staffer (@McGMondays)

Editor’s Note: The following McGuire’s Mondays blog originally ran on April 10, 2023.

There’s only really one rule in which I invest when it comes to writing about things: Show up.

If you just show up, who knows what can happen. Maybe you strike up a conversation with a new friend. Maybe you learn some things. Maybe you have fun. Maybe you don’t. Either way, you’re there. And being there, oftentimes, is far more than half the battle.

And so it went on Saturday when I traveled to Philadelphia to cover the MLW television taping that included, among other things, the final of the Opera Cup and this year’s installment of Battle Riot (no spoilers ahead). One fun thing MLW does for the media that covers it is hold pre-show media scrums. They’ll grab a few wrestlers before doors open to the general public and those wrestlers are made available for interviews, photo ops and whatever else members of the media might be looking for.

In past events, it’s been crowded. People who appear to be significantly younger than I bring video cameras and microphones and set up shop for an interaction that typically lasts no more than 10 minutes (yes, a lot of it feels rushed). I typically show up to these things with a notepad because I’m a curmudgeon. Plus, I may be a lot of things (most of them unflattering), but one is not a “content creator.” I have no brand. I will not beg for YouTube subscribers. I’m just a grouchy, old newspaper person who likes pro wrestling.

That’s all to say, those scrums have meant little to me in the past. Nobody’s breaking news and, all told, I’ve seen way too many media members become way too cozy with the talent for my liking. It’s fine. I understand the waltz everyone is dancing. It’s just not for me. But something happened on Saturday that’s never happened before. Everyone violated my only rule. Nobody showed up.

Or, well, to the best of my knowledge, one other media outlet did, but that was it. Talking with the media liaison for the event, he told me that a lot of people canceled at the last minute for a variety of reasons. That left only me and a triage of three other guys all working for another outlet to be around for the pre-show scrum. After spending a few minutes with Akira, who explained how he wants to essentially wrestle all of Japan, we were told only one more wrestler would be available before doors opened. That wrestler?

Jacob Fatu.

Anyone who’s read these columns in the past knows how much I revere Fatu. In fact, it started at one of these media scrums a long time ago. Where other wrestlers came fully prepared to speak in a character, Fatu is no character. He’s Jacob Fatu. He’s happy to talk about anything you want to talk about. He won’t go on about winning championships or feuding with Raven’s group of misfits. He’ll just talk to you as Jacob Fatu. Because, again, he’s Jacob Fatu.

The thing about Saturday was … well, there really wasn’t anyone around for him to talk to except for me. And so, him being one of the very, very few pro wrestlers I’ve always wanted to speak with, I obliged.

“Leave wrestling in the ring,” he started out when asked about the importance of family. “Treat people good. The cats setting up the ring, doing all that, I appreciate them so much. I mean, I appreciate the boys in the back, too, but you gotta treat people good because you never know who you’re gonna see on the way coming down. Leave the character out there. I’m a proud father of seven children, so that switch has to get turned off. When it’s time to be Dad, it’s time to be Dad.”

The seven children thing was something about which I’ve long wanted to ask him. If The Internet is to be believed (and really, The Internet never lies), Fatu is only 30 years old (and we even share a birthday!). How could he balance such a big, growing family with being out on the road, wrestling for a living? It has to be tough being away, right?

“You know what it is? It’s my wife,” Fatu told me. “She’s the backbone of everything. This ain’t no character; I’ve always said this. We gonna talk about the backbone, we gonna talk about my wife. She does the stuff that I can’t do. My family is great. I love them. But I’m just a small part of the family. Professional wrestling has really saved my life – it saved our lives. I grew up not knowing what I was growing up in. This just happened to me. I didn’t grow up wanting to be a wrestler, but I’m glad all this happened. Now I understand the sacrifices my uncle and my father did to make a living and to make a better life. It’s very hard. It’s difficult to be away, but my wife takes care of the back end.”

Then he stopped.

“Shout out to my wife right now,” he added with a chuckle. “You’re getting me a lot of points right now. That was a good question.”

It was then that Fatu instantly backed his words up as he caught his cousin Lance Anoa’i enter the room. It wasn’t long after that when Juicy Finau appeared and the current iteration of the Samoan Swat Team stood by their cousin. It was like a not-so-mini version of WWE’s Bloodline (for however big you think Juicy looks on television, multiply that by infinity that that’s what you get when you stand next to him).

Speaking of The Bloodline, it would have been downright wrong to not ask those guys about how they view what their extended family is doing on WWE television these days. With Roman Reigns, the Usos and Solo Sikoa dominating the tippy top of the most successful professional wrestling company’s cards, I wondered if Fatu, Lance, and Juicy had any thoughts surrounding the story. Juicy was quick to respond before his brethren could even chime in.

“It’s crazy,” Juicy said. “I think it’s great. When I was younger I didn’t see a lot of people like me on TV until I saw Rikishi and The Rock. When I saw that, it got in my head, like, ‘I think I can do that, too.’ Now, it’s reversed. Little kids see them and think, ‘Damn, football isn’t the only way.’ For the Polynesian community, you can either work here and take care of your family or play ball and take care of your family. Being able to see other brown faces up there on the big stage, just me as a fan, it’s crazy to see because they’re on top of the world.”

“You ask me as a fan, oh yeah, I feel that,” Fatu added. “That Jey, that Solo, that Jimmy. Come on, man. Who doesn’t feel that? I’m a different worker. I do all that bam-bam-bam, but man, they’re making us feel that emotion, telling that story. The crazy thing is that shit is real. We really respect big bro. Roman says, “Go,” we going. What Joe (Roman) said during the press conference about how they have a chokehold on this shit right now … I feel that because I know what they’ve been through and I know where they come from.

“You gotta remember,” Fatu continued, “AEW, that’s my people. Love. Impact. Love. MLW. Love. ECW. Love. It’s love everywhere. Don’t get it twisted. We ain’t here to pick and choose. But that shit that they’re doing is another monster over there. Overall, I’m just playing my part, but I’m enjoying every minute. At the end of the day, I’m like this.”

As he said that, he smiled and threw up the No. 1 sign we see from his family so often on WWE television these days. He stopped short of saying he was hoping to get to the WWE soon to join his family on that big stage, but at the end of the day, I got the impression that it didn’t really matter. After everything Jacob Fatu has been through in his life – legend has it, he saw the Usos perform on television while he was in jail for robbery and that was enough to get him to turn his life around – you tend to believe Fatu when he talks about being happy, content, a family man. When he says he roots for all other wrestling companies, he’s not being a diplomat; he’s being honest.

And honesty is a hard thing to come by in all parts of life, both in and outside of pro wrestling. Fatu bleeds it. His authenticity is infectious and it’s something so easy to root for, you can’t help but smile every few minutes as the conversation unfolds. He’ll talk about the end of the second night of WrestleMania and how angry fans were that Cody Rhodes didn’t beat Roman Reigns with a knowing grin. He’ll make sure all the questions you want to ask will be answered and he’ll stand as long as it takes to answer them. He’ll flippantly reference the possibility of him one day leaving MLW with grace.

“I leave it in God’s hands,” he’ll say. “I ended up here because I left it in God’s hands and that’s what I’m going to continue to keep doing.”

He’s a guy who’s lived a lot more than his 30 years on this planet and he’s wiser for it. Rooting for Jacob Fatu isn’t unlike rooting for the man his cousin stood across from at WrestleMania a few weeks ago, Cody Rhodes. These guys are underdogs because of the decisions they’ve made in their lives – some for the best; some, maybe not. Either way, it’s hard not to have an instinctual, subconscious desire to see them succeed, if only because succeeding isn’t promised to them in the ways it may have been promised to others. There’s turning your life around and then there’s making sure it stays turned. Jacob Fatu has done both and for that, he deserves an index finger in the air for himself.

As for me, it turns out I may have to expand my one rule and add a second mantra to the showing up mandate. That addition? Consider having a social media account the next time I get a chance to spend time with a pro wrestler.

“Hey man,” Fatu said as we shook hands before he headed backstage. “Make sure to tag me when you write whatever you write. I want to see it.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him the social media world isn’t for me. Instead, I smiled and said we’ll see what we can do. He smiled back, like a Samoan Santa Claus, before turning to walk away.

“Just remember. Treat people good,” he said, his voice trailing off. “Treat people good.”


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