Haku (wrestler)

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Haku
TongaFifita.jpg
Birth name Tonga 'Uli'uli Fifita
Born (1959-02-03) 3 February 1959 (age 59)[1]
Nukuʻalofa,
Kingdom of Tonga[1]
Residence Kissimmee, Florida, United States[1]
Spouse(s)
Dorothy Koloamatangi (m. 1977)
Children 4 including;
Tanga Loa, Tama Tonga and Hikuleo
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Haku[1]
King Haku[1]
King Tonga[1]
Meng[1]
Prince Tonga[1]
Tama Tonga[2]
Tonga Fifita[1]
Billed height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[1]
Billed weight 290 lb (130 kg)[1]
Billed from Tonga
Trained by Giant Baba[1]
Debut 1978[1]

Tonga 'Uli'uli Fifita (born 10 February 1959) is a Tongan semi-retired professional wrestler, best known for his appearances in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) as Haku.[1] He is also known for his time in World Championship Wrestling (WCW), where he wrestled under the name Meng. In the WWF, he also wrestled under the names King Tonga and King Haku.

Sumo wrestling career

Growing up on the main island of the South Pacific island-kingdom of Tonga, Fifita attended Tonga College where he played rugby union. At the age of 15, he was part of a group of six teenagers and young men sent by the King of Tonga to Japan to study Sumo. Sione Vailahi, who would later become better known as pro-wrestler "The Barbarian", was also a part of this group. After moving to Japan in 1974, he competed under the shikona (sumo name) of Fukunoshima (福ノ島). He made his debut in November 1974 and reached the rank of Makushita 27. However, in 1975 the stablemaster who recruited him died, and he and the other five Tongan wrestlers got entangled in a dispute with his successor, which led to him being forced to retire by the Japan Sumo Association in 1976.[3]

Professional wrestling career

Early career (1978-1986)

Under the guidance of two other former sumotori who had turned to puroresu, Genichiro Tenryu and Takashi Ishikawa, he joined their home promotion, All Japan Pro Wrestling. Early in his career, he also refereed matches in the Amarillo territory. Nevertheless, this merely served as a springboard for him to wrestle all over the world.

In the early 1980s, Fifita, taking the name King Tonga, wrestled in Canada for Frank Valois' International Wrestling promotion based in Montreal. The heel Tonga was managed by former wrestler Tarzan "The Boot" Tyler. Tonga feuded with the top stars of the promotion, including Dino Bravo. A face turn appeared to be in the offing, as Tonga interfered in a tag match, attacking Road Warrior Animal and Paul Ellering during a bout with Jos LeDuc and Jacques Rougeau, Jr. A miscommunication in another tag match with partner Butch Reed led to Reed and Tyler attacking Tonga. He worked in Puerto Rico for the World Wrestling Council where he feuded with Invader 1 and won many titles such as the WWC North American Tag Team Championship with El Gran Apolo, The WWC World Tag Team Championship with Hercules Hernandez and the WWC Puerto Rico Heavyweight Championship. Tonga formed a team with his until-then rival Dino Bravo, and the two became successful, including a win over The Road Warriors at the Montreal Forum.

World Wrestling Federation (1986-1992)

The Islanders (1986–1988)

In 1986, King Tonga, in his rookie year in the World Wrestling Federation, became a star by bodyslamming Big John Studd on Championship Wrestling, though predictably Studd's manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan didn't pay him the US$15,000 he promised to anyone who could do so. He made a name for himself as Haku in the WWF as half of "The Islanders" with Tama. Originally a fan-favorite team, The Islanders had mixed success, though they did win a $50,000 tag team Battle Royal at Madison Square Garden in October 1986.[4] They turned heel in 1987 during a match on the WWF Superstars of Wrestling with the Can-Am Connection (Tom Zenk and Rick Martel). Earlier in the show heel manager Bobby "The Brain" had announced he would have a new tag team that night and everyone thought he was going to introduce a new team to the WWF. Instead he showed up at ringside during the match where it became known his "new" team was in fact The Islanders. The team had a classic feud with the British Bulldogs that was started when the Islanders, along with Bobby Heenan, kidnapped the Bulldogs' mascot, a bulldog named Matilda. Their feud ended after a 6-man tag team match at Wrestlemania IV where The Islanders and Heenan (wearing an attack dog outfit) defeated the Bulldogs and Koko B. Ware when Heenan pinned Koko.

King's Crown and Colossal Connection (1988–1990)

In 1988, following King Harley Race's legitimate stomach injury sustained in a match against Hulk Hogan, Haku was given Race's crown and robe and was rechristened King Haku. He would cement his position as king by successfully defending his crown against the returning Race in a match at the 1989 Royal Rumble at The Summit in Houston. He would later lose the "crown" to Hacksaw Jim Duggan who himself was crowned as "King Duggan". Haku would later go on to form the tag team known as The Colossal Connection with André the Giant and win the WWF Tag Team Championship from Demolition on the edition of 30 December of Superstars (taped on 13 December).[5] Haku and André lost the titles at WrestleMania VI, when Demolition defeated the Colossal Connection to regain the titles. Haku never legally tagged Andre into the match (due to André's poor health). Late in the match André attempted to interfere, but Haku accidentally struck him with a savate kick which left André tied in the ropes; Haku was pinned shortly after this. The team's manager, Bobby Heenan, blamed André for the loss and even slapped the Giant, who retaliated by "paint-brushing" Heenan. Haku tried to ambush André; however, The Giant blocked Haku's kick and struck him repeatedly before leaving the ring alone to a standing ovation. André's face turn meant that the team had split. Due to his poor health it would be the last ever match for André the Giant in the World Wrestling Federation (WWE) although he would go on to wrestle for several years afterwards in Japan.

Various feuds and departure (1990–1992)

Just after WrestleMania, Haku became the first wrestler to challenge the new WWF champion, The Ultimate Warrior, but he lost the match. He formed a tag team shortly after this with fellow Heenan family member The Barbarian. Their most notable match was a defeat in the opening match of WrestleMania VII against The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty).[6]

Shortly after competing in the Royal Rumble of 1992, Haku left the WWF.

Japan and Mexico (1992–1994)

Coming towards the end of Fifita's WWF career, he would wrestle under the name King Haku for Japanese promotion Super World of Sports. On 14 February 1992, Haku and Yoshiaki Yatsu became the first SWS Tag Team Champions. They lost the championship on 16 April when they lost them to George and Shunji Takano but would regain them on 18 April, holding them until 19 June when SWS closed. With SWS closing, King Haku wrestled for Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre in Mexico and New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Wrestle Association R in Japan, before finally joining World Championship Wrestling.

World Championship Wrestling (1994-2001)

Dungeon of Doom and Faces of Fear (1994–1998)

In WCW, (because the name Haku was trademarked by the WWF) Fifita wrestled as Meng. He was initially portrayed as the mysterious and intimidating bodyguard of Col. Rob Parker,[7] wearing business suits and shades while maintaining a quiet demeanor. His last night as a bodyguard was at SuperBrawl V when Hacksaw Jim Duggan wrestled Bunkhouse Buck; after the match, Meng attacked Duggan. Later in the event when Blacktop Bully was scheduled to wrestle Dustin Rhodes, WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel came out and escorted Meng back to the dressing room because of the attack on Duggan earlier in the show. The next week, Col. Parker announced that Meng will no longer be a bodyguard, but will be a wrestler from now on, winning his first match against a jobber with one fast high kick. Teaming with Kurasawa, he feuded against Sting and Road Warrior Hawk.[8]

Later, he faced Sting in a losing effort for the vacated United States title at the 1995 Great American Bash. Meng later joined the Dungeon of Doom forming a tag team named the Faces of Fear with his previous WWF tag team partner The Barbarian, with the pair being managed by another former WWF alumnus, Jimmy Hart. He was touted as being a former bodyguard to the Emperor of Japan. Meng's finishing maneuver was the feared Tongan Death Grip, a nerve grip on the Adam's apple applied to a standing victim who would drop into a supine position and experience the full effect of the hold.

Hardcore Champion (1997–2001)

Meng spent much of 1997 facing lower and mid-card performers before starting a small winning streak in the summer of 1998. This led to his main event WCW World Championship match with Bill Goldberg on the edition of 10 August of Monday Nitro. Goldberg, too, had an impressive winning streak. Goldberg won and retained his title that night and thus added another wrestler in his winning streak, making it 160–0. Prior to this, Meng had faced Goldberg (before he won the World Championship) on WCW Saturday Night and despite the loss had pushed Goldberg for longer than anyone had until that point. In the spring of 1999, when Ric Flair was the (kayfabe) president on WCW programming, the barbaric Meng would often annihilate Flair's enemies per his instructions. Later on, Meng had a short-lived feud with Sting and occasionally faced top stars like Lex Luger and WCW Champion Bret Hart. He also participated in matches for the newly introduced WCW Hardcore Championship toward the end of 1999. Meng finally won the title at the Sin pay-per-view on 14 January 2001. He became the final WCW Hardcore Champion.

Return to WWF (2001–2002)

Exactly one week after his WCW Hardcore Championship win at Sin, Fifita returned to the WWF as Haku and made a surprise appearance at the 2001 Royal Rumble. After the Rumble, he formed a tag team with Rikishi, but the team did not last long due to Rikishi's injury. Haku was left to wrestle on the lower card shows like Sunday Night Heat. He was eventually released from WWF, his final opponent being Shawn Stasiak on a WWF Jakked taping in Buffalo, New York on 23 July 2001. He would return to WWF house shows for a few months in the beginning of 2002.

Independent circuit (2000–present)

Fifita, under the name Meng, wrestled for World League Wrestling winning the WLW Heavyweight Championship on two occasions in 2000. He would return in 2003 to win the championship for the third time. Since 2003, Fifita has been essentially retired, returning to the wrestling ring on a few occasions over the years. In 2009, as King Haku, he would wrestle regularly for World Xtreme Wrestling where he won the WXW Hardcore Championship twice. He would return to semi retirement after his stint. Meng appeared at Chikara's King of Trios 2012 tournament, held on 14–16 September in Easton, Pennsylvania, teaming with The Barbarian and The Warlord under the team name the Faces of Pain. On 14 September, the team was eliminated from the tournament in the first round by Team ROH (Mike Bennett and Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson).[9][10]

New Japan Pro-Wrestling (2016–present)

On 4 January 2016, Fifita, as King Haku, made a surprise return to New Japan Pro-Wrestling, taking part in the New Japan Rumble on the Wrestle Kingdom 10 pre-show. During the appearance he represented his son Tama Tonga's Bullet Club stable. He was eliminated from the match after submitting to Hiroyoshi Tenzan.[11] The following day, Haku teamed with his son and fellow Bullet Club members Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson and Yujiro Takahashi in a ten-man tag team match, where they defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Kushida, Satoshi Kojima, Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma.[12] Haku next appeared at NJPW's G1 Special in USA on 2 July 2017, alongside his sons.[13]

Haku, once again representing Bullet Club, returned at the G1 Special in San Francisco. He, alongside Tama Tonga, Tanga Roa, Yujiro Takahashi and Chase Owens defeated Chaos members Yoshi-Hashi, Gedo, Rocky Romero, Yoh and Sho, after making Gedo submit to the Tongan Death Grip. Later that night, Haku appeared with Tama Tonga and Tanga Roa after Kenny Omega successfully defended the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Cody. They initially congratulated Omega, but suddenly turned and attacked Omega and the Young Bucks as they were celebrating on the ramp while wearing T-shirts referring to themselves as the "BC Firing Squad". After dragging Omega and the Young Bucks back to the ring to attack them further, fellow Bullet Club members Hangman Page, Marty Scurll, Yujiro Takahashi, and Chase Owens all attempted to come to The Elite's defense, but were summarily beaten down. The Firing Squad attempted to make peace with Cody, but Cody refused, and was also attacked. Haku then delivered a piledriver to Omega onto a steel chair, leaving the Firing Squad standing tall at the end as they declared themselves to be the real Bullet Club.

Personal life

Haku is married to Dorothy Koloamatangi. They have a daughter, Vika; a son, Tevita who is also a wrestler; and two adopted sons, Alipate and Taula. His son Tevita played football as a defensive end for the University of Texas at El Paso and was on the WWE roster from 2009 until 2014, as Camacho, and was also known as Micah in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. Tevita and Alipate currently wrestle as Tanga Loa and Tama Tonga in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Haku's youngest son Taula[14] made his professional wrestling debut in November 2016. He worked under the ring name HikuLe'o[15] and later, Leo Tonga.[16] Among Haku's cousins are former New England Patriots defensive tackle Steve Fifita[17] and Australian Wallabies rugby international player Tatafu Polota-Nau. Haku made a cameo appearance in the 1978 Sylvester Stallone movie Paradise Alley along with many other professional wrestlers.[18] Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is his nephew.[19] He is fluent in English, Tongan, and Japanese.

Professional wrestling legacy

Many former wrestling personailities have described Haku as the toughest or greatest legitimate fighter in wrestling, including Stone Cold Steve Austin,[20] Road Warrior Animal,[21] Perry Saturn,[22][23] Barbarian and Warlord,[24] Hulk Hogan,[25] Rocky Johnson,[26] The Rock,[19] Rick Steiner,[27] Arn Anderson,[28] and Hillbilly Jim.[29]

On 3 March 1989, Haku got into an altercation with some men at the Baltimore Airport bar who called wrestling "fake", and during the fight, Haku bit off the nose of one of the men. Haku stated, "Yeah. It was in Baltimore Airport...me and Siva Afi went over and there were lots of babyfaces there at the bar. So we went and sat in the other corner away from them. When they were ready to close, we had a few drinks, and on our way out there were five guys just sitting there. Of course, the same thing came out. The 'fake' stuff. 'Hey, are you guys with those guys – wrestlers? The fake wrestlers on TV?' You know. I said, 'Yeah. I'll show you.' And I reached over without thinking – there are four other guys there (laughs) – grabbed his face, and bit his nose off. Then the fight started. Me and Siva kind of cleaned house there and left. I'll never forget it."[30]

In a shoot interview Bobby Heenan talked extensively about Meng and referred to him as the toughest man he has ever met. The most extreme story he shared was in regards to a bar fight in which he claimed Meng "took his two fingers on his right hand, his index finger and trigger finger, and he reached into the guy's mouth and he broke off the guy's bottom teeth." Heenan said that if he hadn't been there and seen it himself, he wouldn't believe it. Heenan was also close friends with Andre the Giant and claimed that the only two men in the world that Andre feared were Meng and Harley Race.[31] Heenan also praised Haku as a good-hearted family man, who wanted nothing more than to feed his family.

Kevin Sullivan told a story to WWE Classics about the time when he and Haku went to a tavern to grab a few beers before heading to their hotel. According to Sullivan, it was obvious that he and Meng weren't locals, so when they walked into the bar, a guy playing pool insulted Meng. "The next thing I know is that Meng goozles the guy like Mr. Spock," Sullivan said. "It was fast and furious. He then grabbed another guy who tried to get involved and knocked him unconscious." After that, things got even crazier. "Meng bit through the guy's shirt like a wolf, bit a chunk out of the guy's back, then spit it on the floor," he said. "I said, 'It's time to go.'" Sullivan said that as they drove from the bar he saw police cars pulling into the parking lot, but authorities didn't pursue them and no charges were ever filed.[32]

Wrestler Shane Douglas said in a shoot interview that one would be better off fighting the US Army than fighting Haku. He spoke about an incident when he witnessed several cops trying to hold Haku down and one of them struck Haku with a baton on his face while the others emptied their cans of mace on him but nothing seemed to faze Haku.[33]

Championships and accomplishments

Media

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Haku profile". OWOW. Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  2. ^ The Honolulu Advertiser. “WRESTLING! TOMORROW NIGHT BLOCK ARENA.” The Honolulu Advertiser, 1 July 1980, p. 41.
  3. ^ Sharnoff, Lora (1993). Grand Sumo. Weatherhill. p. 168. ISBN 0-8348-0283-X.
  4. ^ Cawthon, Graham (2013). The History of Professional Wrestling: The Results WWF 1963–1989. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. p. 599. ISBN 978-1-4928-2597-5.
  5. ^ Cawthon, Graham (2013). The History of Professional Wrestling: The Results WWF 1963–1989. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. p. 800. ISBN 978-1-4928-2597-5.
  6. ^ Shields, Brian; Sullivan, Kevin (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. DK. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0.
  7. ^ "Stud Stable". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 8 September 2009.
  8. ^ World Championship Wrestling (1995-08-06). "Sting & Road Warrior Hawk vs Mong & Kurasawa /w Col. Robert Parker". WCW Clash of the Champions XXXI.
  9. ^ "Past results". Chikara. Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2012.
  10. ^ Namako, Jason (15 September 2012). "9/14 Chikara "King of Trios: Night 1" Results: Easton, PA". WrestleView. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  11. ^ Meltzer, Dave (3 January 2016). "Wrestle Kingdom 10 live results: Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  12. ^ Radican, Sean (6 January 2016). "1/5 NJPW "New Year's Dash" – Radican's Report on huge post-Tokyo Dome show". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  13. ^ Fontaine, Paul; Currier, Joseph (2 July 2017). "NJPW G1 Special live results: The first IWGP US Champion is crowned". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  14. ^ "Guerrillas of Destiny, big in Japan, look for even more success". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  15. ^ "Update on availability of New Japan New Zealand iPPV". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  16. ^ Rose, Bryan. "Kenny Omega injures knee, still set for Kobe Destruction show". Wrestling Observer Figure Four Online. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  17. ^ "Steve Fifita article at EnterpriseNews.com". Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  18. ^ "Full cast and crew for Paradise Alley (1978)". IMDb. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  19. ^ a b Jimmy Kimmel on 1 April 2015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FMdnXrkFY4
  20. ^ Cause Stone Cold Said So (22 April 2017). "Stone Cold Steve Austin on the TOUGHEST Guys in Wrestling" – via YouTube.
  21. ^ prowrestlingclips3 (4 October 2016). "Road Warrior Animal Shoots on Haku and Toughest Guys in Wrestling" – via YouTube.
  22. ^ "WrestlingClassics.com Message Board: Meng's reputation for toughness". wrestlingclassics.com.
  23. ^ Pro Wrestling Clips (19 July 2014). "Perry Saturn on Haku / Meng" – via YouTube.
  24. ^ Wrestling Shoots (11 January 2017). "Powers of Pain shoot on Haku, Road Warriors, Nasty Boys & Demolition" – via YouTube.
  25. ^ AXS TV Fights (6 June 2011). "Unaired Voice vs Hulk Hogan - The Most Badass Guys Out of th" – via YouTube.
  26. ^ THE HANNIBAL TV (17 November 2017). "Rocky Johnson on Haku" – via YouTube.
  27. ^ THE HANNIBAL TV (13 November 2016). "Rick Steiner on Haku (aka Meng & King Tonga)" – via YouTube.
  28. ^ "Arn Anderson chat transcript". www.solie.org.
  29. ^ Wrestling Shoots (22 December 2016). "Hillbilly Jim shoots on Haku, Jake Roberts, Iron Sheik and King Kong Bundy" – via YouTube.
  30. ^ "Former WWE wrestler Haku admits he bit the nose off a man who called pro wrestling fake". www.prowrestling.net.
  31. ^ "Meng: Stories of the Scariest Man in the History of Wrestling - Mandatory". 19 February 2014.
  32. ^ "The most badass wrestler stories ever told".
  33. ^ Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling (19 June 2017). "Shane Douglas On Haku: The Myth, The Truth And Watching The Mayhem" – via YouTube.
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  35. ^ "NWA Hawaii Heavyweight Championship History at Wrestling-Titles.com". Retrieved 7 October 2007.
  36. ^ "Misc. All Japan Events". www.prowrestlinghistory.com.
  37. ^ Hoops, Brian (11 February 2017). "On this day in pro wrestling history (Feb 11): AJ Styles wins the IWGP TItle". Wrestling Observer Figure Four Online. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
  38. ^ "North Carolina Wrestling Association". www.facebook.com.
  39. ^ "NWA Mid-America Six-Man Tag Team Championship History at Wrestling Information Archive". Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2007.
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  44. ^ 東京スポーツ プロレス大賞. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). Retrieved 20 January 2014.
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  50. ^ "WWC North American Tag Team Championship History at Wrestling-Titles.com". Retrieved 7 October 2007.
  51. ^ "WWC Puerto Rican Heavyweight Championship History at Wrestling Information Archive". Archived from the original on 8 June 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2007.
  52. ^ "WWC Puerto Rican Heavyweight Championship History at Wrestling-Titles.com". Retrieved 7 October 2007.
  53. ^ "WWC World Tag Team Championship History at Wrestling Information Archive". Archived from the original on 8 June 2009. Retrieved 7 October 2007.
  54. ^ "WWC World Tag Team Championship History at Wrestling-Titles.com". Retrieved 7 October 2007.
  55. ^ "WWF/WWE World Tag Team Championship History at Wrestling Information Archive". Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 7 October 2007.
  56. ^ "WWF/WWE World Tag Team Championship History at Wrestling-Titles.com". Retrieved 7 October 2007.

External links

  • Tonga Fifita on IMDb
  • Haku on WWE.com
  • Haku at the official Chikara website
  • Biography of Haku
  • TV.com summary
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