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Family Means More Than Blood In The WWE: The Anoa'i Family's Epic Legacy, Explained
Current WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns comes from a long, storied line of wrestlers and WWE Superstars.
After decades of ruling the ring and entertaining the masses, the Anoa’i family’s legacy stands firm with WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns at the helm. For anyone who’s witnessed his rise to Superstardom, recently watched the "WWE: Evil" episode on Peacock detailing his career thus far, or tuned into the WWE even before Reigns’, well, reign, you know he comes from an epically long line of wrestling royalty that originates primarily in American Samoa.
For the uninitiated, we’re here to help explain this massive and historic wrestling family.
You see, Reigns (aka Joe Anoa’i) is the son of Leati Anoa’i, better known as Sika, one half of the famed Wild Samoans tag team alongside his brother, Arthur, aka Afa. The Wild Samoans were 21-time tag team champions across various federations and dominated in the National Wrestling Alliance and the World Wrestling Federation (which rebranded itself to WWE in 2002). The pair was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007 and Afa’s Wild Samoans Training Center, which he opened in the late 1970s, has trained legends such as Junkyard Dog and Batista.
It’s not just Reigns’ father and uncle, though, making up this family tree. No, it goes further back: His grandfather, Elder Reverend Amituana'i Anoa'i, and grandmother, Tovaleomanaia Leoso Ripley, had 11 children — seven sons, including Sika and Afa, and four daughters.
Sika, Afa, and two of their siblings, Anoa'i, Jr. and Tumua, would go on to have kids who worked in the ring. Reno Anoa'i (known as Black Pearl and Count of California) is Tumua’s son and Anoa’i, Jr. is the father of the late Rodney Anoa'i (known as Yokozuna). Afa’s three sons — Samuel (aka The Great Samu), Afa Jr. (aka Manu), and Lloyd (aka L.A. Smooth) — all went on to wrestle as well, as did Sika’s elder son Matt (aka Ro'Z and Matt E. Smalls), who was soon followed by his younger brother Reigns.
The High Chief & Beyond
However, the Anoa’i legacy doesn’t just consist of blood relatives. Amituana'i considered fellow wrestler Peter Maivia — a High Chief of the American Samoa Mālietoa lineage and known in the ring as The High Chief — his “blood brother.” Afa and Sika thought of Maivia as an uncle, and Maivia’s wife, Lia, is one of the first female wrestling promoters (she would promote Afa and Sika for a time). Maivia adopted Lia’s daughter, Ata, who would go on to marry wrestler Rocky Johnson. Johnson and Ata had one son, Dwayne, better known in the ring as The Rock, who wrestled in the WWE for eight years prior to shifting gears and launching his wildly successful acting career.
Additionally, the Anoa’i line has also spawned plenty of tag teams and stables: The Wild Samoans, of course, as well as the Samoan Gangstas (Matt and Samu Anoa'i), the Sons of Samoa (Afa, Jr. and Lloyd Anoa’i), The Usos (Jimmy and Jay Uso, sons of Solofa Fatu, aka Rikishi, who was trained by Afa and Sika), and The Bloodline (Roman Reigns and Jimmy and Jay Uso).
Amituana'i and Maivia’s legacies live on through their children, grandchildren, and even their great-grandchildren. Family doesn’t always mean blood, and no one knows that better than the Anoa’i family and their dedicated fans.
Catch Peacock's "WWE: Evil" every Tuesday night until May 5 on USA Network at 10 p.m. ET. You can stream all episodes on Peacock.