Former WWE Superstar Umaga almost made a triumphant return to the company in the 2010 Royal Rumble.
The former Intercontinental Champion was fired from the WWE in 2009, following his refusal to attend rehab after multiple failed drug tests.
He wrestled his last match in WWE at Extreme Rules 2009, where Umaga lost to CM Punk in a “Samoan Strap” match.
After his release, Umaga was snapped up by Hulk Hogan for his Hulkamania Tour – an all-star wrestling show that toured around Australia in late 2009.
This was the first time Hogan had wrestled in Australia, and as such wanted to make a big splash by bringing in former WWE stars, such as Mr Kennedy and Umaga.
Hulk Hogan even tried to sign Umaga (real name Eddie Fatu) to a contract in TNA. Hogan had recently imposed himself upon the promotion, hiring a number of his friends and irreversibly damaging the company from the inside out.
Sadly for Hogan and the TNA fans, Umaga turned down the chance of a contract for the promotion.
Despite being fired due to drug issues less than a year prior, Umaga had already agreed a deal to make a Royal Rumble return to the company.
WWE had offered him a deal prior to the tour of Australia, hoping to stop Hogan’s Hulkamania Tour before it even began.
He [Umaga] had reached an agreement to return to the company [WWE] shortly before his death, and the chance to return came when the WWE was attempting to sabotage this Hulk Hogan tour of australiaDave Meltzer on Umaga’s WWE return in 2010.
However, Umaga honored his booking with Hogan and wrestled on the tour, culminating in a match with Mr Kennedy in Sydney.
Umaga would have then made his return to the WWE, making a shock return in the 2010 Royal Rumble match (which was won by Edge that year).
Sadly, Umaga passed away before he could come home to the WWE.
Just one week after his match with Mr Kennedy, Umaga was found in his home unresponsive and with blood coming from his nose. He was rushed to hospital, but died later that day after multiple heart attacks. He was only 36 years old.
He died from a combination of acute toxicity, heart disease, and a failed liver. The acute toxicity, it turns out, was from hydrocodone (a painkiller), carisoprodol (a muscle relaxer), and diazepam (an anxiety medication).
The autopsy also showed that he had heart disease (hypertensive cardiovascular disease) and a failed liver.
Due to this, he could not return to the WWE in January 2010.
Despite WWE agreeing to bring Umaga back to the company, they outright refused to acknowledge his death on WWE TV.
While he was not working for the company at the time of his death, the company has been known to create tributes to wrestlers who pass away, even when not employed by the company (Brodie Lee being a noted example).
Despite this lack of acknowledgement, Umaga has been honored in many ways on TV, most notably by his family members in The Bloodline.
The Usos have taken a number of his moves (including the Samoan Drop and corner hip attack) to pay tribute to their uncle.
Solo Sikoa, the brother of the twins, paints his face like Umaga, whilst also using the Samoan Spike finishing move to great effect.
WWE also added Umaga in their recent video games (WWE 2K22 and 2K23), finally paying homage to the former Intercontinental Champion.
Would you have liked to see Umaga return to the WWE in 2010? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.