Under one guise or another, Solofa Fatu Jr. had a 12 year stint with the WWE that helped earn him a place in the Hall of Fame. Not every gimmick he portrayed was a success and it’s his “Make a Difference” Fatu character that is under the microscope in this latest ‘Well That Didn’t Work.
Solofa Fatu Jr. first appeared on WWE screens in 1993 as Fatu, one half of The Headshrinkers, alongside Samu, under the tutelage of Afa. It was a typically stereotypical portrayal of Samoan wrestlers with shots to the head having limited, or no, impact.
Still, such simplicity mattered not a jot at the time and the pair would win the tag gold after turning face, dumping Afa and taking on Lou Albano as their manager. Their title reign lasted until the night before SummerSlam 1994 – where they were supposed to face the pairing of Bam Bam Bigelow and IRS – when Shawn Michaels and Diesels won the gold.
Samu left soon after and was replaced by Sione – formerly of The Barbarian fame – but the new version of The Headshrinkers, creatively named The New Headshrinkers, didn’t achieve the same level of fame and soon split up.
In 1995, Fatu was repackaged as a singles wrestler with his savage gimmick ditched and him now speaking fluent English and hailing from San Francisco. It was supposed to be a more realistic gimmick but while that meant edgy even just a few years later, this was 1995 and the WWF was looking more out of touch than ever.
In place of edgy was Fatu taking about his real life growing up and a desire to help the community. His catchphrase of wanting to “make a difference” resulted in the unofficial moniker of ‘Make a Difference Fatu’.
Amongst the blandness, two men soon began appearing the audience whenever Fatu was in the ring: his former Headshrinker teammate Samu – although it was never mentioned on screen – and his brother, Lloyd Anoaʻi, with the pair known as “The Samoan Gangster Party”. However, neither man appeared in the ring or even confronted Fatu and that gimmick, and Fatu’s “Make a Difference” one, was soon dropped.
It’s probably easy to chalk up the failure of this one on Solofa Fatu Junior’s many gimmicks to it coming in 1995 when very little clicked. But is there more to that? Sure, both WWF and WCW were on their knees and in desperate need for a change.
That change would come for both the year later with the emergency of Stone Cold Steve Austin and formation of the nWo respectively. But here we are some 12 months earlier and the powers that be at the WWF thought a good babyface would be one that talked about helping their community. It was a poor pastiche of a face that did nothing for Fatu to the extent that he was soon cast as The Sultan and put under a mask and under the management of The Iron Sheik and Bob Backlund – another gimmick of his that didn’t work and maybe one for another time.
You can read all previous ‘Well That Didn’t Work’ pieces here.