Whatever Happened to Prince Iaukea?

Brian Damage

Michael Laauli Hayner was trained by the Malenko family and made his professional debut in 1995. Hayner mainly worked on the Florida independents. He did some spot shows as enhancement talent for World Championship Wrestling in 1996. The WCW booker at the time was Kevin Sullivan and he was impressed with Hayner as both a talent in the ring and his professionalism outside of it. WCW would go on to sign Hayner to a contract.

Mike Hayner was given the ring name of ‘Prince Iaukea’ by Sullivan as a homage to ‘King Curtis Iaukea’ who was a good friend of Sullivan’s. Hayner made sure to call King Iaukea and get his blessing on the name which Curtis Iaukea did in fact do. As Prince Iaukea, he was given a strong initial push as he started a feud with Lord Steven Regal over the WCW world television title. Iaukea would defeat Regal to capture the TV title in February of 1997.

Prince Iaukea held the championship for a couple of months until dropping it to Ultimo Dragon. Iaukea would begin competing in WCW’s new cruiserweight division and wrestle the likes of Syxx, Chris Jericho and Ultimo Dragon. He also did a couple of tours of New Japan Pro Wrestling when WCW had a partnership with that promotion.

In 1999, Iaukea was repackaged under the name of ‘The Artist Formerly Known as Prince Iaukea’ or ‘The Artist’ for short. He was given a valet named Paisley aka Sharmell Sullivan and competed as a heel. All in all, it was a take on musician Prince as The Artist dressed in purple and copied mannerisms of Prince.

The Artist won a tournament to crown a new cruiserweight champion by defeating the likes of Kid Romeo, Kaz Hayashi and Lash LeRoux. The Artist was a two time cruiserweight champion. His final reign was cut short when Vince Russo stripped him and every title holder of the belts to reboot WCW. He was then involved in a feud with the new cruiserweight champ Chris Candido up until his release from the company in 2000.

So the question remains…whatever happened to Prince Iaukea? After wrestling on the independent circuit for a while usually teaming with his son Nick Primo….Hayner opened up his own wrestling school and promotion which had a Christian theme to it. He currently owns his own business and resides in Florida.

3 thoughts on “Whatever Happened to Prince Iaukea?

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