The Anoa’i family has long been one of the most well-respected families in professional wrestling. For decades now, the Samoan dynasty has found success in a number of promotions all over the world, obviously including WWE, where Roman Reigns (born Leati Anoa’i) is currently one of the top draws for Vince McMahon, as are Reigns’ cousins, The Usos and Nia Jax.
Roman Reigns’ father, Sika, was one of the first members of the family to become a star in WWE as one half of The Wild Samoans, the tag team also featuring his brother, Afa, that won the WWE tag titles on three separate occasions.
Other members of the famous family include former WWE champion Yokozuna, Hall of Famer Rikishi, and Umaga. Honorary members of the Anoa’i dynasty include Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, his father Rocky Johnson, and his grandfather “High Chief” Peter Maivia.
While perhaps not as well known as some of the other members of the family, Roman Reigns’ older brother by 15 years, Matthew, enjoyed a long career in the professional wrestling industry as well, including a four-year run in WWE as Rosey. Sadly, just as many other members of the Anoa’i family passed away far too soon, Rosey died at the young age of 47 in 2017.
Before becoming Rosey in WWE, Matthew Anoa’i found success in numerous promotions, including ECW
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After training alongside his cousin Eddie Fatu, who would later become Umaga in WWE, Matt Anoa’i debuted in his uncle Afa’s WXW promotion in Florida in 1995. He later began teaming with another cousin, Samu, as the Samoan Gangsta Party and actually made a few appearances in WWE in ’95 but never got in the ring.
In 1996, he spent time in Paul Heyman’s ECW and engaged in numerous high-profile feuds before returning to WXW in 1997, where he won the tag titles alongside yet another cousin, Lloyd Anoa’i, who used the ring name L.A. Smooth.
Over the next few years, Matt Anoa’i wrestled all over the world and won titles for a number of promotions before finally getting his big break as Rosey in WWE in 2002.
Rosey had a four-year run in WWE
In July 2002, Matt Anoa’i made his WWE debut alongside Umaga, then known as Jamal, as Rosey, one half of the highly underrated tag team, 3-Minute Warning, who initially served as enforcers for Eric Bischoff. The cousins became regular competitors in the tag division over the next year but never won the titles before Jamal was released in June 2003.
Later that year, Rosey was put into more of a comedic storyline alongside Hurricane Helms as a “Super Hero In Training.” You can put the acronym together there. The two teamed together for quite some time and won the World Tag Team Championship in May 2005, the same titles his father and uncle had won more than three decades earlier. The duo held the titles for 140 days before dropping them to Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade that September.
Helms would eventually turn on Rosey, causing the team to split up, and it was around this time that Eddie Fatu had been rehired by WWE. There was talk of a 3-Minute Warning reunion but Rosey was released from his contract in March 2006, at which point Fatu was repackaged as Umaga.
Matthew Anoa’i passed away in 2017 at the age of 47
Upon his release from WWE, Matt Anoa’i began competing for All Japan Pro Wrestling and remained with the promotion until 2007, at which point he made somewhat of a return to WWE. He wrestled dark matches using his real name and also competed in the company’s developmental territory at the time, OVW, teaming with Afa Jr. as the Sons of Samoa before again exiting the company.
He continued to work the independent scene as the years went by and eventually ended up running a promotion in Florida with his father called Epic Championship Wrestling.
In 2014, Anoa’i began suffering from heart complications and continued to have issues over the next few years. Tragically, just 10 days after his 47th birthday on April 17, 2017, Matthew Anoa’i passed away due to congestive heart failure.