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The W - Pro Wrestling - RIP "Umaga" Edward Fatu: March 28, 1973 - December 4, 2009 (Page 2)
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The Game
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Since: 5.5.09

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#21 Posted on | Instant Rating: 1.60
This is indeed very sad news; Umaga (Eddie Fatu) was pretty good in the ring.

Some people could have cared-less for the whole Umaga gimmick but I think Eddie Fatu carried it pretty well and I was pretty impressed how well he could move for a big guy.

My sympathies are out to his family, relatives and to everyone else.
Amos Cochran
Lap cheong








Since: 28.8.09

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#22 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.57
Are people really taking issue with WWE distancing themselves from this, given the absolute storm of negative press - both fair and unfair - that they've endured in the past few years about this very problem? It's cold, but you've got a publicly-traded company and a woman running for the Senate hooked up to this. They're well within their rights to point out that the guy's not currently employed by them, given the ongoing penchant for pinning every wrestler death under the sun to Vince's lapel.

Regardless, this is horribly sad. The guy could have been a genuine main event monster, and was a joy to watch when given the right opponent. I hope the flight to Oz had nothing to do with it.
JustinShapiro
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Since: 12.12.01
From: Pittsburgh, PA

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#23 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.58
I'm sorry for their PR loss, but it's hard to get good damage control traction when you're so transparent that you come across like an evil Dickensian factory owner.
Amos Cochran
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Since: 28.8.09

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#24 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.57
I guess I just think they're in a no-win situation when it comes to stuff like this. They don't acknowledge it, they're heartless. They do acknowledge it, they open themselves up to the same criticism, both online and from idiots like Nancy Grace, that they've had periodically levelled at them since Benoit flipped.

I coould understand the outrage/disappointment had they posted something a little more detailed ("Eddie Fatu has lost his battle with the demons that cost him his job", or something dumb), but they simply pointed out that the guy no longer works for them. Sure you could call it damage control, but what's their culpability here? What exactly were they supposed to put in their statement? They tried to get the guy to clean up twice, and they let him go when he wouldn't. This isn't some poor schmuck they rode into the ground. What exactly are they being taken to task for? Pre-emptively protecting their company's name from unfounded allegations? Maybe if douchebags held off on trying to paint the company as evil incarnate with every chance they get they wouldn't feel the need to be crass.
spf
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#25 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.16
It seems like they could have made the same point about Fatu not being a current employee with slightly more subtle and less cold-sounding wording. How hard would it have been to say "Eddie Fatu worked for WWE in (however many different) stints as Jamal and Umaga, starting in 200? through July 2009."



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rv581
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Since: 2.12.02

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#26 Posted on | Instant Rating: 2.35
    Originally posted by Amos Cochran
    I guess I just think they're in a no-win situation when it comes to stuff like this. They don't acknowledge it, they're heartless. They do acknowledge it, they open themselves up to the same criticism, both online and from idiots like Nancy Grace, that they've had periodically levelled at them since Benoit flipped.

    I coould understand the outrage/disappointment had they posted something a little more detailed ("Eddie Fatu has lost his battle with the demons that cost him his job", or something dumb), but they simply pointed out that the guy no longer works for them. Sure you could call it damage control, but what's their culpability here? What exactly were they supposed to put in their statement? They tried to get the guy to clean up twice, and they let him go when he wouldn't. This isn't some poor schmuck they rode into the ground. What exactly are they being taken to task for? Pre-emptively protecting their company's name from unfounded allegations? Maybe if douchebags held off on trying to paint the company as evil incarnate with every chance they get they wouldn't feel the need to be crass.


Nah, it's really not that complicated: The WWE should issue two press releases on the same day. The first should be a classy release that offers their heartfelt condolences (with a nice quote from Vince McMahon).

Then wait three hours.

Then issue a second press release that says: "Due to the overwhelming volume of media inquiries regarding Fatu's release from the WWE in 2009, WWE chairman Vince McMahon has prepared the following statement:"

And THEN, rather then coldly reporting that the recently deceased was fired for being an unrepentant junkie, you let Vince make a humanistic, emotional statement about how much they all loved Fatu, how rigorous the WWE wellness policy is, how they begged him to go to rehab & agree to regular testing, how saddened they are that he couldn't overcome his demons, etc. Lament how you wished you could've done MORE to help him -- but alas, he did not want to be helped -- and now we've all lost a wonderful human being. And close it with a line about how, during the holiday season more than ever, they hope that everyone who's struggling with addiction or substance abuse will seek the counseling they need to truly enjoy this special time of year -- because addiction and substance abuse impacts all of us.

See, 'cause of the 24-hour news cycle & most folks (especially in the WWE's target audience) no longer receiving their news at one set time, you can divide your reaction. And the first cycle is gonna be about the fact that a famous wrestler died young anyway. You can't spin that, so don't try.

Second news cycle you CAN spin. And here's where you reposition the story so that it's no longer about Fatu dying... but about how the WWE was so noble in trying to help an addict who refused treatment -- and that addiction isn't just something that's unique to pro wrestling, but to all of society.

There ya go.



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CRZ
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#27 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.85
What they did was fine. They could have posted nothin'. The short'n'sweet that they DID make gets out the points that are needed (confirming his death, noting he wasn't their employee) without getting unnecessarily editorial.

They're working hard to make sure the Smackdown crew (coincidentally in Houston for the SD/ECW taping) will be able to attend the funeral and you don't see them worrying about letting the media know THAT'S happening, either.

Now that I've said all that, I'll note that interestingly, there's now an Alumni page (wwe.com) up now for Umaga....but it doesn't say anywhere in that section that he's no longer alive. I guess that's something you're just expected to know when you visit there.


(edited by CRZ on 7.12.09 1015)


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Since: 2.6.03
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#28 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.96
    Originally posted by spf
    It seems like they could have made the same point about Fatu not being a current employee with slightly more subtle and less cold-sounding wording. How hard would it have been to say "Eddie Fatu worked for WWE in (however many different) stints as Jamal and Umaga, starting in 200? through July 2009."
I think that's the heart of the issue. They'd be off the hook if they had used wording different from "his contract was terminated".
DJ FrostyFreeze
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Since: 2.1.02
From: Hawthorne, CA

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#29 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.42
Read it and weep, fella


    Originally posted by CNN.com
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/12/04/umaga.eddie.fatu/index.html

    (CNN) -- Wrestler Edward Fatu, better known as the hulking, tattooed WWE superstar "Umaga," died Friday of a heart attack in a Houston, Texas, hospital, a family friend said.

    Born in American Samoa, Fatu, 36, was a member of the famous Anoa'i wrestling family, which includes cousin Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, his two uncles, who wrestled as The Wild Samoans in the 1980s, and brothers, Sam "Tonga Kid" and Solofa Jr. "Rikishi," according to Wrestlers Rescue, a support group for retired professional wrestlers.

    The two-time WWE Intercontinental champion, also known as "The Samoan Bulldozer," squared off with the likes of Triple H, John Cena and Ric Flair before the WWE terminated his contract in June for having violated the WWE's Wellness Program and refusing to enter rehab, the WWE said on its site.

    The organization offered its condolences to his family in a brief statement on its site.

    To friends and family, Fatu was a devoted father who was looking forward to spending more time with his children after leaving the WWE.

    "He had his demons, but he found a lot of strength in his family," said Dawn Marie Psaltis, family friend and founder of Wrestlers Rescue. "He was always a jokester, he was always playing a practical joke on someone. He comes from a long line of professional wrestlers and did his family proud."
Only mainstream mention of his death I've come across so far, but I admit that I havent really been looking either.



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Since: 2.1.02
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#30 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.05
    Originally posted by DJ FrostyFreeze
    Only mainstream mention of his death I've come across so far, but I admit that I havent really been looking either.


http://sports.yahoo.com/mma/news?slug=ys-wrestlerdeath120509&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

Yahoo had that up on their home page over the weekend.



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rv581
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Since: 2.12.02

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#31 Posted on | Instant Rating: 2.35
    Originally posted by CRZ
    What they did was fine. They could have posted nothin'. The short'n'sweet that they DID make gets out the points that are needed (confirming his death, noting he wasn't their employee) without getting unnecessarily editorial.(edited by CRZ on 7.12.09 1015)


It was "fine" in the sense that it was accurate & succinct & supplied the media with bare-boned background info... but that's not the job of the PR department in today's media environment. Today, the job of PR is to manufacture, position or change the trajectory of a news story, especially during a potentially hostile news climate.

By adopting this tactical response, the WWE gave the media free reign to run with their two set templates: 1) Famous wrestler dies young, probably because of substance abuse; and 2) Pro wrestling is a uniquely dangerous world with rampant drug use and performers routinely dying at an early age. (And additionally, from reading this thread, it appears that the press release's wording angered a percentage of the WWE's core target audience.)

Now, you COULD argue that the media will run with that template no matter what the WWE does, so saying next to nothin' is better than giving 'em more fodder to be critical, but I suspect that the WWE's thinking was just a little antiquated. In the old days of crisis communications, publicists were trained to immediately get ahead of the news cycle, address the major points quickly and briefly, and then let the story die a speedy death when the cycle ends. But in today's nonstop media environment, most PR agencies realize that news cycles are so unpredictable -- you have the death, then you have relatives with grudges, then you have police reports, then you have autopsies, then you have disgruntled ex-employees, etc. -- so you gotta redirect the trajectory after the "shock" of the first cycle right away, or you run the risk of losing ownership of the story (see Woods, Tiger).



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CRZ
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Since: 9.12.01
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#32 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.85
    Originally posted by rv581
    By adopting this tactical response, the WWE gave the media free reign to run with their two set templates: 1) Famous wrestler dies young, probably because of substance abuse; and 2) Pro wrestling is a uniquely dangerous world with rampant drug use and performers routinely dying at an early age.
Perhaps you haven't noticed, but "the media" haven't exactly jumped on this story despite that free reign you're arguing, and they're not gonna.

This is due to a combination of (a) sexier stories to cover and (b) latent racism against Samoans

There is no upside for WWE, Inc. to have given this story any more notice than they did.

    (And additionally, from reading this thread, it appears that the press release's wording angered a percentage of the WWE's core target audience.)
They'll get over it... they probably already have. There'll be some scattered cries about the "snub" of not showing a still of him at the beginning of RAW but then (hopefully) even those folks will move on with the business of living. I'm not saying it's good or bad; it just is.



Matt Tracker
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Since: 8.5.03
From: North Carolina

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#33 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.70
Test didn't get a bell salute, either. The supposition at the time was the WWE wanted to wait until the cause of death was official.



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JustinShapiro
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Since: 12.12.01
From: Pittsburgh, PA

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#34 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.58
    Originally posted by Matt Tracker
    Test didn't get a bell salute, either. The supposition at the time was the WWE wanted to wait until the cause of death was official.


Wasn't the supposition that WWE didn't want to acknowledge another young death on their TV because bummer, right? OTOH, Umaga was so recent and friends with so many current wrestlers that I think they will "hide" his tribute on ECW and Smackdown. I could be wrong.
KJames199
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Since: 10.12.01
From: #yqr

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#35 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.06
I do think they should say something about Umaga's passing on TV, even if it's just a graphic at the start of a show or a video package or something. Meltzer said that most of Umaga's closest friends were on Smackdown, and Umaga was on Smackdown at the time of his release, so I'm willing to give WWE the benefit of the doubt until Friday.

As for the blurb on the website, I can't really fault them. Another wrestler has died young, presumably due to drug use; that reflects poorly on WWE. As such, WWE needed to get a message out there: "we found out he had a problem, we tried to help him, and we cut our ties with him when he refused our help." Cold, maybe, but necessary. Not only does WWE have stockholders watching over them, but WWE wrestlers are paid, in part, based on the financial performance of the company (ticket sales, PPV buys, etc.) - if people blame WWE for Umaga's death and stay away, that adversely affects the incomes of WWE's employees (and, uh, independent contractors).

It would be nice if the website would run a more personal story, with remembrances from the current WWE stars who worked with Umaga and knew him well - and that may still be coming. I understand why they'd choose to not do so (or do anything at all), but it just doesn't seem right to do nothing.



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Matt Tracker
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Since: 8.5.03
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#36 Posted on | Instant Rating: 6.70
    Originally posted by JustinShapiro
    Wasn't the supposition that WWE didn't want to acknowledge another young death on their TV because bummer, right? OTOH, Umaga was so recent and friends with so many current wrestlers that I think they will "hide" his tribute on ECW and Smackdown. I could be wrong.


I remember talk that the company was skittish after Benoit and didn't want to salute him until they new what killed him. Not that Test and Benoit were in similar stations with the company at the time of their deaths.



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Since: 8.6.02
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#37 Posted on | Instant Rating: 3.42

It wasn't enough. A graphic is the least they could do. They did graphics for guys who weren't under contract before. I remember Hennig's graphic & Yoko got a full Vince-narrated seg at the beginning of the show, almost like Gorilla's. I'm pretty sure Rude and Spicolli got graphics too, despite those deaths occurring during the Monday Night Wars with the guys themselves being on the other side.



(edited by Hogan's My Dad on 8.12.09 1402)

(edited by Hogan's My Dad on 8.12.09 1403)

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DJ FrostyFreeze
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Since: 2.1.02
From: Hawthorne, CA

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#38 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.42
Read it and weep, fella


    Originally posted by Hogan's My Dad
    I'm pretty sure Rude and Spicolli got graphics too, despite those deaths occurring during the Monday Night Wars with the guys themselves being on the other side.
True, but that was before all of the "WRESTLING IS A MURDERER~!" media hype too. I wish WWE would give Umaga a memorial montage like you described above, but I also get why they didnt. Especially after Benoit? And Umaga isnt even 40? I totally get it.

Actually, as far as memorial montages go, his death in particular puts them in kind of a funny spot. He's the first guy to die AFTER multiple suspensions and a "termination-due-to-rehab-refusal", correct? How do you memorialize a guy who died from doing stuff you fired him for?

I'm not saying he didnt deserve a montage or that I didnt want to see it, but I get why WWE did what they did.

(edited by DJ FrostyFreeze on 8.12.09 1503)


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The Thrill
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Since: 16.4.02
From: Green Bay, WI

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#39 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.25
Godspeed, men of the 2nd Bn, 127th Infantry, 32d "Red Arrow" Brigade, Wisconsin Army National Guard! Victory in Iraq!

    Originally posted by Super Shane Spear
    So that makes two people who were last seen wrestling Ken Anderson? This has to be more than a little unnerving for him as well.


FYI, it was Ken's idea to have a 10-bell salute at the start of All-Star Championship Wrestling's "Homecoming 2009" event this past Saturday.

Ken and Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake came out, Ken talked about Umaga, and we gave him the traditional 10 bells. A very nice gesture by Ken, in his return to the promotion where he started 10 years ago.






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Since: 11.5.03
From: Mount Pleasant, Pa.

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#40 Posted on | Instant Rating: 3.73
I don't care if Edward "Umaga" Fatu was found dead with a heroin needle still in each arm, he still should get a memorial banner or a mention from the announcers.

I just don't see people watching at home seeing or hearing the memorial mention on their tv and then immediately jump up screaming "Oh my god, the WWE condones drug use !!!!"



The best part of waking up is not Folgers in your cup, but knowing that Chuck Norris didn't kill you in your sleep.
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