WWE's Jimmy Uso on His Family's Wrestling Legacy and Having His Private Life Aired on Total Divas
Jimmy Uso unleashes a Superfly splash on an opponent inside a WWE ring.
Courtesy of WWE
Whenever the WWE's Jimmy Uso and his brother Jey hit the ring, they aren't so much wrestling as they are fulfilling their family's legacy. That's because both high-flying superstars are members of the Anoa'i clan, a large family of Samoan grapplers who have performed in the WWE over the past 40 years.
If you watched pro wrestling back in the day -- specifically, during the 1970s and '80s -- you might have seen the Usos' great uncles Afa and Sika beating down the competition as a part of the legendary tag team The Wild Samoans. Many others in the expansive Anoa'i family, which includes three generations of wrestlers, also became famous for their exploits in the WWE, including such stars as Yokozuna, Rosie and Jamal, The Rock, and Jimmy and Jey's father, Rikishi Fatu.
These days, you can catch the Uso brothers staging spectacular moves on television shows like Raw while defending the WWE tag-team championship. (Oddly enough, they aren't the only members of the Anoa'i clan who are active in the WWE, as their cousin Roman Reigns has been kicking much ass in singles action as of late.)
And if you tune into Total Divas, the WWE-produced reality show that follows the private lives of several women wrestlers, you've witnessed a bit of Jimmy Uso's life out of the ring with his wife and fellow superstar, Naomi. Having cameras recording much of their personal and professional lives can be a "little weird" at times.
It's something we discussed with Jimmy during a recent phone interview promoting the WWE's taping the latest episode of its Smackdown show tonight at US Airways Center. He talked about how he's gotten familiar with having cameras follow him out of the ring and getting all up into his personal life, even if took a little while to get used to.
We also discussed his relative's lengthy history with the WWE and how it's sometimes hard to keep track of everybody in their complicated family tree.
We're pretty sure that you and your brother are the longest-reigning Samoan tag team champions in WWE history. What's that feel like to have such an honor? Man, that's pretty bad. I didn't even know that. All I know is that the longest [tag team title reign] was done by Demolition. They had it for like 600 days or something.
Well, looking at the stats, your great uncles Afa and Sika held it for 119 days and your dad and uncle had it for 124 days when they were The Headshrinkers. You and your brother have been champs for more than 160 days now. Oh, that's pretty cool. I had no idea.
How much longer do you think you'll have the titles? Not even sure, man. We're gonna try to hold onto these and keep that record going. That would be awesome for me and my brother to hold that accolade.
Do you think there should more of a tag-team division in the WWE? Definitely, man. I feel like the tag-team division now is starting to get a little more amped up because of us, The Wyatts, and Rybaxel going out there and putting tag-team wrestling where it should be. But I definitely think there should be a lot more tag teams because it ain't wrestling without tag teams. Tag teams have been here since day one.
Have your uncles, cousins, or father been your biggest influence in wrestling? Well, I'd have to say to say my biggest influence has been my uncle, Umaga, who passed and isn't here any more. But yeah, he definitely had a big influence and a big impact on my wrestling career as far as where we're at in the WWE.
Vince McMahon and the WWE has always been good to your family over the years, whether it's been your dad Rikishi or wrestlers like Yokozuna, Umaga, and even The Rock. Why has he always had a soft spot for Samoans? I think we're just bred to do this, man. We're huge, we're athletic, we're agile, and we've just been here from day one with wrestling. I think this is just what we're supposed to do and we enjoy doing this. We love doing this, you know?
How do you feel about the rise of your cousin Roman Reigns as a singles star? He's just killing it, man. Roman's been doing this for a short while, man, so to see him come here and [how] they have all these high hopes for him and they've got big things going on for Roman Reigns in the WWE is awesome. And he's delivering. And that's what we do, we deliver when the opportunity arises. And he's definitely doing that. He's gonna be a big thing in the WWE. Definitely one of the next WWE World Heavyweight Champions.
This might be a weird question, but between you and your brother, which one is the "Shawn Michaels" of the tag team that's going to be the breakout singles star? Aww, you're just trying to start up some problems between us, man. [Laughs] Man, we get that all the time, "Who's the Shawn Michaels and who's the Marty Jannetty?" I always say that I'm the Shawn Michaels, bro, I'm definitely the Shawn Michaels. But there ain't no telling, man, we're both so evenly the same. We both move the same, we're not the same height, but I'm a little heavier than my brother. I definitely look better than my brother, that's for sure. [Laughs] But if I had to one or the other, I guess I'm the Shawn Michaels. Jey Uso? He's the Marty Jannetty.
What it been like working with The Wyatts? Oh, man. Those guys are a helluva team, a helluva faction. There hasn't been nothing in the WWE like those guys in a long time and they're definitely a tag team to be reckoned with. I definitely see those guys as future tag team champions, but they won't get it from us though.
Are they fun to work with in the ring? Hell, yeah. Those guys are great. We have awesome chemistry with them in the ring together and the pay-per-view matches have been off the chain. The feud we had with those guys was dope. Really good rivalry between us and The Wyatts.
You've been featured a number of time outside the ring on Total Divas with your wife Noami. Is it different to be on TV in a non-wrestling capacity and having your personal life aired for all to see? Definitely, man. It's weird. You know, with wrestling, I know I'm going to be on camera, like I know this is what I want to do. It's my passion. I'm going to go out there and perform my butt off. But when it comes to Total Divas, it's a whole other thing. It's a total opposite. Like I go from zero to 100 when the cameras are on me in the WWE. But on Total Divas, they're coming into my house when I'm supposed to be winding down, so it gets a little weird.
I'm a private dude and I had to get used to the cameras being there, but it's cool. On Divas, they have an opportunity to show [people] exactly what it's about, what goes on behind the scenes and outside the ring. And I'm just blessed to be married to one of the Divas and so that's how I ended up on the show. It gets a little hard when your coming off the tours, coming off the road, and when you get home, they're there with the cameras, but whatever. It's cool. It's weird and its got pros and cons.
You and Noami made headlines earlier this year when y'all got busted for, um..."having relations" on the show. Is that one of those situations that gets a little too weird and uncomfortable? Yeah, man. It always gets uncomfortable sometimes. But, you know, but we take it to where we want to. The relations I had with my wife was a little back seat action. Nothing too crazy. My mom watches the show and I was like, "Hey, our mom's watch this show, we don't want to do nothing that crazy." We just gotta be aware that sometimes there's a camera watching us.
Part of your look is having the Samoan tribal tattoos on your arms and body. Do you have any plans to get more? Hell yeah, man, definitely. I'd like to get my back done and I'd like to get a tribute to Umaga because his last tattoo he got was a skeleton with his face painted. And he got that on his chest before he passed. So I'd like to get that one at some point. Me and my brother would both like to get that, since we were there when he got it done. I'd definitely like to get my arms finished. One you get tattoos done, man, you get bit by the bug and you want to get more. My wife doesn't want me to get more, but I gotta get that last few, definitely.
So how do you keep your family tree straight? Looking at it gives us a headache since there are so many twists and turns to it. Oh, we don't keep it straight. I'm always wrong, every time. We can't remember everyone that's in there. Every time they ask you to explain the [family] tree, I always say, "You gotta help me, since I get lost, as well." My dad's gotten lost trying to explain it one time, and I'm like, "Man, if he got lost, how do you think I'm gonna do?"
Are you guys close with The Rock at all since he's a part of the family? More like my dad is close with Rocky. I've met him, but he's a busy man with his movies and everything. You get to know him in passing. So, really, we're not that close. We always send tweets or auntie Ata, which is Rocky's mom, she'll text us here and there, asking "You guys doing good?" Stuff like that. I understand he's a busy man. He's a mogul now.
The taping of WWE Smackdown takes place at 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, August 19, at US Airways Center. Tickets are $30.75 to $108.
Get the Arts and Theater Newsletter
Weekly information keeping you in the know when it comes to the Phoenix art and theater scene. Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events.