Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jimmy Superfly Snuka

James William "Jimmy" Reiher (born May 18, 1943) is a semi-retired Fijian professional wrestler and actor, better known by his ring name Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka. Originally from the Fiji Islands, Snuka wrestled for several promotions in the 1970s and 1980s. Snuka was the first ECW Heavyweight Champion and held the title on two occasions. He is best known for his time in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in the early to mid-1980s and is credited with introducing the high-flyer style of wrestling to the WWF. His children Jimmy Reiher, Jr. and Sarona Reiher are also wrestlers.

In January 1982 Snuka entered the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) as a villainous character under the guidance of Captain Lou Albano. Snuka lost several title shots at WWF Champion Bob Backlund, including a steel cage match at Madison Square Garden on June 28, 1982 in which Snuka leapt from the top of the cage, barely missing Backlund who managed to escape the cage for the win. The contest would be declared Match of the Year by Pro Wrestling Illustrated.

Even though Snuka was a villain, the Northeast fans started to cheer on Snuka and his athletic style. An angle was created late in the year which revealed- on an episode of Buddy Rogers' Victory Corner- that Snuka was being financially ripped off by Lou Albano, thus releasing Snuka from Albano's managerial services. Albano then attacked Snuka with the help of "Classy" Freddie Blassie's newest arrival, Snuka's former tag team partner Ray Stevens. The attack solidified Snuka's new role as a fan favorite seeking to settle the score. Snuka brought in his former manager from the Mid-Atlantic territory, "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers and embarked on a mixture of tag and singles matches against Stevens and Albano across the region.

Snuka also feuded with "Magnificent" Don Muraco in 1983, which began after Snuka entered the ring for a preliminary match while Muraco, the Intercontinental Champion, was being interviewed. Muraco, enraged at the perceived lack of respect, confronted Snuka at ringside, triggering a wild brawl. This feud led to a defining moment of Snuka's career on October 17, 1983, in a steel cage match at Madison Square Garden. The match ended in a loss for the Superfly, but afterward he dragged Muraco back into the ring and connected with the most famous Superfly Splash of his career, off the top of the 15-foot (4.6 m) high steel cage. Future wrestling stars The Sandman, Mick Foley, Tommy Dreamer, and Bubba Ray Dudley were all in attendance at the event and cite this match as the reason they decided to aggressively pursue professional wrestling.

In June 1984, Snuka became embroiled in an intense feud with one of the WWF's top villains, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. In a segment of Piper's Pit, Piper brought bananas, pineapples, and coconuts to the interview to make Snuka "feel more at home" but said he did not get a tree for Snuka to "climb up and down like a monkey." Piper then proceeded to smash a coconut on his head when he turned his back momentarily. The attack led to a series of grudge matches between the two that were played out over venues across the US throughout the summer of 1984. The remainder of Snuka's initial WWF stint would see him frequently tangling with Piper one way or another, often via tag matches or wrestling Piper's closest ally, Bob Orton, Jr. Snuka defeated Orton at The War to Settle the Score and put Orton's left arm in a cast for over a year. The feud played a small part in the first ever WrestleMania in March 1985, when Snuka acted as a cornerman for Hulk Hogan and Mr. T when they faced Piper and Paul Orndorff (with Orton in their corner). The Superfly vanished from the WWF in August 1985, though he still appeared in cartoon form when Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling premiered the following month.

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