legend of professional wrestling.
matches with Roddy Piper,
Don Muraco and Bob Backlund
rate as some of the greatest ever.
Reiher (born May 18, 1943) is an American professional
wrestler, better known by his ring name of Jimmy "Superfly"
Snuka. Originially from the Fiji islands, Snuka wrestled
for several wrestling promotions in the 1970s and
1980s, although he is best known for his time in the
World Wrestling Federation in the early to mid 80s,
where his high-flying style made him a superstar.
making his debut in Hawaii in 1969, Snuka would move
to Portland soon afterwards, where he won the Pacific
Northwest Wrestling (PNW) Heavyweight title six times
between 1971 and 1976 and the PNW Tag Team Championship
six times along with partner Dutch Savage. Snuka would
also wrestle in several other National Wrestling Alliance
(NWA) regions, including Texas, Mid-Atlantic and Georgia.
He popularized the "I Love You" sign language
gesture, which he displayed as he jumped from the
ropes in his signature move, which became so big among
fans that promoters began loosening their ban of top-rope
maneuvers as to accommodate Snuka's popularity.
January 1982 Snuka entered the then-named World Wrestling
Federation (WWF) as a heel under the guidance of Captain
Lou Albano; Snuka received several title shots at
WWF Champion Bob Backlund, the final match being a
famous steel cage match in which Snuka leaped from
the top of the cage, barely missing Backlund who managed
to escape the cage for the win. Even though Snuka
was a heel, the Northeast fans started to cheer on
Snuka and his athletic style. Eventually, Snuka's
manager, Lou Albano, arranged for a match with "Classy"
Freddie Blassie's newest arrival, Snuka's former Mid
Atlantic tag team partner Ray Stevens. The match was
a setup as Stevens, Albano, and Blassie attacked Snuka,
using his seashell-braided headband as a weapon to
bust Snuka wide open. Then, the trio threw Snuka to
the concrete floor where Stevens delivered a pair
of piledrivers, leading to the speculation that Snuka's
neck had been broken. Albano and Snuka had finally
split ways and Snuka became a face. Albano and Blassie
would lead Stevens into their feud as co-managers
of The Crippler. Former Champion "Nature Boy"
Buddy Rogers entered the feud and became Snuka's manager,
leading to numerous Stevens/Albano-Snuka/Rogers tag
team matches across the region. Rogers had also managed
Snuka in the Mid-Atlantic territory. Snuka became
the top draw at the beginning of Vince McMahon's expansion
and was a candidate for what would become Hulk Hogan's
role in the company, but outside-the-ring ring issues
and lack of mic skills relegated him to the midcard.
a few months of recovery from the loss of his girlfriend,
Snuka's most famous career moment occurred on October
17, 1983 when he fought longtime rival "Magnificent"
Don Muraco in a steel cage match in Madison Square
Garden in New York City. The match ended in a loss
for the Superfly but he managed to drag Muraco back
into the ring and this time connect with his most
famous Superfly Splash ever off the top of the steel
cage at MSG. This single act cemented Jimmy Snuka
as the top WWF wrestler of 1983 as well as led the
way for today's generation of high fliers in the squared
circle. Years later, WWE superstar Mick Foley and
ECW Star Tommy Dreamer were both in attendance at
the event and both attribute this match as the reason
they decided to aggressively pursue professional wrestling.
following year began with another highlight in his
career with his year-long feud with Roddy Piper. After
a segment on Piper's Pit where Piper (who had brought
bananas and coconuts to the interview to make Snuka
"feel more at home") berated Jimmy by calling
him a "big shot" and "monkey",
Piper proceeded to smash a real coconut on Jimmy's
head when he turned his back momentarily. This was
followed by a beating with a belt and further humiliation
before the WWF cut to a commercial. Their matches
were played out over venues across the US-- and concluded
with Snuka acting as a cornerman for Hulk Hogan and
Mr. T against Piper and Paul Orndorff (with Bob Orton
in their corner) at the first ever WrestleMania in
a stint in alcohol/drug rehab, Snuka resurfaced in
the American Wrestling Association (AWA) replacing
the injured Jerry Blackwell as Greg Gagne's partner
in a tag team match against Bruiser Brody and Nord
the Barbarian at WrestleRock '86. Snuka would split
his time between the AWA and Japan throughout 1986
and 1987. His most notable feud in the AWA during
that time was with Col. DeBeers, who refused to fight
Snuka because of his race until he was able to sneak-attack
Snuka by pushing him off the top rope onto the floor
and administering several face-first piledrivers,
leading the way for a series of grudge matches in
many aging veterans before him, Snuka re-emerged to
the WWF in 1989 to help put over younger stars, like
Curt Hennig and Rick Rude. In 1991, he was the also
first PPV singles opponent for The Undertaker who
would be a top contender in the company for many years
to come, in part from Snuka letting The Undertaker
destroy him at WrestleMania VII.
leaving the WWF in 1991, Jimmy toured with various
smaller organizations in the early 90's and played
a role in the formation of Paul Heyman's ECW (Eastern
Championship Wrestling) organization along with Don
Muraco and Terry Funk. Snuka was ECW's first heavyweight
champion and toured with the company in arguably the
best shape of his life.
was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1996. He
also continued to spend much of his time with East
Coast wrestling organizations through the late 1990's
and into the 2000's, including periodic appearances
for the WWF. Snuka received a lifetime achievement
award from the WWE in 2002 at Madison Square Garden
and began to be thrust into skits by the WWE in 2004/2005.
2005, he appeared at the "WWE Homecoming",
in which he delivered a Superfly Splash to Rob Conway
with a ring full of legends at his side like Dusty
Rhodes and Billy Graham. He also took part in a backstage
skit, chasing after a partially disrobed Mae Young
with a wad of Ted DiBiase's money. He was a part of
the 2005 Taboo Tuesday pay-per-view, where fans voted
for him (ahead of Kamala and Jim Duggan) to team with
Eugene against Rob Conway and Tyson Tomko. Snuka won
the match, pinning Conway after a superfly splash.
continues to work in nostalgia bits for WWE as well
as work for U.S. independent shows and conventions
well into his 60's and seems to have no plans to retire.
He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife Carol.
"Superfly" Snuka official website
Hall Of Fame - Jimmy Snuka
Sports Entertainment - Jimmy Snuka profile
"Superfly" Snuka and Paul
"Mr Wonderful" Orndorff