Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka is one of the sport’s legendary high-flyers. From his early years
in the National Wrestling Alliance to his WWF days, he proved that he was out for a fight
no matter what time it was. Or who it was against. Snuka is from the Fiji Islands and
master of the big splash from the top rope. He has provided fans with acrobatics and
spectacular moments in the ring for thirty years. Most of those moves hadn’t been seen
prior. Snuka was managed by two of the greatest wrestlers in history early in his career,
explaining much about his later success. First was Gene Anderson in late 1979 and
1980, and then came Buddy Rogers, through 1982 when they both ventured to the WWF.
He made his professional debut in the early 1970s. While in the Pacific Northwest,
Snuka earned a large amount of regional fame under Don Owens’ banner. He was very
successful in the territory, capturing many championships. He also ventured through
several other Alliance Promotions, including Hawaii. Snuka beat Ripper Collins in a hair
vs. hair match in mid-1974. He received a title match against NWA World Champion,
Terry Funk in November 1976 at Portland. The two-of-three-falls match was what it was
billed to be. A classic. Snuka won the first with a Fiji Full Nelson, but Funk won the
second by countout. Neither man was able to score a third fall and the match ended with
the one-hour time-limit exceeded. Many stated that Funk was lucky to leave the city with
his belt intact as Snuka was on top of his game and should have won the coveted belt.
In 1977, Snuka entered the Mid-Atlantic Region. He won the NWA World Tag Team Title
in December 1978 with Paul Orndorff, beating Baron Von Raschke and Greg Valentine.
They had the support of the fans behind them. Von Raschke teamed with Paul Jones on
April 28, 1979 and captured the tag belts. Snuka won a major singles belt on September
1st in Charlotte of that year with a win over Rick Steamboat in a tournament final. The
win gave him the vacant United States Heavyweight Title. Snuka had taken Buddy
Rogers, a former NWA World Champion and a man who was also in the tournament with
him, as his manager. In early 1980, Gene Anderson took over Snuka’s contract.
Within a several period, Snuka was led by two legends. How could he fail? In March, a
match between Snuka and Ric Flair in Norfolk forced NWA Officials to hold the U.S. Title
up. Later, promoters returned the title to the “Superfly” and his second reign began.
Flair beat Snuka on April 19th in Greensboro for the belt. Anderson teamed him with
Ray Stevens and the two captured the World Tag Title in Greensboro on June 22nd from
Rick Steamboat and Jay Youngblood. They remained the champs until November when
Paul Jones and the Masked Superstar beat them at the Greensboro Coliseum. In Japan,
he teamed with Bruiser Brody in late 1981 to win the annual Real World Tag Team
Tournament over the Funk Brothers and Jumbo Tsuruta and Shohei Baba. The victory
was vitally important, earning Snuka a new range of respect.
Buddy Rogers returned to Snuka’s side as manager in 1981. The next year, both men
jumped to the WWF. One of the biggest moments in Snuka’s career took place on June
28, 1982. He had a WWF World Title match against Bob Backlund in New York’s
Madison Square Garden. It was a special cage bout. Late in the contest, Snuka scaled
the cage to the top and balanced on a corner, ready to splash down on his opponent.
The move was attempted and Backlund moved. Snuka smashed down on the mat,
unable to revive before the champion left the ring and retained his belt. Fans still recall
that event with unbelievable splendor.
He feuded with Roddy Piper for some time in the 1980s. His popularity continued to rise.
Snuka joined Mr. T and Hulk Hogan in New York City for their tag team match at
WrestleMania I against Paul Orndorff and Roddy Piper. He formed a tag team with Rick
Steamboat known as the “South Pacific Connection.” In 1986, he left the WWF after not
being able to capture a major championship. He traveled through several independent
organizations in Hawaii before settling in the American Wrestling Association. Snuka was
hospitalized by a Col. DeBeers piledriver with an injured neck and the two feuded
violently. He made several runs towards the AWA World Title, but never got his hands
on the gold.
Snuka made his return to the WWF on March 7, 1989 at the El Paso Civic Center in
West Texas. He beat Boris Zukhov. During the SummerSlam pay-per-view, he wrestled
the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase on August 28th in East Rutherford. He was counted
out. Snuka teamed with the Bushwhackers and a man he knew from the Pacific
Northwest, Roddy Piper at the Survivor Series on November 23rd in Chicago. They were
defeated by Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude and the Rougeau Brothers. Snuka pinned Jacques
Rougeau to open the bout and remained until the end. He lost by pinfall to Perfect
before the estimated 15,000 fans.
Snuka faced Rude in a singles contest at WrestleMania VI in Toronto on April 1, 1990.
Rude won. Snuka sided with the Rockers and Jake Roberts in their Survivor Series war
against Rick Martel, Power and Glory and the Warlord on November 22nd in Hartford.
Martel pinned Snuka, eliminating him from the bout. Snuka was a participant in the Royal
Rumble held on January 19, 1991 at the Miami Arena in South Florida. He entered the
ring at number 13. Hulk Hogan took the overall win. He lost to the Undertaker on
Sunday, March 24th at WrestleMania in Los Angeles. Snuka dropped from the headlines
and many of the major WWF events. He competed in the 1992 Rumble on January 19,
1992 in Albany, New York and was unable to take the victory home.
In the months that followed, Snuka left the organization and began competing more and
more in the independent world. He signed on with an up-and-coming promotion out of
Philadelphia known as NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling. Snuka became the initial
ECW Champion on April 25th after a battle royal final victory over Salvatore Bellomo in
Philadelphia. He lost the belt a day later in Philly to Johnny Hot Body. Snuka beat Hot
Body in a rematch on July 12th to regain the ECW Heavyweight Belt, also in
Philadelphia. Another former WWF star, Don Muraco ended his reign on October 24th.
Snuka won a tournament final over Glen Osbourne on March 12, 1993 in Radnor,
Pennsylvania and captured the ECW Television Title. With the victory, he became the
first man in history to have won both the ECW Heavyweight and Television Titles. Snuka
remained the champion through the summer and well into the fall. On June 19th in
Philadelphia, he made two successful defenses against J.T. Smith and then Tommy
Cairo. Two tough performances on the mat. Snuka lost the TV Title to a longtime rival
from the late 1970s, Terry Funk, on October 1st during the first night of NWA’s
Bloodfest. The match between Snuka and Funk was held inside of a steel cage match.
Earlier in the night, he teamed with Don Muraco and Kevin Sullivan in a six-man tag loss
to Funk, Abdullah the Butcher and J.T. Smith.
The next night, Snuka and Muraco beat the Public Enemy by forfeit and in a singles
contest, he pinned Chad Austin. “Superfly” lost to Tommy Dreamer on March 5, 1994 at
the ECW Arena before an estimated 1,000 fans. Snuka defeated Kevin Sullivan on May
14th in Philadelphia by pinfall. He continued to wrestle on the independent scene.
Snuka returned to the WWF to compete along side Flash Funk, Yokozuna and Savio
Vega on November 17, 1996 in New York City at Madison Square Garden. The eight-
man tag team elimination match was held during the Survivor Series. Snuka’s team met
the New Diesel, New Razor Ramon, Vader and Faarooq. He pinned Ramon. A brawl
caused the disqualification of the rest of both teams and no one won. Snuka retired from
On January 3, 2001 during a live edition of Nitro, Snuka returned to national wrestling.
He wrestled and beat Jeff Jarrett inside of a steel cage match. He successfully landed
his patented frog splash from the top of the cage, a highlight in Nitro History. George
Steele and Tito Santana also wrestled and beat Jarrett in separate contests.
If you ask many of today’s wrestlers, “what was your favorite moment in wrestling
history?” A good percentage of them will replay Snuka’s climb to the top of that cage in
New York City against Bob Backlund. If the “Superfly” would have hit that move, he
would have captured the WWF World Heavyweight Title. On the other hand, if he would
have landed that splash, wrestling history would have been re-written and that story
might not be the folklore it is today.
Championships and accomplishments from Wikipedia
* All Japan Pro Wrestling
* World's Strongest Tag Team League (1981) – with Bruiser Brody
* Cauliflower Alley Club
* Other honoree (1996)
* Continental Wrestling Association
* CWA International Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with JT Southern
* East Coast Pro Wrestling
* ECPW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
* Eastern Championship Wrestling
* NWA ECW Heavyweight Championship (2 times, Inaugural)
* NWA ECW Television Championship (1 time)
* Georgia Championship Wrestling
* NWA National Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Terry Gordy
* International Wrestling Superstars
* IWS United States Championship (1 time)
* Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
* NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (Mid-Atlantic version) (1 time)
* NWA World Tag Team Championship (Mid-Atlantic version) (2 times) – with Paul
Orndorff (1) and Ray Stevens (1)
* National Championship Wrestling
* NCW Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Johnny Gunn
* National Wrestling Federation
* NWF Heavyweight Championship (1 time, last)
* National Wrestling League
* NWL Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
* Northeast Wrestling
* NEW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
* NWA All-Star Wrestling
* NWA Canadian Tag Team Championship (Vancouver version) (1 time) – with Don
* NWA Big Time Wrestling
* NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
* NWA Texas Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Gino Hernandez
* New England Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame
* Class of 2010
* Pacific Northwest Wrestling
* NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship (5 times)
* NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship (6 times) – with Dutch Savage
* Pro Wrestling Illustrated
* PWI Match of the Year (1982) vs. Bob Backlund in a cage match on June 28
* PWI Most Popular Wrestler of the Year (1983)
* PWI Tag Team of the Year (1980) with Ray Stevens
* PWI ranked him #29 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in
* Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
* Class of 2012
* Universal Superstars of America
* USA Heavyweight Championship (2 times, first)
* USA Pro Wrestling
* USA Pro Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
* World Wide Wrestling Alliance
* WWWA Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
* WWWA Intercontinental Championship (1 time)
* World Wrestling Federation
* WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)
* Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
* Tag Team of the Year (1981) with Terry Gordy
* Best Flying Wrestler (1981)
* Best Wrestling Maneuver (1981, 1983) Superfly Splash
* Other titles
* Tri-State Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
* SXA United States of America Championship (1 time)
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Jimmy Snuka Wrestling History
|PPV Ring Record TV Ring Record Career Record
Legends of Pro Wrestling