It is a very sad day for the WWE, as one of their greatest superstars of all-time, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka passed away today. He was 73 years old
Before we get to what has dominated news about Snuka in recent years, let’s take a quick look at his decorated in ring career:
Born in Fiji in 1943, Snuka did not wrestling until 1970. His first taste of true success in the wrestling industry took place in ’73 when he went to work for Don Owen in NWA Pacific Northwest. He would win that regional championship six times as well as their version of the tag team titles multiple times with Portland mainstay, Dutch Savage.
He would spend the bulk of the 1970’s wrestling across various NWA territories. Superfly would win the Texas Title in 1977 but achieved a higher profile in Mid Atlantic with a tag team with fellow future WWE superstar, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff. Snuka would also win the United States Title from Ricky Steamboat. Following a run in Georgia he would travel north to New York and become a top performer for Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation.
Debuting in 1982 as a dastardly heel with his manager, Captain Lou Albano, Snuka would main event quickly, receiving title shots against the then World Champion, Bob Backlund. In a notable steel cage match in Madison Square Gardens, Snuka would attempt a “superfly splash” off the top of the cage, missing the champion but dazzling the fans. He was just a great athlete and his pioneering aerial skills made it hard for him not to turn face, which he did later in the year, aligning with former Champion Buddy Rogers and then feuding with Albano’s other charge, “The Magnificent Muraco, who was the promotion’s Intercontinental Champion.
The feud with Muraco, culminated again at MSG, where this time Snuka hit the splash from the top of the steel cage (albeit after the match, which he lost), which even today remain one of the most iconic moments in WWE history.
Jimmy Snuka would feud with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper for the next year, and at this time Snuka was one of the top faces in the company, and for many fans the top star. He would appear in the corner of Hulk Hogan and Mr. T at the first Wrestlemania, though he would depart the promotion later in the year and work for Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association before returning in 1989.
By this point, in his 40’s, Snuka was still popular but no longer a main event player. His next three years saw him put over stars, such as The Undertaker, Rick Rude and others, and he would join Eastern Championship Wrestling (the eventual Extreme Championship Wrestling) and become their champion.
In 1996, the World Wrestling Federation inducted him into their Hall of Fame, and he even performed in that weekend’s Survivor Series. He would continue to wrestle sporadically after, and even appeared at Wrestlemania 25, teaming with Piper and Steamboat in a 3 on 1 handicap match against Chris Jericho. Even in declining health, he wrestled in independents and was a fixture at signings and conventions, however late in his life he was known for a near 34 year old death of his former girlfriend, Nancy Argentino.
Argentino died in 1983, and while Snuka was the prime suspect in her death, no charges were ever laid, though Snuka did lose a civil suit (which he never paid) to the Argentino family. He was finally charged in late 2014 with third degree murder, but only twelve days ago, he was found mentally unfit to stand trial.
While the last few years of Snuka’s life was certainly controversial, the wrestling fan in us would like to remember the great in-ring moments.
We here at Notinhalloffame.com would like to extend our condolences to the family, friends and fans of Jimmy Snuka at this time.