Wrestler of the Week: Tamina

Kimberly Schueler
Tamina (source: WWE)

RondaRousey.com’s Wrestler of the Week series profiles significant wrestlers from the past and present. 

Earlier this month, we looked at the wrestling career of Nia Jax, Ronda Rousey’s challenger for the RAW Women’s Championship match at TLC: Tables, Ladders, & Chairs 2018. This week, we’re examining the eight-year WWE history of the leather-clad “Monolithic Mute” currently at Jax’s side, Tamina. From the Divas Era to the Women’s Revolution, WWE’s second-ever generational female wrestler has always known how to make her presence known in a supporting role.

As the daughter of Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, professional wrestling was always a part of Tamina’s life. She grew up idolizing her dad, but she didn’t want to wrestle until the late 2000s—when she basically felt like she was supposed to. In her episode of Table for Three (with Charlotte Flair and Natalya), Tamina noted that she was a tomboy growing up and never considered “a pretty girl.” When she was hired by WWE in 2010, she didn’t fit the Diva archetype of the time and felt additional pressure as “the first Polynesian woman wrestler… in WWE… like, in all history.” She wanted to pay tribute to her family as well as forge her own path, but she was told she couldn’t do her father’s signature Superfly Splash because “girls don’t jump off the top rope.” Tamina mentally replied, “Watch me, bitch, I’m going to jump off the top rope,” and made it one of her finishing moves anyway.

Tamina brought that same attitude to her RAW debut, when she and her cousins, The Usos, attacked Unified Tag Team Champions The Hart Dynasty (David Hart Smith, Tyson Kidd, and their manager Natalya). The legacy trios feuded in mixed tag team matches, with Natalya as Tamina’s natural counterpart. However, Tamina soon split from her family when she started flirting with Santino Marella, eventually saving him from an attack by The Usos. Though she also competed in Divas division matches at this time, her most visible role for a while was as the valet for Marella and his tag partner, Vladimir Kozlov.

After being drafted to SmackDown in 2011, Tamina wrestled a variety of opponents on the main roster and on NXT Redemption, sometimes with a championship on the line, but never won a title. She lost to Beth Phoenix in a Divas Championship match at Elimination Chamber 2012, to Kaitlyn for the title at Elimination Chamber 2013, and to Paige in the first round of the tournament to find the inaugural NXT Women’s Champion.

After taking some time off to recover from a back injury, Tamina returned to WWE programming in September 2013 in one of her more memorable roles, that of Divas Champion AJ Lee’s bodyguard. She helped Lee retain her championship by interfering in matches, and the duo were the last one eliminated from their Divas Survivor Series team that year. It looked like a feud might arise between the two after some tag team losses, but after Tamina lost a championship match to Paige at Extreme Rules 2014, she had to take time off due to a torn ACL and the potential feud was shelved.

When Tamina returned, WWE was on the cusp of the Divas Revolution, and she was about to play a supporting role in one of the era’s most popular early alliances. She returned to RAW on May 4, 2015, attacking The Bella Twins alongside Naomi, vowing to dominate the Divas division. These four and Paige battled for supremacy to no avail until Stephanie McMahon changed the game by calling up Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks from NXT to the main roster.

Banks, then NXT Women’s Champion, aligned herself with Tamina and Naomi and their group came to be called Team B.A.D. (Beautiful and Dangerous). Teams B.A.D., PCB, and Bella faced off in a three-team elimination tag match for the future of the women’s division at SummerSlam 2015. Though B.A.D. was eliminated first, their chemistry and style kept them a popular stable until they started to feud in February 2016, when Tamina and Naomi attacked Banks after she announced her departure from the group.

In the post-brand-split era, Tamina continued to play a supplemental bruiser role. She was drafted to SmackDown Live in the 2017 Superstar Shake Up and reminded everyone of her badass bonafides by interfering in a title match between Flair and Naomi along with Natalya and Carmella. She competed in the first women’s Money In The Bank ladder match (and its do-over) and soon set her sights on the SmackDown Women’s Championship. And despite an odd-couple management situation with Lana, she didn’t make much progress.

After spending some time off TV to recover from rotator cuff surgery, Tamina surprisingly showed up on RAW on October 15, 2018. A series of mysterious confrontations with Nia Jax looked like they might signal a rivalry, but she ended up aligning with her #Facebreaker cousin. The two established themselves as a force in the women’s division with attacks on Ember Moon and a tag team win over Sasha Banks and Bayley.

At TLC, Tamina was in Jax’s corner during her RAW Women’s Championship match against Ronda Rousey. But despite being a supportive teammate with dubious morals, Tamina wasn’t able to successfully help Jax win the championship from Rousey. So only time will tell what will come of their partnership now.

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