It’s been three days since the unfortunate passing of pro wrestler Matt Anoa’i, better known to WWE fans as Rosey. And while his cause of death has been reported as congestive heart failure, new details have emerged, centering on how the 47-year-old brother of current WWE Superstar Roman Reigns had dealt with weight and health problems in the months and years leading up to his death.
Born April 7, 1970 as Matthew Anoa’i, Rosey was the son of Leati “Sika” Anoa’i, who, together with older brother Arthur, a.k.a. Afa, competed in WWE in the 1980s as The Wild Samoans. He would follow his father and uncle into the wrestling business in the 1990s, and in 2002, he teamed up with cousin Eddie Fatu, becoming Rosey and Jamal of Three Minute Warning. The tag team served as the muscle of evil authority figure Eric Bischoff, and would attack wrestlers if they failed to entertain Bischoff within a three-minute time limit.
After the tag team disbanded, Rosey would team up with The Hurricane (a.k.a. Gregory/Shane Helms), taking on a similar masked superhero gimmick from 2003 to 2005. WWE planned to reunite Jamal and Rosey and bring back Three Minute Warning in 2006, but instead of pushing forward with this plan, Rosey was released from his WWE contract, while Jamal was repackaged as the “Samoan Savage” Umaga.
Cageside Seats wrote on Tuesday that based on “reports from friends and family,” Rosey’s cause of death was congestive heart failure, a condition he had been hospitalized for in January 2014. But with his death on Monday coming as a surprise to loved ones and fans alike, further details on Rosey’s health in recent years have slowly been emerging.
In an interview with the Wrestling Observer Newsletter(subscriber-only), former WWE creative writer and longtime Anoa’i family friend Court Bauer shared his memories of Rosey and his late cousin Eddie Fatu, who passed away after suffering a heart attack in 2009. Bauer recalled how the two cousins were like “two kids” when, as Three Minute Warning, they learned they would be working with their childhood hero Jimmy Snuka in an angle for WWE television.
Bauer also talked about how he had tried convincing WWE to rehire Matt Anoa’i and repackage him as a “Samoan San Francisco gang banger” while former tag team partner Eddie Fatu enjoyed his biggest WWE success thus far as Umaga. Unfortunately, WWE wasn’t sold on the plan, and the company didn’t budge either when Anoa’i appeared on the ABC reality show Fat March in 2007 and enjoyed substantial television exposure.
Considering the widespread fan speculation that Matt Anoa’i/Rosey’s supposed cause of death — congestive heart failure — may have been related to weight issues, Bauer said that the wrestler’s weight “(yo-yoed) a lot” in the years following his Fat March appearance, and that he eventually gained back his lost weight “and then some.”
In addition to Rosey’s heart health issues, the Wrestling Observer wrote that he had been planning in 2016 to undergo kidney dialysis, and had recently weighed in at about 450 pounds, which is well over his billed weight of 360 pounds, per data from Online World of Wrestling.
While still on the topic of Rosey’s cause of death possibly being related to more recent health issues, Bauer told Meltzer that Rosey was “too weak” last month to attend WaleMania III, a fan expo hosted by rapper and longtime wrestling fan Wale, and created with Bauer’s assistance. Even then, the former WWE creative team member stressed that Rosey was in high spirits shortly before his death, despite continuing issues with his weight and overall health.
“His health was clearly fading. He had a lot of struggles with his heart in 2014 and hadn’t lost weight over the past three years. In spite of his deteriorating health, he always had such a great, upbeat, positive outlook. He was like a big kid with the enthusiasm for life that he showed.”
Just two months before he died, Rosey commented on his younger brother Roman Reigns’ continued unpopularity with fans, suggesting that WWE should turn him into a villainous character.
According to an official statement from WWE that omitted Rosey’s cause of death, the man who was known in real life as Matt Anoa’i is survived by his three children, his father Sika, and his brother Joe, a.k.a. Roman Reigns. Reigns, who has not posted on Twitter since April 8, has yet to publicly comment on his older brother’s death.
[Featured Image by WWE]