Rikishi may be a cool, hip hop dancin’ fool now, but before he hit it big by showing off his fat can in a thong, he was mired with two bad gimmicks (as well as with the reasonably respectable gimmick of a Headshrinker).
After his run as a WWF Tag Champion and a failed run as a “Just Say No” babyface, the WWF was looking for something else for Fatu to do. He was a big, talented guy, and he had charisma. But there seemed to be little to do with him. They knew they couldn’t simply repackage him again – fans would know immediately who he was.
So someone came up with the bright idea to shave his head, leaving only a ponytail, and create a mask that covered half his face. Oh yeah, and they put a big, goofy hat on his head that looked for all the world like a giant Hershey’s Kiss.
He would become The Sultan – a silent killer from the Middle East. Managed by Bob Backlund and The Iron Sheik, Sultan would rampage through the WWF and win the WWF Title the way that Sheik and Backlund did years ago.
The problem was that no one bought into it. Almost everyone recognized him as Fatu, even though his arsenal changed from high flying wildman to that of a slow paced, rest-hold loving sloth.
The WWF quickly ditched the gimmick, and put Fatu on the shelf for a couple of years. They finally came up with the Rikishi Dancin’ Fool image, and the rest, as they say, is history.