BANKIE'S HOT TAKE #37 - FROM THE VAULT: Solo Sikoa vs Junior Soba - 6/5/21
In case you have been living under a rock, the Bloodline are the hottest act in professional wrestling. Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman have crafted a magnificent story for almost three years based around his insecurity and control of not just the Undisputed WWE Universal championship, but his family as well. The Usos had the longest Tag Team title reign in the history of WWE, and currently, the Bloodline is in the midst of a Civil War, as Jimmy and Jey defected from the group, standing up for their cousin.
Meanwhile, Sami Zayn was able to infiltrate the group as an Honorary Uce and bring comedy and levity to a serious program. His ultimate “betrayal” by sticking up and defending his best friend Kevin Owens at Royal Rumble 2023 led to the main event at Elimination Chamber against Reigns, and the unseating of the Usos, alongside KO, at Night One of WrestleMania 39.
The Bloodline has helped establish so many talents. But none were established as quick and as fast as the youngest member of the family.
That man was SOLO SIKOA.
Solo Sikoa was a late bloomer to professional wrestling. One of the five kids of WWE legend Rikishi, Sikoa played football at both American River College and Dickinson State University. Following his playing days, Sikoa, after training under his father, decided to ply his trade in the professional wrestling industry. In 2018, Sikoa made his debut,
Alongside his cousins Journey and Jacob Fatu, who is currently a major player in Major League Wrestling, Sikoa, under the moniker Sefa Fatu, started to make a name for himself in the Western part of the United States. Growing strong as a performer, especially part of the Future Stars of Wrestling, Sikoa migrated East and began wrestling across the United States, including in Wisconsin for Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore. He even had a match for the fledgling Game Changer Wrestling against independent cult favorite Facade.
Although the pandemic slowed down his opportunities, Sikoa still shined. By the time 2021 rolled around, Sikoa made his way to Wind Gap, Pennsylvania on June 5 for World All-Star Wrestling for a match in front of a crowd very familiar with his family’s impact on professional wrestling..
His opponent was a name that to some, no one knows. But to me, and my vast wrestling knowledge that exists in my brain, I know him very well.
Junior Soba was trained out of the ACE Wrestling Academy under the tutelage of Ring of Honor legend and current AEW superstar Jay Lethal.
His first match was on December 1, 2007 in the legendary ACE Arena against Thomas “the Gate” Rodriguez and a guy I only knew as Morrison. After a start-and-stop beginning, Soba evolved into the Puerto Rican Pitbull, a 5 foot 7 competitor with a lot of spunk and unafraid to take on any of the bigger performers in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania independents. Most notably, he faced Devious, a man who stood 6 feet, 7 inches tall and over 300 pounds, for Jersey Wrestling Elite, and refused to back down, despite the beating he took.
Over the next decade, Soba became a weekend warrior, wrestling in every small Pennsylvania independent promotion he could. A single father to a young daughter, Soba finds a way to both provide and prove that you can still live your dreams while working your tail off and being a parent during the week. It’s truly inspirational.
So when I went searching for footage online for Solo Sikoa on YouTube, I was shocked when I learned he had a match against Junior Soba. I had to watch it.
You can call this FROM THE VAULT.
The match between Solo and Soba had a bit of story behind it. Both men represented Dynasties: Sefa Fatu had his Samoan Dynasty, while Soba represented the Puerto Rican Dynasty. There was a budding rivalry between both groups.
On June 5, 2021, Fatu and Soba stepped in the ring and did battle. I popped looking at the low ring setup, as it was very similar to the low ring used for Project: Diverge. The crowd was small, but hungry for local professional wrestling. The only real negative was the commentary, but the young man was a beginner, learning the ropes of broadcasting pro wrestling. I hope he gains experience and gets better.
The match itself was basic wrestling 101. Soba was the heel; Sefa Fatu was the beloved performer. Fatu was able to demonstrate a little old school Samoan strategy in the open: when you hit the turnbuckle with your head full force - there’s no effect. It’s practically built in their DNA.
After Soba got advantage and tried to take over, working over his legs and body, Fatu fought back, and built up enough endurance to overcome, ending the match with a Superkick and his famed Flying Splash for a three count.
The main thing I took away was Solo’s potential. He had poise, charisma, and a true connection with the fans. You can’t teach that. Wrestling in front of smaller crowds teaches you humility and respect. Sikoa had that. And Soba was a perfect foil, character wise; cocky and arrogant, which got him a loss in the end.
A few months later, Sikoa signed with WWE. Developing through the Performance Center, Sikoa rose quickly through NXT in 2022, ultimately winning the NXT North American championship a week after joining the main roster of WWE. On September 3, Sikoa helped Reigns retain the Undisputed WWE Universal championship at Clash at the Castle, and he hasn’t looked back. He is now the monster of the Bloodline, patterned after his late Uncle, UMAGA.
Sometimes, it’s nice to find old matches of performers and think about the journey they were on, prior to becoming Superstars. This match was fun to look at. It showed how far Solo has become, as well as giving Junior Soba a memory to remember: wrestling against a main eventer in WWE before hitting it big. That’s a big deal.
Check out this match. It’s as basic as it comes, but for me, a wrestling junkie, it hit the spot.