During the course of his career, Jimmy Snuka crossed paths with some of the biggest names in the industry, including Cowboy Frankie Laine, Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker. Snuka was one of wrestling's greatest aerialists, including leaps off the top of a steel cage. In this excerpt of Superfly: The Jimmy Snuka Story, he reveals how he developed one of the memorable moments in wrestling history -- his appearance on Piper's Pit -- and why he was marginalized at the original WrestleMania event in 1985.
One feud I loved was the one against my friend Roddy Piper. The fans loved it, too. You’ll notice I say I love everybody in this book, but it’s true. I can get along with anybody. I just let everything go and hold no grudges. I remember Tito Santana once told everybody that he was the top babyface, and that I was number two. People would tell me what he thought, and I was like, "Okay, well, God bless him." If he thought he was number one, that's fine. Same thing with Hogan ... we were fine after that first run-in. Things went the same with me and Piper, too.
Roddy Piper and I had a great storyline. We spent hours planning our famous edition of Piper’s Pit -- you know the one, where he brought in all the bananas, pineapples, and coconuts to make me feel like I was back on the island. When we were rehearsing that, I told Piper to hit me with the coconut. He looked at me like I was crazy, but I knew it'd heat the crowd up. He asked me if I was sure, and I was like, "Brudda, you better hit me with that ... "
Roddy did just that, and things went nuts from there. I loved it. The two of us were like oil and water on TV. I remember Piper had so much heat on him -- it was like nothing we had ever seen before. Piper’s Pit was just completely unbelievable. I feuded with Piper for a while, but I feel we got to finish the story because I ended up leaving the WWF.
I had some good storylines with Piper, and also had some good tag matches and setups with Hogan against Bob Orton and Roddy, but I was not given the status I deserved. I just felt Vinnie gave Hogan the push I
deserved. When I was cut out of the first WrestleMania and he brought in Mr. T in what should’ve been my place, it was a slap in the face. God bless Mr. T, he’s a good brudda, but he didn’t know anything about wrestling. I just felt like it was payback, and started wondering what was going on. I should've been in the main event wrestling -- not just in a corner with Hogan. I kept working for a bit after that, but I realized it was time for me to quit WWF. I remember taking Sharon with me to meet with Vinnie, and I came up to him and said, "I'd like to sit down and talk with you, brudda.” I told him I wanted to thank him and his family for the opportunities I had. I told him his father was an honest man and a very good businessman, and the only reason I was there to talk to him was to tell him, "I'm done." I remember telling him I didn’t owe them anything, and they didn't owe me anything, and that I wanted to be let out of my contract. I remember him crying and begging me to stay. But it was over. I told him I needed to leave, and that was it.
I stuck around and had a few more matches -- I think I teamedwith my good friend and fellow pro Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat a bit -- but I was pretty much done after WrestleMania.
Look, I've had a bunch of bangups here or there, but I never had terrible injuries that made me think I was finished or close to it. I have no plans to say good-bye. I also never thought age would hold me back, brudda. I was always ready to go. I left the WWF because I felt I wasn't being used right. I admit I wasn't an easy brother to deal with. No matter why I left, I can honestly say that I feel bad that I let my fans down, but I just had to leave. I remember returning to Hawaii and seeing myself in a cartoon called Hulk Hogan’s Rock ’n’ Wrestling. That was cool to be a cartoon, brudda. My kids loved it. I loved it, but there was no question it was weird. The cartoon was on the air after I had already left Vinnie.
For years, Vinnie tried to replace me, but no one could take over for the Superfly. Siva Afi was a good friend of mine. We were tag team partners before I left WWF. I guess they asked him to do the Superfly gimmck -- he called himself Superfly Afi. I heard about it when I came back from a trip overseas. Vince came to me and apologized for using Siva Afi. I could have sued him for that, but I didn’t because he knew what he did. That was the end of that. I was not mad at Siva. It was not his fault. He needed to make money, too. It’s just business. I knew I could never be replaced, and they still have not found anyone who can replace me. As my old friend Lou Albano would say, "You can often imitate me but you cannot duplicate me,” or something like that, brudda!
-- Excerpted by permission from Superfly: The Jimmy Snuka Story by Jimmy Snuka with Jon Chattman. Copyright (c) 2012 by Jimmy Snuka. Published by Triumph Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Available for purchase from the publisher, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes.