Life and career
Born and raised in Tonga, Sione was one of five teenagers sent by the King of Tonga to Japan to study Sumo wrestling in the mid 1970s. Tonga Fifita was one of the other teenagers. Sione was known in sumo circles as Sachinoshima.
National Wrestling Alliance
After migrating to the United States, he trained in professional wrestling under the tutelage of Rolland 'Red' Bastien. In 1980, he made his debut, wrestling Killer Karl Krupp in Modesto, California. He wrestled as King Konga in several NWA regional territories in 1981. He soon went to the NWA's Jim Crockett Promotions, where he teamed up with Ron Garvin as a face.
Seeing the "heel" potential in a huge, intimidating man with surprising agility, Jim Crockett, Jr. changed him into Konga the Barbarian. He joined the stable of Paul Jones. From 1985 to 1987, he wrestled as part of "Paul Jones' Army" and teamed with Pez Whatley, Teijho Khan, as well as Baron Von Raschke. It was during this time that "Konga" was dropped from his name and he became simply The Barbarian.
In late 1987, he formed a team with Ivan Koloff, who was also his "coach." By early 1988, he was paired with The Warlord as The Powers of Pain. They feuded heavily with another team of big men, The Road Warriors, Animal and Hawk. They injured Animal's eye during a weight lifting contest, and soon after won the NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Titles, along with Ivan, from the Road Warriors and Dusty Rhodes. In 1987, he appeared in the movie Body Slam, as Axe the Cannibal.
In April 1988, Crockett decided he wanted the feuding tag teams to have a series of scaffold matches, which neither team wanted because they felt that they were too large to safely participate. This was especially so for the Powers of Pain, who were scheduled to lose the matches by falling off the scaffolding. Barbarian and Warlord decided to leave for the WWF. The NWA announcers explained that the Road Warriors had run them off, even though they still held the Six-Man Titles.
World Wrestling Federation
Upon their arrival, the Powers of Pain were faces, initially managed by Tito Santana, and feuded with WWF World Tag Team Champions Demolition (Ax and Smash), who had defeated Strike Force (Santana and Rick Martel) for the titles and then injured Martel (kayfabe). The Powers of Pain were introduced as mercenaries to help Martel and Santana gain revenge on Demolition for both the title loss and the injury to Martel. Later, they were managed by The Baron. They soon dumped the Baron and took Demolition's manager Mr. Fuji, in a double turn which made them heels and the increasingly popular Demolition faces.
After a long feud in which they failed to win the titles, the Powers of Pain were split up and The Barbarian went under the management of Bobby Heenan. He would have his image tweaked, changing from his Road Warrior-like mohawk and face paint to growing out his hair, dressing in fur, and wearing a helmet with reindeer-like antlers and a skull to the ring. He briefly wrestled in singles competition, defeating Tito Santana at Wrestlemania VI and facing the Big Bossman at Royal Rumble 1991, as part of the Heenan Family's feud with the "correctional officer". Shortly after, he joined fellow Family member Haku and wrestled in tag team matches until leaving WWF.
World Championship Wrestling
When he signed with WCW in early 1992, he initially formed a heel stable with Tony Atlas and Cactus Jack. Atlas soon left the promotion, and the group was joined briefly by Jake Roberts. They feuded with then-World Champion Ron Simmons, whom Barbarian unsuccessfully challenged at Halloween Havoc 1992. They also faced off against Sting, Barry Windham, Dustin Rhodes, and Nikita Koloff. He briefly won the WCW United States Tag Team Championship with Dick Slater, but the belts were retired one month later.
In late 1995, Vailahi returned to WCW, wearing a mask and teaming with his former Powers of Pain tag team partner, The Warlord. They were known as the Super Assassins, managed by Col. Robert Parker. No mention was ever made on TV of their former identities, and the team did not last long. Later on, he reunited with Haku (now called Meng) as the Faces of Fear. They were members of Kevin Sullivan's Dungeon of Doom, and teamed on a semi-regular basis for the remainder of their time in WCW, though they broke up and feuded briefly in 1998 and 1999. They challenged several times for the WCW World Tag Team Title, but were never able to win the belts.
After The Barbarian's brief feud with Meng, Jimmy Hart formed a new heel stable in the summer of 1999 called The First Family. The stable consisted of Barbarian, Hugh Morrus, Brian Knobbs, and Jerry Flynn. The stable dissolved after only two months . Barbarian was released from his WCW contract in September 1999 in an effort to cut costs by new WCW Senior Vice President, Bill Busch.
In March 2004, The Barbarian won the NWA Virginia Heavyweight Championship, and feuded with David Flair for the title, until he was ruled ineligible to compete due to a lack of a valid Virginia wrestling license.
In 2005, The Barbarian again teamed with The Warlord in Gladiator Championship Wrestling, and renewed his feud with Road Warrior Animal.
In 2007, at the Annual Championship Wrestling/IRW Fun Fest Slam in Kingsport, Tennessee, The Barbarian wrestled 'Big' Steve Fury, the CW Heavyweight Champion, in front of 1,100 people. He also made an appearance in IWA Mid South, at the April Bloodshowers 2007 event, where he wrestled Jimmy Jacobs.
In 2008, The Barbarian teamed with Demolition Ax (Bill Eadie), and managed by Ted DiBiase, in Seagrove NC, defeating Cowboy Willie Watts & Leroy Greene.
In 2009, The Barbarian teamed with the Iron Chief in the Ivan Koloff's tag team tournament in the Allied Independent Wrestling Federation (AIWF).
- Signature moves
- With The Warlord
- Electric chair (The Warlord) / Diving clothesline (The Barbarian) combination
- Running powerslam by The Warlord followed by a diving headbutt by The Barbarian
Championships and accomplishments
- Bruiser Wrestling Federation
- BWF Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Exodus Wrestling Alliance
- EWA Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- iGeneration Wrestling
- iGeneration Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- International Association of Wrestling
- IAW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Mainstream Wrestling Organization
- MWO Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
- New Age Championship Wrestling
- NACW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him # 97 of the 100 best tag teams during the "PWI Years" with The Warlord in 2003.
- World Championship Wrestling
- World League Wrestling
- WLW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Other titles
- Real Wrestling Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- UCW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
Sione has seven children with his wife, Seini Tonga. His youngest son, Peter, is a standout college football player, who signed with Brigham Young University in February 2005. However, in the early stages of his BYU contract, Peter withdrew in order to play closer to his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. Peter signed to attend Wingate University in Wingate, North Carolina.
Sione's family is related to WCAU sportscaster Vai Sikahema, Philadelphia Eagles running back Reno Mahe, and Rock Star: INXS finalist Jordis Unga.
When he is not wrestling, he runs a small construction business in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.