By Dakota Parks for Downtown Crowd
In the professional wrestling world, no couple is quite as infamous as husband and wife, Jimmy Uso and Naomi—a.k.a. Jonathan and Trinity Fatu when they’re outside of the ring. The World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstars met in training in Tampa shortly after signing with WWE and moved to Pensacola together, where they currently reside. Jimmy, alongside his twin brother Jey—better known as The Usos— are seven-time tag team champions and recently broke their own record of being the longest-reigning SmackDown Tag Team Champions. Naomi is a two-time WWE SmackDown Women's Champion and the first to win the Women’s Battle Royal at WrestleMania 34. When Jimmy and Naomi aren’t busy being a power couple and traveling the globe together wrestling, they enjoy spending time at home with family, pampering their two dogs, lounging on Pensacola Beach and exploring food trucks downtown. Downtown Crowd caught up with them ahead of their hometown show, WWE Road to WrestleMania, held at the Pensacola Bay Center on March 13 at 7 pm. Tickets to the live show are available online at ticketmaster.com.
The two of you have been married since 2014. Tell me about how you met.
Jimmy: I got signed [with WWE] in July 2009 and Trinity got signed in August. We went through developmental together, where they teach you how to fall properly, how to not hurt yourself and how to not hurt anyone else. From there you get a character and move up to the big leagues. I knew Trinity was a keeper right out of the gate. She was jumping off ropes and doing all these athletic stunts and abilities that half the guys couldn’t even do. It’s a funny story actually. I introduced myself to her because I heard that her favorite wrestler growing up was my dad, Rikishi, and she didn’t know I was his son. I made a fool of myself trying to small talk.
What is it like working in the same industry together? Do you get to train together, and do you ever get sick of constantly being with each other?
Naomi: All of the above. It is a very grueling schedule. Before the pandemic, we were traveling on the road 300 days out of the year. But it is very comforting for me and really helps having him on the road with me. But on the same token, we're literally together 24/7. We work together, we travel together, we eat together, we live together, we train together and we just don't ever really have that time to miss each other.
You mentioned the pandemic slowed down your schedule. What were the early shutdowns like for you both?
Jimmy: We went from performing in front of 8,000-10,000 people weekly and on live television to one arena with no energy in there, because there's no fans. We feed off the fans in the WWE Universe. At that time all sports had stopped— the NBA, NFL and MLB, but we kept wrestling each week with big screens surrounding us so the audience could see us from home. So, we drove to Orlando and back to Pensacola once a week for an entire year. During a normal year, we are traveling across the world doing three live events, each in different cities, and one television special every single week.
Naomi, you had a successful career as a dancer and cheerleader before you signed with WWE. What was that transition like to professional wrestling?
Naomi: I was cheerleading for Orlando Magic at the time, and one of the girls on the team told me about the wrestling opportunity. I thought it sounded cool and sort of did it on a total whim. I drove to Tampa for a trial and they offered me a contract. I left home, stopped cheerleading, stopped dancing and moved to Tampa. My mom thought I was crazy. It just looked fun to me at first, and it totally changed my life.
Jimmy, you come from a long lineage of wrestlers. What was your childhood like growing up and beginning your career as a wrestler?
Jimmy: Growing up, it was normal being around a lot of wrestlers and seeing my dad on TV. Kids would ask me about it at school and I was like, “yeah it’s cool, I guess?” It didn’t faze me. My kids feel the same way about us today. But being from this family and trying to make your own mark was pretty intimidating at first. When you come from such a huge wrestling lineage like Rikishi and The Rock, and everybody else that was such a badass before you, you don’t want to be the first one to suck. I’m just really glad to be on the tag team with my twin brother and have him and Trinity by my side as support. But man, all three of us in a car together on these long car rides, and sometimes we want to rip each other’s heads off. But it’s all love.
Do either of you have any career highlights or favorite moments over the years?
Naomi: Mine would be my debut with Brodus Clay and our former tag partner because it was such a journey getting to that debut. And, of course, when I won the Championship at WrestleMania 33 in my hometown in Orlando—that was awesome.
Jimmy: I think the debut always sticks out with everybody. And the first time I won the championship with my brother. WrestleMania is like the biggest stage of the year; it’s the Super Bowl in our world. In 2015, my brother, Trinity and I got to do a match at WrestleMania with the three of us together on the same team. We flew our kids out to see it in California. We each had our families there, and they all got to see us in the ring together on the big stage. It was such a cool memory.
Okay, you two aren’t the only famous ones in the family. Your dogs, Tank and Marley, have nearly 20K followers on Instagram! How do you keep their fans at bay?
Naomi: OMG. My dad is so upset by this. He’s a musician and has his own band, trying to get followers for gigs and shows. He really doesn’t understand why our dogs have so many followers and they don’t even do anything. I started their Instagram just to entertain myself, because we are obsessed with our dogs. They give us so much comfort and help us destress. But then I started to see that people really like them, so I kept it going, and now they really do have their own little fan base. We definitely miss them when we’re traveling. The constant traveling is the hardest part of the job for me—performing is the easy and fun part. We miss a lot of birthdays, holidays and events, but it comes with the territory.
Is there anything about the 2022 Road to WrestleMania Tour that you’re looking forward to or anything you would say to hype up people to come out and see it?
Naomi: For me, it’s definitely seeing our fans. After going through the pandemic and not having our fans there to cheer us on, it’s a different kind of appreciation now. It really makes you value them even more. So, I’m just looking forward to being able to go out and see live performances and congregate together again— and not taking that for granted.
Jimmy: If you've never been to a live WWE show, it hits a lot different in person than seeing it on TV. If you haven't been to one, I really encourage you to go out and feel the energy. The crowd is just electric when they announce you in your hometown. Plus, I'm always happy to see a few of Pensacola's own performing in our hometown. Roman Reigns will be there. He’s our number one, Universal Champion. We both grew up here, played football together and went to Escambia High School together. It’s going to be awesome, and I hope people come out to see it.