The Usos are a wrestling team more tightly knit than possibly any team before them. Why? Because they are twin brothers from a historic wrestling family. They have also been a key piece of WWE programming for the past three years and have been hailed by several in their field as not just one of the greatest tag teams of all time, but the greatest tag team of all time. 

This week, I give you the pre-2020 rundown of the careers Jonathan and Joshua Fatu, better known as Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso.

Who Are The Usos?

Jimmy and Jey Uso are legitimate fraternal twin brothers and professional wrestlers, currently signed to the WWE. As of this writing, they have eight total tag team championships to their name, including the longest tag team championship reign in company history at 622 days.

Their gimmick is, well, being twin brothers. A key thing to understand about their characters is their terminology, which they explained all of one time and haven’t ever since, so the context might be lost on anyone who didn’t watch two very specific episodes in 2017. “Day One Ish” is a huge part of their branding, which means they have been true to themselves and have a certain x-factor and have had it since they walked into the company (or, technically, since they first won the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championships, but it’s fluid for promotional purposes; ironically, this makes their “Day One Ish” day one-ish). 

The “Uso Penitentiary” is another phrase, described as the “lockdown” mindset they go into when putting on their matches. It also supposedly has an effect on their opponents by instilling fear and possibly leaving them in panic, which is the foundation of their phrase “It’s not paranoia, it’s The Usos!” The “Uso Penitentiary” has been de-emphasized in recent years (possibly due to both brothers getting into legal trouble) in favor of the more marketable “We The Ones,” emphasizing their dominance as a team.

Lastly, the brothers have what’s essentially a verbal tic and end lots of their sentences with “uss,” an abbreviation of “uso.” This extends far beyond statements they make in the ring, as it seems to be something they do in everyday life. The word “uso” means “brother” in Samoan. I’ve also never seen that tic written out before, so any Samoans out there that read this, slap me down if needbe.

The Usos weren’t known for having particularly strong or memorable characters until recently, leading many fans (and WWE personnel, embarrassingly) to not be able to tell the twins apart for a number of years. This thorn in The Usos’ side has been a key part of their character development in the 2020s, as they seem intent on making sure they’re never asked the insultingly deflating “which one are you?” ever again. 

Oh yeah, the biggest piece of their characters besides being twin brothers is that they are a part of the Anoa’i wrestling family, a dynasty of Samoan grapplers that began in the 60s.

What is the Anoa’i Wrestling Family?

Young Jimmy and Jey (bottom) with their cousin and eventual nemesis, a young Roman Reigns

The Anoa’i wrestling family is one of the most revered family trees in the craft, with its roots coming from brothers Afa and Sika and their father’s blood brother, “High Chief” Peter Maivia. The most famous member to come from the family is current Hollywood megastar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but notable former grapplers include Yokozuna (Rodney Anoa’i), Umaga (Edward Fatu), Rikishi (Solofa Fatu Jr.), and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka.

The Usos are the sons of Rikishi and cousins to both The Rock and current WWE centerpiece Roman Reigns. They are also the older brothers of Solo Sikoa, who performs in WWE alongside them. Other family members of theirs that have wrestled in modern times for the company include Nia Jax, Tamina Snuka, and Ava Raine (The Rock’s daughter). Trinity Fatu, who performed in WWE as Naomi, is also married to Jimmy Uso, making her related by marriage. 

This lineage and their prestige were the centerpiece of WWE’s The Bloodline stable and storyline.

What Have The Usos Done?

Jimmy and Jey made their WWE debut alongside their cousin Tamina in May 2010 by attacking another trio of wrestlers defined by the families that came before them, The Hart Dynasty (David Hart Smith, Tyson Kidd, and Natalya Neidhart). Smith and Kidd were the reigning WWE Tag Team Champions, putting the twin brothers immediately into a high profile feud. They wound up coming out on the short end in both six-man tag matches and Tag Team Championship matches. They would get drafted to Smackdown in 2011 and still come up short in tag team championship pursuits.

Then they just kind of…disappeared from television for the better part of two years. 

They were still putting in work at untelevised shows and events, but to most WWE viewers, they legitimately didn’t see this highly touted team of brothers from a legendary dynasty from 2011 until 2013.

According to Jimmy and Jey themselves, they tried a couple things to change up their act to get on or any TV time, but didn’t get much of a response. In 2011, they started performing the Siva Tau, a traditional Samoan war dance, in their ring entrance, but this was around the time they stopped showing up on RAW and Smackdown. Later in 2012, they would introduce face paint similar to their uncle Umaga and to further dig into their Samoan heritage, but higher ups didn’t notice for almost an entire year. They wouldn’t get back on regular weekly programming until the summer of 2013. From that point, however, they started to take off. 

The Usos started having matches with The Shield, which included cousin Roman Reigns, over their Tag Team Championships, then running into The Wyatt Family and Cody Rhodes and Goldust – all of this while those teams were actually at their hottest. They developed a gimmick of having their matches go “Uso Crazy” at times when the brothers were rolling at a fast pace. They would finally win their first tag team gold in March of 2014. 

The brothers would remain in contention and rack up a couple more tag title reigns until they turned heel in the midst of the tournament to determine the first ever Smackdown Tag Team Champions in 2016. They exchanged their bright colors and face paint for black, street inspired attire. They would capture those belts, again in March, this time of 2017 and had what was, until recently, the best run of their career. The defining moments of this run was undisputedly their rivalry with The New Day, where all the members of both teams put on match of the night performances every time they locked horns. 

Both squads have said that the other was their perfect foils and the best dance partners they all had, bringing out the best in both teams. Highlights of that wonderful feud included a rap battle between all five men, the cap-off of the whole program ending in the first-ever tag team Hell in a Cell match, and both teams getting pissed they were assigned to the Summerslam 2017 pre-show and deciding to tear the absolute house down and overshadowing every other match that night. 

The ultimate payoff was actually getting to compete on the main Wrestlemania card for the first time ever in 2018 – a full seven years after debuting. Going into the next year’s Wrestlemania, The Usos would be involved in one of their first real pieces of character development when they intentionally forfeited in a match against New Day members Big E and Xavier Woods as they fought for Kofi Kingston’s WWE Championship shot at Wrestlemania, citing respect for all three men in one of my personal favorite wrestling moments ever.

Following Jimmy getting charged with a DUI, the brothers disappeared in the second half of 2019 and then again when Jimmy suffered a knee injury in early 2020.

In September 2020, Jey Uso replaced former rival Big E in a match to determine who would be the first to face then-newly crowned WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns. Jey inexplicably won and put in motion the events that would become a three-year story arc of The Bloodline which will absolutely take an entire other article of analysis to break down to give justice not just to it, but the pair of twins who are now fully fleshed out individual characters. I can promise you that, uss.