When someone walks into the ring with Nia Jax, one thing becomes glaringly clear: she is not like most girls. In celebration of her 38th birthday, today is the perfect day to highlight Nia, her Samoan heritage, as well as her wrestling career.
Born in Sydney, Australia on May 29, 1984, Savelina Fanene was reared in the Hawaiian capital of Honolulu. Joseph Fanene, her father, is of Samoan ancestry and is a cousin of Peter Maivia, “The Rock’s” grandfather. Renate Fanene, her mother, is of German ancestry. Nia Jax attended Cal State University and earned a degree in marketing. During her collegiate years, she also played basketball. Additionally, she studied karate, judo, and kickboxing.
Nia Jax was a well-known basketball player and plus-size model prior to joining WWE. Her given name was Zada, but she eventually changed it to Nia Jax. She made her NXT debut in 2014, against Evie in a singles bout. Nia Jax was depicted as a villain during her stint in NXT, and even joined forces with Eva Marie. Carmella and Alexa Bliss are two of her frequent opponents. Her finisher was nicknamed “Annihilator” when she performed the Samoan Drop.
She began a rivalry with Bayley and challenged her to a match for the NXT Women’s title but lost. In 2016, she became embroiled in a dispute with Bayley and Carmella, attacking them with the assistance of Marie. And it was at that point that Asuka rescued both of them from the onslaught. This resulted in her subsequently being embroiled in a rivalry with Nia Jax for the NXT Championship. After defeating Carmella and Alexa Bliss in a triple threat match, Nia Jax faced Asuka for the NXT Women’s Championship at the “NXT Takeover: The End” pay-per-view. Additionally, she lost against Asuka on another occasion making this her last appearance in NXT.
The Irresistible Force brought that force to Raw in 2016 and quickly established herself as a powerhouse. Following her debut, Jax feuded with Alicia Fox and won a few bouts against her. She also fought Sasha Banks, who Nia Jax defeated for the first time in the Elimination Chamber before losing the match at Fastlane 2017. Nia Jax then competed in the RAW Women’s Championship main event matchups. She competed for the championship against Charlotte Flair, Bayley, and Sasha Banks, but was unsuccessful.
Later, she participated in the Survivor series twice (2017, 2018) as a member of Team RAW but was ousted from the team. She was scheduled to appear in an on-screen relationship with Enzo Amore prior to his departure from the firm.
Nia Jax turned face when she feuded with Alexa Bliss, winning her maiden title gold at WrestleMania 34 by defeating Bliss for the Raw Women’s Title. Jax would lose her championship shortly after facing Ronda Rousey, while Alexa Bliss would cash in her RAW Women’s Championship during the match.
Following her championship loss to Bliss, she began a rivalry with Ember Moon. On an episode of RAW, Nia teamed up with her and beat Mickie James and Alicia Fox. At the Evolution pay-per-view, she eliminated Moon from the battle royal. She subsequently beat Moon on RAW. Nia Jax faced Ronda Rousey at TLC but was unable to beat her to win RAW Women’s Champion.
She later competed in the 2019 Women’s Royal Rumble, where she was eliminated by Becky Lynch after 11 minutes. In addition, she competed in the Men’s Royal Rumble the same night, replacing R-Truth, who had attacked him backstage. Randy Orton attacked her and gave an RKO, while Rey Mysterio performed a 619 and eliminated Jax from the Rumble.
Nia and Tamina then teamed up to battle for the Inaugurated Women’s Tag Team Championship, however they were eliminated. Additionally, in WrestleMania 35, they were defeated by the IIconic. She then had to leave the company for nine months because she had a torn ACL Ligament.
After Jax returned, she teamed up with Shayna Baszler to compete for the Women’s Tag Team championships against Sasha Banks and Bayley. They won the match and were crowned champions for the first time. They quickly lost the championship to Asuka and Charlotte Flair. Eventually, Jax and Baszler regain their tag team titles, becoming a two-time tag team champion. They went on to beat Naomi and Lana, Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke, Tamina, and Natalya’s teams.
They successfully defended the championship against Natalya and her old partner Tamina at WrestleMania 37. The championship was then lost to the same team on an episode of SmackDown. She was assaulted by Shayna after their match on RAW in September 2021, and they were separated making this her last appearance on RAW occurred on this episode. She left RAW for a Mental Break before returning, however, WWE terminated her contract in November 2021.
Currently, Jax has picked back up on her modeling career and she is flourishing. During WrestleCon weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting Lina and see was warm and welcoming to talk to me. We even took a picture together and I hope to have a sit-down conversation with her one day.
Despite the negative comments through Jax in the past, she is the classic example of a superstar who has “all the tools” who thrived in WWE, filling the niche of a female monster villain with a triple threat of distinctive personality, athletic skill, and the advantage of performing with the top female talents that WWE had to offer.