Wrestler of the Day – April 4: Yokozuna

Today is kind of a big deal: Yokozuna.

 

Yokozuna is part of the Samoan wrestling family and is a cousin to pretty much every Samoan wrestler you can think of. He got his start in the AWA but also wrestled in places like Japan, Mexico and others. Here’s one of those other places, in a match from WWC in Puerto Rico against Ricky Santana. I’m not sure when this was other than some point in the mid to late 80s or what the story behind it is.

Ricky Santana vs. Great Kokina

Kokina is dressed like the Headshrinkers would be in the WWF and has hair to match them. Santana tries some right hands in the corner but has almost no effect. A dropkick sends Kokina into the corner but he grabs a wristlock to take over again. Some headbutts to Santana’s hand of all places puts him back down for a nerve hold.

Santana is thrown to the floor (grass actually) before getting beaten in the corner like he stole something. Back to the nerve hold until Ricky fights up, only to be slammed back down to the mat. Kokina misses a headbutt though and Ricky hammers away, droppking the big man with a dropkick. Not that it matters though as Kokina crushes him with a Samoan drop for the pin.

Rating: D+. Nothing special here as Kokina was more of a generic Samoan monster than the awesome monster he would become. Santana isn’t the biggest deal in the world but he’s a name I’ve at least heard of. The match wasn’t all that much but it made Kokina out to be a killer.

Another place Kokina performed was in Germany for the Catch Wrestling Association. Here’s a match against CWA owner and boss Otto Wanz from December 17, 1988.

Otto Wanz vs. Great Kokina

Kokina is listed as the Prince of Hawaii. Wanz is CWA Champion here and is a big man in his own right. Kokina hammers him into the corner but Wanz comes back with forearms to the chest to a HUGE ovation. He knocks Kokina to the floor and the fans are losing their minds. The guy is over in his own company if nothing else. Back in and Wanz grabs a headlock before taking Kokina to the mat with an armbar.

Kokina comes back with a shot to the chest to set up a nerve hold before just letting it go for no apparent reason. The bell rings and I think that’s the end of a round, which used to be a common thing in European wrestling. Round two starts and chokes away in the corner, tearing away some of the pads in the process. Wanz comes back with more forearms to the chest but gets caught in another nerve hold. Back up again and Wanz slugs him into the corner one more time and Kokina goes down. Wanz picks up the leg and drives a knee into Kokina’s thigh before shifting it over to a half crab for an eventual submission.

Rating: D+. I’ll give Wanz this: he was over like free beer in a frat house out there. Kokina wasn’t as good as he was in Puerto Rico here but two big fat guys working together is a hard formula to make work. The match wasn’t the worst I’ve ever seen but Wanz was really just doing fat man offense out there, which was getting a great reaction to be fair.

It was off to the WWF after a few years in Japan where Kokina would become Yokozuna, making his big match debut at Survivor Series 1992.

Yokozuna vs. Virgil

Yoko is listed as being from the Polynesian Islands here. This is when Yoko is only 505lbs and he had padding in his outfit to make him look fatter. I think this is his PPV debut. Yoko immediately shoves him away and chops Virgil down. Some dropkicks do some good for Virgil but Yoko superkicks him (and gets his foot higher than Virgil did) to take over. Virgil pounds away a bit but a Rock Bottom takes him down. Some more shots stagger Yoko but a sidewalk slam and a legdrop make things all better again. Yoko misses a charge and like an IDIOT, Virgil tries a rollup. Yoko falls on him and it’s BANZAI for the pin.

Rating: C-. For a debut, this could have been better but it’s clear that no one is going to stop this guy for awhile. Yoko would get the rocket to the stars push soon, winning the Rumble in two months and the world title at Wrestlemania in another two months. Virgil was a jobber to the stars here and nothing more, which is all he should have been. Somehow he would keep a job until 1994.

While it’s not a big match, this is a fairly famous one from January 11, 1993. If the date rings a bell, it’s the debut episode of Monday Night Raw and this is the first match in the show’s history.

Koko B. Ware vs. Yokozuna

Koko comes out to what would become Owen’s music which makes sense as they were partners around this time. I wonder what’s going to happen here. They swear on the air which might be a first for Raw. The tag line was uncooked, uncut and uncensored. I never got the uncooked part. How is that appealing? Bartlett just makes fat jokes about Yoko which makes sense. Vince is about as excited as humanly possible to be here. Bartlett makes jokes implying that Koko is Gary Coleman which is kind of funny but just out of place here. After Koko gets in no offense for about 4 minutes, the Banzai Drop ends this.

Rating: N/A. It was a glorified squash which is fine. I’m not sure how good this was for the first match in history but that’s fine I guess. This was just to push Yoko so that certainly accomplished its job. A lot of the earlier shows were almost all squashes so get used to it. Koko being around at this point surprises me.

Yokozuna would win the Royal Rumble later that month and go on to Wrestlemania IX to challenge Bret Hart for the WWF World Title in the main event.

WWF World Title: Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna

Bret is defending against Yoko who won the Royal Rumble. It wasn’t an automatic title shot yet but starting the following year it would be. Bret hits a quick dropkick and pounds away but a single shot knocks the champion away. A big tackle runs Bret over and sends him to the outside but he trips Yoko up to take him down. Bret pounds away but it doesn’t do a lot of damage. Yoko wins a battle of the clotheslines and a big old legdrop crushes the champ’s face.

Off to a nerve hold for a bit but Bret gets his feet up in the corner to block a charge. A middle rope bulldog puts the monster down for two which is a victory in and of itself. Yoko superkicks Bret down and it’s right back to the nerve hold. Bret fights up and makes his comeback, finally knocking Yoko down with a middle rope clothesline. A buckle pad is ripped off somewhere in there and Bret rams him face first into it. Yoko falls on his stomach and Bret gets the Sharpshooter, only to have Fuji throw salt in the champ’s face. That’s actually enough for the pin and the title.

Rating: D+. Bret did what he could but there’s a limit to what you can get out of a big fat guy like this. The ending is pretty lame and the match lasted less than nine minutes. That just doesn’t fit for a Wrestlemania main event but thankfully the rematch the next year would get more time and would be MUCH better.

Since Hulk Hogan felt the need to be champion again, he would take the title from Yokozuna a few minutes after this, setting up a rematch at King of the Ring 1993.

WWF Title: Yokozuna vs. Hulk Hogan

Yoko is billed as being from the Polynesian Islands despite having a ton of Japanese photographers (remember that) and a guy waving the Japanese flag. Apparently Hogan trimmed down for endurance here. Does that put him at maybe 302 or something I guess? Heenan says that this is a fresh Yokozuna and not one that just had a thirty minute match with Bret Hart.

In other words it’s the same as last time since Yoko vs. Hart was like 9 minutes. Also this is Hogan’s only title defense in two and a half months as champion so there we are. It was fairly HOKEY SMOKE WHO IN THE WORLD IS THAT??? Someone has stolen Hogan’s attire and belt. That guy can’t weigh more than 260. Literally he’s got to be 40-50 pounds lighter than usual.

This is right around the time of the steroids trial, so there we are for an explanation. He’s billed at 302 which is the biggest lie in the history of wrestling. Yes even more than Vince is decent in the ring for a guy with no training. Ross calling a Hogan match just doesn’t work for me for some reason. He says he’ll slam Yoko. That’s just amusing. I can’t get over how small he is.

It’s obvious that he’s going to lose here, but the interesting thing is how that happens. They mention that this arguably should have been Bret vs. Hogan, which it really should have been to give Hart the rub of all rubs that I feel cost Bret’s career. Considering I wrote out a huge thread on this before I’ll spare the details, but the main idea is that Bret never had that big defining win over a guy from the previous generation to make him seem like a legit guy.

It in turn hurt Shawn as Shawn’s bit rub was from Bret, which made Shawn look sort of weak. And think about it: they’re both considered more or less failures as draws and I can’t think of anyone that puts them on Hogan’s level or maybe even that of Savage, and to me this is because they never got that rub. Can you imagine how big of a star Bret would have been if Hogan gave up to the Sharpshooter or even just got pinned?

Even Savage would have been a huge deal. I’ve always thought Hogan didn’t do it because he knew Bret would wrestle circles around him but that’s neither here nor there. The problem to me was simply that Bret didn’t get the rub that he needed and a lot of it can be pointed at Hogan I think, but anyway. Hogan’s chest is flatter than Stacy Keibler’s.

Yoko is dominant for the most part here, with the main idea being that Hogan is just outmatched here by the size and power of Yoko. He hits some offense here and there as I’m somewhat reminded of Hogan vs. Andre, although nowhere near as cool or important. So after about the world’s longest bearhug this side of an Andre match, Hogan starts his comeback but STILL can’t slam him.

He Hulks Up though and actually hits the leg drop, but when it’s time for the adrenaline fueled slam attempt, a Japanese photographer (who may or may not have been Harvey Whippleman) jumps up on the apron to take a closeup of Hogan.

The camera explodes in his face which leads to the belly to belly and leg drop to crush Hulkamania dead. Yoko is the champion and Hogan wouldn’t be seen on WWF TV for almost 9 years. He would go to WCW in about 13 months and change wrestling forever, again. Hogan is taken out here, and Hulkamania is over.

Rating: C-. This really was little more than a squash. Yoko completely dominated here for about ten or eleven minutes out of thirteen. I don’t think they could have built him up any stronger than they did. Like I said, Hogan was gone and it was time for someone new to step up to face Yoko. Now the big question was who.

The man would be Lex Luger, who would fly onto the USS Intrepid and win a body slam challenge against Yokozuna, becoming the new American hero. His shot was at Summerslam 1993.

WWF Title: Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna

Remember, this is Luger’s ONE title shot. It’s a long staredown to start before Lex has to knock Mr. Fuji down. Lex starts pounding away but a single shot from the champion puts him down. Luger comes back with more right hands and down goes Yoko. A big elbow drop gets two for Luger and he avoid one from Yoko. Luger hits a running clothesline in the corner before pounding away on the champion’s head in the corner. Yoko will have none of that though and takes Luger down with a single chop.

Luger gets in some right hands but can’t slam Yoko again. Instead he gets kicked in the face and knocked to the floor with some headbutts. Out to the floor they go with Yoko choking Luger with a mic cord. A splash crushes Luger against the post but Yoko misses a chair shot. They head back inside where Luger hits two ax handle shots off the top and middle rope before a top rope forearm gets a very close two count.

A double clothesline puts both guys down and things slow down even more. Fuji throws in his bucket which Yoko uses to knock Luger out cold but only for two. A big belly to belly suplex and side slam get the same results as the champion is getting frustrated. Off to a nerve hold by the champion which eats up several minutes.

Luger fights up again but gets clotheslined down for two. To show you how impressive he is, Heenan actually compliments Luger. I don’t think I ever remember him cheering for a good guy before. Yokozuna loads up the Banzai Drop but Luger rolls away at the last minute. They fight into the corner again but Yoko misses a charge. Luger slams him down and hits the loaded forearm, knocking the champion out to the floor. Unfortunately for Luger, he also knocked Yokozuna out cold, earning Luger a countout win.

Rating: D+. This was long and slow without being very good. Luger got good reactions though, especially for the slam. It was clear that his character was nothing but warmed over Hogan leftovers but at least the fans hadn’t entirely realized that yet. This wasn’t a terrible match, but it certainly was nothing of note either. The ending wasn’t great but it was necessary to continue the story being told.

Here’s a match you probably haven’t seen before. It’s from a special called Survivor Series Showdown on November 22, 1993.

WWF World Title: Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna

There’s an opening match for you. Yoko is defending as I’m guessing this is the end of a TV taping or something. The champion shoves Bret around to start but gets dropkicked out to the floor for his efforts. JR points out the flaw of the USA chant but Gorilla brushes it off. Yoko stays on the floor for about two minutes without being counted out somehow. Back in (finally) and Bret pounds away before throwing on a sleeper.

That goes about as well as you would expect for a small guy trying a sleeper on a monster so the champion takes over again. A knee drop crushes Bret and Yoko rips at his face for a bit. The Canadian is sent to the floor where Fuji gets in a cheap shot with the flag and we take a break. Back with Bret pounding away out of the corner but getting taken down by a cheap shot to the throat.

Off to the nerve hold by the champion which lasts for a good long while. Bret fights up and charges into Yoko for no good reason and bounces out to the floor as you would expect. Yoko follows him out and gets sent into the steps to no effect, so there’s a chair shot to Hart’s back. More chair shots keep Bret down and we take a second break. Back with Yoko hitting the fat man legdrop for no cover.

Yoko misses a big charge in the corner and Bret has his rocking. The Hart Attack clothesline is enough for two but Bret has to deck Fuji before he can follow up. Hart goes up but dives into a bearhug but immediately bites his way out of it. A middle rope bulldog is enough for another two as the fans are WAY into it now.

The middle rope elbow hits but Bret might have hut his knee in the process. The Canadian goes up again but dives into a belly to belly as both guys are down again. The champ misses a splash so Bret hooks the Sharpshooter but Owen walks to ringside for absolutely no apparent reason. Fuji hits Bret with the bucket so Owen runs in and hits Yoko with the same bucket for the DQ.

Rating: B. When you can drag a good match out of the fat man Yoko, you can tell you’ve got something special on your hands. This was a LONG match too, hitting nearly half an hour which was unthinkable for a free TV match back in the day. Owen coming out was foreshadowing the heel turn on Wednesday. Yeah Survivor Series was on Wednesday in 1993.

Soon after this Yokozuna would captain a Survivor Series team called the Foreign Fanatics to face the All Americans at Survivor Series 1993.

Foreign Fanatics vs. All Americans

Yokozuna, Crush, Ludvig Borga, Jacques
Lex Luger, Undertaker, Steiner Brothers

The Quebecers are the tag champions and have Johnny Raven Polo as their manager. Yoko is world champion. Jacques and Scott start things off and Jacques offers a handshake. Scott says screw you in classic Freakzilla style. Scott hits a quick belly to belly for two and it’s off to Rick. Jacques brings in Yoko and things slow down almost immediately. Rick hits a clothesline and a shoulder to knock Yoko out to the floor but it doesn’t do much good.

Off to Borga who died in the last year or so. Rick gets knocked to the floor but comes back in off the top with a shoulder for no cover. Borga misses an elbow and Rick goes up again, coming off with a cross body. Borga rolls through it and Rick isn’t moving at all, giving Borga an easy pin. Rick finally starts moving and holds his leg, so I’m thinking that’s a legit injury. Rick can’t stand up on the floor.

Scott comes in next and gets to fight Jacques. Rick eventually limps off on his own power which is a good sign at least. Scott hits a great gorilla press but Crush catches a falling Jacques and I guess that’s a tag. Steiner wants nothing to do with a test of strength so Crush pounds on him a bit. A butterfly powerbomb puts Crush down and apparently Savage is back in the building. Crush kicks Scott down and here’s Macho.

Crush throws Scott down to the floor over the top but he won’t go after Savage. Randy gets sent to the back and the dull match continues as Scott may have hurt his knee on that fall. The knee gets targeted now with Crush firing away some kicks and Savage is coming back AGAIN. Scott dropkicks Crush to the floor and Crush goes after Savage for long enough to draw a countout.

Jacques goes after the injured Scott now with a rear chinlock followed by an elbow to the jaw for two. Scott somehow hits a gorilla press on Jacques and there’s the tag to Lex. He slams Jacques down and drops a middle rope elbow for the elimination. It’s now Lex, Taker and Scott vs. Borga and Yoko. Borga comes in to face the still limping Scott. Taker hasn’t been in the match yet.

Borga pounds on the ribs and whips Scott in the corner so he can clothesline Steiner down. Borga goes up top but gets suplexed back down for two. Yoko comes in and pounds away, but Scott gets in some offense. He tries the freaking Frankensteiner which goes about as well as you would expect it to, resulting in a legdrop from Yoko eliminating Scott to get us down to two on two.

Luger comes in as we’re almost 20 minutes in with no Taker at all yet. Borga, a Finn, waves the Japanese flag. Yoko misses a splash and Lex pounds away, only to get clotheslined down with ease. Off to Borga who runs Luger over again and kicks him in the ribs. Back to Yoko who misses a charge, and it’s FINALLY off to Taker.

Taker hits his running DDT and sits up but a Borga distraction lets Yoko suplex Taker down. There’s the situp and another after a clothesline. A legdrop keeps Taker down and there’s the Banzai, but Yoko goes for another, and Taker moves. A clothesline puts Yoko on the floor and they brawl to a double countout. See you at the Rumble boys. Taker was legally in the match for less than two minutes and forty seconds.

So it’s Lex vs. Borga now and as Taker and Yoko brawl on the floor. Ludvig has taken over and drops a leg on Lex. A side slam puts Lex down for two and Borga gets more two’s off various other power moves. He isn’t covering well though so he isn’t ready to pin Luger yet. A suplex puts Borga down and they clothesline each other. With Cornette distracting the referee, Borga hits Lex with Fuji’s salt bucket for two. Lex gets fired up and hits a powerslam and the loaded forearm for the final pin.

Rating: D+. This didn’t work either. Taker was the main draw of the match and he wasn’t even in there for a tenth of the match. Yoko vs. Taker would go on to screw up two PPVs and Lex would never get the title, basically making the second half of 1993 totally pointless. This match didn’t work at all, and a lot of that is due to the heel lineup. Unless there was an injury or something, I don’t get why Pierre was taken out.

As I’m sure you can guess, this led to Yokozuna vs. the Undertaker at the 1994 Royal Rumble. This is one of those things that had to be seen to be believed.

WWF World Title: The Undertaker vs. Yokozuna

Casket match. They stare each other down to start and Taker fires off his uppercuts to stagger the champion. A clothesline puts Yoko down and another uppercut puts Yoko on the floor. Taker is sent into the steps and it’s immediately no sold, scaring Yoko to death again. There’s Old School but the jumping clothesline misses as Yoko ducks. Why does no one else ever think of doing that?

They fight over a chair on the floor which winds up going upside Yoko’s head. There’s a plastic chair to the back of the champion but Yoko grabs the trusty salt to blind Taker. Now it’s Taker’s back getting hit with the chair and we head back inside. A clothesline puts Taker down but he fights out of the casket. Taker wins a slugout in the middle of the ring but Yoko belly to belly suplexes him down. Come on. You know that’s not holding him down. Taker pops up and grabs Yoko by the throat and hits a DDT to put the champion down again.

Yoko is placed in the casket but here’s Crush to block Taker from closing it. Taker slugs him down so here’s Great Kabuki and Tenryu but Taker beats them down as well. Yoko is still out cold in the casket. Bam Bam Bigelow comes in now and it’s 4-1 in the ring. One has to wonder why Paul Bearer doesn’t go over and close the casket but this match doesn’t seem to be the most logical one. Fuji and Cornette have stolen the Urn.

Yoko finally gets out of the casket as Bearer beats up Fuji and Cornette, stealing the Urn back. He uses it to recharge Taker, who fights off all four mercenaries. Now it’s Adam Bomb to make it technically 8-1 but Taker fights everyone off with the salt bucket. Jeff Jarrett comes in as well, as do the Headshrinkers. That makes it NINE wrestlers (Yoko, Crush, Kabuki, Tenryu, Bigelow, Jarrett, Samu, Fatu, Adam Bomb) against Undertaker.

AND HE GETS UP. Diesel comes out and they get Taker in the coffin but he fights ALL OF THEM OFF. Yoko steals the Urn and hits Taker in the head with it before opening the Urn. Green smoke comes out of it and Taker now is powerless. Everyone hits a bunch of moves on him as this goes on WAY too long. After ALL THAT, Taker is put in the coffin and Yoko retains the title.

Rating: F. On a major wrestling show, The Undertaker just fought off ten men until green smoke was released to drain him of his power. I’ve seen Japanese anime that makes more sense than this. Oh and the match itself, as in the one on one part, might have gone about six minutes.

BUT IT GETS WORSE!

The heels all push the coffin away when a gong goes off. Smoke comes out of the casket…..and a FREAKING CAMERA FEED FROM INSIDE THE CASKET POPS UP ON THE SCREEN. Taker says his soul lives in everyone and he can’t be extinguished. He says there’s going to be a rebirth of the Undertaker and he won’t rest in peace. Then electrical noises go off and we get something like an inverse camera shot (as in it’s all in black and white but what is white is black and what is black is white).

Then, to REALLY hammer home the point, the image on the screen starts to rise up through the top of the screen (which should be the top of the casket, meaning it should be ramming into the people that put him in the freaking casket) and A FREAKING BODY RISES OUT OF THE TOP OF THE SCREEN. AS IN A TANGIBLE BODY (which might have been played by Marty Jannetty).

In other words, WWF just said Taker is something like Jesus. Oh and one other thing to really make sure this is stupid: YOU CAN’T SEE IT. All I can see are some quick shots of it when flashes go off. This is one of those things that embarrasses me as a wrestling fan. I mean…..WOW.

Yokozuna would be champion going into Wrestlemania X where he potentially had to wrestle twice, defending the title against Lex Luger first and then Bret Hart if he was successful.

WWF World Title: Lex Luger vs. Yokozuna

Yoko is defending of course and there’s also backstory to this. The idea here is that last 4th of July, Yokozuna held a bodyslam challenge on board the U.S.S. Intrepid. No one could slam him and the contest was closed, but a helicopter landed on the ship and out stepped Lex Luger. He hit a running forearm and slammed Yokozuna to get the biggest face turn in years. He then went around the country on a bus, begging for a title shot because he was MADE IN THE USA.

Anyway, he got the shot at Summerslam with the catch that it was his ONLY shot. Luger did indeed beat Yoko….by countout. Therefore he was frozen out of the title picture, unless he could win the Royal Rumble. We’ve already covered that though so here’s the first title match. Luger gets a bit intro with fireworks, but do you really think New York City is going to cheer him? Especially with BRET HART in the wings? You should know better than that.

Luger pounds away like any AMERICAN hero worth his (certainly not Japanese) salt. A big right hand sends Yoko out to the floor and there’s an ax handle to the back of the head. Luger busts out a freaking TOP ROPE CROSS BODY for two and a jumping elbow for the same. Since it’s early in the match, a slam completely fails and Yoko falls on top for two. Yoko rips a buckle pad off but we hit the nerve hold for a bit instead. Luger fights out of it but Yoko rams into him to stop any comeback.

Back to el nerve hold which has been running for about five minutes total now. Luger fights up but Fuji pulls the rope down to send him to the outside. Back in and BACK TO THE NERVE HOLD. After about 87 years Luger fights up and makes his comeback….only to be knocked down by a chop. Yoko tries to send Luger into Chekov’s buckle but gets sent into it himself of course.

Luger makes his REAL comeback and hits a clothesline to put Yoko down and there’s the “slam” (more like he picked up Yoko and dropped him). The forearm knocks Yoko out but Luger has to beat up Fuji and Cornette. Perfect won’t count so Luger shoves him…AND THAT’S A DQ! Holy screwjob! That’s clearly what the fans are chanting: screwjob, not some other word that starts with s and often comes after holy.

Rating: D+. It’s rare to see Luger as the star of a match but that’s certainly the case here. That nerve hold was RIDICULOUS as it was about 80% of the champion’s “offense”, although a case can be made that he was saving strength for later tonight which is understandable. This was a callback to something that most people didn’t remember, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fair game. Unfortunately Perfect would injure his back again after this and not be able to payoff this feud. Either way, Luger is officially a choker in the WWF and was done as a world title contender after this.

And the second match on the show.

WWF World Title: Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna

Yoko is defending if you can’t tell. Burt is barely able to read lines off a card. Hart is STILL selling the leg from earlier, because that’s how awesome he is. Yoko jumps Bret to start and the fans are already fired up for this. Bret tries to fire back with some punches but Yoko stomps him down. Piper and Cornette get in an argument as Yoko blasts Hart. The splash misses though and Bret pounds away, only to hurt his head on a headbutt.

Hart actually manages to punch Yoko down and gets two off an ax handle to the back. The champion comes back with fat man offense and drops the big leg for two. A headbutt puts Bret on the floor but he gets back in at eight. Yoko misses a charge in the corner and there’s a bulldog out of the corner to put the big man down. That only gets two though, as does the middle rope elbow. Bret keeps limping and hits the Hart Attack clothesline for a delayed two.

The belly to belly puts Bret down but Yoko won’t cover for no apparent reason. Instead he loads up the Banzai Drop, only to fall victim to the powers of gravity. It knocks the wind out of the monster, allowing Hart to hook the leg for the pin and the title as the roof is blown off of Madison Square Garden for about the fifth time tonight.

Rating: B-. While it isn’t a classic, the fans were WAY into this and it’s a feel good moment to end the show. Bret was fighting a very different kind of match here rather than he did the previous year, as here he was taking it straight to Yoko instead of sticking and moving. Very solid match here all things considered and a great way to get the giant out of the title scene.

After he lost the title, Yokozuna had someone coming back for revenge. Here’s the casket rematch from Survivor Series 1994 with CHUCK NORRIS as guest enforcer referee.

Yokozuna vs. Undertaker

This is a casket match where you have to throw your opponent in the casket and close it to win. Druids bring out the casket of course. Yoko is so fat here it’s unreal. Taker does the throat slit from across the ring and Yoko falls down. A Yoko splash in the corner is no sold but the fat man stops before he gets thrown to the casket. Yoko winds up on top of the casket to further freak him out.

They fight to the floor with Taker in control. Back inside Old School staggers Yoko but he catches Taker in a Samoan Drop. Taker doesn’t sell it but the move did hit. A headbutt puts Taker down but he won’t go in the casket. Back in and Taker misses an elbow but sits up anyway. A Rock Bottom puts Taker down and Yoko drops a leg while he’s sitting up to keep the dead man (as in Undertaker, not the legitimately dead Yokozuna) down.

Taker gets put in the casket but he blocks it from being closed. They both wind up in the box and slug it out but Mr. Fuji pulls Taker’s hair to break things up. Cornette (Yoko’s other manager) gets drilled as well and we head back inside. Yoko sends him back to the floor and rams him into the steps (from inside the ring, which is kind of impressive). Back inside and they slug it out with Taker slamming Yoko’s head into the mat.

Taker channels his inner Kane and hits a top rope clothesline to put Yokozuna down. As he’s rolling the fat man over, here’s King Kong Bundy to glare at Norris. Bigelow comes out as well but nothing comes of it. Nothing comes of it on their end at least as IRS comes in and beats up Undertaker, which would also set up the Undertaker vs. DiBiase’s Corporation feud for 1995. Taker gets put in the casket but by the time Yoko gets there, Taker blocks the lid from closing. Jeff Jarrett comes out to challenge Norris and gets kicked in the chest. Taker hits a DDT and a big boot to send Yokozuna into the casket for the win.

Rating: D. This was really dull stuff and the ending was never in doubt. Once Yokozuna got this fat he was just worthless. This was the last we would see of him until Wrestlemania where he came back EVEN BIGGER. Norris didn’t really add much here but the fans liked him and that’s all that really matters. Thankfully this feud ended here.

We’ll wrap it up with one of Yokozuna’s last successful performances. From Wrestlemania XI.

Tag Titles: Owen Hart/??? vs. Smoking Gunns

Owen introduces Yokozuna as his mystery partner. The Gunns are defending here and say they’ll win. Owen and Billy start things off with Hart trying to speed things up. That goes badly for him as Billy slaps him in the face and brings in Bart to work on the arm. Owen fights back though and brings in Yoko who misses an elbow drop. Back to Owen as we’re firmly in the Colossal Connection formula (Owen does the wrestling, Yoko comes in for a few seconds to destroy whoever he’s fighting).

The Gunns hit a double legsweep on Hart and a double flapjack gets two. Owen finally escapes a backdrop attempt and brings in Yoko. Billy gets taken down and sat on, giving the foreigners control. Off to a nerve hold which hopefully doesn’t last as long as the ones last year did. After we kill a minute or so in the hold, Owen loads up a missile dropkick but hits his partner by mistake. There’s the hot tag to Bart and house is cleaned, but Billy walks into a belly to belly suplex. The Banzai Drop hits but Bart breaks up the pin. Not that it really matters though as Owen covers Billy for the pin and the title, Owen’s first in the company.

Rating: C-. Another decent but lackluster match here which is the theme of this show. The Gunns losing was definitely the right call as Owen and Yoko made for dominant champions for several months. Other than that though, the match was boring stuff overall. Owen finally getting a title was a good moment though.

Yokozuna would be in the WWF for about a year and a half more but became more of a freak show than a serious competitor. He was just so heavy by the end and there was no way to use him. Unfortunately he would die in 2000 of a heart attack at the age of 34. If he had been able to control his weight he could have still been active until a few years ago. It’s a shame too as the guy was so quick and so dominant as a monster and could have been a far bigger deal than he was, which wasn’t bad as he main evented back to back Wrestlemanias, which was a first for a heel. He was also the first to win and retain the World Title at the biggest show of the year, which is quite the accomplishment.

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