Wrestling / Yokozuna


Rodney Anoa'i (1966-2000) was a Samoan-American Professional Wrestler best known for his time in WWE from 1992-1996 as Yokozuna. His gimmick was of a former champion Sumo wrestler. He was a 2x WWE Champion and a 2x WWE World Tag Team Champion with Owen Hart. He started his career in the 1980s, first making an impression as Kokina Maximus in the American Wrestling Association, where he broke Greg Gagne's leg and ended his career. He also wrestled in the Continental territory in Alabama and in the UWA promotion in Mexico, where he co-held the UWA World Trios Title with Fatu (Rikishi) and the Samoan Savage (Sam "The Tonga Kid"/"Islander Tama" Fatu.) He made his WWE TV debut in October 1992 and left after Survivor Series in November 1996. He was a member of the famous Wild Samoan Wrestling Family. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012.

The Other Wiki has a good writeup about his life and career.

"The Banzai Trope":

  • Acrofatic: He was quite agile and did moves that super heavyweights normally didn't do. Stuff like high kicks, running leg drops and his finisher saw him dropping from the second turnbuckle.
  • Arch-Enemy: Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, Vader
  • Ass Kicks You: His Finishing Move, the Banzai Drop, was Yoko climbing up to the second turnbuckle and coming down in a sitting position on his opponent.
  • Badass Family/Wrestling Family
  • Bash Brothers: with Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, Samu
  • Catch Phrase: "BANZAI!"
  • Does Not Like Shoes: He would wear flip-flops to the ring, only to remove them before his match.
  • Downer Ending: His death in 2000 at the age of 34.
  • Enemy Mine: In battle royals, since it would usually take several guys teaming up to eliminate him.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Squashing Virgil in his PPV debut at Survivor Series 1992.
  • Fat Bastard: Already weighed 505 lbs. when he debuted and only grew heavier and fatter from there. In fact, he got so heavy that he couldn't get a wrestling license because he couldn't get the necessary medical clearance.
    • After a match where he was kayfabe injured (so he could take time off to lose weight), he had to be carried out on a real life forklift because he was so big.
  • Geisha: At the start of his WWE run, he'd have two flower-bearing geisha girls in the ring waiting for him before his matches.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: He defeated Mark Kyle, Denny Parton and Reginald Walker in a 3-on-1 handicap match on the March 9 (taped February 20), 1996 WWF Superstars. At one point, Yoko hit the Banzai Drop on Kyle. He set up Parton for the Banzai Drop in another corner, slammed Walker onto Parton and hit the move on both guys.
  • Heel
  • Legacy Character: Rikishi's Samoan Sumo gimmick had similarities to Yokozuna.
    • Yokozuna's trainee King Dabada is a more obscure example.
  • Power Stable:
    • (as Kokina Maximus in the AWA): The Sheik's (Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie)'s Army
    • (in WWE): Camp Cornette
  • Shout-Out: Received one on the November 6, 2000 Raw. The Undertaker defeated Val Venis, and celebrated the win by opening his vest to show that he was wearing a Yokozuna T-shirt in tribute, as Yoko had passed away on October 22.
    • In Japan, Akebono, an actual sumo wrestler turned pro wrestler, used the Banzai Drop for a time as a tribute to him.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: Sometimes used a Legdrop to finish a match quickly. Given his combination of obviously Mighty Glacier mass and almost-Lightning Bruiser Acrofaticness at times, it actually looked a good deal more devastating than Hulk Hogan's (in fact, Yoko even used it to beat Hogan himself at King of the Ring 1993).
  • Tag Team: with Owen Hart
    • (in the UWA in Mexico): The Hawaiian Beasts
  • Wild Samoan: Averted in WWE. While he was sometimes billed from "The Polynesian Islands", he was portrayed as a sumo champion and identified almost entirely with Japan and Japanese culture.