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Wrestling / Yokozuna

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Rodney Agatupu Anoaʻi (October 2, 1966 – October 23, 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 (the rank of yokozuna being the highest in sumo). 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 Banzai Trope":

  • Acrofatic: Downplayed. Though neither very mobile nor agile, he had the spinning heel kick in his moveset, something not all the superheavyweights have. Also, while quite easy to execute, his Banzai Drop maneuver is still an aerial maneuver from the second rope.
  • Arch-Enemy: Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, Bret Hart, 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.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The aforementioned Banzai Drop. Every bit as final as you'd expect from a 600-pounder falling on someone; but the slow, specific setup meant he had to beat them down first.
  • Badass Family/Wrestling Family: One of the greatest in wrestling history.
  • Bash Brothers: with Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith and Samu.
  • Big Eater: If Bruce Prichard's account is anything to go by, Yoko had a fondness for food, a major factor in his gaining more and more weight. According to Prichard, Yoko once attended a party thrown by the Undertaker, who fried about a dozen turkey tails for him; Yoko devoured between 40 and 50 turkey butts dipped in mayonnaise. On another occasion, Yokozuna, while shooting a segment for Coliseum Video at a Japanese steakhouse, consumed enough food to serve twelve people.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Banzai Drop wasn't the most exciting finishing move, but rather the opposite, as it involved climbing up to barely more than height-high and dropping down into a squat. However, when an opponent is placed under said squat and the user weighs around 600 pounds, you can be sure it HAS potential to end a match, if not a life.
    • There were occasions where Yoko would slip or otherwise not quite come down as gently as he normally would on some poor jobber (you can find several of these instances on Youtube). Those instances are absolutely frightening to watch.
  • Catchphrase: "BANZAI!"
  • 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.
    • Ultimately what killed him, sadly. Jim Cornette and Bruce Prichard have both said that Yoko was over 800 pounds at the last weigh-in they witnessed, two years before his death in 2000.
  • 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.
  • Gentle Giant: The 2021 WWE Network documentary shows that he was this. Nobody had a bad word to say about him, and nobody has on podcasts or shoot interviews in the intervening years. Nearly everyone was in tears or near them (including The Undertaker) when they reflected on Rodney's kindness, generosity, and untimely death. When Jim Cornette and Bruce Prichard don't have a bad word to say about you, you have to be well liked.
  • The Giant: A rare weight-only example, though above average height at 6'4, its not a height that screams giant, but had bulk to compensate.
  • 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
    • Foreign Wrestling Heel: Oh was he ever, easily the best one of the mid-1990s, likely rivaled only by Lord Steven Regal.
    • Monster Heel: Yokozuna dethroned a rising star in Bret Hart, who seemed to be leading the New Generation into the future as a fighting champion. And then, to demonstrate that it didn't matter which era a challenger came from, he destroyed Hulk Hogan in front of thousands of young children. All of whom are still, to this day, traumatized. To top it all off, this would be Hogan's final WWF appearance for nine years.
    • Heel–Face Turn: After his manager Jim Cornette sided with Vader in early 1996.
  • Irony: Yokozuna was booked in an actual sumo match against Earthquake on RAW in 1994. Despite being named after the highest actual rank in sumo, Yoko was not only not a real sumo wrestler, he wasn't even Japanese, while despite being white, John Tenta had actually had a very successful professional career as a genuine sumo wrestler during his time in Japan, including 3 championships. Earthquake actually won (possibly because not even WWF would have been rude enough to have a fake sumo wrestler beat a real sumo wrestler at sumo).
    • The feud they were set up to have ended prematurely when Tenta went to WCW (a move he later stated he regretted).
  • Legacy Character: Rikishi's Samoan Sumo gimmick had similarities to Yokozuna.
    • Yokozuna's trainee King Dabada is a more obscure example.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: On the rare moments he spoke more than a couple sentences, he'd struggle to maintain a Japanese accent.
  • Power Stable:
    • (as Kokina Maximus in the AWA): The Sheik's (Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie)'s Army
    • (in WWE): Camp Cornette
  • Simple, yet Awesome: Sometimes used a leg drop to finish a match quickly. Given his combination of sheer mass and Acrofaticism 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
  • The Voiceless: He'd usually just stand there and let his managers do all the talking, until it was time for him to yell "BANZAI!"
  • 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. His uncles are the Trope Namers, though, and his relationship to the Samoan Dynasty was reconciled with his Yokozuna persona after his death.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Rodney Anoai


Yokozuna Gets Salted

Yokozuna's first reign as world champion is cut short when Mr. Fuji's usual trickery backfires during an impromptu challenge to Hulk Hogan.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / HoistByHisOwnPetard

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