The Land of the Rising Sun
WWE Champion; World Tag Team Champion; 1993 Royal Rumble Match winner; 2012 WWE Hall of Fame Inductee
That was the last word many of WWE’s top Superstars heard when they faced the imposing Yokozuna. Standing 6’4” and weighing nearly 600 pounds, the Japanese sumo wrestler squashed legends like Bret “Hit Man” Hart, The Undertaker and Hulk Hogan on his way to becoming one of the most dominant WWE Champions of all time.
Trained by the ferocious Wild Samoans, the behemoth debuted in WWE in 1992 with the sinister Mr. Fuji guiding his career. The pairing was effective from the very beginning — if Yoko’s size didn’t seal the victory, a handful of salt from the meddling Fuji would.
Stomping through WWE like a Japanese movie monster, Yokozuna simply dominated. He heaved Randy Savage over the top rope to win the 1993 Royal Rumble Match and then decimated American icon “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan on Raw by crushing him with four Banzai Drops. At WrestleMania IX, the sumo champion overwhelmed Bret “Hit Man” Hart to win the WWE Title. When he lost the championship to Hulk Hogan in an impromptu bout that night, he plowed through the sports-entertainment legend two months later to win it right back.
His second reign as WWE Champion wasn’t just successful — it was devastating. He made the chiseled Lex Luger look small by comparison at SummerSlam ’93 and manhandled The Undertaker in a way few Superstars could. The thing about Yokozuna was he wasn’t just big, he was agile. The superheavyweight threw standing sidekicks with ease and flattened opponents with belly-to-belly suplexes that tested the integrity of any ring. At the peak of his abilities, Yokozuna was unstoppable.
Eventually, though, the size that made the giant so great became his greatest undoing. Struggling with his massive weight, Yokozuna passed away at the age of 34.
It was an untimely end to the powerful Superstar’s life, but Yokozuna left behind a massive legacy as one of sports-entertainment’s best big men and WWE Hall of Famer.