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Yokozuna's title run booking.

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  • Yokozuna's title run booking.

    Yokozuna was on a pretty nice monster heel push in early 1993. He won the royal rumble and had squashed quite a few foes along the way and eventually landed his big moment at wrestlemania 9. His booking up to this point was great...Enter Hogan who naturally fucks it all up, wins a title he didn't need and nobody really wanted to see him with again, and they destroy the cred of the monster they had been booking by having his title run last all of a minute. Yokozuna would eventually get the title back from Hogan a few months later at King of the Ring but from what I understand, the original plan was to have Hogan drop the belt to Bret Hart at Summerslam but the almighty Hulkster didn't want to drop the belt to a small midget man like Bret so the plan was scrapped and they went back to Yokozuna as the champ and somehow in all this Bret just kind of got pushed off to the side of the main event scene and Luger came in as kind of their next Hogan. So Luger of course hits the big slam on Yokozuna in that body slam challenge and from what I understand the plan was to have Luger beat Yoko for the strap at Summerslam only vince changes his mind fairly last minute and says the title change should be held off until wrestlemania 10 so they do the screwy count out finish. It seemed fairly obvious that the plan was to put it on Luger until very late in the game so much so that if I remember correctly, Luger is celebrating his not championship win with confetti and balloons and streamers and shit with all the baby faces celebrating in the ring with him...all this for a guy who didn't win the title. It really just felt like vince said "Well we aren't switching the title after all but we already paid for all the balloons and confetti and god damn, we're going to use it". So they put Luger and Yoko on ice for a bit and Undertaker moves into the path of Yokozuna. They have a brief encounter at Survivor Series with Taker coming out looking like the better man as they kind of eliminate each other via count out in their suvivor series tag match. This eventually leads to Undertaker vs. Yokozuna at royal rumble 1994 where it takes damn near every heel on the roster to help yokozuna stuff Undertaker in the casket. Finally Yokozuna drops the belt to Bret Hart and never sniffs another main event run in the company. So I guess my big question is...Was wrestlemania 9 as far as WWE had planned to go with Yokozuna? It kind of felt like the only reason he beat Bret was to drop it to Hogan and then other plans just fell apart and he just happened to wind up as champion for much longer than WWE initially wanted him to be.

    Oh and also just for what it's worth. I heard Hogan wanted to bring Yokozuna into WCW in 1998 so he could get his win back from King of the Ring 1993. This fucking guys ego is hilarious.

  • #2
    Re: Yokozuna's title run booking.

    I just happened to finish watching that royal rumble that Yokozuna won. You are correct that it did feel like Yokozuna was only meant to be Hogan fodder and then Hulk would move on to Bret. I'm not sure of course but the direction it sounded like they were going to take didn't involve Yokozuna. I still don't know how it went from Hogan dropping the belt to Bret to Bret getting shoved off to mid card and Luger coming in as the their next Hogan as you put it. Kind of strange for Bret to go from "The Guy" to feuds with Lawler and Doink. Yeah this is a really odd time in the main event scene in WWE.

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    • #3
      Re: Yokozuna's title run booking.

      I just happened to finish watching that royal rumble that Yokozuna won. You are correct that it did feel like Yokozuna was only meant to be Hogan fodder and then Hulk would move on to Bret. I'm not sure of course but the direction it sounded like they were going to take didn't involve Yokozuna. I still don't know how it went from Hogan dropping the belt to Bret to Bret getting shoved off to mid card and Luger coming in as the their next Hogan as you put it. Kind of strange for Bret to go from "The Guy" to feuds with Lawler and Doink. Yeah this is a really odd time in the main event scene in WWE.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Yokozuna's title run booking.

        He is an interesting what if is Yoko. There did seem to be early plans of having him continue as Kokina and being teamed up with the Headshrinkers. During one of the first Headshrinkers appearances in mid-1992, the commentators reference an even larger Samoan soon to debut. The match with that comment used to be online but I can't find it right now. I can't imagine that would've worked anywhere close to as well as the sumo gimmick. The music, the geisha girls, the tossing of the salt, removal of the robe to reveal his sheer mass, the attire, Fuji as manager. All far better than him as an extra large Samoan savage with Afa in the corner.

        Speaking of his attire, I didn't like that he defaulted to just the red tights and black mawashi after a while. In the early days he would wear different combos, like white tights and black mawashi (such as at the 1993 Rumble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TALySj3XQQ), white tights and red mawashi (as on first-ever RAW: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9YB41i0JT2c) or my favourite look of red tights with white mawashi (as worn on his TV debut: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sr89wOayPSE). I've seen action figures with black tights/red mawashi and black tights/white mawashi, but I've never seen any photos or footage of him wearing them. Did he ever wear anything other than his standard red/black after maybe even Mania IX? I wonder if it was a Vince decision, wanting him to have the same look all the time, or maybe Yoko just didn't want to carry so many different outfits around on the road.

        His big push does seem a product of fortunate timing, as they often are. Flair, Savage and Warrior for various reasons were all out of the top of the card picture heading into 1993. Bret had become champ and needed heel challengers. I'm sure Yoko would've gotten a strong push anyway, but it may have been slower had so many big names not been removed.

        If we are to believe Bruce Prichard (and it isn't easy - since he says they put the title on Hogan so he would be champ on the European house shows just after Mania, when he didn't work those house shows; he worked 9 European house shows in late July/early August against champ Yoko), he talks as if Yoko was going to win the title from Bret even without the Hogan stuff. Not sure if I buy a heel leaving Mania as champ in 1993, but it does feel like it was too early for Yoko to be losing (obviously the Hogan deal seems like a late in the game call). I think Bret defending against Savage would've working as a coronation of him as the champ for the New Generation and he then goes on his house show run with Narcissist (no need for Lex Express) leading to a KOTR title defence and then maybe build to Bret/Yoko at SummerSlam, which could go either way depending on how things are looking at that point. In a world where Hogan doesn't want to return, that could've been a nice little spell. Although you'd lose Bret's great KOTR performance and the amazing Bret/Doing/Lawler deal at SS.

        I think it is almost impossible to say much about long term plans at that point because business was so poor and they were changing their minds all the time. I don't know if there were any long term plans. Bret was champ and new heel Yoko was getting reactions from crowds, so they thought let's pair them up and see if that does business and we'll figure out who wins when we get there. Then Hogan wants to come back, which is an opportunity not to turn down. He wants the belt so he can be champ while doing some promo stuff for Thunder in Paradise, so they give it to him via Yoko and when supposed plans for Bret/Hogan at SummerSlam break down, they get the title back on Yoko since Hogan is off for good. Then, after spending time building up Luger as a heel, they do an out of nowhere face turn and mega push over less than 2 months to build to the SummerSlam main, clearly with the idea he'll win. Then change their minds and think they can delay it, but they completely fuck the delay by having Luger celebrate his countout win like he won the title and the presidency all in one. At least if they'd had Yoko cheat to retain, have Luger get his heat back post-bell and end the PPV raging and vowing he'll get him, it may have had a chance.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Yokozuna's title run booking.

          He is an interesting what if is Yoko. There did seem to be early plans of having him continue as Kokina and being teamed up with the Headshrinkers. During one of the first Headshrinkers appearances in mid-1992, the commentators reference an even larger Samoan soon to debut. The match with that comment used to be online but I can't find it right now. I can't imagine that would've worked anywhere close to as well as the sumo gimmick. The music, the geisha girls, the tossing of the salt, removal of the robe to reveal his sheer mass, the attire, Fuji as manager. All far better than him as an extra large Samoan savage with Afa in the corner.

          Speaking of his attire, I didn't like that he defaulted to just the red tights and black mawashi after a while. In the early days he would wear different combos, like white tights and black mawashi (such as at the 1993 Rumble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TALySj3XQQ), white tights and red mawashi (as on first-ever RAW: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9YB41i0JT2c) or my favourite look of red tights with white mawashi (as worn on his TV debut: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sr89wOayPSE). I've seen action figures with black tights/red mawashi and black tights/white mawashi, but I've never seen any photos or footage of him wearing them. Did he ever wear anything other than his standard red/black after maybe even Mania IX? I wonder if it was a Vince decision, wanting him to have the same look all the time, or maybe Yoko just didn't want to carry so many different outfits around on the road.

          His big push does seem a product of fortunate timing, as they often are. Flair, Savage and Warrior for various reasons were all out of the top of the card picture heading into 1993. Bret had become champ and needed heel challengers. I'm sure Yoko would've gotten a strong push anyway, but it may have been slower had so many big names not been removed.

          If we are to believe Bruce Prichard (and it isn't easy - since he says they put the title on Hogan so he would be champ on the European house shows just after Mania, when he didn't work those house shows; he worked 9 European house shows in late July/early August against champ Yoko), he talks as if Yoko was going to win the title from Bret even without the Hogan stuff. Not sure if I buy a heel leaving Mania as champ in 1993, but it does feel like it was too early for Yoko to be losing (obviously the Hogan deal seems like a late in the game call). I think Bret defending against Savage would've working as a coronation of him as the champ for the New Generation and he then goes on his house show run with Narcissist (no need for Lex Express) leading to a KOTR title defence and then maybe build to Bret/Yoko at SummerSlam, which could go either way depending on how things are looking at that point. In a world where Hogan doesn't want to return, that could've been a nice little spell. Although you'd lose Bret's great KOTR performance and the amazing Bret/Doing/Lawler deal at SS.

          I think it is almost impossible to say much about long term plans at that point because business was so poor and they were changing their minds all the time. I don't know if there were any long term plans. Bret was champ and new heel Yoko was getting reactions from crowds, so they thought let's pair them up and see if that does business and we'll figure out who wins when we get there. Then Hogan wants to come back, which is an opportunity not to turn down. He wants the belt so he can be champ while doing some promo stuff for Thunder in Paradise, so they give it to him via Yoko and when supposed plans for Bret/Hogan at SummerSlam break down, they get the title back on Yoko since Hogan is off for good. Then, after spending time building up Luger as a heel, they do an out of nowhere face turn and mega push over less than 2 months to build to the SummerSlam main, clearly with the idea he'll win. Then change their minds and think they can delay it, but they completely fuck the delay by having Luger celebrate his countout win like he won the title and the presidency all in one. At least if they'd had Yoko cheat to retain, have Luger get his heat back post-bell and end the PPV raging and vowing he'll get him, it may have had a chance.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Yokozuna's title run booking.

            I hated Yoko back in the day but watching back through some early 1993 WWF a while back I finally got what they were going for with the Bret vs Yoko, really good stuff, Canadian sharpshooter technical submission wrestler(fighting WWF World Champ) vs the unstoppable undefeated monster Japanese Sumo power wrestler, all the pageantry for their Mania 9 match was good, had a great big fight feel to it(Caesars Palace), very cool stuff looking back now. I actually don't even mind the finish with Bret getting screwed and Hogan coming in to save the day.
            Last edited by ShinobiMusashi; 07-21-2017, 08:46 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Yokozuna's title run booking.

              I hated Yoko back in the day but watching back through some early 1993 WWF a while back I finally got what they were going for with the Bret vs Yoko, really good stuff, Canadian sharpshooter technical submission wrestler(fighting WWF World Champ) vs the unstoppable undefeated monster Japanese Sumo power wrestler, all the pageantry for their Mania 9 match was good, had a great big fight feel to it(Caesars Palace), very cool stuff looking back now. I actually don't even mind the finish with Bret getting screwed and Hogan coming in to save the day.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Yokozuna's title run booking.

                Originally posted by vendrell View Post
                Oh and also just for what it's worth. I heard Hogan wanted to bring Yokozuna into WCW in 1998 so he could get his win back from King of the Ring 1993. This fucking guys ego is hilarious.
                I wonder if they would have done that if they would have even been legally allowed to call him Yokozuna?! Like what would they have called him!?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Yokozuna's title run booking.

                  Originally posted by vendrell View Post
                  Oh and also just for what it's worth. I heard Hogan wanted to bring Yokozuna into WCW in 1998 so he could get his win back from King of the Ring 1993. This fucking guys ego is hilarious.
                  I wonder if they would have done that if they would have even been legally allowed to call him Yokozuna?! Like what would they have called him!?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Yokozuna's title run booking.

                    Originally posted by Strobe View Post
                    If we are to believe Bruce Prichard (and it isn't easy - since he says they put the title on Hogan so he would be champ on the European house shows just after Mania, when he didn't work those house shows; he worked 9 European house shows in late July/early August against champ Yoko)
                    Having listened to the end of the podcast on Mania IX, I think Prichard was actually telling the truth on the reasoning, but just a little off. They wanted the belt to be on Hogan for the July/August European tour he was booked on (not the April one as he originally misremembered), so put it on him at Mania. Now, this does actually make sense if we are to believe what Bret says about the plans for a Bret/Hogan match at SummerSlam. But when Hogan didn't want to drop it to Bret, he dropped it back to Yoko at KOTR instead and the reasoning (one of them anyway) for putting the belt on Hogan was gone. He still did his farewell tour in Europe, beating champ Yoko by DQ around the loop, finishing up in Sheffield on 8/6/93 and he wouldn't have another match in the WWF for almost 9 years.

                    Originally posted by ShinobiMusashi View Post
                    I wonder if they would have done that if they would have even been legally allowed to call him Yokozuna?! Like what would they have called him!?
                    Given the era, I think they'd have probably just had him come in as a Samoan and maybe even used his old name - Kokina.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Yokozuna's title run booking.

                      Originally posted by Strobe View Post
                      If we are to believe Bruce Prichard (and it isn't easy - since he says they put the title on Hogan so he would be champ on the European house shows just after Mania, when he didn't work those house shows; he worked 9 European house shows in late July/early August against champ Yoko)
                      Having listened to the end of the podcast on Mania IX, I think Prichard was actually telling the truth on the reasoning, but just a little off. They wanted the belt to be on Hogan for the July/August European tour he was booked on (not the April one as he originally misremembered), so put it on him at Mania. Now, this does actually make sense if we are to believe what Bret says about the plans for a Bret/Hogan match at SummerSlam. But when Hogan didn't want to drop it to Bret, he dropped it back to Yoko at KOTR instead and the reasoning (one of them anyway) for putting the belt on Hogan was gone. He still did his farewell tour in Europe, beating champ Yoko by DQ around the loop, finishing up in Sheffield on 8/6/93 and he wouldn't have another match in the WWF for almost 9 years.

                      Originally posted by ShinobiMusashi View Post
                      I wonder if they would have done that if they would have even been legally allowed to call him Yokozuna?! Like what would they have called him!?
                      Given the era, I think they'd have probably just had him come in as a Samoan and maybe even used his old name - Kokina.

                      Comment

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