Last week, the wrestling industry lost Bill Moody, known best for his portrayal of the spooky mortician manager Paul Bearer. In a scummy business, Moody was considered like the Tom Hanks. Just about everyone referred to him as the nicest guy. The other night on Monday Night Raw, they did a night-long tribute that showed a bunch of his career highlights. His first appearance, his big returns, the first appearance of Kane and so on. One clip that appeared towards the end was a completely bizarre one involving Mr. Fuji and Nicholas Tuturro. Thinking back to that clip, it made me realize how that was the final stage of a feud that when viewed together in one collective chunk is one of the most outright surreal storylines in all of wrestling history.
Let’s reminisce about the utter insanity that is the Undertaker vs. Yokozuna.
In the blue corner, we have the Undertaker. The invincible zombie wrestler has been a huge deal in the WWF ever since debuting at the end of 1990. As a monster heel, he was once pushed to the heavens in one segment where he both manhandled the Ultimate Warrior and shrugged it off when Hulk Hogan slammed a belt into his face. He turned face due to outright popularity and became something of a special attraction for a few years. Despite having a gimmick as silly as being an undead dude in kitchen gloves, he’s been treated as a serious character, even to this day. At the time of this story, he’s coming off a feud with Giant Gonzalez, a wrestler whose gimmick is that he’s really tall and fake-naked.
In the red corner, we have the late Yokozuna. An extremely large Samoan depicting a Japanese sumo wrestler, he also became a huge deal immediately. Managed by Mr. Fuji, Yokozuna rose through the ranks within months, dominating the Royal Rumble and defeating Bret Hart at Wrestlemania. By this point, he’s only suffered two losses and both controversial. Still champion, he’s been feuding with Lex Luger, who foolishly threw away what appeared to be his only chance to win the title.
At the end of November, the stage is set for Survivor Series 1993. In a PPV filled with four-on-four elimination matches, the most high profile is the All-Americans (Lex Luger, Tatanka, Rick Steiner and Scott Steiner) vs. the Foreign Fanatics (Yokozuna, Ludvig Borga, Quebecer Jacques and Quebecer Pierre). During this, Tatanka has been on an undefeated streak that’s been in place since his debut, almost two years earlier. A televised match between Tatanka and Borga ends with Borga being the first to pin Tatanka after some interference by Mr. Fuji and the use of a chair. The Quebecers had set it up so that Steiner Brothers are stuck in their locker room and can’t do anything as the Foreign Fanatics put the boots to Tatanka. Yokozuna crushes Tatanka’s ribs with a couple Banzai Drops as the Quebecers hold Luger back. Luger eventually reaches the ring, but his buddy is in rough shape and definitely won’t be able to compete at Survivor Series.
With only a couple weeks left, Luger and the Steiners do an interview to explain that they have found a replacement. They introduce the Undertaker to a huge ovation. Hey, he’s a great acquisition, but what the hell does a magical walking corpse have to do with America? He explains.