POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: WWE ICONS - Yokozuna review

Originally published at POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: WWE ICONS - Yokozuna review

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**On Rewind-A-Wai #79, Wai Ting and I are reviewing the G1 Climax 2015 Final from Sumo Hall featuring Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in their last singles match. On this special show, WH Park stopped by to discuss the finals that year, the state of New Japan in 2015, talent on the rise, its junior heavyweight division, and he played the Trivia Gauntlet. On the show, we also looked at AJ Styles’ run in New Japan, the final months for Nakamura before leaving, where Ricochet was, and his excellent match with KUSHIDA, the underappreciated Kyle O’Reilly, and plotting out the future for Katsuyori Shibata had he not been injured in 2017. This was a really fun show to do and it’s available for all members of the POST Wrestling Café.

**Rewind-A-Dynamite will be LIVE tonight for Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso members of the POST Wrestling Café. Wai Ting and I will chat about the latest news and review the Beach Break special. Both Rewind-A-Dynamite and upNXT with Davie Portman & Braden Herrington will be available for everyone early Thursday morning.

**The latest edition of DEEP IMPACT features Davie Portman and John Siino reviewing Tuesday’s episode that includes the return of ODB and Mahabali Shera.

POST SCHEDULE

Tonight: Rewind-A-Dynamite (LIVE at 10:15 pm ET for Double Double+ Patrons)
Tonight: upNXT with Braden Herrington & Davie Portman
Friday: Brandon Thurston from Wrestlenomics
Friday: Rewind-A-SmackDown (LIVE at 10:15 pm ET for all Patrons)
Saturday: The Long & Winding Royal Road with WH Park & Dylan Fox (Toshiaki Kawada Retrospective)
Sunday: Rewand-A-Vision with Wai Ting & WH Park (Patreon)
Sunday: Total Recall with Wai & Pauline (Patreon)

REVIEW: WWE ICONS – YOKOZUNA

WWE ICONS premiered this past weekend with a documentary focusing on the late Rodney Anoa’i a.k.a. Yokozuna. The 78-minute piece featured lots of interview subjects including his children, sister, cousin, and the extended members of the Anoa’i family. His pre-WWE career is not covered too in-depth, or at least not shedding light on the number of places he worked prior to arriving in the WWF in 1992. Anoa’i started his career all the way back in 1985 and would go on his first tour for New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1988 and worked there for four years. He also was a regular for the UWA in Mexico and worked briefly for the AWA during its dying days.

But, the career of Anoa’i is always going to be associated most with his WWF run, specifically the period from 1992-1994 as the top heel in the company. There is some great insight from this era including the original idea of pairing Anoa’i with his cousin Sam (Samu) as the original Headshrinkers. It was a staph infection that sidelined Anoa’i and opened the door for Fatu to take the role. Instead, Anoa’i was packaged as Yokozuna and pushed as an immediate top star through his impressive size and mobility for a fan legitimately topping 500 pounds. There was no wasted time and Anoa’i won the Royal Rumble in January 1993 and would headline WrestleMania six months after his debut on television.

The subject of WrestleMania 9 is a big topic of the documentary, describing the match with Bret Hart, and ultimately, having Hulk Hogan leave as WWE champion for the fifth time. When I did a several-hour interview with Hart in 2010, he lamented the match as a regret because he felt he had laid out a tremendous match and Anoa’i wanted to go home early. They cut out the meat of the match that would set up the crescendo for the finish, which was Hart having Yokozuna in the sharpshooter and having the powder thrown in the eyes by Mr. Fuji. The match only went nine minutes and was hardly a classic.

As everyone is aware, Hogan rushed to the ring and won the title in an impromptu match to send the crowd home happy with the nostalgia of Hogan regaining the title. It was very counter-intuitive after they had spent so much time with Hart and trying to create a new generation of stars, but the seduction of nostalgia took hold. In the doc, Bruce Prichard cited a forthcoming international tour as the reasoning for the title change. Prichard outlined that it would be Hogan’s farewell tour and they thought Hogan holding the title would be the best idea for the tour. An international tour immediately followed WrestleMania but Hogan wasn’t on the tour. Instead, there was no champion for the European dates and Yokozuna worked Jim Duggan and The Undertaker. Prichard argued that Yokozuna wouldn’t have cared about losing the title because he would be working with Hogan all over the world – they never had a singles match until the King of the Ring in June where Yokozuna regained the title. It is possible that Prichard is conflating two different tours. They did do another international tour in late July where Yokozuna and Hogan headlined several cards before Hogan’s departure, but that tour was after Hogan had dropped the title and wouldn’t serve as an argument for putting the title on Hogan in the first place.

It was pointed out to me, that this discrepancy was actually brought up by Conrad Thompson in 2017 when they reviewed WrestleMania 9 and Thompson laid out the tour information and Hogan not working it, which Prichard apparently didn’t believe and stuck with his original story in this documentary.

While Bret Hart was interviewed and featured throughout the documentary, there was no discussion about his involvement and the story he had been told that he would be winning the title back from Hogan. In Hart’s book, he stated that a photoshoot took place on May 24th with Hogan and Hart doing a tug-of-war with the championship with the belief that it would be for the SummerSlam. Hart was told by Vince McMahon that Hart would beat Hogan for the title and later informed by McMahon that Hogan wouldn’t lose to him. Hogan has disputed this and the two later resolved this issue, but it was a source of contention for Hart. Ultimately, Yokozuna won the title and became the first long-term heel champion in the company since Superstar Billy Graham.

The rest of the documentary goes through the decline in health for Anoa’i, his concerning weight gain, and an apparent aversion to correcting his issues. It is a sad story and brings up the subject of the role he was asked to play. It’s one of those things where the size of Yokozuna was a necessity for the character, but it got out of control. It’s not all that different from the performer that got over due to a superhuman physique and has to address the realities that to maintain that look later in your career, it is going to present hardship on your health to maintain the freaky physique when age becomes a factor. For Yokozuna, it must have been easy to justify overeating because of the gimmick but in the end, it cost him his career. Once athletic commissions were citing concerns and the New York State Athletic Commission would not license him, he became a liability rather than an attraction and was released in 1997. It is important to note that from all sides, it appeared the WWF worked very hard to convince Anoa’i to address his weight gain and willing to cover the costs before his release.

It spoke volumes that at the peak of the Monday Night War, Yokozuna, who was a WrestleMania headliner several years ago, was not working for any major company while in his early 30s. He died in October 2000 at the age of 34 while in the United Kingdom on a tour, which they had footage of when he was found in his hotel room the morning of a show. While it sounds ridiculous to the outside world, it was a rare example of a wrestler’s death being mention on both Raw and Nitro that evening, which was notable given he never worked for WCW.

The wide variety of interview subjects painted a consistent picture of Anoa’i having a salt of the earth demeanor, with stories of financial assistance to family members, a happy demeanor, and a popular figure in the locker room. While not heavily addressed, there were references to a depression he fell into after leaving WWF with the guilt of letting his family down after reaching such a high level.

Future episodes of the documentary series will profile The British Bulldogs, Beth Phoenix, Lex Luger, and Rob Van Dam.

WRESTLING NEWS

**Tonight’s episode of AEW Dynamite is the Beach Break special from Daily’s Place featuring the wedding of Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford. The program is due for a major angle as it’s lasted months without much momentum. Weddings typically perform well on television and we’ll see if this continues the trend and how much time is dedicated to the segment. One other change is that FTR has been suspended in the storyline for their actions against Jurassic Express, so John Silver & Alex Reynolds are replacing them in the battle royal.
*Kenny Omega & The Good Brothers vs. Jon Moxley, PAC & Rey Fenix
*#1 Contender Battle Royal: The Young Bucks (if they win, they choose their opponents at Revolution on 3/7), Chris Jericho & MJF, Santana & Ortiz, Jake Hager & Sammy Guevara, Top Flight, Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus, The Acclaimed, Evil Uno & Stu Grayson, John Silver & Alex Reynolds, Private Party
*Lumberjack Match: Eddie Kingston vs. Lance Archer
*Thunder Rosa vs. Dr. Britt Baker
*Hangman Page & Matt Hardy vs. Luther & Serpentico

**NXT will counter with one of the biggest cards they have to play with an appearance by Edge on the show. While AEW was marred by issues on some systems last week, NXT benefited with a bump in its viewership and 18-49 numbers. This week will be hard to judge as the anomaly of Edge appearing on NXT should skew their numbers higher but it’s a smart move on their part. Below is the announced line-up:
*NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Santos Escobar (champion) vs. Curt Stallion
*Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Quarterfinals: Adam Cole & Roderick Strong vs. Tommaso Ciampa & Timothy Thatcher
*Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Quarterfinals: Joaquin Wilde & Raul Mendoza vs. Lince Dorado & Gran Metalik
*Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinals: Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez vs. Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter
*An appearance by Edge

**Below are the matches scheduled for MLW Fusion tonight at 7 pm ET on Fubo Sports and their YouTube channel:
*World Tag Team Championship: Los Parks (champions) vs. TJP & Bu Ku Dao
*Baklei Brawl: Alex Hammerstone vs. Mads Krugger
*Jordan Oliver vs. TBA
*Gino Medina vs. Gringo Loco

**In a follow-up on the news of Lars Sullivan’s release from WWE, Fightful Select spoke with Sullivan. The wrestler stated he informed WWE that he was done with wrestling due to his issues of extreme anxiety that was affecting his ability to eat and sleep. He told Fightful that he is “likely done” with wrestling and noted that there were past issues of his that were “idiotic”. Sullivan (real name Dylan Miley) was originally targeted for a January 2019 call-up from NXT to Raw but was delayed. He would later debut on Raw after WrestleMania that year but was cut short after a knee injury took him out of action in June 2019. Sullivan returned last October for a brief period on SmackDown before disappearing. After his call-up in 2019, his past postings on a message board re-surfaced where he had posted racist and homophobic comments when he was younger and eventually, WWE issued a fine of $100,000 in May 2019.

**IMPACT Wrestling averaged 173,000 viewers on AXS TV on Tuesday with a 0.05 in the 18-49 demographic.

**On Thursday, WWE will release its fourth-quarter and 2020 year-end earnings report followed by its call with analysts to discuss their performance. Of course, the major topic will likely be the recent multi-year deal with Peacock that will see the WWE license the domestic rights to the WWE Network over to Peacock for a deal reportedly worth over $1 billion over the next five years. We will have an extensive rundown of the financials on the site and a show with Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics on Friday.

**Last Friday’s edition of SmackDown did 797,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic. The show averaged 2,304,000 viewers overall and was the most-watched network program in the 18-49 and 18-34 demos. AEW Dynamite last week did 379,000 viewers in the 18-49 demo and 734,000 overall.

**ROH announced on Wednesday that Jay Lethal has re-signed with the promotion.

**Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford spoke with TV Insider about tonight’s show, which the couple is stating is a legitimate wedding.

**DEFY Wrestling has announced an agreement with the free streaming channel Pluto TV. DEFY NOW will air on a rotating schedule on Pluto’s Pro Wrestling channel 732.

**An X Division title match between TJP and Rohit Raju has been added to IMPACT Wrestling’s No Surrender event on Saturday, February 13th. Raju will have the returning Mahabali Shera in his corner, who returned on Tuesday’s episode.

**New Japan’s Road to New Beginning tour has a break until Monday when they return to Korakuen Hall. Monday’s show will be headlined by Kota Ibushi & SHO vs. SANADA & Hiromu Takahashi. Their big shows take place next Wednesday and Thursday with the New Beginning in Hiroshima cards.

**The next episode of The Broken Skull Sessions featuring Sasha Banks will premiere on the WWE Network on Sunday, February 21st.

MMA NEWS

**The exhibition fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Logan Paul has been postponed. The two were scheduled to compete on February 20th but with little to no promotion, many were skeptical regarding the fight’s status for that day. Fanmio, which is the company staging the fight, confirmed to ESPN that the date has been pushed book and has yet to announce when it will take place. Fanmio experimented with a tiered pricing system for the fight where early birds could purchase the fight for $24.99, after December 29th the price would increase to $59.99 and then jump to $69.99 after February 11th.

**Conor McGregor wrote a lengthy analysis of his performance against Dustin Poirier last month at UFC 257 where McGregor was stopped in the second round of their lightweight contest. McGregor repeatedly referred to a trilogy he has on his hands and acknowledged that he was anticipating a boxing fight with Manny Pacquiao and his stance reflected that:

Some highlights from my last fight! What a trilogy I now have on my hands. Exciting!

With a handle on the leg kicks I will get back to having fun in there. I was in second gear cruising this fight. Best condition I’ve ever been in. After the wrestling and clinch exchanges my shots still held their pop. First time for me with this so I am very encouraged to keep going. It was the first time I did not use/nor need the stool between rounds also. I did need the stool after tho that’s for sure. As well as to this day loads and loads of @tidlsport recovery spray. This stuff is truly magic by the way! All the swelling, bruising, and pain on my leg has literally vanished using it! Try this stuff if you are in pain or banged up. Doesn’t work? I’ll personally refund you. THIS STUFF IS MAGIC! @tidlsport! Plant based cryotherapy spray. FIRST AND ONLY ONE OF ITS KIND. Magic!

I am extremely happy I did not need to use the stool between rounds here anyway. Another first for me! I am most certainly on the right path. Despite the loss I am on the correct path of evolution.

Thoughts on the bout: I enjoyed racking up some more time inside the famed UFC Octagon. 40 seconds in 3 years is all I’d had up to this bout. I was savouring very second and enjoying my work. A little single disciplined in my approach and stance with mostly boxing. It’s what I get for picking this bout and opponent as a precursor to a boxing match against Pacman. I deserved to get the legs kicked off me going in with this thinking. This is not the game to play around with. Besides this tho my shots where sharp and I was in full control. Albeit the leg attacks where building up on me throughout the course. 18 in total thrown at me, with the final one buckling my leg fully, that was that. The peroneal nerve compromised. Fascinating! First time to experience it. Then a tremendous finishing flurry by my opponent. Hats off! A well fought fight by The Diamond. 1 a piece now with a Trilogy bout for all the marbles! Wow! Exciting! Not a trilogy I was expecting, nor the tactical affair I was anticipating, but I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t meant to be. This is exactly how this was always meant to be! Buzzing!!

**Former UFC fighter James Vick has announced his retirement following his latest loss this past weekend fighting for the XMMA group. This past Saturday, Vick sustained a broken right orbital bone and a displaced jaw that required surgery that Vick was scheduled to have today. Vick was stopped in the second round by Andre Fialho and was the fifth straight loss for the former UFC lightweight. Vick began his career in 2011 and went 4-0 before joining the live season of the Ultimate Fighter in 2012, which was won by Michael Chiesa and was a deep talent pool. After wins over Dakota Cochrane, Daron Cruickshank, and Joe Proctor, he lost to Chiesa in the semifinals. He didn’t fight again until September 2013 and won his first five fights in the UFC before being stopped by Beneil Dariush in June 2016. He rebounded and won his next four fights including wins against Joseph Duffy and Francisco Trinaldo and was emerging as a rising star in the deep lightweight mix. Vick received his first main event on a Fight Night in August 2018 where he was knocked out by Justin Gaethje and then faced tough competition with losses to Paul Felder and Dan Hooker before moving up to welterweight and losing to Niko Price in October 2019 before leaving the UFC. In his statement, he said he didn’t want to continue to put his family through this and stated how tough it would be for his three-year-old son to see him with his jaw wired shut for the next 4-6 weeks. Vick retires with a record of 13-6.

**Marion Reneau will be unable to fight Macy Chiasson this Saturday at the UFC Fight Night card. Reneau announced that she had tested positive for COVID-19 but is displaying no symptoms. Reneau added that the two sides have agreed to postpone the fight and are now scheduled to fight on February 27th.

**This Saturday’s UFC Fight Night is headlined by a heavyweight fight between Alistair Overeem and Alexander Volkov. Overeem, 40, has experienced a resurgence winning four of his last five fights and is coming off TKO wins against Walt Harris and Augusto Sakai while Volkov has gone 2-2 since October 2018. Next in line to fight Stipe Miocic is Francis Ngannou, which will take place on March 27th. Curtis Blaydes, who has wins over Overeem and Volkov, is scheduled to fight Derrick Lewis this month and if Blaydes win, you can’t deny him a title shot any longer – although, he has two losses against Ngannou and would be best served if Miocic retains. The wild card is Jon Jones, who would immediately be fast-tracked for maximum value unless they felt the need for Jones to have a non-title fight for his heavyweight debut.

The other major fight on Saturday is a bantamweight fight between Frankie Edgar and Cory Sandhagen. Edgar, 39, made his bantamweight debut last August and defeated Pedro Munhoz by a split decision. If Edgar can beat someone at the level of Sandhagen, it positions him well for the potential of a title fight in a third weight class. Sandhagen is 6-1 in the UFC and has a tough loss to Aljamain Sterling last June but bounced back with a TKO over Marlon Moraes in October.

**In a crazy stat, Edgar made his UFC debut on this date in 2007 at UFC 67 beating Tyson Griffin and kicking off one of the most impressive UFC careers ever. Edgar would become UFC lightweight champion in April 2010, fought for the featherweight championship, and is now going for a second win at 135 pounds this weekend against a top contender. On that same card in 2007, Mirko Cro Cop and Quinton Jackson made their promotional debuts with the UFC. Cro Cop stopped Eddie Sanchez in the first-round while Jackson defeated Marvin Eastman by KO in the second round. They had different outcomes in their next fights as Jackson became UFC light heavyweight champion beating Chuck Liddell while Cro Cop suffered one of the most-remembered knockouts in UFC history when Gabriel Gonzaga stopped him with a head kick.

**The Huntington Beach City Council did not proceed with a vote of no confidence regarding city council member Tito Ortiz. Last week, a vote was proposed that would remove the title of Mayor Pro Tem from Ortiz over his conduct and complaints from constituents. Ortiz has been extremely vocal in his refusal to wear a mask during the pandemic and sharing conspiracy theories online. In a statement transcribed by MMA Junkie, Ortiz was contrite after the decision not to hold a vote and apologized for letting people down and will work harder. As Mayor Pro Tem, Ortiz’s duties include filling in for Mayor Kim Carr if called upon and running council meetings and would be in line to become Mayor after Carr steps down in 2022.

**Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) has its biggest show to date this Friday at 9 pm ET with the promotional debut of Paige VanZant. It’s the most attention the group has received with the signing of VanZant and the curiosity behind how she will fare. She is fighting relative unknown Britain Hart, who has a boxing record of 4-4-3. The card also features TUF alumni Chris Leben fighting Quentin Henry and former UFC fighter Johnny Bedford facing Dat Nguyen. The card is available for $19.99 on FITE TV and traditional pay-per-view outlets. Any success the show has would have to be attributed to VanZant, who has done a fair amount of media promoting the event and is the group’s most high-profile signing. There will be two prelim fights streaming at 8 pm ET on the BKFC YouTube channel.

**The PFL has released the names for its lightweight and featherweight rosters for the upcoming season that begins April 23rd:
Featherweights: Lance Palmer (defending champion), Sheymon Moraes, Tyler Diamond, Bubba Jenkins, Movlid Khaybulaev, Brendan Loughnane, Jo Sungbin, and Jason Soares
Lightweights: Natan Schulte (defending champion), Anthony Pettis, Olivier Aubin-Mercier, Marcin Held, Johnny Case, Clay Collard, Akhmed Aliev, Loik Radzhabov, Mikhail Odintsov, and Joilton Lutterbach.

After the April 23rd event, they will run regular season cards on April 29th, May 6th, June 10th, June 17th, and June 25th.

FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Ode Osbourne vs. Jerome Rivera this Saturday at UFC Fight Night (UFC)

Gerald Meerschaert vs. Bartosz Fabinski at UFC Fight Night on April 17 (MMA DNA)

ON THIS DATE

 

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3 Likes

Well written review @johnpollock

1 Like

The only things I would have liked to see in the Yokozuna WWE Icons documentary was an interview with Yoko’s famous cousin Dwayne Johnson (I’m sure he was busy but it would have been nice to hear from him).

I think @johnpollock hit on the points that I would talk about that were missing from the Yokozuna documentary. At least unlike the HBO documentary on Andre the Giant and the 30 for 30 on Ric Flair which I thought both should have been longer and or missed things that the Yokozuna WWE Icons documentary seemed to hit the main points (without missing too much) and had a good length.

Watching it, the documentary reminded me of the ones WWE used to put on their various DVD releases where it would be an hour documentary or so followed by matches on one disc (say the Brian Pillman DVD) or any other superstar (say the second Macho Man Randy Savage collection)/ compilation DVD (say the Starrcade the Essential Collection DVD) on multiple discs.