The Undertaker has had some iconic opponents, but none matched Yokozuna in terms of size. WWE billed the Samoan giant from Japan, making a typical anti-American heel.
Taker was not a patriotic hero like Hulk Hogan, but his superb character work made him easy to root for, and Yokozuna became the perfect dance partner for him.
Yokozuna and Undertaker first met at Survivor Series 1993. The PPV marked the beginning of their stunning rivalry as they crossed paths in a traditional Survivor Series elimination match. It was the All Americans, comprising Lex Luger, Undertaker and the Steiner brothers against the Foreign Fanatics (Yokozuna, Ludvig Borga, Quebecer Jacques, and Crush).
Yokozuna could not inflict much damage on the Deadman and even rendered the dreaded Banzai Drop ineffective. Both men brawled to the outside and got themselves counted out, allowing Lex Luger to win the match.
The altercation at the 1993 Survivor Series PPV led to the first ever casket match in WWE. Yokozuna and Taker clashed at the 1994 Royal Rumble in a casket match for the WWE Championship. The rules were simple – shut your opponent inside a casket to win the match.
Taker took down Yokozuna with a bunch of lariats, but the big man rolled out of the ring to safety. He regained control and smashed Taker’s head into the ring steps, but the Deadman bounced up unharmed. Taker had the match won with a chokeslam and a running DDT, but Yokozuna’s manager had a trick up his sleeve.
The legendary Mr. Fuji hired a bunch of heel wrestlers to beat down the Undertaker. Once Yokozuna recovered, he stole the Undertaker’s urn, which was the source of the Deadman’s powers. Once he had the possession of the urn, Taker was done. The Giant retained the championship after locking Taker in the casket.
However, the show was not over for the heels and Yokozuna. The ‘Deadman’ flashed on the screen in the Civic Center, telling the heels that the Undertaker’s spirit cannot be extinguished.
“All of mankind will witness the rebirth of the Undertaker. I will not rest in peace.”
Fans then saw a haunting image of the Undertaker rising to the heavens.
Undertaker returned at SummerSlam in 1994, where he defeated Ted DiBiase’s fake Undertaker. It wouldn’t take long for him to set his sights on Yokozuna once again. WWE booked a rematch for Survivor Series 1994 between the Japanese giant and the ‘Deadman.’ The stipulation was once again a casket match.
To prevent any outside interference, WWE appointed Chuck Norris as the special guest referee. Yokozuna smashed the Deadman in the corner, but Taker walked up to him unscathed. Paranoid and afraid, Yokozuna sought the help of his heel allies to help him win. A Samoan Drop, an uranage, and a leg drop was still not enough to put down the Deadman.
King Kong Bundy and Bam Bam Bigelow came down the aisle toward the ring, but Chuck Norris blocked their path. With Norris occupied, IRS attacked Taker and tossed him in the casket, but Taker recovered before Yokozuna could close the casket. One DDT and a big boot later, the giant was finally in the casket.
The rivalry between Taker and Yokozuna really helped the former’s career. Taker’s supernatural antics really got over with the WWE Universe and pitting him against an immovable object like Yokozuna was a genius move.