If you’re a wrestling fan, you know that January is Royal Rumble season. To celebrate accordingly, this week’s Figure Friday column is going BIG by looking at the Target Exclusive WWE Royal Rumble Elite Yokozuna!
Yoko, whose real name was Rodney Anoa’i, was one of the greatest big men to ever step foot in the squared circle. Not since Andre The Giant had one man’s physical presence made a crowd of WWF fans stand up and take notice. Hulk Hogan’s Real American entrance music has the line “When it comes crashing down and it hurts inside”. Nothing captured that line more than the thought of Yokozuna’s massive butt cheeks crashing down off the second rope onto an unconscious opponent’s chest with the Banzai Drop.
Making his WWF debut in 1992, Yokozuna was a video game character come to life. My Saturdays during that time consisted of watching WWF Superstars in the morning and going to the bowling alley to play Street Fighter 2 in the afternoon. Between Yoko and E. Honda, Sumo-mania was running wild round these parts. Brother!
This is the fourth time Yokozuna has appeared in the WWE Elite line. All four figures appear to be built from the same mold, which isn’t too surprising. Yoko has a unique body type from an action figure perspective, but aside from him getting heavier over the course of his far too short career, his appearance doesn’t necessarily warrant a new sculpt. This version of Yoko highlights his entry into the 1993 Royal Rumble, featuring white pants with a black loin cloth. We’ve seen a version of this gear used before in Target’s Elite Hall of Fame line back in 2015. The Hall of Fame figure had a bearded head sculpt, whereas this figure features a new sculpt with an angry open mouth. You can almost hear him yelling “Banzai!” right before hitting his finishing move.
This figure articulates about as much as Yoko himself. The giant posterior prevents the legs from getting into a nice Banzai Drop stance. I hope the next time we see him; Yoko will come with an update to the design of the articulation. I’d like to think we’ve made some advancements in that area in the past ten years.
In terms of accessories, Yoko comes with a salt bucket and two sets of hands (fists and C shaped hands). I think the salt bucket would have been better suited for a Mr Fuji figure, but I don’t believe that he has a WWE Legends contract. He also comes packaged with “The Mouth of The South” Jimmy Hart’s head and megaphone which is this wave’s build a figure. The Jimmy Hart head is phenomenal. With removable sunglasses and a wide-open mouth, I think Jimmy will be showing up in a lot of random figure photography sessions. Pro tip: For those of you who don’t want your build a figure pieces, sell them and consider it a discount off the price of the figure.
In hindsight, I’m really kicking myself for not grabbing the original Elite Flashback figure from back in Series 15. That figure came with a soft goods robe in Yoko’s traditional checkered pattern, and his signature red pants. Both of which feel like must haves if I’m only looking to have one definitive version of Yokozuna on my shelf. Where this figure stands out above the rest is the head sculpt. If you don’t want to go the secondary market route, this is a great figure to pick up and save a hundred dollars. If you were a fan of wrestling in the ’90s and collect figures, Yokozuna deserves to be represented in your collection. Even if you already have a Yoko figure, you may want to grab this for the head sculpt alone.