A professional wrestler's talent in the ring is a key factor in what separates the stars from legends, but there's no denying that the right theme music can tip the scales for any wrestler on the bubble. It's also fair to say that the wrong theme music can turn even the strongest-looking talent into a joke, which is why the WWE has worked with people like composer Jim Johnston to create the perfect themes for its talent and convince former stars like Yokozuna to not stray from that.
Jim Johnston recalled a story on the Lucha Libre Online YouTube channel, in which Yokozuna (real name Rodney Agatupu Anoai) approached him about a change in his theme music. The wrestler hoped to have some hip-hop music for his entrance, though as Johnston pointed out, the change flew in the face of the character the wrestler played in the '90s.
Yoko. He called me, managed to get me on the phone and said he wanted to change his music from the Japanese sumo wrestler stuff. I’m trapped now on the phone with the guy. It’s like, ‘Well, what are you thinking?’ He goes, ‘Well, I’d like some hip-hop.’ I said, ‘Yoko, you’re a sumo wrestler… You’re not a hip hop guy.’ But from his perspective – and I don’t mean to be mean here – but he was like, ‘But I live in LA.’ It made perfect sense to him. ‘Why couldn’t I have a hip hop thing?'
Yes, for anyone who grew up watching Yokozuna on television and never found out, he was not actually a sumo wrestler. He was Samoan-American and born in California, and as such, liked to listen to hip hop and not traditional Japanese music. Hip hop made sense for Rodney Agatupu Anoai, but in the context of all WWE had built around the character of Yokozuna, not so much.
Yokozuna was managed by Mr. Fuji, who had leaned into his Japanese heritage throughout his career even though he was also native Hawaiian. Part of the mystique of wrestling, especially in Yokozuna's prominent era in WWE, was living the gimmick. Perhaps there was a fear on WWE's side that if the guy they billed as an actual sumo wrestler suddenly started bopping around to hip-hop, it would hurt the illusion.
The ironic bit of this story, I think, is that years later, Yokozuna's real-life cousin would wrestle under the name Rikishi in the late-90s and get to walk out to hip-hop music despite wearing sumo attire. That said, Yokozuna defied Vince McMahan and kept red tights on under his loincloth, and his cousin did not. Perhaps times had changed in Rikishi's case, or it was the lack of tights that got him what he wanted? We can only speculate and wonder what would've happened had Yokozuna ever switched out the most peaceful entrance theme in WWE for hip-hop.
Yokozuna passed back in 2000, though his past matches can currently be found on Peacock, which recently welcomed the WWE Network. Yokozuna was certainly a unique talent and one that would be just as worthy of a biopic as some of the many we've mentioned on this list.