Former WWE Champion Yokozuna was almost a tag team wrestler alongside Samu.
In 1992, Rodney Anoa’i was given the character of Japanese sumo wrestler Yokozuna and with that gimmick, Rodney became the first wrestler of Samoan descent to capture the WWE Championship when he defeated Bret Hart in the advertised main event of WrestleMania 9.
Early on in that same event, The Headshrinkers, Samu and Fatu, faced off against Rick and Scott Steiner. Even though Samu and Fatu had a history together as the Samoan SWAT Team in WCW, had things gone differently in 1992, Yokozuna would have debuted alongside Samu instead of the man who would go on to be known as Rikishi.
On the recent edition of WWE Icons, it was revealed that Yokozuna was supposed to debut as a member of the headshrinkers alongside Samu. At the time, Yokozuna was wrestling as Kokina Maximus.
“We asked Rodney to come in and do a tryout,” said Bruce Prichard, longtime WWE executive, and current WWE executive director. “How could you not be impressed?”
WWE had tried dark matches with Kokina and even paired him with Afa in dark promo segments as the plan was to bring him in as a third Samoan until Sgt. Slaughter pitched the idea of making Rodney a grand Sumo champion on television.
Samu revealed it was a leg injury and subsequent infection that prevented Rodney from taking his rightful spot in the tag team.
“We were going to do the tag team situation, wanting to be the Samoans, but they were going to call us The Headshrinkers. He ended up getting cut on the leg and it got infected and he couldn't make the debut.”
Rikishi, who would capture his first WWE Tag Team Championship as a member of The Headshrinkers, says he believes it was fate intervening so that Yokozuna could move on to greater things.
“Rodney's goal was to hit the big show in WWE. That's where he wanted to go. We all wanted to go there. When that time came and that call came from Vince McMahon, it was him and Big Sam to go in as The Headshrinkers.”
Rikishi added, “This is where I jumped in and teamed up with Big Sam. It must have been God sent for him to get hurt because him getting hurt opened up the door for me to team with Big Sam and Vince liked what he saw with the Headshrinkers. When Rod was ready, they brought him up and he never looked back.”
Roman Reigns, the current WWE Universal Champion and a proud member of the Samoan Dynasty, would later say in the documentary that he felt so proud to see one of his family members performing a character outside of the stereotypical Polynesian savage that Samoans had been Typecast to play in the years prior to Yokozuna's debut.
Even though he would not be a Headshrinker, Yokozuna would be a Tag Team Champion. He won those titles at WrestleMania 11 alongside Owen Hart.
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