Acrylic and stenciled spray paint on 24″ x 24″ wood
Yokozuna is one of, if not the, biggest big men to compete in a professional wrestling ring. Rodney Anoa’i was born in 1966 San Francisco, CA to the legendary Anoa’i wrestling family. His uncles were The Wild Samoans Afa and Sika, and he was cousin to The Rock, Roman Reigns, Rikishi, Samu, Rosey, Manu, Umaga, and Jimmy and Jey Uso. He debuted in the wrestling world as the Great Kokina, spending time in Japan and Mexico before debuting with the American Wrestling Association in the United States. In 1992 he joined the World Wrestling Federation as the villainous Yokozuna, a sumo wrestler competing under the Japanese flag and managed by Mr. Fuji. He debuted at that year’s Survivor Series, easily defeating Virgil. At 1993’s Royal Rumble he eliminated Randy Savage to win the Rumble, making him a permanent figure in the main event scene. He competed in the first ever match on the first ever Monday Night Raw, handily defeating Koko B Ware.
At WrestleMania IX Yokozuna defeated Bret Hart to become the first WWF champion of Samoan descent. He lost the title minutes later to the returning Hulk Hogan, but regained the title at the next Pay-Per-View event, and went on to defend it successfully for the next 280 days. During that reign he had notable feuds with Lex Luger and The Undertaker. At WrestleMania X, he was forced to defend the title twice, first successfully against Luger (making him the first villain to retain the title at a WrestleMania) and then against Bret Hart, who was victorious over Yoko.
Following this he had a notable loss to the returning Undertaker and a worked sumo match against Earthquake. In 1995 he began teaming with Owen Hart, with the pair twice winning the WWF World Tag Team Championship. Due to his ever-increasing weight, he was slowly phased out of the main event scene due to his limited mobility, and went into a several-year feud with Vader before leaving the company in 1998. He passed away in 2000. In 2012 he was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by cousin Rikishi and Rikishi’s sons Jimmy and Jey Uso.
About the piece: I’d been stumped for a while on what I was going to do with Yokozuna’s portrait, and then some neurons connected in my brain and I saw exactly what it needed to be! I based the concept off of his character being Japanese, or at least representing Japan, and used the Imperial Japanese flag as a graphic component. I first painted the surface all red, and then rendered the figure in shades of red and some black. While that was drying I cut out a stencil of the flag’s pattern, then spray-painted in the white lines using the stencil.