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Yokozuna had fallen away from the main event scene after dropping the title to Bret Hart. Bret even promised Yoko a rematch but WWE’s plans pivoted so quickly he never got one. Bret moved on to Diesel and Owen Hart, Yokozuna teamed with Crush as part of a group with Jim Cornette and Mr Fuji. For Yokozuna, the match at Survivor Series represented the last time he wold be in the main event.
There was no massive cause for the rematch, it was at a time where matches could just be announced. The company needed a main event, and didn’t have enough faith in Bret Hart to finish the show so they set the match up. Given how the company had handled Yokozuna following losing the title the match was never in doubt. As for the casket stipulation? Probably a necessity given that Taker wouldn’t be able to hit any of his big signature moves on the gargantuan former champion. Taker finished off Bundy six months later at Wrestlemania with a clothesline.
Undertaker, despite the best efforts to riddle him with horrible opponents, was still incredibly over with the crowd. Yokozuna, despite his decreasing mobility, was still a fantastic act to watch. In the lead up to the first casket match Yokozuna was all brash and brazen – unless someone mentioned the word “casket” then Yokozuna would get scared shitless. It bought out the best in Yokozuna – his incredible facial expressions and added a real layer to the match. The double-wide, double deep casket specially built to accommodate his size.
The match itself was actually quite decent. With Cornette, Fuji and Bearer on the outside, plus the casket stipulation that meant that the match rarely fell flat even when the in-ring action was quite slow. We got to see the best of Yokozuna’s power moves, hitting a lovely samoan drop before an early version of the rock bottom. Yokozuna was the example of many in wrestling that once you get over, you generally stay over. His near year long run as WWF Champion gave him credibility as a foe for Undertaker, and a credible headliner on a pay per view like this.
The other benefit of the massive casket was the size and depth meant you could do a lot of action inside the casket. It was the same logic that saw them use it in the casket match against Kama at Summerslam 1995. Taker gets thrown into the casket by Yoko, but pulls him in. Fuji earns the dead man’s wrath by pulling on his hair, before Taker his Cornette with a big right and we get a great spark-out sell by Jim.
Missed in all of this was Chuck Norris. Hired as the special guest enforcer to hopefully stop the ridiculousness of this match that happened at the Royal Rumble. Norris was a big name, and bought some credibility to the contest even if his involvement was very limited. Norris built his nest at the bottom of the aisle way, his presence was enough to repel King Kong Bundy and Bam Bam Bigelow, but the distracton allowed IRS to run in from the other side. IRS’ attack left Taker spark out in the casket – but Yokozuna took too long to shut it, not before showing off his fantastic range of physical abilities and those facial expressions.
In amongst the chaos was Jeff Jarrett, of all people, running down the aisle way. Norris hadn’t been paid all that money to just stand there, but equally the trio of IRS, Bundy and Bigelow were all too tall and too immobile to fully sell an attack. Double J ran at Norris who hit him with a swift roundhouse kick, Jarrett sold it by flipping over onto his front.
The match then hit it’s concluding sequence. Taker hit his clothesline, followed by a big DDT and a big boot that sent Yokozuna into the casket. Taker snatched the Japanese flag from Mr Fuji, snapped it in half, then added it to the coffin before slamming the lid closed. Yoko went off to take an extended break from the ring (returning at Wrestlemania XI), Undertaker went onto a miserable feud with the Million Dollar Corporation that seemed to go on forever despite Taker winning at every turn. In the period between us starting the podcast/project and mid-1995, Yokozuna at Survivor Series was as good as it got for the Undertaker.