Meet Chris “Tatanka” Chavis
- Ring Name: The Native American “Tatanka”
- Height: 6’2″
- Weight: 285 lbs.
- From: Pembroke, North Carolina
- Nationality: Native American
- Finishing Move: Tomahawk Chop & The Famous Fallaway Slam. Known As “The Indian Death Drop, Papoose To Go & Starting With The Lex Luger Feud Known As The End Of The Trail”
Lumbee Native American Tribe. According to the 1990 Census, 48,444 American Indians in the United States identified their tribe as Lumbee. Over 40,000 of these Indians live in Robeson and surrounding counties in southeastern North Carolina. The Lumbee are the ninth largest tribe in the country and the largest tribe east of the Mississippi.
The Lumbees take their name from the Lumbee River, known as the Lumber River today, which flows through their homeland. Most of the tribal members live in the valley of the Lumbee River in Robeson, Hoke, and Scotland counties of North Carolina.
The town of Pembroke is known as the center for commerce, education, and culture of the Lumbee tribe. It is located in the west-central part of Robeson County, about 12 miles from Lumberton. According to the 1990 Census, there were 2,241 people living in Pembroke and some 90 percent of the population is Indian.
The present day Lumbee tribe is descended from an Indian community composed largely of Cheraw Indians and related Siouan speaking people who were known to have inhabited the area of what is now Robeson County since European settlers first arrived in the early 1700’s. Their presence has been documented by historical accounts and oral traditions. The Lumbees have continued to exist as a tribe despite conditions that threatened to destroy the fabric of the Indian community.
A Cheraw Indian community was first observed on Drowning Creek (Lumber River) in present day Robeson County in 1724. This community has been there ever since. The Lumbees have been recognized by the state of North Carolina as an Indian tribe since 1885. With this recognition, the state provided educational assistance and other services. In 1887, the state established an all Indian teachers training school for the Lumbees. This institution grew into a college, which today has an enrollment of about 3,000, and is now known today as the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. It is one of the sixteen institutions that make up the University of North Carolina system. The Congress of the United States in 1956 passed the Lumbee Act which officially recognized the Indians of Robeson and adjoining counties as the Lumbee Indians of North Carolina.
Attended Bethel High School, Hampton, Va. 1975-1978. Graduated with honors and was elected in Who’s Who Among American High School Students 1976- 1977 and 1977-1978. This included only the top 5% of the nation’s students which numbered 6,500,000 in 1976-1977.
Was enrolled in the Army R.O.T.C. program all 3 years and Junior year was promoted to the highest rank of Command Sargent Major and received a Citizenship Award my Jr. year. Senior year I was promoted to the highest rank of Colonel and received a automatic scholarship to The West Point Academy. Was voted by the R.O.T.C. program as The Best Athlete in 1978.
High School and College
Played football all 3 years and in 1976 we were State Champions and 2 years before the class of 1974 were State Champions. Voted Most Valuable Lineman in 1977. Was voted in All City Honors in 1976 and 1977. Many colleges had interest in me my senior year such as Duke, U.N.C., East Tennessee, U.VA., The Citadel, William and Mary, V.M.I., Univ. of Richmond, Univ. of Cincinnati, Va. Tech, Lafayette College, etc. These colleges offered opportunities for football as well as academic scholarships. I attended James Madison Univ. in Harrisonburg, Va. and played football for them. Also was part of the High School indoor and outdoor track team and in 1976 we were also State Champions and I received rewards throughout the 3 years on the team. Our school also in 1976 won the State Championship in wrestling which brought our school in 1976 The Rice’s Trophy which is for the best athletic program in the state. Our senior class voted me as Most Popular in 1978; funny how things work out to be true.
- In 1982 after competing in power lifting, I entered my first bodybuilding contest; which was Mr. Virginia Beach and I placed 2nd.
- 1983 1st place Mr Goldcoast.
- 1985 2nd place Citrus States.
- 1987 1st place First Coast Bodybuilding Championship
- 1988 1st place Mr. Gulf Coast
Was on national T.V. shows regarding bodybuilding and had the ability to go to the nationals; which would qualify you for the Pro’s, but I decided not to.
1985-1990 worked for Bally’s Health and Tennis Corp. Worked my way to Divisional Manager and managed a 70,000 sq. ft. club and became Bally’s Top Producer writing $ 100,000 per month personally in memberships ( Million Dollar Producer) and being responsible for $ 400,000-500,000 per month for the club.
In 1987 I received many try-outs for The National Football League; teams such as Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins, Oakland Raiders, etc. and decided to pursue the Miami Dolphins. Approximately 2,000 try-outs showed up and after all the cuts about 20 players were left and I was one of the 20. Dolphins offered me and my agent at the time a free agent contract with the availability to increase after the first year but I decided not to due to my present income at Bally’s exceeded the N.F.L. contract.
How it all began!
In 1989, after several attempts from the President of the Corp. and raises I left Bally’s to pursue a Dream of becoming a Pro Wrestler at The World Wrestling Federation. The Legend and Hall of Famer ” Nature Boy Buddy Rogers” was my contact into the sport through Bobby Rogers who wrestles today and does his own promotions in South Florida. We both met in Florida in a video store looking for wrestling tapes. Bobby being impressed by my demeanor and outstanding physique set up a meeting with Rogers where The Hall of Famer and myself hit it off immediately. Rogers had myself call Larry Sharpe, who ran a wrestling school in southern New Jersey. ” The Monster Factory ” included Bam Bam Bigelow, Papa Shango, and now the future wrestling star Tatanka as well. After 3 months of hard work and overtime on my part ( every weekend) I had my 1st match against Joe Thunderstorm in Philadelphia, Pa. on January 13, 1990 on a W.W.A. card and marked up my first professional win. After coming back to Buddy Rogers he took me to George Scott; the previous booker for the W.W.F. in the early Hogan Years.
He was starting his own promotion called North American Wrestling Assoc. which eventually changed to South Atlantic Pro Wrestling. The company was based out of Charlotte, North Carolina and this is where it all began. Before I knew it I was hanging around Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and Wahoo McDaniels and getting the real training in the ring by being tag team partners with both of these great stars. There these two great stars took me under their wing and taught me the necessary basics needed to survive in the sport. My career began as a Native American Wrestler known in those days as “The War Eagle” Chris Chavis. In 1990 I was voted runner up for Rookie Of The Year in Pro Wrestling Illustrated. In 1990 I became The South Atlantic Heavywt. Champion by beating Ken Shamrock ( The World’s Most Dangerous Man in the W.W.F.). After 1 year I was signed on contract by the W.W.F. which made me one of the quickest rising stars in the history of the W.W.F.
I made my debut into the W.W.F. in 1991 as Chris Chavis beating Kato, Skinner, Barry Horowitz and The Brooklyn Brawler in early matches. Took on the name of “Tatanka” soon afterwards in my tribal homelands where I vowed to be an inspiration for all Native Americans. “I will represent all the tribes, and I have hopes that one day in the future I will lead a new Native American nation in the W.W.F. I will be victorious, and I will dedicate my victory to all Native Americans of all tribes.” W.W.F. fans quickly took to Tatanka as the newcomer because of his exciting war dance with the Lumbee tribal war cry and thrilling fallaway slam knew as the “Papoose To Go” and in the wars with Luger as “The End of The Trail.” This move along with “The Tomahawk Chop off The Top Rope” was Tatanka’s two finishing maneuvers. With his new name came a new look – a red stripe dyed in the middle of his hair which honored the blood and bravery of all the Native Americans.
With the strength of the Native American tribes behind him, Tatanka moved rapidly up the W.W.F. ratings. Scored his first significant W.W.F. victory on February 18, 1992 by beating Warlord. Pinned Skinner with a totem pole suplex on March 7 and made his debut in P.W.I.’s W.W.F. ratings at number 10. Tatanka made his Wrestlemania debut against Rick ” The Model ” Martel who had picked him out as an easy target. Up unto this point Tatanka had burst onto the W.W.F. scene beating every opponent he had faced. It was The Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana on April 5, 1992. Tatanka’s war paint was on and he mowed down Martel in less than five minutes by pinning Martel with a spectacular flying cross-body-block. Naturally, Martel was embarrassed by the loss especially being the A.W.A. World Champ and held the W.W.F. tag team titles three times but he didn’t try to avenge himself right away. Tatanka moved on defeating tough competition as Col. Mustafa known also as the Iron Sheik, Skinner and veterans with a great deal of more experience than Tatanka at the present time. It was his way of demonstrating that the win over Martel at Wrestlemania was no fluke. The enraged Martel couldn’t let this victory stand. He baited Tatanka into more matches to even the score. At a W.W.F. TV taping, Martel came to the ring after Tatanka’s match and insulted him. The impetuous Native star leaped off the apron to get at the ” Model “, who in turn, squirted him in the eyes with his can of ” Arrogance ” cologne. Blinded, Tatanka was battered by Martel on the arena floor. Adding insult to injury was the fact that Martel stole Tatanka’s ceremonial feathers and added them to his high-fashion wardrobe. As the feud escalated, Martel was the one who faded, and Tatanka was able to score several pinfalls.
The Mountie tried his best to defeat Tatanka, but he wasn’t up for the task and he was put away. The Repo Man tried to sneak away with victory over Tatanka, but he couldn’t do it , either. At the greatest Summerslam ever in Wembley Stadium in 1992 with 80,355 fans Tatanka was granted a spot against The Berserker. He went into that match as a fan favorite against The Berserker who was Tatanka’s toughest opponent yet. The maniacal one had just come off a series of battles against The Undertaker and had given the giant all he could handle. The Berserker was bigger and alot more dangerous but Tatanka defeated him with his fallaway slam ” The Papoose To Go.” Then he defeated Martel again at Survivor Series in 1992 and finished the feud by pinning Martel and reclaiming his ceremonial feathers! After these wins his popularity rivaled that of a fellow Native American the late great Jim Thorpe.
Tatanka followed this with a 40 man battle royal win on May 18 in Cincinnati with the greatest of the W.W.F. superstars involved. Among those were I.C.W. Champ Bret ” Hit Man ” Hart, the Legion of Doom, Repo Man, Skinner, Crush, Shawn Michaels, Sgt. Slaughter, Money Inc., and the Natural Disasters, who, because of their prodigious size, were the odds-on favorites. However, fate had other plans that evening as Tatanka claimed his most prestigious win at a W.W.F. event. At this point Tatanka had compiled a perfect won-lost record in the W.W.F. In late-January, Tatanka received a non-title match against Intercontinental Champion Michaels, whose combination of confidence, guile, and skill made him one of the federation’s best. Tatanka took another major step towards greatness, pinning Michaels without over using his brawling skills on Superstars and also pinned Michaels for a victory during a six-man tag team match on Monday Night Raw. Following this awesome accomplishment Tatanka feuded with Damien Demento, a sick individual with a penchant for brawling and very little technical skills. Tatanka dominated the feud, at one point pinning the crazed rule breaker on three straight nights. in addition to handling Demento, Tatanka also pinned Razor Ramon on consecutive nights in February, showing that his improvement was no fluke. By beating Ramon, he also showed that he is now among the federation’s brawling elite.
On March 7, 1993, Tatanka defeated P.W.F. junior heavyweight champion George South and instantly after the match Shawn Michaels stormed the ring and Tatanka responded by chopping Michaels over the top rope and thus earning him a title shot against Michaels at Wrestlemania 1X in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event of epic proportions was held April 4, 1993, at the opulent Caesars Palace. The match as experts claimed turned out to be the best on the card. Michaels was accompanied by Luna Vachon; Tatanka was accompanied by Sensational Sherri Martel. In reality, neither man needed any help. Both lived up to their reputations as stellar competitors. The Native American went at it with the Boy Toy himself; Shawn Michaels. Tatanka gave Michaels everything he had, throwing every chop in the book at him. With the Native on the warpath, The Sexy Boy knew his days as Intercontinental Champion were numbered. As the action spilled outside the ring, Michaels grew more and more desperate. Realizing that he was about to be counted out, the champion reached up and pulled the referee down into the action. The deed resulted in a disqualification victory for Tatanka. But since a title can only change hands on a pinfall or submission, Michaels remained in possession of the belt. Needless to say the fans wanted the Gold on Tatanka by their loud expressions and also needless to say, The Boy Toy never signed for a rematch!
On June 13, 1993 Tatanka came back battling against Lex Luger in Round 1 of the ” King Of The Ring ” tournament to a 15 minute draw which eliminated both men. Then came Tatanka’s greatest test – The Beast From The East ” Bam Bam Bigelow.” This feud quickly turned hot and ugly after Tatanka and Bam Bam had a blowup in front of a national televised audience, Bigelow went into the hallway and jumped the Native American hero with a chair as he left the dressing room. Tatanka was knocked cold, and Bam Bam began to beat his helpless victim, snarling and raining verbal abuse upon him. World Wrestling Federation officials who tried to pull Bigelow off the bruised Tatanka were tossed about like dolls. Only after Bam Bam committed the ultimate indignity upon Tatanka – cutting off several locks of his prized red hair – were the officials able to end his assault. Tatanka was angry beyond comprehension. His body was battered, but his spirit suffered even more from the humiliation of practically being scalped by Bigelow. Tatanka knew he needed to strengthen his spirit for the coming confrontation with the massive, brutal Bam Bam. Tatanka went into seclusion to prepare for the battle. The rumor had spread through the Federation that Tatanka had performed the sacred Sun Dance to build courage and spiritual strength and to overcome his enemies in combat. When Tatanka returned to the battlegrounds in the W.W.F. he returned with greater power and fans all over the world witnessed one of the biggest feuds in history that left buildings all over the world fueled with excitement from the Tatanka and Bam Bam battles. Experts in the wrestling world claimed this to be the feud of the century with their matches overpowering all of the W.W.F. cards including even the top Title Matches. This feud never loss the fire, excitement and the fullness it gave the fans of the W.W.F. This feud lasted a year leaving many lasting moments in the hearts of the fans all over the world. Tatanka teamed with The Smoking Gunns to beat Bigelow and The Headshrinkers at Summerslam at Auburn Hills, Michigan on August 30, 1993. After the great success Tatanka had at this point in his career he was awarded in August 1993 in Wrestling Superstars the prestigious award of being in the top 20 wrestling superstars of the world. As we all know; P.W.I. magazine comes out each year with the top 500 list, so being in the top 20 is an honor well appreciated by Tatanka.
After the Native American claimed victory over Bam Bam and established his honor for his Native’s and fans all over the world he decided to travel to Memphis to meet the challenge of that city’s King; Jerry “The King ” Lawler. Lawler had offered the Native American a title shot at the famous U.S.W.A. Heavyweight Title and Tatanka answered by being at the Mid -South Coliseum on September 13, 1993. It was a night to remember to see the fans favorite Lawler take on the Native American Tatanka for the title. As Tatanka began to get the best of Lawler the fans responded by booing the Superstar of the World Wrestling Federation; which of course was totally opposite of what Tatanka received by his fans all over the world. He was use to the support and the power he received from the fans all over the world; but on this night no matter if the fans where behind Lawler the Native was not to be denied! After the bell had rang Tatanka again had added another victory to the win column of his undefeated winning streak and was crowned the new U.S.W.A. Heavyweight Champion.
After 2 years of a flawless record that had gone into the record books for the W.W.F. for the longest winning streak Tatanka suffered his first W.W.F. defeat against Ludvig Borga on September 28 in Worester, Massachusetts and featured on TV on Superstars in October. As Tatanka and fans knew when you’re on top everyone is looking to knock you down from the pedestal of success that Tatanka had accomplished thus far in the W.W.F. On that night a conspiracy had begun to spin it’s web as Borga distracted the referee and hit Tatanka with a chair shot that echoed throughout the building. Then Borga proceeded to roll Tatanka into the ring for the cover and pin. As we all know he suffered injuries from that chair shot that W.W.F. officials stated had smashed the Native’s ribs. If that wasn’t enough to add insult the conspiracy unfolded as the great Yokozuna came to the ring and delivered two ” banzai ” splashes onto the ribs of Tatanka as Ludvig Borga held the arms of the Native Superstar. Lex Luger; now a fan favorite came to the ring to rescue Tatanka but it was to late the damage had been done. The building was filled with concern, screams, cries, and boo’s for the two villains that had clearly caused tremendous pain and injury upon the Native American Tatanka. Also it was clear in the hearts of the fans that night how special Tatanka was to them as their hero because there were many that were filled with tears as they watched Tatanka being carried off in a stretcher. The flame and hopes of all of Tatanka’s little braves and squaws as well as adults were squelched that night by Ludvig and Yokozuna. The Native American had been beaten but it took two to do the damage but the real question was would Tatanka recover and come back to the Federation? As we all know Tatanka was slated for the main event in Survivor Series at the famous Boston Gardens but had to be replaced by The Undertaker.
Following the injury, Tatanka spent three months away from the ring recuperating. Finally when he felt he was ready to compete again, Tatanka asked President Jack Tunney for a championship match against the W.W.F. champion Yokozuna. Tatanka had come back with a vengeance. Instead of ducking men like Borga and Yokozuna he insisted that promoters give him a rematch with the hated Borga as soon as possible. At that time Jim “Hacksaw ” Duggan stated that Tatanka wanted the toughest competition the federation could offer, even if it meant his chances of losing again were increased. Tatanka had come back with a whole new approach to his matches; he was taking more chances and had developed a killer instinct. He took on Borga and defeated him on Monday Night Raw even with Yokozuna interfering again. Then on the W.W.F.’s European tour, Tatanka repeatedly trounced Diesel, a man who was reported to have the toughest right hand in the W.W.F. On January 17, 1994 in New York’s Madison Square Garden Tatanka was matched against Yokozuna with the prestigious World Wrestling Federation title on the line.
Going into battle there were many that thought Tatanka would not give the 600 lb. Yokozuna any trouble but as the match progressed, the Native American showed the New York crowd that he wanted to win the title very badly. In fact, on three occasions Yokozuna was just barely able to get his shoulder up before a three-count ended his second reign as W.W.F. champion. The longer the match continued, the more the fans in the Gardens realized just maybe the upset of the year was in the making. It was not until Mr. Fuji interfered with the bucket that held the ceremonial salt that allowed Yokozuna to get away still with his championship belt intact. Tatanka and Luger joined forces against Yokozuna and Borga since no one of these opponents could win or get away without defeat without using outside interference. After the Yokozuna battle Tatanka had showed again that he had come back in a blaze of glory by pinning Bam Bam Bigelow at the Royal Rumble. The Beast from the East was a last-minute replacement for Borga, who mysteriously bowed out of the rematch due to a questionable injury. Tatanka had showed to the fans and the locker room of the W.W.F. that he had the ability to bounce back from injury, to persevere when things don’t go your way, and to show determination in the face of adversity. He had all the marks of a wrestler who’s going somewhere…to the top. Tatanka had worked himself into serious contention for a major title.
Tatanka at this point of his career had established himself as a major force in the W.W.F. He was an inspiration to his fans and most of all to all the Native American tribes all over the world. He had accomplished what he set out to do; to establish a new Native Nation that he would lead in the W.W.F. Because of his success W.W.F. owner Vince McMahon decided to honor him on National TV on Monday Night Raw. For the occasion was former W.W.F. Chiefs Jay Strongbow, Wahoo McDaniels and Ray Littleturtle from Tatanka’s Native tribe the Lumbee’s. That Monday Night Raw was special to Tatanka because not only was the show honored to him but having the 2 great superstars that had paved the way for Native American Wrestlers was a honor. Ray Littleturtle proceeded with a formal speech to Tatanka and a gift from the Lumbee tribe which gifts within Native’s are taken very seriously. The tribe presented to Tatanka a full length Chief Headdress that adorned beautiful colored feathers and beads that had been in a lodge in North Carolina for many years and now it was passed down to the Native Superstar Tatanka. Strongbow and McDaniels also made their speeches honoring Tatanka and officially passing the torch and flame to the new Native American that had rose above to represent his people with honor. As the presentation ended Tatanka vowed to continue to represent his people and to take care of the precious gift the Native’s had bestowed upon him!
In enters the so called government tax accountant Irwin R. Shyster. This confrontation began another page in Tatanka’s battles over his Native American heritage. First it was “The Model” Rick Martel, then Bam Bam Bigelow, then Ludvig Borga and now Irwin R. Shyster who had come against Tatanka’s Native American heritage and insisted to mock him and declare they were the superior warriors and race. From the beginning Chief Jay Strongbow had taken the young Native under his wings at the W.W.F. but ever since the presentation to Tatanka; Strongbow and Tatanka had a special tie between themselves that was clear throughout the W.W.F. Every match Tatanka wrestled he proudly wore the Chief Headdress that was presented to him by his people and it was clear that the Native was upholding the vow he promised to his people that special night on Monday Night Raw. After his war-dance at the beginning of his matches he would hang his long headdress on the ring post during his matches because he vowed to take care of the special gift the Native’s had bestowed upon him. I.R.S. insisted that Tatanka needed to pay a gift tax on the newly acquired gift but Tatanka being full blooded Lumbee Indian had special privileges that included he was tax exempt on this special gift. Irwin R. Shyster continued to hassle and demand the tax that was due and stated that if Tatanka didn’t pay the tax he would pay one way or the other. I.R.S. continued to hassle Tatanka and even at times would come to ringside while he was wrestling to inspect the Native’s Headdress but Tatanka had a very close eye out and would run off I.R.S. before he could get his hands on the special gift that represented Tatanka’s heritage and people. Everything came to an explosion one Monday Night Raw when I.R.S. attacked Tatanka and then tied him up into the ring ropes so he couldn’t get loose and then proceeded to mock him by wearing his headdress. The situation heated up as Chief Jay Strongbow came to ringside to defend his Native Brother but I.R.S. retaliated by beating Chief Jay Strongbow to a pulp and there was nothing Tatanka could do as he watched his mentor be destroyed. To add the final cut and blow I.R.S. began to tear the Chief’s Headdress that was presented to Tatanka to shreds right in front of Tatanka and the whole world live! When I.R.S. finished there was nothing left but a pile of torn feathers and to add insult he stuffed feathers in Tatanka’s and Strongbow’s mouth and left the ring with a building of fans that where ready to attack I.R.S. themselves. There was a silence over the building that night and again many were crying due to the hurt and pain they could feel that Tatanka was experiencing at that given moment. As the referee’s got Tatanka loose from the ring ropes he crawled over to Chief Jay Strongbow’s side that was still laid out in the middle of the ring and lifted his head into his laps and with a loud war cry that bellowed from deep within Tatanka you knew his pain but in the same aspect you knew that Tatanka would avenge himself, Chief Jay Strongbow and those Native’s he had vowed to throughout the world! What followed thereafter was another great story in Tatanka’s battles of those that came against him and his heritage. I.R.S. tried to run many times after Tatanka was getting the best of him but Tatanka would come back and demand rematches that faced the two together all throughout the world for almost one year. Every single match Tatanka made I.R.S. pay the price for what he had done to him, Chief Strongbow and his people. It seemed Tatanka was carrying a new power and warrior spirit that came from above; from his Creator God himself! He was focused on making I.R.S. pay the ultimate price for his deeds and he did just that; defeating I.R.S. all throughout the world so the fans in every city could see that good had triumphed over evil and Tatanka had restored his heritage once again. Just like the Bam Bam matches the fans remembered these matches also because of the great excitement that filled the buildings all over the world.
Now we enter the final battle of Tatanka’s awesome career at the W.W.F. This one though shocked the world and had everyone in disbelief! Yes; I’m talking about the feud between “Made in the U.S.A. Lex Luger” and the Native American Tatanka. It all started when Tatanka had been making serious allegations that Lex Luger had “sold out” to the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase for a staggering sum of money. Native American Tatanka, who once considered Luger to be a friend and a role model, is certain that Lex has signed a ” million dollar contract” and that everyone should never “underestimate the greed and wealth” of the Million Dollar Man. Luger felt that Tatanka was simply trying to usurp his code of moral conduct. Feeling that Tatanka’s moccasins have totally overstepped the boundaries, the American patriot Lex Luger has made it clear that he is ready, willing and able to give the mighty young brave the battle of his life. At the time of the ceremony of the Chief Headdress that was presented to Tatanka it was rumored he was in line for a series of title matches; especially after having the Champion Yokozuna in desperation to save his title at Madison Square Garden and having only Mr. Fuji to save him in the end. Months after the ceremony, he was convinced that he, just like Strongbow, would be overlooked for a title shot. “Tatanka is very proud”, his friends added. ” He absorbs generations of insults to his people. He wants the belt so he can be a even bigger role model for Native Americans. The stage was set; Chicago’s Brand New United Center in the sweltering heat of August for The 1994 Summer Slam Pay Per View. With the entire wrestling world waiting for DiBiase and Luger to unite, it was Tatanka whom the “Million Dollar Man” really wanted. According to insiders, DiBiase considered Luger to be damaged goods and he wanted the Native all along. His interest in Lex was just a decoy to throw the media and promoters off track. It worked. Never in recent history has the wrestling world been so shocked by a defection. The truth came out that it was the other way around! After Tatanka defeated Luger and won the match he capped his turn to rule breaking by assaulting Luger and giving him a vicious beating. No one expected the Native to rebel. There were those experts in the press that stated ” when Tatanka attacked Luger and shook DiBiase’s hand, the United Center fell silent”. “It was something really to see; Tatanka was the last person you’d ever expect to turn. The consensus of wrestling opinion-makers stated that history was repeating itself with a white man tricking a Native American into a bad business deal. DiBiase’s opinion was very different and stated “his wrestlers were taken care of very well and that Tatanka would get his title shots and be well compensated for his efforts.” There was one thing for sure; Tatanka could expect a lengthy and bloody series of battles with Luger. At the time should Tatanka dominate the battles he would be the leading contender to take on the current World Champion Bret Hart. What followed was to be expected of Tatanka’s career and ability in the ring. What began at The United Center in Chicago routed itself throughout the country for almost an entire year without losing any steam. Fueled with a fiery dislike for each other, the epic wars between Made In The U.S.A. Lex Luger and the Native American turncoat left arenas scalded with the intense heat of battle. A friend of Tatanka’s not connected with the sport stated “Tatanka still loved his fans but had to take care of business not for selfish reasons but for his people; the Native Americans. So remember that, when you call him names and boo him he’s doing it because he has to.” According to legend in some tribes, in order to obtain a blessing or gain standing in the community, one must keep his attention firmly and exclusively on the goal. One cannot permit his concentration to wander.
As we look at Tatanka’s career at the W.W.F. there is one thing for sure; he never took the focus off of giving his fans, his Native American blood-brothers and blood-sisters and himself 100% in the squared circle in battle. Tatanka’s career ended at the W.W.F. after an awesome 5 year run that compiled battles and angles that the fans of today are going back to. Tatanka left the W.W.F. during the later year of 1996 when all the stars of the W.W.F. where going into the ranks of the competition of W.C.W. Even with the height that wrestling has risen to today the fans are going back to 3-4 years ago with battles that lasted for a year and involved solid wrestling in the ring instead of interviews and back stage scenes. Included with Tatanka’s accomplishment’s are: he holds of course the longest winning streak of the W.W.F. which is 2 years without one defeat; longer than Goldberg’s feat of only 9 months. Voted in 1993 by Pro Wrestling Illustrated as runner up for Most Improved Wrestler of the Year. Voted Limit Magazine-Hero 1994 in Sports in Germany; one contender that year was Michael Jordan. Voted Top 10 in both Most Popular and Most Hated Wrestlers. Also in 1994 Tatanka was part of the stars of the W.W.F. that released the first and new C.D. and tape on RCA records appropriately titled, “Wrestlemania, the album.” The album was unveiled to the public at a posh party in Madison Square Garden. In attendance were Tatanka, Hacksaw Jim Dugan, the Macho Man and even W.W.F. head honcho, Vince McMahon. Tatanka’s song was titled “Tatanka Native American.” He also defeated Sean Michaels twice when he was holding the Intercontinental Championship.
After leaving the W.W.F. in the later part of 1996 Tatanka decided to take a break from his busy schedule of professional wrestling and spend time with his wife. With W.W.F. Tatanka had a schedule of 300 days per year which leaves little time for anything else and no balance in your life. Even with the great success Tatanka had acquired in the W.W.F. he decided it was time to get his life in order in all areas of his life. It was tough at the time because Eric Bischoff had called Tatanka personally and offered him the opportunity to come to the W.C.W. and be highlighted on their Nitro Show but Tatanka stuck to his decision of getting things in order completely in his life and decided to put pro wrestling on hold for a while. First thing Tatanka and his wife got in order was their personal relationship with God and his son Jesus Christ! This began the true success and fulfillment in Tatanka’s life and his wife, which is so clear today in their lives.
After spending time together with his wife they decided to start a family and enjoy one of the greatest gifts that God has given the world; a newborn baby! After 2.5 years in 1999 Tatanka returned to the battlefield of Pro Wrestling and began right where he left off; defeating all those that stepped into the squared circle with The Native American Tatanka. Since starting back to the world of Professional Wrestling, Tatanka and his wife also successfully started a Custom Faux Business that is ran by Tatanka’s wife Michelle. In addition they have also added to their family of their first child being Christiana Mariah, who is currently now 12, with daughter Rhea Aiyana 6, son Joseph Tatanka 5, and their new born son Jeremiah Chris at 4 months. During Tatanka’s tours with the independent circuits it carried him all throughout the world with many months where Tatanka was actually booked as many as 21 days in one-month. Many events were televised events and some events that were as large as a WWE tour such as his tour in Australia (International Wrestling Superstars) where all the big venues were ran with many sell-outs and carried much media coverage such as TV, radio, newspaper, and internet. This brings us to the year 2005.
On August 1st, 2005 Tatanka returned to RAW, which was intended to be a special one-time appearance to face Eugene in the “Eugene Invitational”, a 3-minute match with Kurt Angle’s Olympic Gold Medal on the line. Tatanka lost the match when Angle attacked Eugene with 27 seconds remaining, causing a disqualification. He mentioned on his website afterward that he loved being back in a WWE ring and hoped someday to return.
Tatanka returned to a full-time schedule for World Wrestling Entertainment as “Tatanka” at the tail end of 2005, debuting at a December 27th house show, teaming with Shelton Benjamin in a win over Carlito and Jonathan Coachman. He returned to television in the Royal Rumble PPV match at the January 2006 event, where he was eliminated by Joey Mercury and Johnny Nitro. The next month he began appearing on Velocity before being moved full time to the Smackdown brand.
As a babyface, Tatanka teamed with Matt Hardy to defeat MNM, the Tag Team Champions, in a non title match at No Way Out. They were granted a title shot on the next edition of Smackdown, but lost.
On the April 28th Smackdown a vignette played announcing that “a new warrior would soon be forged in Tatanka.” Over the next three weeks footage aired of Tatanka being (legitimately) adopted into the Oglala Sioux Tribe also known as the Lakota, which is considered a huge honor. When he returned to wrestling Tatanka defeated Simon Dean with his new finisher, “Wakinyan” (from the Lakota word for “Thunder”).
Tatanka engaged in a mini-feud with Sylvain Grenier, trading victories with him, before he was moved into an angle where he entered into a losing streak due to, what he perceived to be, racial decision-making against the Native American by referees during his matches. This escalated until the October 27th Smackdown, when Tatanka, alongside partner Bobby Lashley, lost a match to William Regal and Dave Taylor when Regal pinned Tatanka by illegally using the ropes. After the match Tatanka argued the decision again, this time going so far as to attack the referee, then he attacked and aggressively beat Lashley when he tried to calm him down. The next week he appeared on Smackdown with a new style of war-paint, covering the top of his face in black and the bottom in white, and cut a promo on Lashley saying he owed neither him nor the crowd an explanation for his actions. He compared his recent losing streak to the years of persecution that his people had suffered over the years and said that he “called upon his forefathers to unleash a new warrior in him.”
In a few weeks Tatanka appeared on Smackdown and broke his losing streak that the referees had imposed upon him by defeating Jimmy Wang Yang. Shortly thereafter Tatanka asked WWE to be released from his contract and mentioned he was not done with WWE as he would like to return someday. WWE.com noted this event with these parting words: “Tatanka is an accomplished veteran of the squared circle. The Native American made a splash upon his entrance to the WWE in the early 90s, remaining undefeated for 2-years.”
Since his release, Tatanka has been very busy in 2008 and 2009 on the independent circuits with wrestling events, personal appearances and charity work. Probably one of his biggest tours has been the “American Rampage Tour” that started in Ireland and finished in France, in late 2008. Many of the former WWE Superstars were on this tour with Tatanka being highlighted as one of the main Superstars. The events in Ireland were mostly completely sold-out with the events in France drawing as much as 5,000 people at some of the large venues. The event in Paris, France was televised where 4 million people viewed the event by TV. Tatanka has also traveled to many international events in the UK, Germany, and Austria where Tatanka was in the main-event and drew sold-out crowds for the last 2 years. Continue to follow Tatanka for all my upcoming tours and news.
Nov 2010, Tatanka returns home to the WWE to appear LIVE on WWE Raw on the USA Network for “Raw Goes Old School.” Honored by WWE LIVE with millions watching as one of their Official WWE Legends. Apr 27th, 2012: Inducted into the Covey Pro Hall Of Fame Class of 2012. Nov 22nd, 2012: WWE announces and welcomes the addition of the Native American Tatanka as their Official WWE Superstar Alumni. A great honor!
In 2015 WWE signed Native American Tatanka to a 5 year WWE Legends Contract that has included wrestling on the biggest stage of all WrestleMania 32 in 2016 with a indoor attendance record set of 101,763 people in attendance with millions watching by PPV. Tatanka also has a whole new line of merchandise available on the worldwide market with his new Elite 47 Action Figure selling in the Top 10 and also on the awesome popular game product of #WWE2K17 in the Legends Pack download.
For more info on Tatanka plus exclusive videos, photos, career highlights, classic moments and more visit Tatanka’s Official WWE Superstar Profile here http://www.wwe.com/superstars/tatanka.
Keep an eye out for the Native American Tatanka, because I could be in your town or on the TV in your area soon!
Championships and Accomplishments
1992: Tatanka won a 40 man battle royal on May 18, 1992 in Cincinnati with the greatest of the WWE Superstars involved. Among those were I.C.W. Champ Bret “Hit Man” Hart, the Legion of Doom, Repo Man, Skinner, Crush, Shawn Michaels, Sgt. Slaughter, Money Inc., and the Natural Disasters, who, because of their prodigious size, were the odds-on favorites. However, fate had other plans that evening as Tatanka claimed his most prestigious win at a WWE event.
1991-93: Tatanka still holds today the Longest Winning Streak of the WWE, which is 2 years without one defeat.
1993: Tatanka was awarded in August 1993 in Wrestling Superstars (PWI) the prestigious award of being in the top 20 Wrestling Superstars of the world.
1993: Voted by Pro Wrestling Illustrated as runner up for Most Improved Wrestler of the Year.
1994: Voted Limit – Hero in Sports in Germany while with WWE. One contender that year was Michael Jordan.
1994: Tatanka was part of the Superstars of the WWE that released the first and new C.D. and tape on RCA records appropriately titled, “Wrestlemania, the album.” The album was unveiled to the public at a posh party in Madison Square Garden. In attendance were Tatanka, Hacksaw Jim Dugan, the Macho Man and even WWE head honcho, Vince McMahon. Tatanka’s song was titled “Tatanka Native American.”
1991-95: Voted Top 10 several times in Most Popular Wrestlers while with WWE.
1995-96: Voted Top 10 in Most Hated Wrestlers during his Lex Luger Feud while with WWE.
2003: (PWI) Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked Tatanka # 279 of the 500 best singles wrestlers in the world.
2003: International Wrestling Superstars Tour. Voted Wrestler of the Year in 2003.
- Famous Native American Superstar “Chief Jay Strongbow”
- Sensational Sherri Martel
- The Greatest Manager The “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase
- American Wrestling Federation
- AWF United States Championship (1 time)
- Covey Pro Wrestling
- CPW World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Deutsche Wrestling Allianz
- DWA Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- i-Generation Superstars of Wrestling
- i-Generation Australasian Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
- Italian Wrestling Superstars
- IWS Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- North American Wrestling Association
- NAWA Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- South Atlantic Pro Wrestling
- SAPW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Stampede Wrestling
- Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- United States Wrestling Association
- USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- World Pro Wrestling
- WPW Heavyweight Champion (1 time)
- ASW Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Joe Gomez
- CWA Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- IWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Title (1 time)
- South Africa Heavyweight Title (1 time)
- TRCW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- UCW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- IPWA Israeli Pro Wrestling Alliance World Champion (Aug. 2012)