Interviews

Interviews conducted with Tatanka between 1998 and 2003

1. What are you up to now?

The Native American “Tatanka” has been very busy doing many things but the biggest of those is wrestling world-wide. Most fans think that since you are not on TV then you are not wrestling but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I have been blessed to build a name in our business at the WWF that carried success during my career at WWF and also since leaving them in late 1996. Because of that I have been very busy on the independent circuit world-wide with months that carried as many as 17 bookings per month which is equal to a WWF schedule. I just recently finished a 30 day tour in London, which even had days that carried two shows on one day. Also been to Australia with houses as big as 10,000 people, India with crowds up to 15,000, Saudi Arabia with a sold out house for the main event match between my late friend and warrior “Yokozuna” and myself, New Mexico with crowds of 6,000 that were all Native Americans, and many places throughout the world and US. I have also been involved with many business ventures with the latest being a possible partnership with The Tribal Members of The Seminole Tribe of Florida. Go to my online home at NativeTatanka.com and leave your comments and suggestions about this new ideal for my fans and people world-wide.

2. What was your favorite match that you were in?

I have had so many with all the successful angles I was in during my career at the WWF. I thank God for all my success and all the top talent that I worked with but I can not really say that this one match was it. I can say I had an awesome match with Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania at Caesar’s Palace, many awesome matches with Bam Bam Bigelow world-wide during our hot issue, Yokozuna in New York for the World Title and also in Montreal, Canada in a cage match; both truly rocked the house. Also there was the days of IRS after tearing my headdress up which was fired up matches and also my big turn and heated matches with Lex Luger. I believe that true success and talent of great wrestlers are that they can have awesome matches with most talent they work with!

3. Do you ever hope to come back to wrestling?

There is no doubt I AM RETURNING AND MY RETURN WILL COME SOON. I have always planned a return but I focused on greater things in life than wrestling after my success at the WWF. I have had the offers but turned them down because it was not the right timing for Tatanka or my family. I was in a position that I could get away from wrestling for a while because I had done very well financially at the WWF. Most people think that your career and money are the most important but it is not! You can always return to your career but having a family by starting a child and being there is important to that new born baby. Also spending time with your wife and being there for her is also very important. Most of all spending time with God and his Son Jesus and helping others while they are in need is the greatest importance of all. You will find that those that follow this lifestyle have true success and Peace in their lives with a lot of joy and happiness. To find out the latest info on my return to TV just follow me at NativeTatanka.com which is always updated and loaded with info about me and the world of Pro Wrestling. “Pilamia Yelo” Thank you and God bless!

4. What do you think about Hulk Hogan?

Tatanka and Hulk HoganYou know a statement about Hogan is very simple to me. I am a man that looks at a subject or person with a wisdom point of view and also the truth because the truth is what I stand by, believe in and live my life and my families life by. Hulk Hogan is the man in pro wrestling for several reasons. Yes; we have had some great Superstars come along such as The Rock, and Stone Cold that have had some great success up to this point but they still do not match what Hogan has done for the industry. First of all he began his WWF career at a time that Vince had just took over from his dad and had planned on going world-wide and capturing the whole market. WWF was not what it was today but a much smaller company with Vince that did not know the business the way he does today of course; today he is a marketing expert. Hogan had to not only build himself but Vince used him as the main man to help push the company forward to become a world-wide and dominating company. That is not easy because with any competition or battle you will face opposition and they faced opposition on the way up. As they grew the interest of Professional Wrestling also grew world-wide with the fans and also as the company grew of course that made the whole crew in WWF work harder and realize they had something but it took the main man to help the company go forward which was Hogan and Vince. Of course after it started to rock they help create the other big stars such as Snuka, The Giant, and many others but Hogan always remained to be on top and always remained to be the draw. It takes talent to get on top but it also takes more talent to stay on top which he has also throughout his career. WWF turned into a major player and serious world-wide acceptance and there was a time they were running three towns a night and going for 90 days straight on the road because largely of what Hogan had help create along with Vince of course and all the other stars but just like today it takes those 3-4 top guys and that 1-2 very special guys that makes the whole thing work! Hogan was part of the world indoor record which holds today even with the great success of wrestling today. One thing I hold dear to and have always been able to do myself which Hogan did in a major way is to be able to get over big with just wrestling, some interviews, and of course his character and not all the stuff that is used today such as language, half-naked women, weapons of many sorts from tables, chairs, sledge-hammers, and many more! It also takes real talent to be able to get over with just what wrestling had before the major changes since 1997 to today which Hogan did. After leaving WWF he also accomplished something which has never been done; take the number 1 spot from Vince and keep it for about 96 Weeks I think with the ideal of the NWO in WCW. That in itself is a major feat because Vince has always dominated the business and stayed on top. You know what people look at is today only but they do not look at who paved the way and also paid the price to establish something which we have today which is our industry of Pro Wrestling. Just like freedom; we take it for granted but it was the soldiers that paid the price then so we could be free today! Just like the Native Americans; it was the warriors and those that refused to let their way of life die that has given my people and my blood the opportunities and success and freedom we have today! You can never forget those that walked before you or paved the way so you could be successful in this business today! I do talk to Hogan on a regular basis and I will tell you he has not finished making his mark in this business and of course following his track record and success over the years I would have to say he will close out his career his way and with a BANG! “Pilamia Yelo” Thank you and God bless!

 

More Interviews

1. Were you a big wrestling fan growing up?

I was not a Professional Wrestling Fan when growing up. It all began again when Bobby Rogers started to approach me and state I could be a star in the World of Wrestling. It was then when I started to watch and realize that the guys I was watching were previous football players, bodybuilders, wrestlers, and from all walks of life but all had one thing in common; known world wide and making huge money. This was the era of Hulk Hogan, The Warrior, L.O.D., Rick “The Model” Martel, Bobby Hennan, Gorilla Monsoon, and many others.

2. You were a highly recruited football player coming out of high school. Which position did you play?

I played in High School both ways as a defensive and offensive lineman and was recruited at college as an outside linebacker.

3. You were offered a contract by the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. Any regrets for turning it down?

No. The 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. Thank God also because my move with wrestling turned out way greater!

4. At what point in time did you know you wanted to pursue a career in professional wrestling?

After meeting The Legend and Hall of Famer ” Nature Boy Buddy Rogers” who 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 called ” The Monster Factory”.

5. Who were the two biggest influences on your pro wrestling career?

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. These two great stars took me under their wing and taught me the necessary basics needed to survive in the sport. Once I got to WWF it was Rick “The Model” Martel by far!

6. What was it like training at Larry Sharpe’s Monster Factory?

It was during the winter so it was cold in the training facility and taking bumps was definitely harder there. We had a group of good guys along with Larry, which made everything go right along as far as training. I also trained on weekends with Dennis Allen when everyone else was partying, which Sharpe agreed on and gave us a key.

7. You were introduced to then WWF booker George Scott by Buddy Rogers. What is Scott doing these days?

Golfing every day in sunny Florida!

8. Do you feel the time you spent on the independent circuit prepared you for a job in the WWF?

Yes. I started with 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. They had TV and former Stars of the WWF and WCW which added a big plus.

9. Which match on the independent circuit is your most memorable?

Working with Steamboat and Wahoo on tags at the beginning and also since then after WWF I would have to say my matches in Australia with Barbarian and also One Man Gang. I was Voted As The Top Wrestler of The Superstars of Wrestling Tour during that time also.

10. What was the WWF like in 1991?

It was absolutely awesome to see the guys I had seen just 1 year prior to me getting into the business on TV. Here was Vince McMahon, Hogan, Warrior, L.O.D., Mr. Perfect, British Bulldog, Bret Hart, Rody Piper, The Warlord and many other great Stars with sold out houses and loud crowds.

11. Was there resentment in the locker room about your almost immediate push?

I didn’t feel there was any then but knowing my business as I do now I bet there were some definitely. Undertaker made jokes about me getting my own poster, T-Shirt, etc. but he was only joking because we were friends by then and hung out together. I got along with everyone and that makes the difference if they like you!

12. Who were your closest friends in the WWF?

I spent time on the road with Undertaker, Charles Wright aka Papa Shango, Kama, God Father and also The Samoans; Yoko, Rikishi, and Sammy of The Headshrinkers.

13. Was there a particular match or feud that established you as a star in the WWF?

It all began with Rick “The Model” Martel and exploded with Bam Bam Bigelow and our angle and battles.

14. Who wrote the Tatanka theme song?

WWF.

15. You left the WWF and the world of pro wrestling to start a family in 1996. What brought you back to the business?

I always knew I would come back because I never retired. I had only wrestled for a total of 6 years at that point. It all had to do with timing and when God wanted me to return to the world of wrestling.

16. How tempted were you to join WCW after leaving the WWF?

A little but not a lot because I knew what I had to do at that point and money was not controlling me to have to make a decision to go!

17. You have wrestled all over the world. Which international match is your most memorable?

Bam Bam Bigelow and IRS in Germany and Yokozuna in Montreal, Canada which is international to me and always the boys.

18. What does the future hold for Chris Chavis?

There is no doubt I AM RETURNING AND MY RETURN WILL COME SOON. I have always planned a return but I focused on greater things in life than wrestling after my success at the WWF. I have had the offers but turned them down because it was not the right timing for Tatanka or my family. I was in a position that I could get away from wrestling for a while because I had done very well financially at the WWF. Most people think that your career and money are the most important but it is not! You can always return to your career but having a family by starting a child and being there is important to that new born baby. Also spending time with your wife and being there for her is also very important. Most of all spending time with God and his Son Jesus and helping others while they are in need is the greatest importance of all. You will find that those that follow this lifestyle have true success and peace in their lives with a lot of joy and happiness. To find out the latest info on my return to TV just follow me at NativeTatanka.com which is always updated and loaded with info about me and the world of Pro Wrestling.

19. What advice would give a young hopeful trying to break into the business?

Do not think it is easy or fake and get ready to pay your dues. It is not a business of high flying moves but the best on top know when and what to do in the ring at the right time. There is no shortcut to success. It only comes by vision, hard work, and discipline.

20. Do you have a message for your fans?

I know many of you are getting eager to see me on TV just as I am eager to be there but I want the best for me and of course you the serious Tatanka Fans. I promise I am returning soon and because of my wait and timing it will be awesome for us all and that is what I know you want just like I do! So just continue to follow up at my Official Site NativeTatanka.com and keep your faith that my words are true and will come to pass! The saying that good things come to those that wait is true. Waiting builds patience, persistence, faith, and most of all makes you a better person inside which shows on the outside in your life with others. When we get what we want to fast it can destroy us or even yet aid us in not appreciating what we have and how thankful we should really be when we have great positions of fame or authority in our life. Like always I wish you all the best in your personal lives and that you receive all that your heart desires and the abundance that the Creator God Himself and Jesus desires for your life! “Pilamia Yelo” Thank you and God bless!

Give me your initial reaction or a short statement about the following:

A. Vince McMahon
Marketing genius

B. Eric Bischoff
Took number 1 from Vince for 96 weeks

C. Lex Luger
Superb body

D. Bret Hart
Excellence of execution

E. Owen Hart
Tragedy and missed

F. Sunny (Tammy Sytch)
Pretty but crosses the line

G. Rick Martel
A seasoned pro and veteran; one of the best!

H. Scott Hall
Sad and I wish the best to him!

I. Kevin Nash
Big, & successful but not a booker

J. Chris Chavis
Bringing change and truth that will help many!

1) You signed with WWF in the end of 1991 or in the beginning of 1992, and WWF started to show vignettes with you, under your real name, Chris Chavis. When and why were you later renamed Tatanka?

I signed with WWF in 1991 after only 1 year of pro training, which made me at the time one of the quickest rising stars to the WWF and also a record at that time as I was told. I started out as Chris Chavis because Vince loved the idea of me being 100% Native American so he could use my real name because anyone could trace my name and find out I was Native American. My name changed after going to my tribal lands and standing by the river I was brought up by, sitting at the campfire as the Holy Man of my tribe danced around me with the eagle feathers, being with my people and promising to bring a new Indian Nation that would involve all natives world wide. This is when I took on the name of Tatanka and all of this was viewed on TV by the viewing audience.

2) You have always been a power wrestler, who can go aerial when needed, and that helped you a lot in your career. You didn’t just have a very good gimmick; you were a wrestler that could work very good matches, with as different opponents as Rick Martel and Yokozuna. You lost a couple of matches against Shawn Michaels in 1992, but your first “official” lost was against “the evil fin” Ludvig Borga on WWF TV. Whose idea was it to make your first loss in the federation to be against Ludvig Borga? What did you think/feel when you did find out that your two-year-streak was going to an end?

It is always the ideal of the office but when you are one of Vince’s top boys he usually talks to you personally about big plans or as we call it angles. Borga was someone they liked and he was from Finland which made it real and also big and believable and tough; believe me! The real success angles are where you not only get a guy over bigger as Borga did but also when the people get behind you more even after your 1’st loss. It did not bother me to lose because I am a business man and had not loss in 2 years, which had already became a record that stands today. I want to enjoy what I do and also paint a story or picture to the fans that they enjoy and also get into. This is what draws the fans and also draws the ticket sales and makes you one of the top guys in the WWF.

3) After your loss against Borga, you were having a program with Bam Bam Bigelow again, and your match at Wrestlemania X (the ten man tag) was cancelled do to the lack of time. At King of the Ring 1994, you were in the tournament, and then you had a program with the tax man, IRS. Then, at Summerslam 1994, of two years of being a very well liked babyface, you suddenly turned heel. What did you think of your heel turn? Was it more fun to wrestle as a heel or do you prefer to wrestle as a babyface?

First of all let me say I prefer being a babyface and that is what I will return as. But on the other hand I have also showed the wrestling industry and fans that I can dance on both sides of the track, which not many can do. My heel turn was discussed with me and Vince only and he called me in the office to tell me his thoughts. At first I did not care that much about it but after he went through it again and said it is only that you are claiming to be the real American and not Lex Luger because your people where first here and you are the true and first American. It also made sense because I was hot as a babyface and that is always the way it has to be done to make it very successful for you as a heel. Also everyone just knew it was going to be Lex because he had heeled many times but we surprised the whole wrestling industry and went down in the record books as the hottest heel turn and biggest surprise as Bill Apter put it. Success is what you are looking at not only for you but also for the fans. It does not make you less as a heel or pay you less; it is only you playing another part but again I prefer being a role model and hero and that is what I will be when I return.

4) Which match do you consider to be the best you ever participated in?

I have had so many with all the successful angles I was in during my career at the WWF. I thank God for all my success and all the top talent that I worked with but I can not really say that this one match was it. I can say I had an awesome match with Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania at Caesar’s Palace, many awesome matches with Bam Bam Bigelow world-wide during our hot issue, Yokozuna in New York for the World Title and also in Montreal, Canada in a cage match; both truly rocked the house. Also there was the days of IRS after tearing my headdress up which was fired up matches and also my big turn and heated matches with Lex Luger. I believe that true success and talent of great wrestlers are that they can have awesome matches with most talent they work with!

5) I know that you are very close to the Samoans, and the death of the late great Rodney Anoia (Yokozuna) did touch us all. What was your greatest memory of him?

Just thinking about Rodney I remember the time him and some of the other guys on tour came over to my house for lunch because we were wrestling in Tampa, Florida that night. We sat around and talked about our business and just laughed and joked about certain things. Yoko was always the one that always seemed to love being around the business and having the boys as his friends. His presence will be greatly missed among those that had become his close friends. I was just asked today what were the greatest matches that Yoko and me had and I would have to say without a doubt one night in Madison Square Garden for the title and the other night in Montreal, Canada in a cage match. Both nights have been and will always be even remembered more because it was a time that I shared with my friend Rodney Anoia. Life is precious and a special gift from God; know and realize that! Make the most of your time with your loved ones and friends and go out in life to make a difference that is greater than you! Don’t forget to visit the Native American “Tatanka” at NativeTatanka.com. “Pilamia Yelo” Thank you and God bless!

1) How did you get into the business?

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 Heavyweight 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.

2) Who were some of your favorite wrestlers growing up?

I was not a Professional Wrestling fan when growing up. It all began again when Bobby Rogers started to approach me and state I could be a star in the world of wrestling. It was then when I started to watch and realize that the guys I was watching were previous football players, bodybuilders, wrestlers, and from all walks of life but all had one thing in common; known world wide and making huge money. This was the era of Hulk Hogan, The Warrior, L.O.D., Rick “The Model” Martel, Bobby Hennan, Gorilla Monsoon, and many others.

3) What promotions have you worked for?

I started at No. American Pro Wrestling, which ended up as So. Atlantic Pro Wrestling in Charlotte, No. Carolina. From there after only 1 year I was signed by WWF in 1991. Since leaving the WWF in mid 1996 I took 2 years off then started up with companies all over the world and have literally worked for so many it would be too much to list. I have been very busy and most of the time working every weekend and even some weeks. I did get offers from WCW after leaving WWF but turned them down all 3 times.

4) Why did you leave the WWF in the Mid-90’s?

After leaving the W.W.F. in the later part of 1996 I decided to take a break from my busy schedule of professional wrestling and spend time with my wife. With W.W.F. I 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 I had acquired in the W.W.F. I decided it was time to get my life in order in all areas of my life. It was tough at the time because Eric Bischoff had called me personally and offered me the opportunity to come to the W.C.W. and be highlighted on their Nitro Show but I stuck to my decision of getting things in order completely in my life and decided to put pro wrestling on hold for a while. First thing my wife and I got in order was our personal relationship with God and his son Jesus Christ! This began the true success and fulfillment in my life and my wife’s which is so clear today in our lives. After spending time together with my wife we 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 I returned to the battlefield of pro wrestling and began right where I left off; defeating all those that stepped into the squared circle with The Native American Tatanka.

5) Are you the first member in your family to go into wrestling?

Yes.

6) What Promotions do you work for now?

With companies all over the world and have literally worked for so many it would be too much to list.

7) What are your future plans? Is there any chance we will see you back in the WWF?

I am definitely returning and my return is very near and I expect by our conversations it will be towards Nov. or Dec. of this year. I have always planned on returning but have waited on the right timing and the timing is now! I have spoken to some of the WWF officials but either myself or them have made any commitments thus far even with all the rumors that I am going there. I have also had many conversations with Hulk Hogan, which I can not reveal but I will tell you I am definitely returning and returning as Tatanka , which is wanted and planned. For the latest info on my return go to NativeTatanka.com.

8) Lets play a name association game. I say a name, and in a few words, tell me what you think.

Jim Ross
Good commentator but at times uses wrong or bad words to describe.

Reckless Youth
Don’t know; sorry but our youth is reckless today and needs guidance!

Chief Jay Strongwell
I hope you mean Strongbow; if you do he was a good mentor.

Vince Russo
Got into trouble!

Kevin Nash
Great success but not a booker.

Gandhi
Stood for good and a world of peace and was seeking for the truth. That is why we must all seek and know the truth because the truth is the truth and can not be changed no matter what we believe is right or good.

9) Thanks Chris, Any words or advice for your fans?

I know many of you are getting eager to see me on TV just as I am eager to be there but I want the best for me and of course you the serious Tatanka fans. I promise I am returning soon and because of my wait and Timing it will be awesome for us all and that is what I know you want just like I do! So just continue to follow up at my Official Site NativeTatanka.com and keep your faith that my words are true and will come to pass! “Pilamia Yelo” Thank you and God bless!

 

 

TatankaInterviews