Native American, No Really, Can’t You tell He’s a Native American
Tatanka was the last in a long line of Native American characters in wrestling. He was Native American, so Native American in fact, that he dressed in stereotypical garb that only would be worn by movie characters or for Halloween costumes. Following in the lineage of Chief Jay Strongbow and Wahoo McDaniel, Tatanka was twenty years too late.
When McDaniel and Strongbow were in their primes, their characters fit. With all the Russians and Germans running around being evil, a Native American hero seemed plausible. (And both gentlemen were great wrestlers too) Tatanka came around 1992, when all the characters were cartoons. In fact according to all Vince McMahon’s commentary on the subject, his full name was Native American Tatanka. He was a cartoon Indian. He yelped like an Indian, dressed like an Indian and his most prized possession was his features. Indian Feathers mind you.
Seriously, Tatanka’s first major feud was with Rick Martel. Martel stole Tatanka’s feathers and they fought in the match above for them. WWF got away with lots on non-PC stuff like this in the 80s and early 90s. This was a lower mid card feud, something which the modern WWE fan would never see. Imagine Zack Ryder feuding with Tensai because Tensai had stolen Zack’s headband.
Tensai wishes he had that feud
The only element Tatanka had going for himself was his undefeated streak. And it got him a IC Championship match against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 9 (the Toga Wrestlemania). This was during Michaels “I’m hot shit” phase and he reportedly refused to drop the belt to Tatanka. And Vince agreed, because Shawn was a sexy boy. (I have spoken very negatively about Michaels between 93-97, Seriously he sucked) Tatanka won….by count out. And that was his biggest moment.
Tatanka then inexplicably turned heel against Lex Luger in 1994. Apparently, everyone at the WWF realized that no one cared about Tatanka and that he blew, so bad guy Tatanka it is. And this could have worked if Tatanka had changed at all. He was still a Native American, but now he wore black! And slicked his hair back! And Ted Dibiase, evil millionaire man, is his manager! OOOH No!
He even still did his Indian yelp in his entrance music before the Million Dollar Theme. The WWF was making sure you didn’t forget he is a Indian. A money hungry Indian! EVIL!!!!
It didn’t work and Tatanka faded away only to return for no real reason in 2006. He once again was a Native American stereotype, had feuds that had no real purpose and turned heel. But this time, he was Super Evil Indian Man, Tatanka! With scary face paint and a MOHAWK!
I am Zorro Tatanka and I have a Mohawk! Aren’t I EVIL!
This doesn’t feel like a Hall of Fame career. Generally, fans will bring up Koko B Ware as an exmaple that anyone is eligible, so the sky is the limit on bad inductees. However, don’t forget that in 1987, when Koko first premiered, he was a big enough deal. He sung the Piledriver theme, was super over with the fans, and well liked by the company. It was his second run where he became a jobber.
Tatanka had two runs, where he neither was memorable nor dynamic. Fans did a collective “Meh” on him. Memorable characters get inducted all the time (Jim Duggan). Tatanka is forgettable.
Only Way it Happens
That’s a GREAT Idea!
Is WWE Stupid enough to actually do it?
No. WWE has plenty of more memorable characters to induct. Expect The Bushwhackers to join the ranks sooner than later.
Chances of induction
2 out of 10