In the early 90s, Wahoo McDaniel was no longer on TV. I wondered if there would ever be another great Native American wrestler to put on great matches for the masses. I thought maybe the Ultimate Warrior might be native, but he was something else, to this day I’m not sure what he was supposed to be.
One day on WWF Superstars on Saturday, there was this spectacular individual, majestically running to the ring with colourful feathers. He was not just any wrestler or just any Native American, he was heavily built like a bodybuilder. He looked awesome: muscles, power and speed. I could tell he would be a big star. He made short work of many of his opponents.
I had seen him before, but he had a different name, “The War Eagle” Chris Chavis. I read about him on the old Apter mags such as Pro Wrestling Illustrated. At the time, I wondered if he would make it to the big leagues at some point because there were no prominent Native American wrestlers on TV. I was happy to see Chris Chavis become the great Tatanka.
His first two years, he went undefeated. He had feuds with Rick “The Model” Martel, Bam Bam Bigelow, and won the 40-man Bashed in the USA battle royal. I was proud of the man for his place in the wrestling industry. I was witnessing his career going so well after missing much of Wahoo McDaniel’s wrestling career. I thought Tatanka would become a champion for sure.
“At WrestleMania IX, Tatanka received his first televised title shot in the WWF, against Shawn Michaels for the WWF Intercontinental Championship. Tatanka won the match by countout.” This was another win, but unfortunately, titles cannot change hands on a countout. I was happy for the win but disappointed at the outcome of no championship.
Vince McMahon and his company should have just given him the title. It would have been “over” because the fans were so into the Native American. If Vince had any concerns, he should have thought about the merchandise money that would have come flooding in for him and Tatanka. Tatanka would have looked awesome with the belt strapped around his waist. A missed opportunity from WWE (WWF, at the time).
As a little boy in the trapline, my late grandfather used to tell me many stories after a day of checking snares and traps. I wish I could remember them in detail but they are pretty much a blur at this point in my life. I also remember when i turned 8 years old and knew how to read. I would return the favour to my grandfather by reading Archie comics and translating to Cree as he sat intently listening to the shenanigans of the ‘ol gang.
The stories he told me were enhanced with his use of hand gestures and body language to emphasize the main points. His tone of voice would change, depending on the situation in his stories. His great humour would shine through, as his shoulders would bounce up and down as he bellowed in laughter. I was mesmerized by his masterful telling of legends and some that were his very own. I will tell the story of the time he thought he tracked a wehtigo (wendigo in other areas) at his trapline in another blog entry.
Story telling has a big part of my life since then and I used to tell stories to my children, right off the top of my head, as they listened to my sensational stories without planning them first. I wrote a few in detail as they are on my website: http://firstnationstories.com . I am happy to share what I remember for everyone to read and hopefully share themselves to people they care about. Have great evening.