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. World Wrestling Federation Career
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.