The name Tatanka in WWE is remembered with such joy to so many wrestling fans. To his early undefeated streak in the 1990s to his odd Wrestlemania appearance in the mid 2010s he has been in the minds of wrestling fans for a very long time.
However, simply being around a long time doesn’t make someone a legend. It doesn’t make someone one of the greatest of all time. It doesn’t make someone a WWE Hall of Famer.
Or does it? Should Tatanka be in the WWE Hall of Fame? Tatanka is not in the WWE Hall of Fame but that could all change next year, come Wrestlemania time.
Lets look at the Native American superstars career and see just why (or why not) he should be inducted into those hallowed falls and immortalised alongside legends like Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Andre The Giant.
He Never Achieved Championship Success In WWE
While you may remember Tatanka from your childhood, in actual fact he was not very successful. He never won any championships in the WWE, not even a consolation Intercontinental Championship reign, or a tag team title reign in his twilight years.
He never so much as sniffed a world championship. Imagining Tatanka main eventing a pay per view against Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart or John Cena is simply laughable. He was never at that level and should not be considered a top guy in wrestling.
However, are championship all there is too it? Jake Roberts never won a single title in WWE yet is revered as one of the greats. Andre the Giant held the WWE Championship for mere minutes and he is still remembered as one of the all-time greats 30 years after his death.
Everyone remembers Tatanka. The iconic theme music. The Native American war cries and dancing in the ring, as well as his iconic look, made him one of the most recognisable wrestlers in a time where each wrestler stood out with their own wacky gimmick. Tatanka became iconic as the sole Native American character on WWE on TV and will be remembered for years to come due to his iconic performances.
His Win Streak Was One Of The Most Pointless Ever
From his debut in 1991 to 1993, Tatanka had one of the most legendary winning streaks in wrestling. The prototypical Goldberg, the Native American star defeated everyone he came up against, racking up a year and half of undefeated matches which should have positioned him as the companies top babyface.
However, Tatanka’s streak was pointless. While he had feuds with Rick Martel and Shawn Michaels (even defeating the then-Intercontinental Champion by count-out), none of his matches really had anything behind them. His wins were predictable and samey and he never had a pay-off for spending all that time without losing.
While Goldberg’s streak was ended in highly controversial fashion by Kevin Nash, this streak ended with a whimper. He was defeated by Ludvig Borger in a throwaway match on the October 30, 1993 edition of Superstars, ending an 18 month win streak. To make matters worse, he was immediately attacked by then-WWE Champion Yokozuna and put out of action for 3 months, returning at the Royal Rumble.
His streak, while impressive at the time, ultimately was pointless. Borger never really benefitted from the win and it ruined all momentum Tatanka had after two years of solid wins. The loss helped no-one and writing him off TV for months after made little sense.
His Career Has Been Overrated By Nostalgia
Nostalgia is a hell of a drug. Fans of the Native American superstar remember fondly him running to the ring, his trademark yells and dances and his brutal Tomohawk Chops that rang around the arena.
But can you name anything he did? Any classic matches? Any truly memorable moments in wrestling Tatanka has been part of? If you had to sum up his best moments in WWE, the list would be short and unexciting.
He briefly joined the Million Dollar Corporation but that run did very little for his legacy. He did return to WWE in 2005 as a full-time talent, which is a return that shocked everyone and actually did a bit to improve his reputation. Young fans in 2005 join their parents in creating new memories of Tatanka which does go a long way into arguing for his WWE Hall of Fame induction.
His most memorable moment from his second run came during his tag team with Matt Hardy, when they defeated MNM in a non-title match. He also made a hilarious one-time return at Wrestlemania 32, appearing in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. He was supposed to have his own special entrance with his own theme music, but instead walked out with the rest of the 30 entrants in his confusion.
Tatanka Shouldn’t Be In The WWE Hall Of Fame
Tatanka should not be in the Hall of Fame, if it had any merit or criteria for joining. If it was to honor the legends of the ring who were at the top of the business and who influenced talent for generations to come, then he shouldn’t be a part of it.
If it’s to showcase the champions of their era and give them once last chance to taste the cheers of the crowd, then he also should not be in it. He achieved nothing in WWE and never won a championship which goes a long way against him going into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Luckily, the WWE Hall of Fame has no such criteria. It is simply for honouring whoever the hell Vince McMahon wants. Luckily, Tatanka is a memorable character for an era filled with nostalgia that many current fans have huge reverence for.
If Queen Sharmell can go into the Hall of Fame (and I’m being serious, she actually got inducted in 2022 – for what, I have no idea) then Tatanka has done more than enough to earn him spot in the WWE Hall of Fame. He is a legend in a loose sense, given that he once wrestled for WWE, and that is generally enough to be inducted.
It is quite a sad state of affairs that the once prestigious Hall of Fame has been watered down so much that anybody could get in. While I have nothing against wrestlers like Sharmell, Koko B. Ware and Stacey Keibler, they have hardly been influential in the world of wrestling, have they?
Tatanka has done more than all three of those wrestlers, so is almost guaranteed to be inducted one day. While his WrestleMania 32 appearance was hilariously botched, he’ll hopefully have another chance for one last pop in the WWE in the form of a Royal Rumble appearance.
That will likely follow a WWE Hall of Fame induction, which is (in my view) undeserved, in the eyes of the WWE, thoroughly earned – mostly by once being a wrestler who has wrestled in the WWE.
Tatanka Botched His Return Match At WrestleMania 32
One of the most bizarre returns in recent history has to be when Tatanka just showed up out of nowhere in the field of jobbers for the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
He hadn’t wrestled in the company for close to a decade, so fans were utterly flummoxed when Tatanka suddenly appeared in the background during the match. Other legends, like DDP and Big Show, had their own, fully-produced entrances for the match, so it looks clear that Tatanka was meant to have his own.
As it turns out, a big mistake backstage – which Kane tried his best to remedy, but ultimately failed at stopping – meant that Tatanka’s big return was spoiled and he never received the big pop he should have at WrestleMania 32.
Click here to read more about Tatanka’s failed WrestleMania 32 return.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.