This past weekend, WWE Legend Tatanka did a small tour through New Jersey and New York. He appeared at 80's Wrestling Con in New Jersey on Saturday and in Albany, New York on Sunday.
Tatanka is best known for his time in the WWF/WWE from 1991 to 1996 and from 2005 to 2007. During his tenure, Tatanka went undefeated on television for two years. His pay-per-view debut came at WrestleMania VIII, where he defeated Rick 'The Model' Martel. His first loss came to Ludvig Borga, who was aided by WWE Hall of Famer Yokozuna. Tatanka had other great feuds with IRS and Lex Luger when he joined Ted DiBiase's Money Inc. My interview with Tatanka appears in its entirety below.
SK: What's going on SportsKeeda fans, it's Lee Walker here, and I'm here with WWE Legend Tatanka. Tatanka, how are you doing today?
Tatanka: I'm doing awesome, Lee. A pleasure to see you, man.
SK: You went to 80's con, and here today at an Albany sports card show with Scott Wilder Promotions. What's it like coming to these events and getting to see past and future friends?
Tatanka: It's fantastic, and let me tell you what's fantastic about these events. When you're actually at WWE, the massive company that it is, we don't get an opportunity to spend time with the fans. I know that fans don't understand that, but they also do appreciate that. Like Axxess, there are humongous lines, and all we're doing is signing because we don't get an opportunity to talk.
It's cool for us to go to something like 80's Wrestling Con that we just went to because of the fan experience, but also cool for us wrestlers too. I had this eight-year-old kid, Nicolas, and his Dad said, "You are his most favorite wrestler, but you're a big-time inspiration to him. When my son needs some inspiration, he goes, 'Dad, I need some inspiration.'" They turn on my ring entrance music. His Dad has it on his phone. The kid was doing my war cry and the war dance at 80's Wrestling Con. It was cool for him, but it's cool for me too.
We get to hear tremendous stories. I got to sit down with Sgt. Slaughter, 'Million Dollar Man' Ted DiBiase, The Killer Bees, Bob Backlund, Haku, and all of these guys that come, and the fans that come. I took a photo with a guy who looked exactly like 'Macho Man.' It was unbelievable. His gear was exactly like 'Macho Man's' too. We enjoy these times because we get to have fun, also. It's not like in WWE where you sign, and sign, and sign, and don't get to say anything other than, "It's nice to meet you."
These kinds of conventions, yes, we were busy and had a successful day, but we also get to spend time with our co-workers, all the WWE universe, all the great wrestling fans, and get to hear personal stories from them. Nicolas impressed me. When he needs inspiration, he listens to Tatanka's ring entrance, does the war cry, and gets all pumped up, fired for the day. How can that not be a touching, impressing thing on us too? We love coming to these things.
SK: Well, I'm sure his Dad was a fan, and he has the WWE Network to watch too.
Tatanka: Exactly! The WWE Network is fantastic. I can't tell you how many kids come to the table and tell me, "You're my favorite wrestler." I'm looking at them, and they're like six-seven years old, and it's because of the WWE Network. It's amazing.
It's also the dad, who was six-seven years old and fell in love with us, who are now the adult telling their son or daughter, "Let me tell you how wrestling truly was." The parents will be standing next to them, saying, "I taught my kid. I wanted them to know what the business was truly about." The characters that we had during that time, kids loved those characters.
Look at the animated movies. You and I have probably talked about this before in our other interviews, but those animated movies are some of the most drawing movies as far as ticket sales.
It's amazing; I got my first Nation's friend, Eugene Brave Rock, he was in the Wonder Woman movie. I don't know if you've seen the movie, but I've got a First-Nation's Native American Superhero guy, and it's cool because kids look up to these superheroes or these characters in these animated movies, and it's the same thing with us too.
It's cool to see what the WWE Network does for us because of all the 5-6 year olds, "You're my most favorite wrestler." "Really? You weren't even born yet when I was wrestling." We appreciate what Vince has done with the WWE Network.
SK: What's it like to wrestle the younger generations or the up and comers? Recently in Poughkeepsie, New York, you wrestled one of my friends Tommy Zombie who's been wrestling for four years. What's it like to wrestle these up-and-comers still?
Tatanka: The perfect answer to that is the other night, JJ Dillon and I were sitting down watching CZW. We were watching some guys who were very, very talented. We were watching guys who'd only been in the business 18 months and looking impressive in the ring. These were guys we saw for the first time, and JJ and I would look at each other and say, "That's believable."
You have to be believable in this industry. A lot of guys can do some great moves out there, but are you believable? If you're 100lbs, are you believable? We saw some talent there that was just tremendous. What I enjoy when we go to these events, whether I'm wrestling, doing a signing, or doing a signing at a wrestling event, I walked over and gave advice to some of these young kids because I see them doing great things.
Sometimes they don't understand and say, "Wow, this is what I need to do. Get rid of that, and do this or don't do that. Use this as a finisher because nobody is doing anything like that." From my era, the guys in the '80's and '90s, we truly have a love for this industry, we love to give back.
We love to work with guys in the ring; we love to teach them the true art of this business. That's why we enjoy doing these kinds of things.
SK: Recently, WWE 2K20 took out a bunch of legends and dropped the roster size. What are your thoughts on that?
Tatanka: Well, one of my biggest thoughts is that they used to have a smaller roster. First, because of having a smaller roster, the payday was bigger. Some of the guys enjoyed those bigger paydays, but when you have 200 guys in the game, its a smaller payday. So, I can understand all that.
I know the WWE Universe wants to see everyone in that game, but you can't put everyone in the game. You have to be understanding, but it's also great because I know the WWE Universe loves their legends, their Hall of Famers, because it reminds them of why they fell in love with this business.
We're larger than life characters with great storytelling in the ring with believable heartfelt characters. I hate to see certain guys, not in the game, again, I can see WWE trying to cut the roster down, maybe for benefits of talent, like better paydays.
Again, I know the WWE Universe wants to see everybody in the game, but you have to be understanding that they're doing certain things for certain reasons. At the end of the day, WWE and Vince McMahon are in charge, and they're the number one sports entertainment brand in the world. Just to be involved, like me, to have a Legends deal, it's an awesome blessing.
The games are a big deal to the talent. They love to be in those games. If you've been in the games, not in the games, you're like, "Ahh, I want to be back in the game." What's awesome about all that is I've seen guys be taken out of the games, and brought back into the games. They're just trying to share one of their top products with tons of talent they've got, so they have to rotate it around. As talent and the WWE Universe, we have to be understandable because they can't have everyone in one game.
SK: I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. As always, it's an honor. I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Tatanka: You're welcome. Thank you very much, Lee, we appreciate it.
We'd like to thank Scott Wilder Promotions for allowing us to speak with Tatanka. You can follow Tatanka on Twitter at @NativeTatanka, on Instagram at @nativetatanka, and on Facebook at this link. You can listen to the interview below.
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