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Ask 411 Wrestling: Was Tatanka’s Win Streak Longer Than Goldberg’s?

July 10, 2023 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Tatanka WWE Image Credit: WWE

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to answer some of your burning inquiries about professional wrestling.

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This question was sent in by DownUnderDan and not his evil twin, UpAboveUlysses:

Just watching WWF Superstars from February 1993 where Tatanka scored a clean pin fall win over IC champion Shawn Michaels in a non-title match. Commentary stating he remains undefeated. It got me thinking, considering Tatanka debuted on television in then WWF in February 1992 and not losing until he faced Ludwig Borga in October 1993 (televised), is there a way of checking how many matches this undefeated stretch was for? Goldberg’s alleged undefeated run lasted what, 15 months and included house shows and made up figures, so it would be very interesting to know for how many matches Tatanka was undefeated and if comparable to Goldberg’s streak.

WCW promoted Goldberg’s streak at 173 wins before suffering his first loss. The WWF never actually put a number to Tatanka’s undefeated streak, but I went through and counted the wins that occurred during the time that the WWF was billing Tatanka as undefeated, and there were 283 of them. Thus, if you were to just take everything at first blush, you would probably conclude that Tatanka has the bigger, better undefeated streak.

However, this is professional wrestling, so we should never take anything at first blush. Once you dig deeper, you start to realize that there are asterisks all over the place in both Goldberg and Tatanka’s records.

Back in December 2020, I answered a question from our friend Tyler from Winnipeg about what the true numbers behind Goldberg’s streak were. You can read the full column if you like, but the short version of it is that, even though the streak was advertised at 173-0, Goldberg’s true undefeated streak was only five matches because he had six matches before his television debut and lost the last one. However, if you only count it from the Goldberg’s television debut against Hugh Morrus, his record was actually 147-0-05 before losing to Kevin Nash, with 147 outright wins and five no contests. Also, in August 2022, a reader named Keith asked me about Goldberg’s history in tag team matches, and we determined that he never had a tag match until 1999, after the streak ended.

When we look at Tatanka’s undefeated streak, things get significantly more convoluted.

First off, though Dan correctly notes that Tatanka’s WWF television debut was in February 1992, those weren’t his first matches for the company. In January and February of 1991, the man who would later be Tatanka wrestled dark matches on two WWF Wrestling Challenge tapings, winning both bouts, one under his real name of Chris Chavis and one under the moniker of War Eagle. Then, beginning in October 1991, he became a regular as Chris Chavis, initially racking up 14 wins, mostly on house shows against the likes of Kato and Skinner including beating Kato in a dark match before the 1991 Survivor Series. However, after that, his regular opponent changed from Kato/Skinner to Ted DiBiase, and he went 0-4 against the Million Dollar Man. Getting away from DiBiase proved a positive for his career, as he went back to his winning ways and got 13 more wins with no losses, with opponents including JW Storm (who lost a dark match to Chavis before Tuesday in Texas), Hercules, and Kato again.

This means that, before Tatanka became Tatanka, he had a WWF record of 29-4.

His first two matches as Tatanka were taped to air on later episodes of WWF television on January 7 and 8 of 1992, with wins against Pat Tanaka and the Brooklyn Brawler, respectively.

However, between the time these matches were taped and the time that they aired, Tatanka went back on the house show circuit and won five more matches in January as Chris Chavis, including a couple of rare matches in Alaska.

From that point on, Tatanka was Tatanka, though his undefeated streak didn’t quite look like Goldberg’s.

After his last house show loop as Chavis, he won 53 consecutive matches, followed by one draw. Then, he won 6 consecutive matches before losing 1 battle royale (something that never happened to Goldberg during his streak). He won only one more match before losing in another battle royale. After that, it was two singles wins before losing in a six man tag team match. He then picked up three singles wins before actually going on a seven match losing streak, as he was counted out of the ring as a regular finish in house show matches against Shawn Michaels. He then picked up three wins for televised matches before being hit with four more COR losses with Michaels. There were six more wins after that, and then . . .

In the middle of his so called “undefeated” streak, Tatanka actually got pinned.

On July 25, 1992 on a house show in Denver, Colorado, Shawn Michaels pinned Tatanka. When I first saw this, I thought it must be some sort of error, but I checked multiple sources, and all of them note that it was a pinfall loss. I checked, and I was not able to find any source that explains exactly why this happened.

Following that hiccup, Tatanka got back to his winning ways. He won 85 consecutive matches, though that run was snapped by losing in the Royal Rumble match. After five more wins, he lost another battle royale, then won 29 more times, and then had a match that ended via double count out. Ten more wins followed, and then he had a no contest. After that, 33 wins were followed by a double disqualification and nine wins. Next, Tatanka had a rare two consecutive non-wins, those being a draw and a loss in a six man tag team match, playa.

Three more wins were followed by four DCORs, which were followed by four wins and four more DCORs. A ten win streak was snapped by yet another double count out and a loss in a six man tag. After that, we’ve got one win, another DCOR, six wins, a time limit draw, seven wins, and then a tag team loss. From there, our man Tatanka got three more wins, a disqualification loss, a victory, a single victory, a loss in a Survivor Series elimination match, and a disqualification loss.

He then wins one more time, and the last four matches he has before his first acknowledged television loss to Ludwig Borga consisted of two draws, a battle royale loss, and another double count out.

So, if you add it all up, Tatanka had 283 wins after adopting the Tatanka gimmick. However, he also had 24 losses and 19 draws.

This means if you compare Goldberg’s record after his television debut to Tatanka’s record after becoming Tatanka, the streaks are 147-0-5 versus 283-24-19.

If you factor in Goldberg’s pre-TV matches and Tatanka’s pre-Tatanka matches, it’s 152-1-5 versus 312-28-19.

Which run is more impressive? Though Tatanka had significantly more wins, I would say Goldberg had the more impressive undefeated streak in that, once the streak started, he didn’t just avoid losing. He won virtually every time out and smashed his competition. Meanwhile, Tatanka’s undefeated streak had a lot more technicalities involved, in that he was never pinned or submitted in singles competition (except for that one house show against HBK) but still failed to dominate in tag matches or battles royale, in addition to having a ton of draws and count outs on his record.

Speaking of all this, Goldberg has been talking about a self-promoted retirement tour for a while now, and Tatanka wrestled as recently as June of this year, so perhaps we could get these two to settle it in the ring . . .

Tyler from Winnipeg is taking us to the Dungeon:

Any good Stu Hart matches?

I mean, not really.

That’s not to say there were never any good Stu Hart matches. It’s to say that we have no way of assessing them in 2023. Stu was primarily wrestling in the 1940s and the 1950s, and, to the extent that wrestling was broadcast on television in those days, it was not the standard practice to save tapes. If wrestling was pre-recorded as opposed to being broadcast live, footage was usually taped over because television station owners and wrestling promoters thought tape was expensive and didn’t see any financial benefit to preserving old shows. (Keep in mind VCRs and the ability to play back video at home didn’t really take off on a large scale until the 1980s.)

Stu did wrestle some matches in to the 1970s and 1980s, mostly teaming with his sons as a living legend, but any of those that still exist are not the man in his prime.

Giles from Switzerland is heading to the cinema:

Which movie do you think is worse: No Holds Barred or Ready to Rumble? And do you know any good wrestling movie outside of The Wrestler?

I would say Ready to Rumble is the worse of the two films, because it is actively derisive to pro wrestling fans, treating them as total morons. No Holds Barred was campy and poorly acted, but at least it didn’t actively portray wrestling in a negative light.

As far as good pro wrestling movies are concerned, they are few and far between if you are talking about scripted films. Nacho Libre is pretty good for what it is, and Terry Funk turns in a surprisingly solid performance as a pro wrestler in the Sylvester Stallone movie Paradise Alley. Also, the original movie named The Wrestler, starring Ed Asner and Verne Gagne, isn’t a particularly good movie but is interesting to watch as a time capsule from another era.

That being said, even if feature films about pro graps aren’t too great, there have been some very compelling documentaries about it. Go check out Beyond the Mat, GAEA Girls, or Lipstick and Dynamite. Also, though I don’t know if I’d call it a “good movie,” the documentary The Backyard definitely had a train wreck vibe in that I couldn’t look away from it.

Joel is relitigating one of the most shocking finishes of all time:

Ending the Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak was always talked about as something that should be done to elevate and make a new superstar. and not be an already established one, which of course it ended up being with Brock Lesnar. Looking at what Brock has done in wrestling since then, do you think he was the right guy to end the streak still?

Hey, look, another question about streaks.

I think that I’m on record before the streak ended as saying that I was of the opinion that it should never end. My thought process at the time was that, even though it could be a tool to elevate a new wrestler, there is also something to be said for giving the fans what they want on the biggest show of the year, and by and large fans did not want the Undertaker to lose at Wrestlemania. Having him come out on top at the end of a hard fought match each and every year was something that audiences looked forward to, and there was value in continuing to give them that.

That being said, if it was going to be broken, in retrospect I think that Brock Lesnar was as good of a choice as anybody. Having a brand new wrestler deal Taker his first loss on the grandest stage of all probably wasn’t going to fly with fans, so you needed someone who was already somewhat established but needed an extra piece to take him to the next level. To me, it truly does feel as though Lesnar, even though he was already a bona fide main eventer, was catapulted in to special attraction status when he brought the streak to an end. I am not sure that anybody else who was floating around WWE at the time would have received the same benefit.

Big Al enjoys those fruity, delicious, fruity, delicious Skittles:

Why was the WWE so dead set on embarrassing Jim Ross? I remember an episode of Raw several years ago where Linda McMahon fired JR and kicked him in the nuts. I remember all throughout the episode Jerry Lawler and the Coach kept saying “someone’s gonna get fired tonight,” to which JR stayed quiet the whole time. And the angle they did, with him being “responsible” for Linda being attacked and not defending her (over a retired wrestler and young commentator), was absolutely pathetic.

There are a couple of answers to this. The first is that, according to many backstage reports, Vince McMahon just thought it was funny to run angles in which Jim Ross got shat on. Some of it was for the personal amusement of the boss. Another reason is that, if you watch Raws from the late 90s through the 2000s, good ole’ JR was one of the most popular and respected figures on the show. Any time the guy set foot in front of the audience, he received a massive reaction and it was clear there was genuine love for him coming off the crowd. This made him an easy target when the WWF/WWE felt that a heel was in need of some additional heat.

JonFW2 is conspicuously adjusting the pad that is supposed to cover his forearm:

In the early days of Raw, Vince invested more on Lex Luger’s All American gimmick than he did on just about anything else- the aircraft carrier, the bus tour, even a long form one on one interview with Vince, himself that was as close to breaking kayfabe as anything WWF had done up to the point. It’s blatantly obvious he wanted him to be the new Hogan.

But then…nothing happens. He doesn’t win a single title his entire time with the company. It seemed clear as day Vince wanted him to be THE Face of the company and then he seemingly never won a big match. Then he bounced around the mid-card for a couple of years without really getting that close to even a major feud.

So what happened? Did Vince just lose interest in his pet project like he often did? Or did he decide Luger wasn’t making enough money for all the investment?

The answer is that the company decided to hold off on Luger’s coronation as WWF Champion at Summerslam 1993 because they felt that they could have an even bigger moment if they prolonged his chase and gave him the title win later on down the road. However, fans lost interest in Luger when he didn’t win the big one, and a decision was made to go with Bret Hart as the leader of the New Generation instead.

Bryan is surfing on his father’s casket:

How come the big show was never as big (no pun intended) a star as Andre? He was arguably a better “wrestler,” had more longevity because he lost weight and didn’t have Andre’s back problems. Plus he didn’t have Andre’s thick French accent. Yet in spite of all this he never “transcended” the sport the way Andre did. He had more championships and he had movie roles too but never seemed as (no pun intended) larger than life. Was it something he lacked or was it overexposure?

He didn’t seem as special as Andre because he wasn’t booked to be as special as Andre. If you watch Show throughout his career, there were numerous periods during which, even though he was over seven feet tall and a helluvan athlete, he was treated like he was “just another guy,” wrestling week in and week out and oftentimes trading wins with other wrestlers who didn’t have the same physical presence he did.

Andre, meanwhile, was a wrestler that many fans were only seeing once or twice and month and who, in his early career when he was building his mystique, virtually never lost unless it was to a territory’s absolute top star.

We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected]. You can also leave questions in the comments below, but please note that I do not monitor the comments as closely as I do the email account, so emailing is the better way to get things answered.