One of the best pro wrestling turns not talked about could possibly be the best, but unfortunately another high level guy did it in a way that is unforgettable. Damnit NWO and Hulk Hogan!
No. This turn was just as perfect, because unlike Hogan, I didn't see this happening. When Hogan came walking out at 1996s Bash at the Beach I remember saying, " No...he's gonna be the other member." That statement followed Bobby the Brain Heenan saying, "But whose side is he on!?"
But God damn, with Tatanka and Lex Luger? I never believed for one second that Tatanka was a bad guy! Not once. He was a fan favorite and one of my heroes in pro wrestling when I became obsessed In 1993, so obsessed that became angry that Yokozuna and Ludvig Borga took Tatanka out of even participating in Survivor Series 93. Borga pinned him with one finger! I wanted to throw a table threw a window. Wrestling is real to me damnit!
Luger at the time was the American hero, the man who slammed Yokozuna on the Intrepid, the man who beat the 600 pound world champion at Summer Slam by count out, he was quickly becoming the face of the company. This was only mere months after he was a heel. He even fought Tatanka to a draw at King Of the Ring 93.
Tatanka had a great few years, but after that Borga loss, and never getting his revenge, he was never the same. Sure he won matches, but against who? He beat Bam Bam at Royal Rumble 94, missed out of Wrestlemania because Razor Ramon and Shawn Michael's ladder match, then lost to Owen Hart in the opening match at King of the Ring 94. Change was needed and warranted. Luger on the other hand co-won the Royal Rumble, beat Crush and Yokozuna at Wrestlemania, he missed King of the Ring after losing I'm a qualifying match against Jeff Jarrett.
Soon after King of the Ring, Ted DiBiase began telling the world Lex Luger was joining him, that he sold out, and Tatanka confronted Luger, who was his friend, asking him if he did, Luger responded to him and the fans that he didn't sell out. This happened weekly. So much so that I thought Luger indeed joined Million dollar man, especially after DiBiase would come out to the ring and help run interference despite Lugers objecting, this in turn would give us the fans and Tatanka more evidence that Luger was indeed the turncoat that Tatanka claimed his friend was and we bought it. We listened to Tatanka's lies, lies that DiBiase sold with his constant reassurance, that "Lex Luger sold out!"
Summer Slam 94....the match was set and the world waited for Tatanka to take our frustrations with Luger out on him for giving into the old mighty dollar.
The match went back and forth between the two baby faces. It wasn't very long of a match, but Luger got the upper hand with a big power Slam. That's when DiBiase got to the ring with a bag full of money, ready to hand his latest prize loads of cash. That son of a bitch! Luger sold out! I knew it!
When Tatanka rolled up a distracted Luger I was ecstatic about the big win. Finally Luger got what he deserved. That's when Luger confronted DiBiase and tossed the money aside. Even then, with Tatanka stalking his prey in the background, I still remained blind to what I was seeing. Luger was pissed about losing, that DiBiase was the cause, that was it, right?
Wrong....one of the biggest turns in pro wrestling occurred as my heart broke, how, how could Tatanka turn on Luger? Why is he attacking from behind?! Why?! Renegade drop? The hell is happening!? Then Tatanka confirmed it. He hugged Million dollar Man, this whole God damn thing was a set up from the beginning. We were all fooled and Luger paid the price.
God, looking back on it, this story was so good, so amazing that I'm still thinking about it almost twenty years later. Tatanka, Lex Luger, and Ted DiBiase sold us the perfect story, the perfect heel turn, and kept our eyes locked onto Lex Luger. It was a flawless magic trick that we never saw coming. These three characters played to an elite level that will never be forgotten. Even now thinking about it puts a smile on my face. The entertainment level they performed was beyond my expectations and will never be duplicated like that again.
Thanks Tatanka, thanks Lex Luger, and thanks Ted DiBiase for an amazing pro wrestling moment and for the wonderful story you three told in the Summer of 1994.