McDaniel's story is one of the most interesting in the sport, as the
Oklahoman was a standout performer not only in professional wrestling,
but also as a member of several successful NFL squads. And although
he didn't have to, throughout his entire career as a professional athlete,
Wahoo always took his position as a role model for Native Americans
very seriously. This multi-time champion was also one of the sport's
most travelled, as he wrestled in virtually every territory within the
NWA or AWA at one point or another. Although he was a hugely popular
fan favorite throughout the majority of his 20+ year long career, Wahoo
was also one of the most intense and violent. Occasionally, this intensity
led fans to view Wahoo as a "heel" and he "crossed the fence" more than
once during his lengthy career. Still, his drawing power and sheer popularity
(whether it be as a "goodguy" or a "bad guy") was undeniable, and he
wrestled most of his career as a beloved hero. As a champion, there
were few who were more prolific. And as a performer, few could get their
story across inside the ring the way Wahoo did. Simply put, "Chief"
Wahoo McDaniel was one of the most important wrestlers of the late 20th
enjoying considerable fame as a defensive player in the NFL (for the
NY Jets and Miami Dolphins, among others) Wahoo decided to try his luck
in the pro wrestling business. For the first few years of his "rasslin"
career, Wahoo wrestled part-time, competing during the NFL's off season.
The great Dory Funk, Sr. took Wahoo under his wing, and trained the
young, large football player for a career in the ring. Funk also made
sure Wahoo was not taken advantage of by other promoters, and taught
the 260-lb. rookie about the pitfalls of the business. Wahoo learned
a great deal from Mr. Funk, knowledge that would serve him for over
20 years as a pro wrestler.
Once Wahoo became a full-time wrestler, his career truly skyrocketed.
Already a famous "mainstream" sports celebrity, Wahoo capitalized on
his big name by demonstrating that he could wrestle as well as many
of the more established veterans of the time. Additionally, and
perhaps more importantly, promoters were well aware of McDaniel's drawing
power. After establishing himself in rings across Texas, it didn't
take long for the championships to add up...
various titles, Wahoo won the Florida Heavyweight title in 1967, the
Texas Heavyweight title in 1970 by defeating Johnny Valentine, 2 NWA
American Heavyweight championships, 5 Mid Atlantic Heavyweight titles
between 1975-78, 3 NWA American Tag Team titles (one w/Thunderbolt Patterson,
and two with former rival Johnny Valentine), 2 Southwest Heavyweight
championships, a Southwestern Championship Wrestling Tag title (with
Terry Funk), 2 NWA Southern Heavyweight championships, 2 Georgia Heavyweight
titles and a Georgia Tag title (w/Tommy Rich) in 1979. the Florida TV
Title in 1981, 5 NWA United States Heavyweight championships between
1981-84, and the NWA National Heavyweight title in 1986.
His list of hated, bitter rivals is even longer than his impressive
list of championships, as Wahoo (whether as a face or heel) faced off
against a plethra of top competition over the years...Johnny & Greg
Valentine, The Great Malenko, Harley Race, Terry Funk, Dory Funk, Jr.,
Ivan Koloff, Nikita Koloff, Sgt. Slaughter, Roddy Piper, Ole Anderson,
Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Nick Bockwinkle, Rick Martel,
The Masked Superstar, Magnum T.A., Paul Jones, Blackjack Mulligan, Paul
Orndorff and many others all engaged in bloody, long-running feuds with
the firey Chickasaw Indian. His campaigns throughout Texas, Florida,
Georgia, the Mid Atlantic, the Mid South-Tri State territory, and other
regions always resulted in sold-out crowds and plenty of "traditional"
tough-as-nails wrestling action. For nearly 20 solid years, Wahoo was
at the top of the NWA's mammoth talent roster, and one of the biggest
wrestling stars in the country, particularly in the Southeast, where
he was a household name. Although he never won a World championship,
McDaniel was a perenial NWA and/or AWA World championship contender.
of the few things Wahoo never did in his wrestling career was travel
North to the World (Wide) Wrestling Federation and add a WWF tenure
to his resume. This was perhaps because the WW(W)F already had a Native
American superstar in the form of "Chief" Jay Strongbow, and there was
only room for one "Chief" in the regional (at that time) promotion.
The two Indian greats were often compared, though, and fans envisioned
a "dream match" between the two, allowing the imagination to determine
who came out on top. To his credit, McDaniel met and defeated countless
opponents while in the NWA, before they ventured to the WW(W)F. This
"fact" strengthened his fans' claims that Wahoo (pictured, left) was
"better" than "Chief" Jay (pictured, right). Of course, with pro wrestling
being "structured" the way it is, the point was moot. Still, fans of
the 1970's and early-mid 1980's often argued this fruitless, but fun,
Wahoo was known as the master of the Indian Strap Match, and nearly
all of his many violent feuds were inevitably ended with a leather thong
tied to the wrist of his opponent. The great Native American was also
known worldwide for his blistering Tomahawk Chops, once a very unique
and devastating move that has now become commonplace. Wahoo, along with
Strongbow, truly upheld the tradition and pride of the 'indian" wrestler
for nearly 30 years. Without him, men like Jules Strongbow (who wore
the WWF tag title with the elder Strongbow), Jay Younblood, Mark Youngblood,
Tatanka and other native American performers may not have had a place
in the wrestling business. This all-time great, now in his 60's, is
still involved, to some degree, in the Carolina independent scene. A
member of the WCW Hall of Fame, we at the ring Chonicle also want to
honor the high achievements of McDaniel, and award him his rightful
spot within the TRC Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame...
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