The truth of the matter is that Badd Company’s Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond are best known for their time in the AWA. Yet the duo also had runs in all of the big three.
First was the WWF run, in which Pat Tanaka originally jumped to the company solo. Together Tanaka served in The Orient Express with Sato until he was replaced with Paul Diamond with the non-Asian heritage Diamond named Kato and placed under a mask to hide his identity. This iteration had only two PPV matches but admittedly brilliant ones at the Royal Rumble PPVs in 1991 and 1992, the former of which Dave Meltzer referred to as the greatest WWF PPV match since Savage/Steamboat. Tanaka, himself “a hell of an underrated talent” in the words of Meltzer, went on to become an enhancement talent whilst Paul Diamond became Max Moon. Swings and roundabouts…I guess?
The duo jumped to ECW back under the Badd Company name. Although top contenders for the tag belts, Company criminally never won the straps during their time there. Tanaka had the more memorable run including an infamously disastrous Body Count match against Rocco Rock and teaming with The Sheik at The Night The Line Was Crossed. Both men actually returned with Tanaka returning for a solitary match; he lost to Mikey Whipwreck in 2000. Diamond had a prolonged run from late 1997-early 1998 during which he contested for Bam Bam Bigelow’s ECW World Heavyweight title.
To remember either man’s time in WCW, you would have had to have been a truly loyal WCW fan. Both challenged for Steve Austin’s US title on Saturday Night. The duo wrestled two tag matches together, still presented as Japanese but without the Express name. Tanaka-San and Haito both became enhancement talent with Tanaka-San having notably more matches at 41, almost all of which he lost across all forms of programming whilst Haito lost to the likes of Arn Anderson, Ricky Steamboat, and Brian Pillman. It makes you question why they were hired in the first place if the talented duo would be used as journeymen fodder.
Cited by those who worked with him in his prime days in the WWF, Tito Santana is regarded as one of the most talented and hardest workers of all time. With that, it makes sense that other promotions would pick him up, even if the results were somewhat forgettable.
A mainstay, especially in the WWF’s “Golden Era”, Tito Santana was a two-time Intercontinental champion, a two-time WWF World Tag Team champion (in a team with Ivan Putski and in Strike Force alongside Rick Martel), a former King Of The Ring, and 2004 Hall Of Famer. A permanent face, the reliable worker, during his time as “El Matador”, he was even considered to be WWE champion. Highlights include his feud with Greg Valentine, fun team with Rick Martel, and contributions to the business (such as firsts, like the first person to wrestle a match at WrestleMania, first Royal Rumble participant, and first wrestler to pin The Undertaker) which goes to show how trusted the Mexican-American performer was under Vince McMahon.
On the 20th edition of ECW Hardcore TV in August 1993, Tito Santana beat Don Muraco to win the ECW World Heavyweight championship. Yes, Tito Santana: ECW champion – certainly a million miles away from the years of Raven crucifying The Sandman and Sabu’s bicep falling out, both over the same belt. Tito teamed with Stan Hansen to win a tag match soon after. Tito had no defences and could not fulfil commitments before forfeiting the belt to….Shane Douglas! Tito said he disagreed with the new booker Dangerously, saying: “I’ve never been a fan of his and he’s probably never been a fan of mine. And once I met him the first night, I knew I didn’t want to work for him again.”
Another place in which Santana could not get on with the behind the scene situation was WCW. Santana wrestled one match there: a Dungeon match in which he beat Jeff Jarrett on Nitro in 2000. Because this is not batshit crazy enough already, Chris Benoit was the guest referee and the match lasted just over two minutes. I don’t know how to justify this other than: WCW in 2000, folks! It sure was a different (and crazy) time.
It may be clear from above that anybody who was anybody was signed in wrestling in the 1990s, especially those who had recently left another one of the big three North American promotions at the time.
For some, they seemed to pass through all without much notice whilst others only succeeded in one company thus their appearance in all three promotions is surprising in their obscurity.
It is certainly good to “eat [all] the fruit of all the trees in the garden of the world” as Oscar Wilde put it but for these – some fruits were more memorable in taste, others more successful in find, whilst some just seem utter bananas!