Nikita Koloff Page 2
Nikita's first match, was fought under pressure, when it was stated by Crockett, still skeptical of Nikita's skills, said that if Nikita tripped or stumbled in the match in any way, he would be fired. The actual opposite happened as Nikita not only made it successfully through the match, but won by pinning his opponent in just 10 seconds!
Over the course of the two years, Nikita became a strongly hated heel. He was booed everywhere he wrestled. Along with "Uncle" Ivan and Don Kernoodle, Nikita won the NWA 6 Man Tag Titles in 1984, and twice more in 1985 with Ivan and Kruscher Kruschev. He received death threats, and at The Great American Bash '85, fans actually jumped in the ring, trying to get at him. Also in 1985, Nikita teamed with Ivan, and the Koloffs won the NWA World Tag Team titles on two separate occasions, finally losing the titles to the Rock 'n Roll Express at Starrcade '85. Nikita loved playing the part, so much so, that he legally changed his name from Nelson Scott Simpson to Nikita Koloff. In 1986, Nikita was voted by wrestling fans as the Number One Most Hated Wreslter. By 1986, Nikita had found himself a contender for the NWA World Heavyweight Title and he got his shot when he faced Ric Flair at Starrcade '86. Unfortunatley, Nikita lost by DQ but it was a wild match, that lasted through the final bell ring when Flair and Nikita needed a ton of wrestlers to keep them apart.
As in wrestling however, characters change and the decision was made to turn Nikita into a face. After having won the NWA U.S. Heavyweight Title in a heated best-of-seven series with Magnum T.A., a feud that lit up the region for awhile, and unifying the NWA U.S. Heavyweight Title and the NWA National Heavyweight Title by beating Wahoo McDaniel, the change was instituted. Magnum T.A. (Terry Allen) was in a real-life car accident that caused him to end his wrestling career. This left Dusty Rhodes without a tag team partner. The plan was set and carried out when Dusty Rhodes found himself wrestling a heel tag team in a steel cage. Dusty's partner was a mystery… the fans were not told who it would be. As Dusty made his way up the aisle, looking towards the cage and his two opponents, Nikita appeared behind him. The crowd expecting him to attack Rhodes, exploded when Nikita actually joined Rhodes in the cage, attacking the heel team. The explanation given for Nikita's transformation was that he was inspired by T.A.'s courage and dedication to get better. This caused Nikita renounced his evil ways and over the next year or so, he and Dusty Rhodes teamed together. They were called the Superpowers since Dusty was "The American Dream" and Nikita was "The Russian Nightmare." And together as a team, The Superpowers won the 2nd Annual Jim Crockett Senior Memorial Tag Team Tournament Cup. Nikita once more found himself having fun. He was happy. Unfortunately, things would change.
Nikita had gotten married sometime earlier in his career, and in 1987, his wife Mandy was diagnosed with cancer. Throughout this, Nikita continued to wrestle as he could. He lost the U.S. Heavyweight Title to Lex Luger, but ended up winning the NWA TV Title, as well as unifying that belt with the UWF TV Title at Starrcade '87.
Unfortunately, Mandy's condition continued to deteriorate and in 1988, Nikita took a leave of absence from the NWA, now called WCW. He spent the remaining time he had with his wife, until she died in 1989.
Nikita took time to heal and grieve. Eventually he returned to the ring and found a much different company than when he left. Nikita came back, looking a bit different. Gone was the trademark bald-head… now, he was sporting a crew cut. He continued to wrestle though no major titles came his way. Eventually, it became apparent to Nikita that things had changed. Remarried, with children, wrestling was difficult. Away from his family as much as 25 days per month, he realized things needed to change. His next match would further that resolve.
In November of 1992, Nikita Koloff stepped into the ring for the last time. He faced Big Van Vader, who delivered a powerful clothseline. In such pain the next day, Koloff went to the hospital where he was told he essentially had the neck of a 55-year old. It was here that Nikita Koloff made the decision to retire.
From Russian madman, to beloved hero, Nikita Koloff entertained fans during one of wrestling's boom periods in a way no other wrestler had. Evoking feelings of hate, love and saddness, Koloff caused fans to run the gamut of emotions. And while he no longer steps in the ring, while we can no longer hear his guttural speech, or anticipate the dreaded Russian sickle, we can remember with glee The Russian Nightmare, Nikita Koloff.
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