Nikita S. Koloff (born Nelson Scott Simpson March 9, 1959) is a former American professional wrestler who wrestled throughout the 1980s and early 1990s as "The Russian Nightmare" Nikita Koloff, which was a play on the nickname of fan favorite "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes (in fact, it was Rhodes who gave him the nickname).
Nikita was brought into the National Wrestling Alliance by his "Uncle" Ivan to prove Soviet superiority. Their ultimate goal was to dethrone NWA Champion Ric Flair. A physical marvel, Koloff was also hailed as the Russian Road Warrior. He was billed from Moscow in the Soviet Union, and then from Lithuania after the fall of the Soviet Union.
In reality, Koloff was born Nelson Scott Simpson in Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 9, 1959. He grew up without knowing his father and aspired to play professional football. He started lifting weights in junior high school and built up a massive body, weighing 275 lb(125 kg) on a 6 ft 2 in (188 cm) frame.
While he learned more about the sport on the road with Ivan and Kernodle, Nikita was booked in very short matches until his skills developed. During television promos, Nikita stood behind Ivan and Kernodle with his arms folded while they took interviews. As his wrestling ability and speaking skills grew, so, too, did the length of his matches and interviews. His improvement negated the need for Kernodle to continue teaming with Ivan and, shortly thereafter, the Russians turned on the American turncoat. Nikita went to great lengths to keep the "Evil Russian" gimmick as realistic as possible. He even learned some Russian and refused to come out of character, even when away from the ring.
With Kernodle out of the picture, Uncle Ivan introduced a new comrade named Krusher Khruschev. In December 1984, Jim Crockett awarded the Russians with NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Championship. Three months later, on March 18, 1985, Nikita and Ivan defeated Dusty Rhodes and Manny Fernandez to win the NWA World Tag Team Championship. Ivan invoked the Freebird rule which dictated that any two of the three could defend the Tag Team Titles. Ivan and Krusher lost the titles to the Rock 'N Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) on July 9.
Nikita continued to improve and became a big enough heel to get a match against NWA World Champion Ric Flair at The Great American Bash 1985 on July 6. Nikita lost to Flair and was even attacked by a fan during the match, but he established himself as a superstar in the wrestling business. It was shortly after Nikita's first main event, which drew tremendous heat, that Vince McMahon first approached with an offer to leave the NWA for the burgeoning pastures of the WWF. McMahon promised Nikita an immediate push, suggesting either a program with Tito Santana, during which he would win the Intercontinental Championship, or a program with Hulk Hogan that would culminate the following year at WrestleMania 2. Nikita turned him down, believing the massive push that had been booked for him in the NWA, namely the planned feud with Magnum T.A., would give him greater leverage down the road to secure a more lucrative contract with McMahon
In spring of 1986, Nikita started one of the biggest, most anticipated feuds in the history of Jim Crockett Promotions when he attacked NWA United States Heavyweight Champion, Magnum T.A.. Following an incident where Magnum hit on-screen NWA President Bob Geigel for demanding an apology from Magnum after starting a brawl with Nikita during a contract signing (started when Ivan and Nikita berated Magnum's mother who was present), Magnum T.A. was stripped of his title. The two were then booked to in a best-of-seven series, which took place during The Great American Bash 1986 tour. The winner of the series would be declared champion. Koloff and T.A. wrestled all summer and ended up tied after six matches with one no contest. The final match took place on August 17 and featured run-ins by Kruschev and Ivan and several false-finishes. Nikita defeated T.A. to win the title.
The following month, Nikita defeated Wahoo McDaniel to unify his US Title with Wahoo's NWA National Heavyweight Championship on September 28. He was readying to embark on a feud with Ron Garvin that would last through the upcoming Starrcade 1986. The idea of head booker Dusty Rhodes was for Nikita to reignite his feud with Magnum T.A. the following year. The plan called for T.A. to defeat Ric Flair for the NWA World Championship at StarrCade 86 and after a short program of rematches with Flair, T.A. would then begin a long program with Nikita that ran through The Great American Bash Tour of 1987. As of the beginning of October, Rhodes had not decided whether or not to give Nikita the title at some point during the feud.
In October 1986, Magnum T.A. was involved in a career-ending car accident, when his Porsche crashed into a telephone pole. T.A. survived but his future in wrestling was in doubt. Dusty Rhodes saw an opportunity amidst the accident. The Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev had been growing in popularity throughout the country with his political reform of Glasnost and Perestroika. The era of evil, Russian heels was coming to an end. Rhodes decided to strike while the iron was hot, booking Nikita to become a face and his greatest ally against the Four Horsemen. The historic moment took place on October 24 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dusty needed a partner to take on Ole Anderson and James J. Dillon in a cage match. The fans in Charlotte erupted when Nikita entered the cage to help Dusty. This evening secured Nikita as one of the top faces in the NWA.
Immediately after his face turn, Nikita resumed his quest for Ric Flair's NWA World Title and came very close to winning it on several occasions. Flair's Four Horsemen comrades bailed him out almost every time. The two fought to a double disqualification at StarrCade '86 on November 26. After StarrCade, Nikita was firmly established as one of the NWA's most popular stars, which made him an even more inviting target for Vince McMahon. His first offer having been rebuked, McMahon made a bid for Nikita's services that dwarfed his earnings from Jim Crockett. However, this time McMahon could not give him the WWF Intercontinental title (which was already promised to Ricky Steamboat, nor could he give him the WrestleMania III main event with Hulk Hogan (which would be his historic confrontation with André the Giant). Instead McMahon could only offer Nikita a program with Jake "The Snake" Roberts and the promise of a major push. Nikita again declined.
Throughout the early months of 1987, Nikita continued to defend the United States title against a litany against members of the Four Horsemen and Paul Jones' Army, which now included "Uncle" Ivan. In March, as part of his ongoing feud with Ivan and Dick Murdoch, Nikita's neck was "injured" by a Murdoch brainbuster on the concrete floor. On April 11, Nikita and Dusty Rhodes won the second annual NWA Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournament defeating the Four Horsemen team of Tully Blanchard and Lex Luger.
As the 1987 Great American Bash tour got under way, the feud between Nikita, Rhodes, The Road Warriors, and Paul Ellering versus The Four Horsemen and J.J. Dillon was booked as the centerpiece. The tour was bookended by two revolutionary matches, created by Dusty Rhodes, known as WarGames: The Match Beyond. The team of the Superpowers and The Legion of Doom emerged victorious in both contests.
Also during The War Games, Flair & Blanchard reaggravated his neck injury by delivering two spike piledrivers. The worked injury set up the pretext for dropping the US Title to Lex Luger. On July 11, 1987 Koloff faced Luger in a steel cage match and was defeated after being hit with a chair. This ended Koloff's reign of nearly 11 months, which still stands today as the 4th longest U.S. title reign in the more than 33 year history of the title. Dusty Rhodes booked Nikita to rebound quickly, winning the NWA World Television Championship from Tully Blanchard on August 27.
In the fall of 1987, Jim Crockett Promotions acquired Bill Watts' Universal Wrestling Federation. Dusty Rhodes decided which members of the UWF roster to retain and how best to use the infusion of new talent that he now had access to on an exclusive basis, beginning with a cross-promotional program between NWA Television Champion Nikita Koloff and UWF Television Champion, Terry Taylor. The feud began when Taylor, alongside his fellow members of Hot Stuff International, Inc. - Eddie Gilbert and Rick Steiner- attacked Koloff and stole his championship belt. Koloff and Taylor were booked to face each other in a unification bout at StarrCade '87, but Nikita vowed to get his TV belt back before the match. During a TBS World Championship Wrestling broadcast in the weeks leading up to what would be Jim Crockett's first foray into pay-per-view, Taylor and Gilbert jumped Nikita again, beating him unconscious, and draping his version of the TV title across his limp body. On November 26, Nikita Koloff and Terry Taylor battled in what would be the only NWA/UWF unification bout at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago. In front of his first pay-per-view audience, Nikita became the undisputed Television Champion by defeating Taylor on November 26. He still has the UWF belt today as a trophy from that night.
Nikita lost the NWA TV Title to Mike Rotunda of the Varsity Club on January 30, 1988. During this period, Koloff had altered his appearance somewhat, dropping some muscle mass (Koloff has admitted to cycling on and off anabolic steroids during his career) and growing his hair out into a crewcut. He was given the singles main event when he wrestled NWA World Champion Ric Flair at the final Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournament. Nikita defeated Ric Flair by disqualification so the title was retained by Flair. He then lost to Barry Windham in the finals of the tournament for the vacant NWA United States Championship, before beginning a feud with Al Perez and teaming with Sting to feud with the Four Horsemen. During the year, he legally changed his name to Nikita S. Koloff.
In the fall of 1988, Nikita was quickly losing interest in pro wrestling due to personal reasons. In reality, his wife Mandy was dying from Hodgkins disease. After Ivan himself turned face when manager Paul Jones turned against him, Nikita helped Ivan briefly against Jones' henchmen, the masked Russian Assassins, and then he took a sabbatical on November 27. A booked showdown at StarrCade '88 in December was to pit Ivan and Nikita against the Russian Assassins. Nikita's departure resulted in the Junkyard Dog substituting for him as Ivan's partner. The Russian Assassins were victorious.
Eventually, Koloff eased back into the business part-time. He returned to WCW/NWA as a special guest referee at WrestleWar '89 in match for the NWA World Tag Team Championship between The Road Warriors and Mike Rotunda & "Dr Death" Steve Williams. Rotunda & Williams were disqualified for attacking Koloff, and later stripped of the titles.Verne Gagne's AWA in his native Minnesota. The promotion was in its twilight and with Nikita's stature, Gagne positioned Nikita to challenge then AWA World Heavyweight Champion Larry Zbyszko almost immediately. Koloff wrestled in the AWA for the remainder of the year and the first half of 1990, headlining numerous television broadcasts and Twin Wars '90, the last major event for the AWA under Gagne. Nikita also wrestled briefly in Herb Abrams' Universal Wrestling Federation where he reignited a feud with "uncle" Ivan Koloff.
Nikita returned to WCW in April 1992, this time as a babyface to save Sting from an attack by the Dangerous Alliance. He explained on WCW's syndicated shows that he saw the error of attacking Sting. He was going after Lex Luger, and Sting accidentally got in the way. Because of the explanation, the fans were happy to see him return. Nikita joined Sting and his team (also including Ricky Steamboat, Barry Windham, and Dustin Rhodes) against Rick Rude, Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, Larry Zbyszko, and Bobby Eaton in the WarGames at WrestleWar '92 on May 17. Koloff was booked in a program with Rick Rude for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship. Late 1992 found him feuding with another big man, Big Van Vader, who at Halloween Havoc, ended Nikita's in-ring career with a stiff clothesline to the head. The blow resulted in a herniated disk in Nikita's neck. In addition to the neck injury, Nikita suffered a hernia attempting a slam on Vader.
Nikita made a few appearances for NWA:TNA in 2003 as a masked man called "Mr. Wrestling IV" who attacked Dusty Rhodes. He finally unmasked but ended up helping Rhodes against the Sports Entertainment Xtreme stable.
On July 15, 2006, Nikita Koloff was inducted into the Lou Thesz/George Tragos Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, at the International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Newton, Iowa, as that year's recipient of the Frank Gotch award for contributing to the positive public image of wrestling.
Nikita also appeared on an episode of America's Funniest Home Videos in which his daughter won the $10,000 grand prize.
1Koloff defeated Wahoo McDaniel to unify the title with the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship. The title was also won after Georgia Championship Wrestling was purchased by Jim Crockett Promotions.
2Koloff defeated Terry Taylor to unify the title with the NWA World Television Championship. The title was also won after Bill Watts' Universal Wrestling Federation promotion was purchased by Jim Crockett Promotions.