nikita koloff

Nikita Koloff. (Photo by Eddie Cheslock)

Nikita Koloff debuted with Crockett Promotions during June 1984, tutored by “Uncle Ivan” Koloff as part of a contingent of rule-breaking Russian rowdies. For the next couple of years, they often challenged The Road Warriors and Rock ‘N’ Roll Express. In singles’ matches, the strapping newcomer was tough to beat, winning 71 percent of his showdowns. Most notable was Nikita’s memorable rivalry with Magnum T.A., squaring off against him on 60-plus occasions with neither gaining a definitive advantage in their battles.

After Magnum’s career-ending car accident in fall ‘86, Nikita switched his allegiance by becoming a major fan favorite, often teaming with Dusty Rhodes against members of The Four Horsemen. He was a frequent contender for Ric Flair’s NWA world title. For the two years continuing through November 1988, he continued to be a dominating force, serving as NWA U.S. champion, victorious percent of the time. For personal reasons, he took a hiatus from WCW until March 1991.

When he returned, it was back to rough-housing in high-profile programs against the popular Sting and also Lex Luger. Yet, it was a short-lived stint. He left the business again in September ’91 to oversee his gym in the Charlotte area. But he’d hear cheers again, working as a hero during a final seven-month run in 1992, usually battling the likes of Rick Rude and Vader. Against Vader, Koloff suffered an injury that subsequently led to the end of his in-ring activities (except for a few appearances for TNA in 2003).

During his NWA/WCW career, with match count almost equally balanced between Nikita as fan favorite and rule-breaker, he was more successful when playing the good guy, winning 79 percent of his matches compared with 69 percent during his pair of tenures as a heel. In either case, he remained one of the promotion’s brightest stars until his retirement. Today, he operates a ministry and also stays in touch via his website:

- Kenneth Mihalik