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Brothascomics Old School Wrestling Podcast
Last week we looked at the heel turn of Pez Whatley- a low mid-card wrestler from the NWA days of rasslin. It was a fun look back at a character who received very little attention, but his heel turn was done so well, it burned in our memories forever.
This week, we look look at the Face turn of Nikita Koloff. In the mid-80's in the NWA, the Russians comprised of Ivan Koloff, Nikita Koloff, and Krusher Krushev. In the NWA, they beat up all the babyfaces and Nikita was the strong guy and muscle of the group with Uncle Ivan being the brains and the mouth behind the operation. They feuded will all faces in the NWA at the time- most especially against the Road Warriors and the Rock and Roll Express.
Nikita being the youngest, scariest looking, and the one with the most potential is gonna get a push as a singles wrestler. The NWA was promoting their first Great American Bash and was looking for a main event match. It was decided that the Russians would attack promoter and commentator David Crocket on-air and this would actually lead to a brief face turn for Ric Flair as he faced Nikita at the Great American Bash in the summer 1985.
You have to understand that Flair was a major heel at the time and probably the only thing that could get people to cheer for him was to fight against the hated Russians. Flair cuts this awesome promo on Nikita ahead of their match and pays for it... .Only to be saved by his biggest enemy. Crowd is so hot for this!
This feud had brief heat and culmianted in their match at the Great American Bash... of course won by Flair. Do you think they was gonna let a "Russian" win a match at the Great American Bash?
The Russians and Nikita come out of this still with heat and their next target is US heavyweight Champion, Magnum TA. Now, there will probably be a Magnum TA article written on here soon, but suffice to say, Magnum TA was over and from this match against this jobber, you can see that he had the look, was great on the mic, and his finisher was awesome.
The Magnum TA and Nikita feud was one of the hottest feuds in wrestling history. It culminated in a best of seven series for the US Title. It led to this mad contract signing( never insult anyones mom) and some great matches at the end of 1986.
Nikita walks away with the US Title and the feud with Magnum TA. Magnum winds up in a feud with Dusty VS The Four Horsemen. But Magnum TA suffers a career ending injury in a car accident that left him partially paralyzed. Now back in the 80's, it was easy to think this was a work, but the article actually appeared in legitimate newspapers. Now Dusty Rhodes( who was booking NWA at the time), was left without the company's top babyface singles wrestler with this feud with the Horseman heating up.
This leads to the face turn for Nikita. And as you can see from this video, the crowd goes ape shit when Nikita joins Dusty and thus forming the SuperPowers and one of the best face turns of all time.
They spun his face turn as a sign of respect for Magnum TA after his accident and even alluded to the Cold War starting to thaw. Whatever. I was 15 and a huge mark for Nikita when he turned face. His "Russian" when he spoke in interviews still cracks me up 30 years later. Nikita was in NWA/WCW until the early 90's. He never made the leap to WWF and was out of the wrestling business by 1993. To me, The Russian Nightmare has a permanent spot in wrestling history.