Cleat Geeks

40 Facts You Might Not Know About Nikolai Volkoff

The WWE lost two different superstars on Sunday, one of them was Brian Christopher. For those of you who have been following our site for a while you know that instead of mourning the death of our sports stars we here at cleatgeeks would rather celebrate their accomplishments. We do this by providing our fans and fans of these superstars an article such as this that details their many accomplishments. We have done that for Nikolai Volkoff, so take the ramp down memory lane.

1) Josip Nikolai Peruzović better known by his ring name of Nikolai Volkoff, was billed by WWF as a heel Russian for the majority of his career. But, he was actually from Croatia. His mother is Croatian of Ukrainian descent and his father was Croatian with a mother of Italian descent.Related image

2) He was on the Yugoslavian weightlifting team until 1967, when he emigrated to Canada after a weightlifting tournament in Vienna, Austria. He received training in Calgary from Stu Hart, followed by his arrival in the United States in 1970.

3) While trying his luck as a wrestler in Calgary Alberta in 1967, he met wrestler Newton Tattrie when Tattrie was wrestling for Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling. During his 1963-1968 tour Tattrie took Peruzovic under his wing as a protégé and trained the non-English speaking, 315 pound man to become a professional wrestler and Tag Team Partner.

4) In 1968 he began wrestling in Vince McMahon Sr.’s World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) (currently known as WWE). Wrestling as Bepo Mongol, managed by “Captain” Lou Albano and partnered with Newton Tattrie (as Geeto Mongol) as The Mongols, he captured the WWWF International Tag Team Titles from Tony Marino and Victor Rivera on June 15, 1970.

5) Peruzovic met his wife Lynn in 1970, and became an American citizen that year.

6) After losing the titles to Luke Graham and Tarzan Tyler in a match over a year later that unified the WWWF International and WWWF World Tag Team Titles, Peruzovic left WWWF Image result for Nikolai Volkoff bruno Sammartinoand went on to singles competition under the name Nikolai Volkoff.

7) In 1974, Volkoff returned to the company and appeared in a memorable match at a sold out Madison Square Garden where he wrestled one of the sport’s most famous champions, Bruno Sammartino.

8) He enjoyed two very successful feuds one with Bruno Sammartino. The feud started when Volkoff attacked Sammartino during an interview segment. They sold out arenas all throughout the Northeast. He later had a feud with Bob Backlund during Backlund’s tenure as champion. Also during this tenure with WWWF, Volkoff began a ring gimmick where he would crush a fresh apple with one hand as a sign of what he would do to his opponents.

9) Late in 1974, Volkoff moved to the AWA (also known as Mid-South Wrestling) where he wrestled under the name of Boris Breznikoff. He was also paired with a manager, his name was Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.

10) In 1984, Volkoff returned to the now WWF and teamed with the Iron Sheik with the pair being managed by the “Hollywood fashion plate” “Classy” Freddie Blassie.[1] It was at this point that Volkoff pushed the envelope and began to sing the national anthem of the Soviet Union before every match after which the Sheik would grab the microphone and proclaim “Iran number one, Russia number one” before exaggerated spitting after saying “USA”, in order to gain even more heat for being foreign heels.

11) The new team of Volkoff and the Iron Sheik captured the coveted WWF Tag Team Championship from The U.S. Express (Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham) at the first ever WrestleMania, on March 31, 1985 after the Sheik had knocked out Windham with Fred Blassie’s cane.

12) After losing the titles back to Rotundo and Windham three months later, Volkoff began to wrestle more in singles competition, including wrestling Hulk Hogan for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship on several occasions in 1985 and 1986 (including a flag match at the second ever episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event at the Meadowlands Arena), but never defeated Hogan for the title.

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The Bolsheviks with their manager the doctor of style Slick.

13) Volkoff also feuded with former 82nd Airborne paratrooper Corporal Kirchner throughout 1985 and 1986, defeating him in a “peace match” on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Their feud ended when Kirchner used Blassie’s cane to defeat Volkoff at WrestleMania 2 in another flag match during the Chicago portion of the event.

14) In the fall of 1986, Volkoff’s manager “Classy” Freddy Blassie sold half interest in his stable of superstars to the “Doctor of Style,” Slick (kayfabe).[1] Giving Slick co-managerial rights to Nikolai Volkoff, Classy Freddy Blassie also shared the contracts of the Iron Sheik and Hercules. This was a storyline aimed at reducing the aging Blassie’s active role and the “Hollywood fashion plate” eventually retired in the fall of 1986 at the age of 68.

15) Sheik and Volkoff feuded with WWF newcomer Jim Duggan for the majority of 1987, including Hacksaw running to the ring and stopping the Big Russian’s singing before their match against The Killer Bees at WrestleMania III (Sheik and Volkoff won by disqualification when Duggan entered the ring while chasing Volkoff and then hit the Sheik with his 2×4 while he had the Camel clutch on “Jumping” Jim Brunzell).

16) In late 1987, Volkoff was teamed with Boris Zukhov, another alleged Russian who was actually an American wrestler whose real name was James Harrell, to form The Bolsheviks.
The Russians feuded with WWF newcomers The Powers of Pain, losing to them at the inaugural SummerSlam PPV in 1988.

17) However Volkoff did not gain the same success with The Bolsheviks as he did in his partnership with The Iron Sheik. As they lost the public eye due to many losses, they eventually lost their manager Slick and were reduced to being used as a comic relief team losing many matches to The Bushwhackers.

18) The Bolsheviks never held any titles together, and are perhaps best remembered for being defeated in 19 seconds by The Hart Foundation at WrestleMania VI.
Eventually, by 1990, The Bolsheviks split up. Volkoff publicly ended the partnership prior to a match where he confronted Zukhov and then started singing “The Star-Spangled Banner”, drawing loud cheers from the audience and turning babyface in the process.

19) A short time after The Bolsheviks split, Volkoff became a hero for the first time in his career. His gimmick was now that of a recently liberated Lithuanian, following the fall of the Soviet Union; he became very pro-west which led to a feud with Sgt. Slaughter who was involved in an Iraqi sympathizer role and had teamed with the Iron Sheik, who had recently begun an Iraqi gimmick under the name Colonel Mustafa (as opposed to his actual Iranian heritage).

20) After Volkoff’s team defeated Slaughter’s team at the 1990 Survivor Series (Tito Santana being the sole survivor), Volkoff left the WWF at the end of 1990. Makeing only a brief return to compete in the 1992 Royal Rumble match.

21) On Feb 1, 1994 Volkoff would begin a full-time return to the WWF, making a ringside appearance at a Superstars taping in White Plains, New York during a match between Diesel and Mike Moraldo. For the next two months Volkoff would be shown in the crowd, until eventually he became a sympathetic heel by playing the whipping-boy of Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Corporation.[1] Volkoff had kayfabe fallen on hard times and was forced to take a job working for DiBiase and his new Corporation. As low man in the group he was forced to wrestle matches no one else wanted to or sent out to “soften up” opponents for other members of the stable as the sacrificial lamb of the group. The disrespect even extended to renaming him “Nickel & Dime” Volkoff and DiBiase forcing him to place a ¢ on his trunks where the Russian sickle once was along with a sign on his ring attire that read “Property Of The Million Dollar Man.”

22) Volkoff’s Last WWF match was on December 30, 1994 when he defeated jobber Bob Starr in a house show.

23) Volkoff’s final appearance was at the WWF’s final show at The Boston Garden on May 13, 1995. During a match between WWF Champion Diesel and Sid, Volkoff made an appearance to chase Sid’s manager Ted Dibiase away.

24) Volkoff made a brief cameo on an episode of Shotgun Saturday Night where Todd Pettengill discovered him homeless sleeping in a box on the streets of New York City. He also appeared at WrestleMania X-Seven at the Astrodome in Houston in the Gimmick Battle Royal which was won by The Iron Sheik.

Image result for Nikolai Volkoff WWE Hall of Fame

25) On February 3, 2005, Volkoff was announced as one of the WWE Hall of Fame inductees for the Class of 2005. He was inducted on April 2, 2005 by Jim Ross in the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.

26) Volkoff made his first appearance on WWE television in over 2 years on the August 13, 2007 edition of Raw as a contestant on WWE Idol, a parody of American Idol. Volkoff appeared alongside the Iron Sheik and Howard Finkel, although Volkoff was the only one who sang. Volkoff sang the Soviet Union national anthem, receiving boos from the crowd (despite being a babyface) and was insulted by judge William Regal, although judges Mick Foley and Maria both praised the performance. In response, Sheik, who was also insulted, went on a tirade until both he and Volkoff were escorted out of the building by security.

27) The March 10, 2008 edition of WWE Raw, featured rematches from previous WrestleManias. The Iron Sheik appeared along with Nikolai Volkoff to face off against the U.S. Express (Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda) in a rematch from the first WrestleMania. However, the match never got started as Jillian Hall came out to interrupt Volkoff’s singing so she could sing Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.”, which the U.S. Express used as their ring entrance music in 1984-85.

28) On the November 15, 2010, edition of Raw, as part of the Old School theme, Volkoff appeared with the Iron Sheik, singing the Soviet national anthem before being interrupted by Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov, the latter of whom then sung a duet with Volkoff of the Russian National anthem.

29) In June 2013 he threw out the first pitch at a Bowie Baysox baseball game and sang God Bless America after the pitch.

Image result for Nikolai Volkoff Bowie Baysox30) Volkoff lent his name to a forward for a fiction novel called “Only The Beginning” which is set in the 1980s and is about a girl’s life during high school. While the book is not wrestling related, the author Jason Strecker is a personal friend of Volkoff’s and in the foreword Volkoff responds to his friendship with the author along with the book’s message of being of strong character and doing positive actions for others. The book also has a foreword by Jimmy”Boogie Woogie Man” Valiant.

31) On the January 6, 2014 “Old School” episode of RAW, Volkoff encountered Big E. on his way to a match and sung him the Soviet national anthem, to which Langston smiled. Immediately after, Langston walked past fellow Million Dollar Corporation members, Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster.

32) On the RAW Fallout segment following the September 8, 2014, Volkoff appeared backstage with Rusev and Lana and sang the Soviet National Anthem.

33) On February 28, 2015, Volkoff appeared for the Superstars of Wrestling promotion in Bayville, New Jersey, where he teamed with ECW legend The Sandman to take on independent standouts Kentucky Bred – in a 3 on 2 handicap tag match. Before the match, Volkoff and Sandman sang the Russian National Anthem and proceeded to drink beers together. The duo squashed Kentucky Bred and then poured beer all over them.

34) In Freddie Blassie’s autobiography Listen, You Pencil Neck Geeks, Freddie Blassie describes Peruzovic as a “good family man” who helped Blassie reconnect with a daughter from whom he had been estranged for many years.

35) Peruzovic worked with the Baltimore County Police Athletic League kids programs. He previously worked as a code enforcement officer in Baltimore County where he lived on a farm in Glen Arm, Maryland.

36) Volokoff is the elder brother to ex Croatian/Yugoslavian footballer who now works as a football coach, Luka Peruzovic.

37) In 2016, Volkoff released a biographical comic book miniseries through Squared Circle Comics, titled “Nikolai” (2016-2018).

38) Volokoff ran unsuccessfully in the 2006 Maryland Republican Primary for State Delegate in District 7 (representing parts of Baltimore & Harford County) in Maryland, where he supported Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

39) Nikoli had 13 championships in his long storied career and 6 managers.

40) Volkoff died on July 29, 2018, at the age of 70 just days after being released from a hospital in Maryland where he had been treated for dehydration among other issues. We pause and say a prayer for the family and friends and fans of this great legend and hope you do the same.

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