WWE | Pro Wrestling

Rusev and the Failed Russian Experiment

In case you have not noticed, the WWE is about to bypass Rusev in order to join the Big Show and Mark Henry in a meeting of super heavyweights in the middle of the ring.

The big foreigner is by far the best heel import to join the company in a number of years, which leads me to question (doesn’t it always?) why the company has not put him on the fast track to tear down every WWE superstar in his path?

I’ll leave that for someone with a little more insider information of someone who can better articulate why this potential superstar is being held back of sorts.

Looking at the Bulgarian performer, who is as solid and compact as a bull and as agile as any wrestler in the WWE, I am reminded of the former greats who walked into promotions and bashed the American Flag and our wrestlers. It was a major theme of wrestling promotions, especially during the Cold War and the Reagan vs. Gorbachev history of our time. Never was that played out more than it was in the early 1980s with the Iron Sheik vs. Sgt. Slaughter, then The Iron Sheik vs. Bob Backlund and later Hulk Hogan coming to the WWF to save the day, the promotion and of course Old Glory.

Vince McMahon used to have a way of taking the real angle of the US vs. The World and staging it in Madison Square Garden – living proof back then at what a genius he was.

Today, the idea of USA vs. The World loses some much luster is because the battles and feuds are short. The characters are not as interesting as they were back then. And most of all, the depth of the writing to create the drama involved is short and inattentive and mostly lost in the fans in the arenas and the WWE Universe. Heels and Faces are on a level playing field, so it is not as attractive as it could or should be.

When I was growing up, while The Iron Sheik was creating havoc in New York City, Ivan Koloff was stirring the pot in Charlotte for Jim Crockett.

He became “The Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff, a bearded villainous character billed from the Ukraine, and debuted with the International Wrestling Association in Montreal, Québec in 1967. He defeated Johnny Rougeau for the IWA International Heavyweight Title the following year. Ivan Koloff debuted in the World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1970, managed by Capt. Lou Albano.[4] He soon started a feud with then-WWWF World Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino. On January 18, 1971, “The Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff defeated Sammartino in Madison Square Garden for the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship by pinfall after a knee drop from the top rope, ending Sammartino’s seven and two-third years reign on top. Koloff lost the title only 21 days later to Pedro Morales, essentially being used as a “transitional” champion (as he was used to move the title from Sammartino to Morales without having the two faces work against each other), much like Stan Stasiak and the Iron Sheik would be in later years. After the loss, Koloff remained a contender for the title, but never reclaimed it, and left the WWWF in 1972.

During his time in the WWWF, Ivan Koloff wrestled WWWF title matches against Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, Superstar Billy Graham and Bob Backlund, holding the distinction, with fellow villain Stan Stasiak, as one of only two men to challenge all four of these popular champions.

During the 1970s and 80s, Koloff found success in the NWA, winning many regional tag and singles titles in the Georgia, Florida, and Mid-Atlantic territories. In February 1981, he teamed with Ray Stevens to defeat Paul Jones and Masked Superstar to capture the NWA World Tag Team Championship. This would be the first of his four reigns as a World Tag Team champion, later winning the belts with Don Kernoodle and twice with his “nephew” Nikita Koloff as The Russians.

The Russians (which also included Krusher Kruschev) were a top heel stable from 1984 to 1986, and Nikita, under Perras’ training and mentoring, and by association, became a hated heel in his own right, and would go on to have a successful singles career of his own. After Nikita turned face on Ivan to join their enemy Dusty Rhodes in 1986, Ivan teamed with Vladimir Petrov and Dick Murdoch to get revenge. Ivan Koloff’s biggest NWA feuds were against Rhodes, the Road Warriors, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) and Magnum T.A.

The WWWF and the NWA did its best to promote Koloff as every bit the USA hater he portrayed. The WWE of today has not gone over and above like in past decades to show a true battle of wills. For that reason, Rusev fails and by doing so, the WWE once again is missing a golden chance to take something from the past and have its presence dominate the lackluster main event scene.

Unfortunately, this is not a win for Old Glory or Mother Russia, rather a loss for everyone involved.

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