10 Incredible Stories Of Wrestlers' Dedication To Their Character

3. Nikita Koloff Goes Full Russian

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Professional wrestling loves an 'evil Russian', with Nikita Koloff standing as one of the gimmick’s most famous practitioners. Like all good foreign heels, his act exploited real-life paranoia to pray on the audience’s fears, and with America still reeling from Cold War insecurity in the 1980s, him and his “uncle” Ivan took full advantage.

Like so many other “foreign” menaces however, Nikita wasn’t actually Russian. Rather, he was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota as Nelson Scott Simpson, and only adopted the gimmick to get over as a wrestler, though his dedication was astounding. Simpson became Nikita Koloff first by legally changing his name, then learning how to speak Russian, refusing to say anything more than a handful of words in his native English tongue.

The act spread to Koloff’s life behind the scenes, and he reportedly refused to use English under any circumstance. He hired an interpreter to communicate for him, and persisted with the act all the way from his 1984 debut to his eventual retirement in 1992. It took two more years before he’d drop the Russian accent entirely however, though he still lives as Nikita Koloff today.

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Andy has been with WhatCulture for six years and is currently WhatCulture's Senior Wrestling Reporter. A writer, presenter, and editor with 10+ years of experience in online media, he has been a sponge for all wrestling knowledge since playing an old Royal Rumble 1992 VHS to ruin in his childhood. Having previously worked for Bleacher Report, Andy specialises in short and long-form writing, video presenting, voiceover acting, and editing, all characterised by expert wrestling knowledge and commentary. Andy is as much a fan of 1985 Jim Crockett Promotions as he is present-day AEW and WWE - just don't make him choose between the two.