3. Nikita Koloff Goes Full Russian
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.