IYH Interview: Ivan Koloff
By Neal Jones
“The Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff was the guest this week on http://www.inyourheadonline.com. Which can be heard live every Wednesday at 6:00 PM with Jack, OneInchBiceps and Barbie Richards, along with our full archive of interviews.
The hosts welcomed Ivan to IYH, and mentioned the upcoming Capitol Legend’s Fanfest August 11th to the 13th in Rockville, MD. The huge event will feature 30 Wrestling legends including Rockin Robin, The Patriot, Masked Superstar, Jim Cornette, Bret Hart, Midnight Express, Nick Bockwinkle, Tony Atlas, Stan Hansen, Ernie Ladd, Ricky Morton, Angelo Mosca, Jim Niedhardt, Rocky Johnson, Robert Gibson, Ivan Koloff, Nickolai Volkoff, Baby Doll, Dr. Tom Pritchard, Rick Martel, Superstar Billy Graham and many more. For more information please visit http://www.capitollegends.com.
Ivan talks about his past addictions, and is happy to still be here. Ivan is hopeful of the future of pro wrestling. Ivan doesn’t like the current product, he believes wrestling used to be about telling a story in the ring not reading a script. Ivan acknowledges they have a new audience now, but it is not for him.
Jack asks if scripts make it harder to do promos. Ivan says it’s harder because you make your own gimmick, no one can write it for you. Ivan believes if someone makes your character and writes your lines you are an actor.
Ivan discusses his change from Red McNulty to Ivan Koloff. He was working for Johnny Rougeau and Jack Britton in Canada and they thought he looked like a Russian in 1967/1968.
Barbie asked what Ivan’s original thoughts were about becoming an “Evil Russian”. Ivan said “yes sir”, during the first several years he learned the ins and outs of being able to work and it was time to learn a character. Ivan talks about coming up with the famous accent, he took some of it from Mad Dog Vachon and changed it up to what he thought was Russian sounding.
Jack asks if the gimmick got over better in certain countries. Ivan says he was accepted as the heel everywhere he wrestled, but it had the most success in the USA because of the Cold War. Ivan talks about the FBI and other authorities checking him out because they were concerned over terrorists situations based off his TV promos. Ivan says it was complimentary that he was doing his job well, but scary at the same time.
Ivan talks about the fans getting physical with him many times. He remembers tagging with Saito and a fan coming into the ring and taking a swing at Ivan. Ivan took the fan down quick, the police dragged the fan off and the fan wanted the police to arrest Ivan for it. Ivan says now the fans are completely different because of the change from “pro wrestling” to “sports entertainment”. The fans now are smart, and respect the heels for their character. Ivan talks about signing autographs to raise money for children. He says most of the fans tell him how they miss the old days, when their was mystery involved. Ivan says you can’t knock success, Vince is a millionaire os what he does must work. Ivan appreciates being able to talk to the fans openly now.
Ivan mentions he is looking forward to being part of the Capitol Legends Fan Fest in August, http://www.capitollegends.com. Ivan talks about his upcoming book with Scott Teal, for more information please visit http://www.crowbarpress.com. Ivan wants to meet the fans talk to them and talk about his faith.
Ivan discusses how his faith saved him from his alcohol and drug addictions. Ivan says he wasn’t tough enough to do it alone, but with the strength from Jesus Christ he was able to clean himself up.
Jack asks if Ivan ever worked for Vince McMahon Jr. Ivan said the last he worked for the McMahons was the early 80’s against with Bob Backlund, a few years before Vince Sr. died. WWF never invited him back, and Ivan had a long successful run in the NWA so he had no reason to leave. Ivan is looking forward to meeting some of his old wrestling buddies at the Fan Fest such as Stan Hansen and the Rock N Roll Express. Ivan says he and Bret Hart go way back, he used to wrestle Stu back in his early days in Canada. Ivan talks about seeing Stu stretch some of the young guys in the Dungeon, Ivan says everyone respected Stu. Ivan says Stu never tried anything with him, he respected Ivan as well.
Ivan says it was very exciting to be in the ring with Bruno Sammartino. Bruno was Ivan’s hero, and it was a thrill to be able to wrestle him at the time. Ivan says even though he was a 10 year veteran at the time he had butterflies wrestling Bruno. IVan says it is a shame that Bruno isn’t in the Hall of Fame. Ivan says a Hall of Fame that has anything to do with WWWF,WWF, WWE and not having Bruno as the first inductee is disgraceful and stupid, and he believes Vince Sr. would feel the same way. Ivan says to him it’s just not right they have football players etc in the HOF but not Bruno Sammartino. Ivan says they have never come to him about the Hall of Fame. Ivan talks about Vince McMahon pays certain wrestlers royalties but not others for DVD’s etc. Ivan is on several WWE DVD”s but has never heard from the WWE with any compensation,
OIB asks who was the better partner Crusher Krushev or Nikita Koloff. Ivan says what you mean by better. Crusher was a better performer, and went over all the different characters he went on to portray. Nikita wasn’t nearly as developed but did his character great and drew money. Ivan says Nikita wasn’t a Benoit or Ric Flair technical wrestler but he drew in the fans. Ivan says you can’t really say which is better, it depends on what you are looking for. Ivan talks about still staying in contact with Nikita through their Church work.
Jack asks about the Russians vs Road Warriors feud. Ivan says when you had a full house it made the matches so much better. They worked so much and were hurt so often, and the LOD were so big and strong you couldn’t do much with them. Yet they were so over the fans came which made the matches exciting. Jack mentioned Ivan being the smallest of the 4 guys, and taking the most punishment. Ivan says he was the guy doing most of the talking on the interviews, and he could retain his heat even when losing. Nikita losing would take more away from his character, Ivan says he tried standing up for Nikita behind the scenes and was the start of his downfall in NWA. Ivan says once they switched Nikita a babyface to the Superpowers behind his back it hurt IVan as a character but also him personally. Ivan doesn’t blame Nikita, but he helped Nikita get over and he ended up losing his spot once Nikita was featured as a main babyface.
Ivan says Dusty was a smart wrestler and had no problems with him. Ivan says Dusty was smart and put himself in the main spots, which you can’t knock.
OIB asks Ivan for good rib stories. Ivan says Johnny Valentine was one of the best ribbers of all time. Ivan tells a story of the one and only rib Johnny played on him, involving a stink bomb in his bag. Ivan got his revenge by stuffing a potato in Johnny’s muffler. Ivan says some guys took ribs too far, and remembers one guy shooting a harpoon gun at Smasher Sloan.
Ivan tells all the fans he would love for them to come and shake hands and remember the days of the past in wrestling. Ivan says being part of the Fan Fest August 11th to 13th in Rockville, Maryland is really something you should do. For more information please visit http://www.capitollegends.com.
The hosts thank Ivan for coming on, Jack asks one last question why did all the evil Russians shave their heads, and when they turned good they grew their hair back. Ivan remembers the evil German guys were usually bald, and he shaved his head because he was losing his hair.
To hear this 45 minute interview with Ivan Koloff please visit http://www.inyourheadonline.com .