Nelson Interview - Part II
Wrestling as a babyface in the Mid-Atlantic area, who were
your favorite opponents?
As far as work goes, I enjoyed working with Kernodle and
Slaughter in tags and single matches. But just one week after they
dropped the belts, in a 6man tag team in Charlotte, Slaughter
bashed me in the back of my head with a metal chair and split me
wide open, I never ever saw it coming. I was always taught that
you never do that to someone, that is a very soft part of the
skull; you always hit them on the top of their forehead. Always.
He said he did not think I was going to turn around. Lame excuse.
I know for a fact that was a shoot. The paramedics had to come
down to the ring to get me, I believe. I just do not remember much
after that. Jim Crockett had me sent to the hospital for some
tests, because he was quite concerned since I had trouble coming
to. I also enjoyed working with Gene Anderson, Larry Lane, Jim
Dalton, Bill White, Kabuki, Greg Valentine and my good friend Rick
Harris (aka, Black Bart).
In early 1983, you were part of a defining moment on
Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, when you confronted Jack
Brisco on TV and called him a coward for deliberately injuring
Ricky Steamboat. Brisco then injured you in the ring, and this in
most people’s minds permanently cemented the Brisco’s
surprising heel turn. What are your memories of that angle and
working the angle with Brisco? After Jack Brisco injured your leg,
did you ever wrestle in the Mid-Atlantic area again? Was this
injury angle done as a way to exit you from the territory?
Both Jack & Jerry Brisco and Rick Steamboat and Jay Youngblood
came and sat down with me and ask me if I would be willing to work
an injury angle with the Briscos. So I told them that I would be
happy to, since I was already planning to leave the territory and
move down to Louisiana for Bill Watts. The Brisco's wanted to do
something vicious to someone to help turn heel all the way with
Steamboat and Youngblood. I told all of them that it would be my
pleasure since they all had helped me and done some favor's for me
over the past few years. The Brisco's had already injured Ricky
Steamboat, so since I had befriended Ricky and Jay and helped them
to win the tag belts against Slaughter & Kernodle it all made
good sense. The office also had me going strong on TV and in the
arenas so that it would mean something. It all was like takin'
candy from a baby, the angle worked out great. I never did return
to wrestle in the Mid-Atlantic area.
Overall, who was your favorite wrestler to work with in the
ring in the Mid-Atlantic area? Overall, who was your least
favorite wrestler to work with in the ring in the Mid-Atlantic
Their was hardly anyone that I did not enjoy working with
there, unless they had a bad attitude and did not want to go out
and work hard. But my favorites were Flair, Steamboat, Youngblood
What is your favorite “on the road” story while
wrestling for Jim Crockett Promotions?
I tell you what I have so many, had alot of good trips with
some great people especially with the Sheepherders and Jimmy
Snuka. I had the great pleasure of having some good runs with
these guys on down the road. But one of my favorite road trip's
was from Harrisonburg VA to Richmond VA. I was traveling with
Roddy Piper in his car with Gene Lewis. I remember we passed Ray
Stevens and his wife heading down I64e and they were celebrating
their anniversary. So Roddy got an idea about getting out his red
police car light and fly up behind Ray and pull him over. We went
on and got a good distance in front of Ray and pulled off at the
top of an on-ramp and killed the lights. The light plugged into a
cig lighter socket and had an on-off button. We waited until Ray
came flying by and just flew down that ramp and hit all the lights
at the same time. Ray got over on the side as fast as he could.
You should have seen all the stuff flying out his wife's side of
the car. HA!HA! Roddy pulled right up beside them and Gene and I
shot them the moon and Roddy just waited a second or two and just
took off flying! Ray Stevens just went berserk, caught up with us
and was pushing us down the interstate, at least 85 mph. I was
laughing so hard that I was crying. I remember that story like it
was yesterday, sure hated to see Ray Stevens pass away, he was a
good friend to me.
What were your favorite (and least favorite) towns and
venues to perform in while in the Mid-Atlantic area?
My least favorite arena was the Greenville Memorial
Auditorium, for reasons I talked about earlier in the interview. I
enjoyed just about everywhere we would work as long as we had a
good ring and hot water for our showers.
Did you have any restaurants that you just had to visit
when you were in certain towns?
TGI Friday's in Charlotte N.C. Great food and beautiful
Please give us a run down of you career (territories,
titles, feuds, etc.) after you left the Mid-Atlantic area.
Mid South for Watts, Texas for the Von Erichs, Southeastern
and Continental for Armstrong, Fuller's where I was the Alabama
Heavyweight Champion and the Southeastern Champion. Worked some
back in Atlanta, Memphis, Tampa, South Dakota, then on to the AWA,
where I was AWA World Tag team Champions with Soldat Ustinov, off
to the WWF (now the WWE) for 3 1/2 yrs and back to finish working
out in the independents up to 2002.
Koloff & Boris Zhukov
You clearly modeled your Boris Zhukov persona around that
of Ivan Koloff. Your voice as Zhukov sounds identical to Koloff.
Who gave you that persona or did you develop it yourself?
I had been working on practicing imitating Ivan Koloff's
voice since I was 15 yrs old, when he first came to the
Mid-Atlantic area. I also use to practice imitating evil sounding
voices on cartoons like Johnny Quest-Dr Zinn and also Baron Von
Raschke and Boris Malenko as time went on. When I was in the
Mid-Atlantic I use to imitate voices in the dressing room, or call
some of the boy's and leave crazy messages on their answering
machines. The Iron Sheik is one of my all time favorites; he was
one of the toughest, but funniest people I ever met in this
business. When it was time for me to leave the Mid-Atlantic, Jake
Roberts put me in touch with his dad, Grizzly Smith who put me in
touch with Bill Watts. He liked my idea and agreed to give me a
start to help me start and establish my new gimmick. That’s what
was so great about separate territories back then and local TV.
You could go somewhere new and be someone else, then move on
somewhere else. The only big strong cable shows back in those days
was WTBS and USA network.
When did you retire from the ring?
2001 in Roanoke VA. I can't remember the exact date but I
wanted for everything to come full circle and finish up where I
started, back at home working for the Great Eclipso. Mike Weddle
saw a potential in me and helped give me a chance and really
pushed and encouraged me to go for it!! The only thing that I
regret about it was, that he could not go for it himself, with me.
He was and still is such a great, natural worker. It was so hard
to leave home so young and not know what lies ahead. All I know is
that I did not want go through life only to imagine what could
have been and only is able to look back and imagine. Pro Wrestling
started out for me as a big dream, then one day I woke up and it
was all real! I had the greatest opportunity to live that dream
for many years. It's opportunities like this that make America the
greatest country in the world and they are here for all of us to
grab if we want to. I got to live the dream for the dreamers!!
And, if I'm still dreaming, I pray that I never have to wake up
Did you have any major injuries during your career?
Too many concussion's to count, separated shoulder, hyper
extended knees and elbows, torn muscles, broken fingers, staff
infections now arthritis and bursitis.
What were your overall opinions of working for Jim
A tough, but quiet and upfront man to work for. Sometimes
blunt but always upfront.
Do you keep in touch with any of the boys today?
If the opportunity arises.
I got to see Ivan Koloff last summer and still see Jimmy
Valiant from time to time. He was always alot of fun to work with,
quite a card, that one. I have had so many friends pass away the
last couple of years. I will always take advantage of any possible
chance to see any of the boys. To me, when one passes away it's
like losing a family member. I'm afraid that for many of the boys
that have passed away over the last few years, I said goodbye too
WITH JIM NELSON ON THE "FINAL CONFLICT" - Added
additional word from Boris Zhukov: This
interview is done in memory of some of my favorite people: Chief
Wahoo McDaniel, Ray Stevens, Davey Boy Smith, Owen Hart, Rick
Rude, Swede Hanson, Andre The Giant and Curt Hennig. I miss you
all so much!
in memory of Jennifer Renee Short (1993-2002). Life was taken
while still so young. I pray that one day that God will lead the
authorities to the coward who took you and your parents life. We
are all part of the future, present and the past. Fly on high,
young Freebird. Your home with Jesus, safe at last.
Nelson/Boris Zhukov, February 2003