Jim Nelson Interview - Part II


Q.  Wrestling as a babyface in the Mid-Atlantic area, who were your favorite opponents?

A.  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).



Q.  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?

A. 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.



Q.  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 area?

A.  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 and Wahoo!!



Q.  What is your favorite “on the road” story while wrestling for Jim Crockett Promotions?

A.  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.



Q.  What were your favorite (and least favorite) towns and venues to perform in while in the Mid-Atlantic area?

A.  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.




Q.  Did you have any restaurants that you just had to visit when you were in certain towns?

A.  TGI Friday's in Charlotte N.C. Great food and beautiful women!



Q.  Please give us a run down of you career (territories, titles, feuds, etc.) after you left the Mid-Atlantic area.

A.  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.


Ivan Koloff & Boris Zhukov


Q.  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?

A.  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.



Q.  When did you retire from the ring?

A.  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 again.



Q.  Did you have any major injuries during your career?

A.  Too many concussion's to count, separated shoulder, hyper extended knees and elbows, torn muscles, broken fingers, staff infections now arthritis and bursitis.  


Q.  What were your overall opinions of working for Jim Crockett?

A.  A tough, but quiet and upfront man to work for. Sometimes blunt but always upfront.



Q.  Do you keep in touch with any of the boys today?

A.  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 long ago.




An 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!


Also, 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.


-Jim Nelson/Boris Zhukov, February 2003