WWE Hall of Fame superstar Nikolai Volkoff died. The WWE reported the death of the hugely popular Soviet/Russian legend on Sunday.
Volkoff, whose real name is Josip Nikolai Peruzovic, was 70. The WWE star leaves behind his wife of 35 years and two daughters.
The actual cause of Nikolai Volkoff’s death has yet to be revealed but he was in the hospital for a number of days suffering from dehydration and other issues. He had been recently released.
Volkoff originally made his name on the regional scene as well as the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), the company that predated the WWE, where he feuded for a short time with Bruno Sammartino.
Volkoff finally made it to the big time in the ’80s era WWF. Originally training under Stu Hart (the father of Bret “The Hitman” Hart), Volkoff made his way to the WWF around the same time as Bret.
I always loved our conversations backstage … Nikolai Volkoff was so special to my dad and the entire Hart family. We will miss you, Nikolai. My thoughts and condolences go out to Nikolai’s family. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/WfMd4FDowb
— NattieByNature (@NatbyNature) July 29, 2018
Volkoff ended up in a successful tag team with The Iron Sheik, the two men managed by Classy Freddie Blassie. They immediately became huge heels in the company when they beat the U.S. Express (Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda) at the inaugural WrestleMania.
Nikolai Volkoff had the perfect gimmick in Cold War America, as he would tell everyone to rise as he sang the Russian National Anthem. The Iron Sheik would follow that by saying “Iran number one, Russia number one, USA” and then spit onto the mat.
MY BEST FRIEND. MY PARTNER. MY BROTHER. WE GET MORE HEAT THAN ANYONE ON EARTH. I TRUST HIM WITH MY LIFE. HE TAKE CARE OF ME WHEN I WAS DOWN. I MISS YOU FOREVER 💔 pic.twitter.com/pp7ZgQRDnb
— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) July 29, 2018
Nikolai Volkoff continued to excel in his Russian gimmick later as both a solo wrestler, feuding with American patriotic superstars like Hulk Hogan and Corp. Kirschner.
He then started a new tag team called The Bolsheviks with another Soviet character known as Boris Zukhov (the difference being that Zukhov was an American pretending to be a Soviet). He finished his career in the WWE in 1995 after working as a babyface for a short time.
Nikolai Volkoff was a solid wrestler, and more than that, a good man. He will be greatly missed. Rest in peace my friend. pic.twitter.com/Kt76MgnrI2
— Ted DiBiase (@MDMTedDiBiase) July 29, 2018
Nikolai Volkoff has been in semi-retirement since that time, although he has made random appearances in the WWE during special events.
Nikolai Volkoff entered the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005, the same year as Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and The Iron Sheik.