Remembering Pro Wrestlers Brian Christopher and Nikolai Volkoff
The Pro Wrestling world lost a pair of performers this past weekend when Nikolai Volkoff and Brian Christopher Lawler both died. The 46-year old son of wrestling legend Jerry "The King" Lawler was taken off of life support at Regional One Health in Memphis, Tennessee around 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Christopher was found hanging in his jail cell in Hardeman County and then transported to the hospital. He had been held on DUI and evading an arrest charge since July 7th, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Christopher performed in the WWE as "Grand Master Sexay".
Any fan of the WWF in the 1980s knew Volkoff. His trademark red USSR shirt and black ushanka hat were always part of his in-ring costume and he would often sing the Soviet national anthem. When Volkoff teamed up with the Iron Sheik, fans showered the two with drinks, beer, fruit, and any other objects they could toss into the ring. I watched many of his tag team matches from Madison Square Garden in the mid '80s and they were some of the most entertaining displays of fan hatred you would ever see.
Volkoff, who's real name was Josip Nikolai Peruzović, grew up in Croatia but moved to Canada in 1967. He trained with Stu Hart in Calgary and came to the US in 1970. He won the tag team championship, along with the Iron Shiek at Wrestlemania and they held the titles for three months. Volkoff also wrestled as a singles competitor and challenged Hulk Hogan for the WWF heavyweight title in October 1985 during Saturday Night's Main Event.
Five years later, Volkoff turned from a heel to a babyface and embraced the stars and stripes. In 2005, Volkoff was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in a star studded class that also included Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Paul Orndorff, and the Iron Sheik. The WWE released a nice tribute video on Volkoff.
I will always remember Volkoff as the perfect villain who played his character as good as anyone. He was a big part of the WWE when it was at its peak and will be sorely missed.