Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Ivan Koloff - Yay Or Nay For The Hall Of Fame

Hello Dwellers, welcome to the Basement, and Yay or Nay for the  Hall of Fame…

After listening to a number of episodes of the 6:05 Super Podcast, the only Podcast on Turner Time… and listening to Brian Last whine and moan about the WWE ‘sitting on footage’ of stuff he wants to see right now… and while I understand where he’s coming from, I don’t think his complaints are justified.

Let’s keep in mind that it takes a long time to convert media from one form to another, and we’re talking reels of film, VHS tapes and so-forth that WWE has been converting to a digital format for the WWE Network and other products they may release on DVD and Blu-Ray. You have to factor in the quality of the material first, remove elements that you can’t use (most of the time it’s related to music, case in point with ECW).  If the WWE didn’t have to do these things, I’m sure the entire tape library that they have would be up on the Network right now, but since they do, it’s going to be a long drawn out process.

And of course, this means a lot of footage that could be seen by fans to justify men and women going into the Hall of Fame is going to be few and far between.

Which isn’t necessarily this week’s subject, The Russian Bear Ivan Koloff…

Like many fans, I was only aware of him through his name being mentioned in history of the WWE Championship and seeing him as part of the ‘Soviets’ group on World Championship Wrestling on Saturday nights on TBS as a kid in the 80s, which means a good portion of his career is visible for people to see… with maybe the exception of one important moment.

Debuting in the late 1960s up in Montreal before that territory went to pits thanks to all the hot-shotting that went on, Koloff was pretty much an instant star, a tough vile villain billed from Soviet Ukraine, he would migrate to the then World-Wide-Wrestling Federation where under the guidance of Captain Lou Albano, would defeat Bruno Sammartino for the territory’s top prize, the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship…. Ending Bruno’s reign of seven and half years. This was historic… this was shocking… and it’s one of those things that doesn’t exist in the best quality on film.

Koloff’s reign would be short lived, holding it for three weeks and losing the title to Pedro Morales, and serving a vital function of ‘transitioning’ the title from one top hero to the next with out them having to face one-another. It’s a great way to signal an era change in a time when guys would remain champion for years. Because of this Koloff remained a stop contender for the remainder of the decade when he ventured in and out of the WWWF, while he would never win the title again, he would face all four WWWF champions of the 70s, the before Sammartino & Morales, fellow villain Superstar Billy Graham and Bob Backlund… not to mention he was the first wrestler to challenge for the title in a cage match when he and Sammartino clashed during Bruno’s second reign.

Beyond working for New York, Koloff was a mainstay of the NWA, in particular the Georgia, Florida and Mid-Atlantic territories His championship resume from just these three regions  alone include 17 Tag Team Championships, and numerous singles championship include the NWA Television Champion. Also of note the stable he formed with Nikita Koloff (who was billed as his nephew) and Krusher Kruschev which served as a top group of antagoists for the heroes of the Mid-Atlantic region to content with, having memorable feuds with Dusty Rhodes, The Road Warriors, The Rock N Roll Express and others.

Koloff’s career would start to wind down towards the end of the 80s and the early 90s  with the only real highlights being on the first ECW show and also having the first televised match for Smokey Mountain Wrestling.

So yeah… this is probably without question a slam dunk yay, the win over Bruno made Koloff a star and an attraction for the remainder of his career, and his success as a tag team wrestler cannot be understated. In fact, this is without question a ‘yay’… but of course raises the obvious query of why isn’t he already in the WWE Hall of Fame.

My theory is that for whatever reason, Vince McMahon holds some animosity towards the superstars who were stars under his father’s run of the territory, because there are just about as many pre-1980s WWE guys in the Hall of Fame currently as there are guys who never worked for company… which is just odd.

But what do you think? Should Ivan Koloff be put in the Hall of Fame?

And that will do it for this week… next week’s topic… will be another former WWE Champion… you could say he was ‘The Man’…Stan Stasiak

Catch ya next time folks!  

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