Biography Page 3
The switch took place in Nikita's "new" home town of Nashville, Tn. where Dusty was scheduled to wrestle in a cage match. To heighten suspense, for several the match was advertised that Dusty would have a mystery partner. The identity of Dusty's partner was one of the best kept secrets in wrestling. Other than Nikita, only Dusty and Crockett knew who the mystery partner was. When the night came for the big match, Dusty strolled out of the dressing room. The overflowing crowd gasped when they saw Nikita slowly trailing behind him. As Dusty entered the ring the other two opponents, who were playing the bad heels, jumped him. Nikita paused outside the ring and looked to the audience. He climbed the stairs to the door of the cage where he paused again, as the two opponents pummeled poor Dusty. As he stepped through the ring ropes and the cage door was closed. He paused for a third and final time as Ole Anderson and J.J. Dillon continued their assault on Dusty. As the crowd waited in anticipation, surely expecting Nikita would make it a three-on-one, Nikita shocked the arena by viciously attacking Ole Anderson. Quickly defeating their opponents, the crowd erupted with the chant of Nikita! Nikita! Nikita! for the next 15 minutes.
He played his part to the hilt. His switch to the gentle Russian was complete. Dusty and Nikita's alliance would be nicknamed "The Superpowers". For the next 18 months, everywhere they wrestled the house sold out. Their accomplishments included many victories over the "Four Horsemen" and winners of the Crockett Cup Tournament. In 1987, Nikita was voted "Most Inspirational Wrestler" of the year.
Previously, Nikita had always said he didn't want to play the good guy. He thought having to sign autographs and chatting with fans would be a drag. But once he became loved by fans he relished being the good guy. Rather than spitting in his face fans would now come up to him and pat him on the back.
In 1987, his girl friend, Mandy, was diagnosed with cancer. After going through the agony of chemotherapy doctors declared the cancer was in remission. But the next year the cancer returned. At the same time Ted Turner bought out Crockett and renamed the company World Championship Wrestling. In a heartbeat the small family-operated company became part of corporate America.
By 1988 Mandy's conditioned was deteriorating and Nikita told WCW he was taking a sabbatical to care for her. The promotion was stunned - never before had someone left at the height of their career, and this didn't sit well with WCW executives; but realizing his priorities, Nikita was firm in his decision.
Nikita left the ring in 1988. Mandy's conditioned steadily worsened and Nikita looked on as her life began to wither. By early 1989 her fight was over. After six weeks in intensive care, with Nikita by her side, she died. This was his first experience in how short life can be and how valuable it really is. Within a week of Mandy's death, WCW began calling for Nikita's return. Taking time to recover, it would be several months before Nikita would return to the ring.
In early 1990, Nikita met his future wife, Victoria. Victoria later moved back to Charlotte and in the process of time their fondness for each other grew. In late of spring 1990, Nikita proposed to Victoria and the two married on Aug. 17, 1990. Victoria, Nikita, Teryn and Tawni (Victoria's daughters) became an instant family. Their marriage was further blessed with their daughters Kendra, who was born in June 1992, and Kolby, who was born in May of 1996.
Now 33 years-old, Nikita took a hard look at the world around him. He didn't like how wrestling was taking him from his family. He also didn't like how the WCW was treating wrestlers. Then, on Nov. 7, 1992 Nikita stepped into the ring for what would become his final match.
The match was against Big Van Vander (Leon "Bull Power" White), an enormous 500-pound wrestler. During the match Nikita was hit with a clothes line blow to the back of the head. Immediately, he knew something was wrong. He felt a throbbing pain in his neck and his left arm went numb. By 5 a.m. the next morning his lower abdomen was hurting as well. At that point he knew he needed medical attention. A team of seven doctors checked him out. Tests revealed he had a hernia. An MRI showed his neck had been injured so often in wrestling it looked like that of a 55-year-old. The doctors didn't tell him not to wrestle, but said the longer he continued to wrestle, the more likely he faced the risk of permanent injury.
Taking three months to recover from his hernia surgery, and rehabilitating his neck, Nikita decided it was time to "bronze the boots". He had set a goal to retire on top of whatever profession he was in, by the age of 35. His pet peeve was athletes who stay past their prime. Determined not to fall into the same trap, Nikita obtained his goal two years ahead of schedule.
Now free from the heavy burden of travel, Nikita took the most powerful turn of his life. Having achieved academically in the class room. athletically on the football field and in the wrestling ring, and achieving world wide fame as a world champion wrestler, Nikita realized something was still missing in his life. He and his wife had always said they wanted to raise their children in church and began looking for one they could attend. This was a fairly new quest for Nikita. Growing up, his family was never known for their church attendance. And even though he attended mandatory Bible classes in junior college the word of God really didn't mean much to him then.
Upon invitation from a business associate, Nikita walked into a local church service. When the pastor asked the congregation if anyone wanted to give their heart to Jesus Christ, it was then that Nikita realized the key missing ingredient - Nikita was the first to walk that aisle, to the altar, and bend his knee to Jesus. As much as the rejoicing of fans raised the roof the night that Nikita came to Dusty's aid against the Horsemen, the response pales in comparison to the rejoicing of the angels in Heaven the day that Nikita bowed a knee at the altar of Salvation (the same is true of anyone else who bows a knee and accepts Jesus Christ). Thereafter Nikita's zeal for Jesus continues to grow day by day.