From Russian Nightmare to East Coast Representative for Fellowship of the Sword, Nikita Koloff has accomplished more than most in his life during short spans of time. In only 8 years inside the squared circle he achieved a five star match as acknowledged by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, along with a Pro-Wrestling Illustrated Feud of the Year with the Road Warriors and Dusty Rhodes Vs. the Four Horsemen. Nikita and Ivan Koloff captured the NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) World Tag Team Championships on two occasions, in addition with Krusher Khrushchev (Barry Darsow) they won the NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Titles. As a singles Nikita would find himself carrying gold on 4 separate occasions, NWA & UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation, previously Mid-South) versions of the World Television Belt, the NWA National Heavyweight Title, and the once prestigious United States Heavyweight Championship.
Nikita Koloff presents a relatively short autobiography fitting of his short in ring career. Starting with a foreword by Lex Luger, followed by a preface by Ted Dibiase Sr. two of the most recognisable names in the history of Sports Entertainment. Nikita goes on to explain his childhood in short, mentioning he is aware he only wanted to provide enough history on himself so the reader gets a taste of what helped him grow into the man he became. From simple beginnings he explains of his passion for attending the gym would lead to him finding friendship with Joe Lauranitis (Animal of the Road Warriors) and eventually his career in the NWA. At times Koloff can become tedious with repetition, and his persistence in giving history lessons on just about every subject you can imagine, other wrestlers, championship belts, territories and more. Unfortunately in some cases his time line is off and certain trivial information is inaccurate. Nikita explains his fast track to stardom, and why he feels this garnered heat for him with other boys in the locker rooms on more than occasion. Koloff goes into a great deal of explanation as to why he protected his character so much, why he went as far as talking in broken English even to his step children at home and legally changing his name. He seems to manage to cover all the major events in his career, the completely random turn to good guy, his dealings with Bill Watts, friendship with Dusty Rhodes, encounters with Ric Flair, camaraderie with Barry Darsow and Ivan Koloff, and the general state of WCW in the early 90’s. This autobiography however does not end in 1992 as Koloff’s professional career did due to a difference in personal situations and a severe injury. Nikita goes on to tell his story of redemption, his life after the ring, finally breaking his character in public, and what would lead him to finding the Almighty. Finally finishing off the book with his two cents on the current product and his opinions on Vince McMahon Jr. running the wresting world.
Overall A Tale of the Ring and Redemption is average for a wrestling autobiography. Yes, Nikita has had an interesting life story with a meteoric rise to stardom between the ropes. The writing of Nikita Koloff the wrestler is interesting along with his reasoning behind career choices, the history lessons however are unnecessary (Especially with the trivial inaccuracies) if the reader wanted to learn about the past he would have purchased an entirely different book. Not only that, something is just lacking through-out the book, it just did not grab attention as you would expect. At the rear there is a photo gallery featuring 118 black and white photographs. Nikita at times can come across pretentious but nonetheless NIKITA offers a different perspective to professional wrestling. It is worth a read if you were interested in the Russian Nightmare or the NWA/WCW during that period of time. This is not a must read book by any means, but it is one to read when you have finished the major autobiographies that have been released.
– By Jimmy Wheeler
By Nikita Koloff, as told to William Muldoon
Published by Crowbar Press
Released February 2012
220 Pages, Paperback