I will never trust a Russian. Not because of my anti-Communist upbringing or the countless strippers who have refused me lap dances, but more because of professional wrestling.
When I was ten years old and started watching wrestling, I quickly learned to boo the Russians because they were always the bad guys. Every week I watched the National Wrestling Alliance, where "The Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff and his nephew "The Russian Nightmare" Nikita Koloff battled the likes of the Road Warriors and the Rock and Roll Express - two good guy, American-born tag teams - and I booed and hissed at those lousy Ruskies with all my might. A third Russian, Krusher Khruschev, joined the Koloffs, making it always a lopsided battle, those cheatin' commies.
Then when Khruschev left, Ivan Koloff brought in someone named Vladimir Petrov because Ivan's own nephew Nikita turned good and started teaming with "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. Now there was a good guy Russian? How was I supposed to believe that? It was hard but Nikita seemed sincere, and he still used a move he called The Russian Sickle, but he used it against bad guys now, so it was all right.
The NWA even had a pair of masked Russians called the Russian Assassins, Russians so evil they have to hide their dirty Russian faces. They were trying to destroy Ivan Koloff when he turned good just like his nephew did. What, was the Cold War almost over or something?
About the same time, the American Wrestling Association had their own Russians, Boris Zukoff and Soldat Ustinov, who beat the Midnight Rockers for the AWA Tag Team Titles. Why, you dirty Russians! Who do you think you are? They were always beating up on handsome American wrestlers, guys like Ricky Rice and Derrick "Starfire" Dukes, who no one but me remembers and who could very well be dead like the rest of them.
Then, of course, everyone knows about Nikolai Volkoff in the World Wrestling Federation, who teamed with The Iron Shiek to beat the American Express for the Tag Team Titles at the first Wrestlemania. He too would later become a good guy. Under what circumstances I couldn't even begin to tell you, but it happened.
Here's what I really hate, and why I'll never trust another Russian. Nikolai Volkoff is the only Russian I've mentioned who was even an actual Russian! He's Josip Nikolai Peruzović of Mother Russia. He meant it when he sang that National Anthem. Notice none of the other Russians sang the anthem, all those nonsensical words to try to figure out.
How can they play these tricks on children, dressing up non-Russians and calling them Russians? That team of the two Koloffs and Kruschev? Turns out they were really two Minnesotans and a Canadian. Yeah, the stupid "Russian Bear," real name Oreal Perras, was from Ontario, same as Alexis Smirnoff, a wrestler from the 70s I never watched, real name Michel Lamarche of Quebec. And "the Russian Nightmare?" Just a guy named Nelson Scott Simpson.
"See ya, Mom. Me and Nelson are gonna go catch a Twins game."
"I don't want you hanging out with that Russian boy, Jimmy."
"Oh, mom. He's not from Russia. He's from right here in good ole Minnesota, dontcha know?"
Vladimir Petrov? Another damn poser from Minneapolis named Al Blake. I should never trust Minnesotans is what I should do, because that Soldat Ustinov liar was also Jim Lanning of the North Star State. That's four Russians who were actually born in Minnesota! And two from Canada, but who ever trusted Canucks anyway?
Then Boris Zukoff? Real name Jim Barrell, from down here in Roanoke, Virginia. What kind of Virginian pretends he's a Russian? That's treasonous!
Not only that, but those two guys who were the masked "Russian Assassins" were guys from New Jersey and Arlington, Texas, guys who most of us had seen wrestler sans masks under other names.
How do I know it's just wrestling that's done this to me? How do I know Dostoyevsky wasn't growing corn in Nebraska before he wrote Crime and Punishment? How do I know Stravinsky wasn't some dude from New Hampshire? Milla Jovovich, Maria Sharpova, Sergei Fedorov, you're all on notice. I'm watching your interviews to see if I detect a Canadian, Minnesotan, or any other type of North American accent and then I'm blowing the whistle on all of you. Then I move to the Estonians, Georgians, Lithuanians and Ukrainians. I'm looking at you, Oksana Baiul. You're not getting away with impersonating a former Soviet chick on my watch.