James Kirk Harrell (born January 29, 1959) is an American retired professional wrestler. He is best known for his appearances with the American Wrestling Association (AWA) and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) under the ring name, Boris Zhukov, as well as his appearances with Jim Crockett Promotions as (Private) Jim Nelson.
|Birth name||James Kirk Harrell|
|Born||January 29, 1959|
Roanoke, Virginia, United States
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Boris Zhukov|
Private Jim Nelson
|Billed height||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)|
|Billed weight||254 lb (115 kg)|
|Billed from||Soviet Union|
|Trained by||Don Hogan|
|Debut||May 18, 1978|
Professional wrestling careerEdit
Early career (1978–1980)Edit
Inspired by his Northside High School football coach and hope to become a pro wrestler, 160-pound wide receiver and defensive halfback Harrell became interested in gaining mass in his senior year, 1977. While exercising at a YMCA, he met Ric McCord, who introduced him to Don Hogan and Steve Savage, two wrestlers from Salem, Virginia who trained him. After wrestling in Virginia in a tag team, Harrell moved to Atlanta, Georgia. In his first big match, the 210-pound Harrell (now called Jim Nelson) teamed with Mike Stallings to lose to Ivan Koloff and Ole Anderson.
Jim Crockett Promotions (1980–1983)Edit
Harrell debuted in Jim Crockett Promotions in August 1980, wrestling as "Jim Nelson". In December 1981, Harrell adopted the name "Private Jim Nelson" and joined Sgt. Slaughter's villainous "Cobra Corps". He formed a tag team with fellow Corps member Don Kernodle. In May 1982, Nelson and Kernodle defeated Jay Youngblood and Porkchop Cash to win the NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship. They lost the titles to Cash and Iceman Parsons in June, but regained them later that month. Their second reign lasted until August 1982 when they lost to Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat. In early 1983, Harrell left the Cobra Corps and began feuding with Slaughter and Kernodle, losing to Kernodle in a series of "boot camp matches" in April and May. He left Jim Crockett Promotions in May 1983.
Mid-South Wrestling (1983)Edit
World Class Wrestling Association (1983)Edit
In August 1983, Harrell began wrestling for the Dallas, Texas-based World Class Championship Wrestling promotion. He adopted the character of "Boris Zurkov", a mercenary hired by Skandor Akbar to face Bruiser Brody. He left the promotion in December 1983.
Southeastern Championship Wrestling (1984, 1985)Edit
In January 1984, Harrell debuted in the Birmingham, Alabama-based Southeastern Championship Wrestling promotion as "Boris Zhukov". He feuded with wrestlers including Jacques Rougeau, Jimmy Golden, and Rick McGraw. In August 1984, Harrell defeated McGraw for the NWA Alabama Heavyweight Championship. He lost the title to Porkchop Cash the following month. He left the promotion in October 1984.
American Wrestling Association (1985–1987)Edit
In April 1985, Harrell debuted in the Minneapolis, Minnesota-based American Wrestling Association as "Boris Zukhov", adopting Chris Markoff as his manager. During 1985, he unsuccessfully challenged AWA World Heavyweight Champion Rick Martel and AWA America's Champion Sgt. Slaughter.
In early 1986, Harrell formed a tag team with Nord the Barbarian. The duo occasionally teamed with other foreign heels such as The Mongolian Stomper and Adnan Al-Kaissie. After the tag team dissolved in August 1986, Harrell unsuccessfully challenged AWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Bockwinkel on several occasions.
In April 1987, Harrell formed another team team with Soldat Ustinov, winning a tag team tournament. The following month, they defeated The Midnight Rockers for the AWA World Tag Team Championship. In September 1987, Harrell left the AWA to join the World Wrestling Federation, with the explanation given being that Wahoo McDaniel had driven him out on the promotion after a brutal chain match.
World Wrestling Federation (1987–1991)Edit
Harrell debuted in the World Wrestling Federation in October 1987, once again performing as "Boris Zhukov". He formed a villainous tag team with fellow pseudo-Russian Nikolai Volkoff known as "The Bolsheviks". Over the following 15 months, The Bolsheviks competed against teams such as The British Bulldogs, The Killer Bees, The Powers of Pain, The Rougeau Brothers, and The Young Stallions. Both men entered the 1988 Royal Rumble, which was won by Jim Duggan. In October 1988, Zhukov took part in the King of the Ring tournament, losing to Mike Sharpe in the first round.
The Bolsheviks separated in early 1989 after Volkoff temporarily departed the WWF, with Zhukov competing as a single wrestler. His regular opponents included Paul Roma, Ronnie Garvin, and Tim Horner. In September 1989, Volkoff returned to the WWF and reformed their tag team. In December 1989, The Bolsheviks began a lengthy series of matches with The Bushwhackers. At WrestleMania VI in April 1990, The Bolsheviks lost to The Hart Foundation in a squash.
The Bolsheviks permanently disbanded in May 1990, with Volkoff turning face by embracing America and feuding with Zhukov. After the feud ended in August 1990, Zhukov faced Koko B. Ware in a series of matches. At Survivor Series 1990, Zhukov teamed with Sato, Sgt. Slaughter, and Tanaka as "The Mercenaries", losing to "The Alliance" (Volkoff, The Bushwhackers, and Tito Santana).
Zhukov left the WWF in February 1991.
Late career (1991–2001)Edit
In April 1991, Harrell began wrestling for the Universal Wrestling Association in Florida and New York. He made his final appearance in June 1991 at the Beach Brawl pay-per-view in Palmetto, Florida, defeating Paul Samson.
After leaving the UWA, Harrell wrestled sporadically over the following decade. He formally retired in 2001.
In 2007, Zhukov resurfaced as a heel in Virginia-based promotion American Championship Wrestling (ACW) and allied with local heel Eclipso. He was attacked and injured, leading to a face turn and a "Wrestle or Retire" match on September 8 for Eclipso's ACW Championship. Before the match, Zhukov told the crowd he was retiring, but a replacement had been chosen. Later that night, his old persona, Pvt. Jim Nelson (who had not been seen since an assault by Jack & Gerry Brisco in 1983) was revealed as that replacement. Now clean-shaven and dressed in army camouflage, he'd redone Sgt. Slaughter's boot camp and was promoted to Sgt. Jim Nelson in a pre-match ceremony. Nelson won the match and title after interference from both managers. Due to the controversy, the title was held up.
In July 2016, Zhukov was named part of a class action lawsuit filed against WWE which alleged that wrestlers incurred traumatic brain injuries during their tenure and that the company concealed the risks of injury. The suit was litigated by attorney Konstantine Kyros, who has been involved in a number of other lawsuits against WWE. The lawsuit was dismissed by US District Judge Vanessa Lynne Bryant in September 2018.
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
- American Wrestling Association
- Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Boris Zhukov". Cagematch.net. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
- Lentz III, Harris M. (2003). Biographical Dictionary of Professional Wrestling (2 ed.). McFarland & Company. p. 392. ISBN 978-0-7864-1754-4.
- Shoemaker, David (2013). The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling. Penguin Group. p. 292. ISBN 978-1-101-60974-3.
- "Jim Nelson Interview, Part II". Mid-Atlantic Gateway. Archived from the original on May 18, 2014. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
- "1982 Roanoke Article on Jim Nelson (Mid-Atlantic Gateway)". www.midatlanticwrestling.net. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
- Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Career - Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling". Cagematch.net. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
- Meltzer, Dave (1988). The Wrestling Observer's Who's who in Pro Wrestling. Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
- Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Career - Univeral Wrestling Association". Cagematch.net. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
- Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Career - World Class Wrestling Association". Cagematch.net. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
- Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Career - Continental Wrestling Federation". Cagematch.net. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
- Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Career - American Wrestling Association". Cagematch.net. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
- Duncan, Royal; Will, Gary (2006). "AWA Tag Team Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4 ed.). Archeus Communications. pp. 29–30. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Hornbaker, Tim (2018). Death of the Territories: Expansion, Betrayal and the War that Changed Pro Wrestling Forever. ECW Press. p. 324. ISBN 978-1-77305-232-8.
- Hogg, Kevin (2018). "Deepest, Darkest Africa (, Illinois): Cultural Appropriation in Professional Wrestling". In Horton, Aaron D. (ed.). Identity in Professional Wrestling: Essays on Nationality, Race and Gender. McFarland & Company. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-4766-6728-7.
- Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Career - World Wrestling Federation". Cagematch.net. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
- Keith, Scott (2012). Dungeon of Death: Chris Benoit and the Hart Family Curse. Kensington Books. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-8065-3562-3.
- Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Career - Super World Sports". Cagematch.net. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
- Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Career - Universal Wrestling Association". Cagematch.net. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
- Bourne, Dick (September 9, 2007). "The Return of Pvt. Jim Nelson". Mid-Atlantic Gateway. Archived from the original on December 18, 2011. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
- "WWE sued in wrestler class action lawsuit featuring Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka, Paul 'Mr Wonderful' Orndorff". FoxSports.com. Fox Entertainment Group (21st Century Fox). July 18, 2015. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
- Robinson, Byron (September 22, 2018). "Piledriver: WWE uses 'Hell in a Cell' as springboard to future shows". Montgomery Advertiser. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "NWA Canadian Television Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. p. 353. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. p. 115. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Awards « Boris Zhukov « Wrestlers Database « CAGEMATCH - The Internet Wrestling Database". www.cagematch.net. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "NWA Alabama Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. pp. 182–183. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.