James Kirk Harrell (born January 29, 1959) is an American retired professional wrestler, better known by his ring name, Boris Zhukov (sometimes spelled Boris Zukhov). He is best known for his appearances with the American Wrestling Association (AWA) and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).
|Birth name||James Kirk Harrell|
|Born||January 29, 1959|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Boris Zhukov|
Pvt. Jim Nelson
|Billed height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Billed weight||298 lb (135 kg)|
|Billed from||Soviet Union|
|Trained by||Steve Savage, Don Hogan|
Professional wrestling careerEdit
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. Together, they toured small towns in Virginia before moving to Atlanta, Georgia, a year later. 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.
After four years wrestling in different territories, Harrell started wrestling in 1982 as Pvt. Jim Nelson in Sgt. Slaughter's "Cobra Corps" in the NWA's Jim Crockett Promotions. He frequently teamed with Don Kernodle and he feuded with Porkchop Cash.World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) in Texas In 1983 he made a debut as Boris Zurkov a hired assassin by Skandor Akbar against Bruiser Brody. In 1984, he went to Alabama's Southeast Championship Wrestling (SCW) and continued his feud with Cash.
American Wrestling AssociationEdit
In 1985, Harrell debuted in the American Wrestling Association as "Boris Zukhov", billed from the Soviet Union. Zhukov adopted Chris Markoff as his manager and challenged AWA World Heavyweight Champion Rick Martel and AWA America's Champion Sgt. Slaughter. In 1987, he formed a tag team with Soldat Ustinov under Sheik Adnan El Kassey's management. The pair won the AWA World tag team title that same year. Zhukov, however, left the AWA for the WWF while he was still one half of the tag team champions (the storyline being that Wahoo McDaniel chased him out after a brutal chain match). As a result, former tag team title holder Doug Somers was brought in to team with Ustinov, losing the titles to the team of Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee.
World Wrestling FederationEdit
Upon entering the WWF, he formed a team with Nikolai Volkoff known as The Bolsheviks. They teamed for over a year, but never rose above mid-card status. By mid 1989, Zukhov was wrestling in singles competition, being used primarily as a jobber regularly losing in very short work with no announcement. He even feuded with his former tag team partner when Volkoff received a push as a face in 1990. Zhukov was often ridiculed by Vince McMahon and other WWF commentators for his large head.
Zhukov left the WWF in 1991.
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 Optimus Dressamus, 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
- Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Southeastern Championship Wrestling
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
- World Wrestling Federation
- "Success story of Pvt. Jim Nelson goes from shoulder pads at Northside High School to turnbuckles along the East Coast", by Randy King, Roanoke Times and World-News
- "Boris Zhukov Profile". Online World Of Wrestling. Retrieved 2008-09-21.
- "Jim Nelson Interview, Part II". Mid-Atlantic Gateway. Archived from the original on 2014-05-18. Retrieved 2016-07-15.
- Greg Oliver and Steve Johnson (2005). "The final Conflict". The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams. ECW Press. pp. 226–228. ISBN 978-1-55022-683-6.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "AWA Tag Team Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. pp. 29–30. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Solomon, Brian (2006). "Nikolai Volkoff". WWE Legends. Pocket Books. pp. 163–168. ISBN 0-7434-9033-9.
- Bourne, Dick (2007-09-09). "The Return of Pvt. Jim Nelson". Mid-Atlantic Gateway. Archived from the original on 2011-12-18. Retrieved 2016-07-15.
- "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 2018-05-01.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "NWA Alabama Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. pp. 182–183. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.