8 Questions with……………….actor/writer/manager Nikita Breznikov

Its 2:09 am

Welcome to “8 Questions with…….”

Imagine being a fan of a sport,band,soccer team for years and suddenly and quite unexpectedly you find yourself in the middle of the action,well if you are Nikita Breznikov,that is what happens when you go from a huge fan to becoming the manager of one of the grestest “heel” (bad guys) pro wrestlers in Nikolai Volkoff. So how does a 27 year police veteran go from busting crime to becoming a pro wrestling manager and later on,a solid character and still find time to write a very well received book about the history of pro wrestling in the years before it seemingly exploded into the public’s eye in the early 1980s?
As a lifelong fan of wrestling,to be able to chat with Nikita and listen to some of his own stories as well as many others was a sheer treat. I found myself looking at his Facebook page and reading all the old programs,seeing so many names that I found watching growing up.  Nikita’s passion for the history of the sport matches any fans of the so-called legitimate sports and the love comes out in his answers here and also his writing.
I really am excited to share this interview with you all….so let’s go ask Nikita Breznikov his 8 Questions……

 

 

 

 Please introduce yourself and tell about the current project you are working on.

I have been Nikita Breznikov since 1995 and upon entering the world of pro wrestling by managing the great legend, Nikolai Volkoff, we morphed into the world of acting. I was told by someone that doing wrestling documentaries was actually acting credits. That didn’t interest me as I was still protective of the business and did not want to expand beyond it.

Then one day we were offered a role in a movie called “Terror In The Pharaoh’s Tomb”. It caught my attention because the movie believe it or not had Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Lionell Atwill, Peter Lorre, Barbara Stanwyick and many other stars of past time. The producers were able to obtain permission to use footage of these actors and since the film was shot in black and white, the editing was in sync.

What also caught my attention was the fact that my character was Captain Siodmak. Now being a fan of Universal Monsters for all my life, I recognized that name as the man that penned The Wolfman, Curt Siodmak. One of the producers was surprised to learn that I did recognize that name and in fact the connection actually was a reference, as a tribute to the greater, more famous Siodmak.

From there I did a local cable show in Baltimore called “Top Of The Morning”. I first was a guest on the show, then when the director/producer Loretto Gubernatis, saw that I had the gift of gab, she invited me to be a co-host for one season. I learned a lot from her in the time that we spent together and I am grateful.

From there I worked with Darren Aronofsky on “The Wrestler” which we will address down the list of questions I see.

I also am a retired detective sergeant with 27 years experience with the Baltimore Police Department. That is a story in itself along with finding pro wrestling in the middle of it. At a point in that career I became the domestic violence coordinator and worked with many DV, sexual assault victims. I stay active in those fights working with multiple groups and sources to combat these attacks on women.I am now a published author, with my book “When It Was Real” about the WWWF in the 70’s and how it influenced, we, the fans lives. Actually there is a huge story in all of this.

I am also a prostate cancer survivor and passionately speak about preventing it via early BLOOD testing. Early detection helped not only save my life, but gave me a better quality of life. It’s easy, just a tube of blood, men don’t worry about the standard test, that’s a problem anyway if the prostate feels enlarged. Go for the blood test. Prostate problems are a varied degree, so proceed accordingly, but DO proceed. Ignorance won’t solve anything!

NB1

When did you become a fan of pro wrestling? Did you play a lot of sports growing?

I became a fan of pro wrestling in 1970, I was 9 years old. The kids at school were talking about it all the time, so I decided to see what it was all about and BANG! I was hooked from the start. Professor Tanaka was tearing up a jobber on TV. It was just as wild as anything that I had ever seen in my life. But the live shows, man the color, the excitement, that’s where the magic truly appeared, when you saw the TV stars so close that you could actually touch them. I did play lots of sports growing up, Baseball/softball, sometimes the softball was the only game in town. Whiffle ball in the streets when we couldn’t get to the park. I was a city boy so we played in the streets a lot. Rubber balls bounced off a brick wall and fielding them for hours was a ritual. Then we played a game called curb ball. You would bounce the rubber ball off a hard surface and try to get it over or past the opponent. 

My best friend and I actually had a walk on major league try out. Man I crawled away, those guys were damn good. We also played a lot of football, both in the park and just throwing the football back and forth. We would play touch a lot in the street. My best friend had a great arm and I was super fast, so we were a natural pairing. But we were always active, boxing, wrestling, just always in some sort of motion. Something I fee that the thumb generation lacks. (The video gamers) We interacted with people. In the summertime, we would be outside until dark, who the hell wanted to be inside. TV was all reruns in the summer, so outside was the place to be.

NB7
What was your favorite wrestling promotion? Who was your favorite wrestler to watch?

    My favorite, my only promotion available in the 70’s was the WWWF. I’m glad of it. We were entertained by, in my opinion the greatest talent in the world. Bruno as champ for most of that time, then passing the torch to Pedro, Superstar and Backlund. We were lucky.

My favorite wrestler was the colorful, exciting, just down right wild wrestler was the one and only Chief Jay Strongbow. I was fortunate to become good friends with Chief through the years. It was like a dream come true to get to know your childhood idol. Of course the parade of heroes and villains was an endless list of friendships as I became part of the business. It is a surreal experience.

But Chief as a favorite was not just someone that I favored, but many other fans were entertained by him as well. People who look back at his matches don’t get it. But if you lived it, you can’t imagine anybody not being swept up in the emotion of a Chief Jay Strongbow match of the 70’s.

NB8

How did you meet Nikolai Volkoff and form your friendship with him?

I met Nikolai by accident, on purpose. I was/am a tape (vhs at that time) collector of WWF matches 70-83. I was a sergeant in the patrol division of the Baltimore Police. I saw a poster in a 7-11 advertising a local show for a boys club.

Nikolai was featured on the card, so I decided to drop by and see if I could talk with him. Now I wasn’t a huge Nikolai fan, I favored the faces, but always respected and enjoyed his work. So I wasn’t interested in just a meeting per say. We did hit it off immediately and when I asked Nikolai about having any matches on tape, he said no but that he would love to have some.

I told him I could do that for him. He offered to pay but I told him it was me paying him for all the years of entertainment in the squared circle. From there we became friends, very close friends, like brothers.

My persistence at him to get in the biz finally yielded results with a cautious Nikolai agreeing to take me on as a manager. Later, years after I learned from him and many legends, that we would become a tag team from time to time.

nb13
Can you walk us through a typical day for a wrestler the day of a match?

  Let’s proceed by driving, not flight connected. First you want to map out your route, gps may or may not be correct. You can’t risk mistakes. Get your gear, if you are lucky enough to have a travel partner, as I was, drive, drive and drive some more.

Get to the venue as early as possible. Heck I’m with the promoter or booker. Let that person know you are there and healthy. Those are both paramount to the show. Prior to the show, set up a table, sell some photos and do autographs, meet the fans.

Before the show starts, find who you are working with and go over the match. The promoter will have his finish, you work around that. Hang out in the locker room with the boys, then be ready by being in deck. Do your match, get paid and head back home.

nb9

What do you personally think of today’s wrestling and is there anything you would different to make for an improved show?

 I do not watch today’s wrestling. How can I when I have my own vault of the classics. It’s like going from Opera to rap music. Music it still is, but a vast difference.

I can’t see wrestling, as my book describes “When It Was Real” could ever be viewed in that light anymore. Too many wagging tongues spoil everything, gotta be the first big mouth to tell. So how can you enjoy it other then…. just a performance? In the 70’s and early 80’s it was life and death to us fans. It ran that deep.

You can’t bring that back. Another comparison, like an aging beauty queen. It’s still her, but that which is gone can never be brought back.

NB5

How did jobbers approach their roles? Was there any resentment in being asked to lose on a nightly basis? (I always wanted to ask that!!)

      As far as anybody not being happy with the promoters outcome of a match, sure you get egos from time to time. But by and large the workers know what the rules are and how things work. If you got enough sense to cross the street by yourself, you won’t cross the promoter. Suggestions can be welcomed, but prima donnas aren’t. You better be one big name to refuse to put somebody over or the angle will be a total “Business Killer”.

nb10

You wrote a great book full of fantastic stories called “When It Was Real”? How was the book recieved in the locker room? Were you seen as a pro wrestling version of baseball player Jim Bouton?

    No Jim Bouton, my book focuses on what me as a kid, as a fan saw and how those matches effected us. And they did effect us, because, as the title says, “When It Was Real”. Because to us, it was real. I use the term “true fiction”. Some things are…..altered, some are brutally real. But each match on every card and that what we saw on TV was important to us, the fans. It meant something, if you hurt Bruno, Chief etc. you were hurting family Bastard, and you had hell to pay.

My book does not in any way compare, knock or disperse the Hogan era and what came after, but it was the changing of the guard. The old format died. Enjoy it, that’s what it’s all about. I just prefer pre Hogan era wrestling,

The book does not tell all, it tells nothing behind the dressing room doors, not as a revelation. There are some humorous stories, travel stories with Nikolai of course. But NOT anything to disrespect anyone or be controversial. I do go into the explanation of some angles, how they developed. But it’s focus, mission statement if you will, is a look into the squared circle from the eyes of a fan. Then a look through the eyes of someone who got through the door. 

nb11

What led you into becoming an actor? Was this something you wanted to do or did someone talk you into it?

    Wrestling begat acting. I had done a few documentaries. Actually the very first thing that I did in front of a camera was “Wrestling Then and Now”. I was only out of the hospital 10 days from prostate cancer surgery, I am a survivor. when the crew showed up at the door and we shot my and Nikolai’s segment. I still had a colposcopy bag attached to my leg as we shit it. Then a few months later I was shooting another documentary, had some surgery complications, so here I go again, colposcopy bag time again. But… the show must go on. There’s a funny story in there, but that is for another time. Someone told me “those are acting credits”. I didn’t care, I was only concerned with wrestling. Then back in 2005 Nikolai and I were approached to be in a horror movie called “Terror In The Pharaohs Tomb”. My character was Captain Siodmak, based on the man who penned The Wolfman. So bring a Universal Monster fan, I jumped at it. Look it up, it’s unusual and a fun piece. Shot in B&W so as to edit in the acquired footage of Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi and a cast of greats.

Then Evan Ginzburg approached Nikolai and I about meeting with Darren Aronofsky In NY to help him with a project called “The Wrestler”. We met with Evan, Aronofsky and another producer, Scott Franklin. Johnny Valiant joined us and we laid out what this world of wrestling was all about. More below in question 12.

I then started to do some other roles. I moved at that time to the west coast, but was still traveling back east and actually was a co-host for one season for a Baltimore cable show called “Top Of The Morning”. That was directed and produced by a dear friend,Loretto,yes with an O, Gubernatis. She and her husband,God rest his soul, Lou, helped to mold me and showed me so much about what went on behind the camera.

I am a natural, coming from pro wrestling and a good talker, I just needed to be refined, technique, etc.

Then my next quantum leap in acting was meeting Livia Zheng, pronounced (Chung). We became friends after meeting at a directors class at the University of Washington.

From there the movie called “Brush With Danger” came to be. The movie, my greatest role, as Nick Thompson, was a huge success. From there we continue to work together and hopefully will be doing more projects in the future.

NB4

What do you enjoy about acting and has anyone recognized you from your days in wrestling?

In acting, you become someone else, the character. You get to put on someone else’s shoes and walk in them. If you do it right, the acting, you absorb the person and portray that in your performance. Yes people do recognize me because it’s my pro wrestling background that gets me into roles. I never, ever did traditional theatre. Not that I was opposed to it, but my background, training ground was pro wrestling.

In my humble opinion, and I had an argument with an LA theatre guru about this, but pro wrestling IS live theatre. It may not involve Shakespeare, but we certainly play out our own version.

NB6

What has been your most challenging part so far? Has there been any roles that you struggled with? Which part has been your favorite to play?

  My favorite role of course was as detective Nick Thompson, in “Brush With Danger”. I put some of me into it, as learned by studying the Russian great Stanislavsky.

All roles are challenging because of all the reading/memorization that is involved. I not only need to know my lines, but also the person that is in the scene with me. I gotta know not only what to say, but when to say it and make it flow naturally. It’s not hard acting, kids do it, they are the best actors when they are pretending.

It’s the additional technical aspects, the mechanics of it that is the challenge. Like hitting your marks without looking at the actual spot. Having to get from a table and run and be aware of the light or mic just inches from your head.

nb14

You appeared in “The Wrestler”,how much did they right about the wrestling world at that stage?

  “The Wrestler” was a good portrayal of life after the limelight. I hope that it served as a warning to people in many aspects of sports/entertainment, that the future will be here before you know. One day you turn around and it’s like, shit, that was fast, now what?

There is a favorite line of mine in the movie “Saturday Night Fever”. Travolta’s character wants an advance from his boss who declines for the boys own good. The response was “fuck the future”. The reply: “no the future fucks you if you haven’t prepared for it”. Nuff said.

nb12
A lot of wrestlers have met tragic demises after they left the square circle,in your opinion,why does that happen?

    I appeared in a documentary called “Legends Never Die”…..seems like a hundred years ago. That movie was showing how many deaths there were in pro wrestling, probably the highest death rate in any other sport. Why? Drugs, abuse, who knows. You gotta walk in those shoes. Pain, and it is prevalent in wrestling, can break you. This is your chosen way of eating, paying the rent, you don’t work, you don’t get paid. So you gotta find a way to get one foot in front of the other and keep it going.

Sometimes we over medicate and the results can be disastrous. It’s not the desired result, but things can go wrong quick. Then it’s too late.

nb15

Who is the best performer today in your opinion?

That’s short and easy, The Rock, you can’t get better then the BEST!

 

 

The cheetah and I are flying over to watch you film your new film……but we are a day early and now you are playing tour guide,what are we doing?

 Well grab that Cheetah and tell him we are going to the beach. It’s bath time. Then we can take a tour of the Boeing plant and the Space Flight Museum. We can view and drive through the breath taking mountains. Then we can grab some fresh crab and eat til we fall asleep to beautiful northwest air.

 

I like to thank Nikita for sharing his fantastic stories,as I told him,I could have easily asked him 40 more questions without breaking a sweat. But we will have to save those stories for the next round.  And yes,there will be another interview with Nikita coming soon. I like to thank Steve Joiner for setting up this interview as well!!

Nikita has various ways in which you can keep up with him and his career. We recommend following Nikita on his various SM platforms:

Nikita’s IMDb page

For Nikita excellent book on wrestling,please go here.

You can follow Nikita on his Twitter page.

If you wish to surprise a wrestling fan,you can get a personal 
message sent by Nikita vis his Cameo page.

Thank you all for your continued support and readership. I am very grateful and am really grateful.
    If you are a wrestling fan…..feel free to drop a comment on who you love to watch,both past and present. 

3 thoughts on “8 Questions with……………….actor/writer/manager Nikita Breznikov

  1. Nice interview.
    What I like is his book is not a tell-all to make money.It’s how the fans of the time looked in the square ring. I also agree with his assessment of the Rock as a performer.

    Liked by 1 person

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