The mid-80’s were a haven for Russian gimmicks, most notably Nikolai Volkoff and Nikita & Ivan Koloff. The Cold War was still simmering, and these guys ran through promotions, leaving “our boys” in hospitals. While Volkoff tore through Mid-South before capturing the WWF Tag title (with the Iron Sheik), Nikita and Uncle Ivan were making life hell for guys like Magnum TA. Even U.S.-born wrestlers like Barry Darsow and Bam Bam Bigelow were turning to Communism to further their careers (as Krusher Kruschev and Krusher Yurkoff, respectively). These guys were so dominant that they gave the impression that all wrestlers “from” the USSR were monsters.
Well, all but one.
Korstia Korchenko (sometimes billed as Korskia Korchenko and Kostia Korchenko) will probably go down as not only one of the worst “Russians” ever, but possibly one of the worst WRESTLERS ever. Out of shape and having zero talent in the ring, Korchenko made Nathan Jones look like Chris Benoit at times. Originally born David Straun, he would work various gimmicks throughout his career (including Mike Diamond, Mr. X, and Skull Murphy…not to be confused with ANY of the other, more notable guys using those names). However, throughout several territories, including Memphis, Southeastern and St. Louis, he used the Russian gimmick. However, his most remembered stint was in Mid-South, where he partook in one of the most famous angles ever there.
Managed at the time by “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert, Korchenko aligned himself with Ivan and Nikita Koloff during their feud with Mid-South owner Bill Watts. The most memorable part of the feud occurred when the Russians rushed the ring from the crowd and blindsided Watts, draping a Russian flag over his beaten body. And justly so, most people don’t remember Korstia being part of the beatdown.
By the time he had entered Mid-South, Korchenko was a mess to look at. Fat, and having massive thighs resembling cottage cheese, Korstia wore a red t-shirt under his gear to try to hide his stomach (keep in mind this was years before every indy guy wore a t-shirt as part of his outfit). It really didn’t help much. On top of that, he had furry boots. Okay, granted, from the neck up, he looked kinda cool, with the bald head and weird mustache, but from the neck down he was like your Uncle Charly dressed up for Halloween.
To give you an idea of how bad Korchenko was, in Mid-South, he was in the same stable as Jim “Ultimate Warrior” Hellwig and he was STILL the worst wrestler on the roster!
Korchenko didn’t last too long in Mid-South either, thanks to his big mouth. During a show, he confronted Watts about wanting a pay raise. Watts, being the gentle humanitarian that he is, decided to give the Russian an answer during their match later that night. Bill ended up shooting on Korchenko in the match, and without finishing as planned, a scared Korstia just rolled out of the ring, walked out of the arena, got in his car (without even getting his stuff out of the lockerroom!) and drove off, leaving Mid-South behind for good.
Korstia Korchenko never managed to gain notoriety anywhere else after this. Shortly thereafter, the Iron Curtain fell, and the Cold War was over. Nikita and Volkoff both converted to good ol’ capitalism, and the era of the Russian Monster was gone. Where Korchenko is now, I have no idea, but I’m sure those furry boots of his are keeping him warm.