Russian’s in wrestling have always been a common thing. For decades, the red scare has brought the worst out of the WWE, using any Russian-sounding foe as a stand in for their country and pushed them as big heels in the company.
Vladimir Kozlov was no different, although he was actually Russian, unlike the likes of Nikolai Volkoff and Rusev. Sadly, he was also much worse than them, showing very little ability inside the squared circle.
His career in the WWE was short, but he had some success. The highlight being his tag team with Santino Marella, where he won the WWE Tag Team titles and had a hilarious segment with Sheamus on Raw.
However, one thing you may not remember is when Vladimir Kozlov beat The Undertaker in a huge main event – and beat him clean.
Vladimir Kozlov Beat The Undertaker
Most people probably will not remember Vladimir Kovloz’s biggest win. Whilst he battled Triple H for the WWE Championship, he did not have a host of big matches.
Whilst he had a great gimmick and a unique entrance (he entered to no music, with a single spotlight following him), he was not a great in-ring worker, never really excelling as a wrestler.
However, that was not going to stop Vince McMahon. The Chairman of the WWE once booked Vladimir Kozlov vs The Undertaker on Smackdown, having the Russian pick up the victory with a clean pin fall over the Deadman.
It was a 12 minute main event of the February 17th, 2009 episode of Smackdown. While Kozlov beat the WWE Hall of Famer a year prior, that was due to DQ and was not a big feather in his cap.
Not like this though. Vladimir Kozlov pinned The Undertaker clean on Smackdown. He reversed one of The Undertaker’s finishers impressively to win the bout.
As The Phenom walked across the top rope, ready to hit his Old School move, Kozlov grabbed him from the rope and hit him with a Powerslam. This was enough to keep him down, and Kozlov pinned The Undertaker for the three count, and the biggest win of his career.
However, this win would not do much for the Russian. He followed it up with losses to Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker and Triple H, before being drafted to ECW. He simply did not have the talent to be a main event level talent on the level of the three men mentioned.
Vince almost didn’t see it through, nearly having Vladimir Kozlov end The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak.
Vladimir Kozlov Almost Broke The Streak
We all remember Brock Lesnar breaking The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania 30. It was a huge moment that has gone down in history as the most shocking loss in WWE.
However, that loss almost came 6 years earlier, and to a much, much inferior opponent.
In the build up to WrestleMania 24 in 2008, The Undertaker was set to face Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship. The Rated-R Superstar was offered the chance to bear The Deadman and end the streak, but refused out of respect.
He was not the only one considered for the role, though. As revealed by The Undertaker himself, Vince McMahon at one point considered Vladimir Kozlov to end the streak, in potentially the main event of WrestleMania.
Speaking with Ariel Helwani, The Undertaker said;
“By the time that we got to WrestleMania, it was pretty much known what was going to go down, but yeah, there were a few people, I guess, that he [WWE Chairman Vince McMahon] wanted to break the streak.
“[Vladimir]Kozlov. He wanted Kozlov. It was early on [in Vladimir Kozlov’s career]. I think he wanted Edge. Edge refused.”
Thankfully, plans change and got nowhere near breaking the streak. He joins a list of unlikely wrestlers who could have broken the streak, including Ryback, Mark Henry and Wade Barrett.
His Last WWE Match Was Against JTG In NXT
Vladimir Kozlov’s last WWE match was against JTG on an episode of NXT. However, this was the game show version, and not the developmental territory that gained fame for its incredible matches.
This was season 5 of NXT, and bot Kozlov and JTG were the “pros” in the show. Kozlov was looking after Connor O’Brien (later Konnor in the Ascension) whilst JTG’s rookie was Darren Young (later in the Prime Time Players) and Jacob Novak.
Their match was to further the storylines in the show, and was nothing special. The Russian brute hilariously dressed like JTG, wearing his signature jeans with one leg rolled up-look.
He won the match after a power slam and a choke slam, pinning JTG for the win. Vladimir Kozlov was released by the WWE in August 2011, and as of the time of writing has yet to make another appearance for the company.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.