Vladmir Kozlov is mainly remembered for his win over The Undertaker and his comedy tag team with Santino Marella, but he actually has a connection to Shawn Michaels.
Kozlov did wrestle Shawn Michaels three times over the years, losing to the Heart Break Kid on Raw in 2009, but the Ukrainian does hold a victory over one of the Michaels (well, Higgenbottom) family in the WWE.
The Moscow Mauler, as he was dubbed, debuted in the WWE on TV in 2008, after two years of dark matches and house show tours with the company.
He was brought up to the Smackdown roster in early 2008, following WrestleMania 24. He was hopeful in being a future star in the WWE, with the company pushing his hard during his early years.
He defeated The Undertaker in 2009 cleanly, and was even touted to end his legendary undefeated streak at WrestleMania at one point.
Vladmir Kozvlov’s WWE Debut
Vladmir Kozlov made his WWE debut on the April 1st, 2008 episode Friday Night Smackdown. He entered the ring to no music, with a spotlight following him as he matched toward his opponent.
This lack of music and darkened arena gave him an aura of danger, and the idea that he was a big deal in the making for the WWE.
Vladmir Kovlov’s debut opponent in the WWE was a local jobber called Matt Bentley. Bentley was not signed to WWE, but wrestled a handful of matches for the company between 2001 and 2003, on Heat and Velocity.
Bentley had more success in TNA, where he was a featured star in the early years of the promotion, and a former X Division Champion.
He was known as Michael Shane in TNA, a clear reference to his cousin – WWE legend Shawn Michaels.
He was the cousin of the Heart Break Kid, something which TNA leaned into greatly – even giving him the superkick as his finisher.
Well, his family connections did not help him against Vladmir Kozlov. The Ukrainian brawler dominated the fight, hitting him wiht some huge power moves along the way.
Vladmir Kozlov won his debut match in the WWE, pinning Michael Shane (Matt Bentley) after an Argentine Backbreaker Break to pick up the victory.
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.