Deep within ECW, there is a monster whose heart is so cold, many call him a robot. Dubbed the Soviet Cyborg, Vladimir Kozlov is growing on me. Not to say I never had any interest in the Russian before, as I've always kept an eye for him.
Kozlov had many obstacles in his way upon entering the WWE when he first debuted on SmackDown! In a company that had a handful of big men, Kozlov was no different and he faced the possibility of being just another generic powerhouse. Like all generic powerhouses, Kozlov received the powerhouse treatment.
First he was groomed by having squash matches and after he got a bit of a feel in his new habitat, he would receive an undefeated streak. When the streaks are ended, that seals the fate of the powerhouse and the inception of their decline begins.
It's not always the case, but it is most of the time and the last two powerhouses in the Great Khali and Umaga both went down the path after their streak was snapped.
Was the streak snapping inevitable?
Was the decline inevitable?
Maybe not, if Cena weren't the one to end their streak.
Unfortunately, Kozlov wasn't popular and he wasn't exciting in the ring. Things weren't really looking good for the Russian, but he still received wins and still plowed through his opponents.
Kozlov eventually gained a clean singles victory over the Undertaker. The end of the streak came around during the road to Wrestlemania, when JBL magically had an epiphany and decided his destiny was to return to Houston the as the conquering hero and end the Undertaker's streak at Wrestlemania 25.
HBK shared the same destiny apparently and Kozlov waited in the wings to face the winner of JBL/HBK, whch happened to be the heart break kid himself. Kozlov faced the showstopper and the streak was over after Sweet Chin Music.
He couldn't avoid the decline like Umaga and Khali and began losing like there was no tomorrow. Just like that Kozlov bright days were over, he was stiff in the ring and he couldn't get any kind of reaction.
When draft time rolled around Kozlov found himself in the land of extreme where it was assumed to be his career's final resting place.
ECW has been prominent for revitalizing careers and recently have Matt Hardy, Mark Henry, and John Morrison to show for it. The reset button was pushed and Kozlov once again had squash matches.
He also had promos where he was destroying punching bags and rolling on his neck (He really did that?) all topped off with some Russian mumbling in which I thought were great. Many still don't believe Kozlov is any good or can be any good at all, but I think he's made some progress.
I'm not sure who to credit with the new names for Kozlov and his character but Matt Striker has done a bang up job when it comes to putting him over and promoting him. Kozlov has arguably some of the best nicknames right now on the forms of the "Soviet cyborg", "Sambo master", and my favorite "Soviet/Russian warmachine".
He has better tights and a nice dojo like robe that fits him nicely. He's had some mic issues, but he did a pretty good job on the latest ECW when he commentated during the Shelton Benjamin/Christian match.
He barely spoke English but made it clear that he was superior to both Christian and Dreamer and could dismantle them on any given night.
Given the recent string of events on ECW, Kozlov might just insert himself into the title picture since he failed in defeating the No. 1 contender Christan, who was defeated by Shelton Benjamin, who is also looking to force his way into the title picture.
Unlike Benjamin, Kozlov appears more willing to take matters into his own hand and manifested his force by leaving both Christian and Dreamer on their backs at night's end.
Are we inching closer to "Global domination?"
I'm not sure on that but Kozlov bringing better competition to the land of extreme seems a bit more plausible now to opposed to a few months back.
His smile is stunning, isn't it? I'm not sure, but it's just hilarious when he smiles, it looks as if it's an automatic response from his brain as he doesn't know what to do or say at times.
The man who has an acumen for judo, kickboxing, and sambo is actually improving from my perspective.
As for the ECW title I'd rather see the gold standard with it, but Kozlov can at least contend if he can be interesting in some way like he his now.
It's always good to strike while the iron is hot and while it may not be steaming, it's at least a little hot, so I'm curious to see where Kozlov goes from here.
The title picture seems to be blurred after Night of Champions, and many are pulling for a fatal four way, I wonder who'll get to duke it out for the strap at Summerslam since WWE now wants the PPV to be second to Wrestlemania.
I've never been anticipating seeing the guy, but there's a first time for everything. If he keeps moving in the right direction, the Iron Curtain may indeed descend in the land of extreme.