The Destroyer Story
While in Hawaii, Lord Blears taught the power legged Dick Beyer the “figure-four-leg-lock” which he used on his way to the World Wide Alliance (WWA) championship. During his career he offered any wrestler $1000 if they could break the “figure-4” once it was applied to them. He still has the money.
The Destroyer was an immediate box office sensation. His income tripled after the first three months. On July 27, 1962 he defeated Freddie Blassie for the WWA Worlds title. Over the next ten months, he defended his title against stars such as Lou Thesz , Ricki Starr, Ray “Thunder” Stern, Haystack Calhoun, Johnny “Rubberman” Walker, Curtis Iaukea, Cowboy Bob Ellis, former NWA champion Dick Hutton, Enrique Torres, Mr. Moto, Sandor Szabo, Don Leo Jonathan, Mil Mascaras and Pedro Morales. On November 7, The Destroyer defeated Gorgeous George in the epic match “the Mask vs. the Hair” at the Olympic. The match was repeated with a win over a bald Georgeous George on December 11, 1962, in Long Beach, California. The ticket demand for The Destroyer vs. former WWA champion, Ed Carpenter match was so great that a special Friday night card was used for the first time at the Olympic, beginning a tradition that would last until the Olympic closed in 1980.
In the early part of 1963 he wrestled three matches at the Olympic against Shohei “Giant” Baba that were all sellouts. These matches were legendary, creating big names for Giant Baba the The Destroyer in Japan. It was also the beginning of a respect and friendship between the two that lasted decades, until Baba died in January, 1999.
In May of 1963, The Destroyer made his first trip to Japan as the WWA worlds champion to wrestle Rikidozan, Japan’s reigning pro-wrestling champion. Seventy (70) million people watched that match on television. To this day, it is the 2nd highest rated TV show in Japanese history.
While in Hawaii, and prior to going into L.A., he promised Don Owens, the promoter in Oregon, that he would go into his territory. When Beyer received that call from Strongbow in L.A., he felt that moving there would be a stepping stone to bigger and better things. He subsequently called Owens to inform him of his decision to go to L.A., but Owens wasn’t happy. However, he released Beyer from his obligation, providing that he promised to go to Oregon when he finished in L.A. True to his promise, he went to Oregon from September of 1963 until June of 1964, where he wrestled the superstars such as Nick Bockwinkle, Danny Hodge, Mad Dog Vachon, Luther Lindsay, Lou Thesz and Tony Borne. On November 11, 1963, he came within a few seconds of beating Thesz for the NWA Title. The Destroyer has expressed that Don Owens was the best promoter that he had ever worked for. While in Oregon, he made his 2nd trip to Japan, challenging Rikidozan for the NWA International title on December 2, 1963. Following this tour, Rikidozan, the father of pro-wrestling in Japan, was stabbed in a night club in Japan and died a week later from complications.
In June of 1964, The Destroyer returned to L.A. and beat Dick “The Bruiser” for the WWA championship title. He lost it to Bob Illis in September, but won it back on November 13, in San Diego. He lost it the last time on March 12, 1965 to Pedro Morales.
From there The Destroyer went to Houston to work for Paul Boesch for one year and then came back home to Buffalo where he tried his hand at promoting with Billy “Red” Lyons, Fritz Von Erich and Ilio DiPaolo.
After an AWA title match against Vern Gagne in Chicago, Beyer was invited to go to the Minneapolis territory. The promoter there didn’t want him as The Destroyer, so Beyer entered the ring as Doctor X. Beyer wrestled as Doctor X from 1967 to 1970, then went around the world as The Destroyer with his wife and three children (10, 7 and 2) and then returned toMinneapolis from September, 1971 to December, 1972. At this time he made a deal with Giant Baba and NTV in Tokyo to wrestle in Japan for six straight years – a deal they didn’t refuse. During the six years he stayed in Japan, he helped Giant Baba establish All Japan Pro-Wrestling and established himself as a television personality. From 1973 to 1977, he was a star on Japan’s number one musical-comedy series called “Uwasa No Channel.” Upon his return to the United States in 1979, he worked between Toronto and Montreal. In Toronto he wrestled against Bob Backland, Andre The Giant, and Terry and Dory Funk. In Montreal, he wrestled against Tony Paresi, Nick Bockwinkle, Edward Carpenter, Mad Dog Vachon, The Super Star and many more.
In 1984 he went into semi-retirement when he took a job as an Elementary Physical Education teacher at Akron Central School in Akron, NY. He coached high school football and wrestling, but his greatest success was in coaching high school swimming. During his summer holidays, he returned to All Japan Pro Wrestling for the month of July for the summer action series. He retired from wrestling after 8500 matches in July of 1993, ending his career in a climactic match with his son Kurt, wrestling by his side in the Budokan in Tokyo, Japan. He retired from teaching in June, 1995, but still coaches high school swimming. Only he knows when he’ll retire from that …could there be a millennium match coming up?