Dick Beyer
Dick 'The Destroyer' Beyer in 1973
Birth nameRichard John Beyer
Born(1930-07-11)July 11, 1930[1]
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
DiedMarch 7, 2019(2019-03-07) (aged 88)
Akron, New York, U.S.
Alma materSyracuse University
Children4; Including Kurt
FamilyBilly Red Lyons (brother-in-law)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Dick Beyer
The Destroyer
Dr. X
Billed height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Billed weight265 lb (120 kg)
DebutDecember 29, 1954
RetiredJuly 29, 1993

Richard John Beyer (July 11, 1930 – March 7, 2019) was an American professional wrestler is best known by his ring names, The Destroyer and Doctor X. Among other places, he worked extensively in Japan and in 2017 he was awarded one of the country's highest honors, the Order of the Rising Sun.

Early life

As an athlete at Syracuse University, Beyer was a member of the varsity football and wrestling teams. He played in the 1953 Orange Bowl for Syracuse.[2][3] He graduated with a master's degree in education and was a member of the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta's Syracuse Chapter, as well as an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.[4][5] He was a schoolteacher and swim coach in New York until he began his wrestling career. Beyer worked the first seven years of his mat career near his Western New York home, due in large part to his coaching job and commitment to the U.S. Army Reserve.[2][4] Beyer also served as an assistant to Ben Schwartzwalder.[4][5]

Professional wrestling career

Worldwide Wrestling Associates (1954-1965)

Beyer began as a babyface wrestler in the mid-1950s,[3] and he was voted 1955 Rookie of the Year by the Wrestling Life magazine.[4] His career as masked wrestler The Destroyer began in 1962 in Los Angeles. Beyer traveled to California after Freddie Blassie praised Beyer’s heel skills to local promoter Jules Strongbow, who informed him he would wrestle as the masked Destroyer.[2][6] Beyer's original mask was hard to see through and itchy,[4] but Ox Baker lent him a mask made from a woman’s girdle, which served well for Beyer.[5][6] He boasted about his East Coast academic background to help develop his heel character. He used the figure four leg lock (which became his signature finisher)[6] on his way to the Worldwide Wrestling Associates (WWA) championship on July 27, 1962 in a win over Freddie Blassie, who convinced him that the mask gimmick would give him a large push.[4] He defended the championship for ten months.[3]

In early 1963, Beyer wrestled three sold-out matches against Giant Baba at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles.[3][6] In May 1963, he traveled to Japan for the first time in his career, to wrestle Rikidōzan in a match watched by over 70 million TV viewers, being Japan's highest rated show at the time.[2][6][7] Beyer was also the last person to hold a victory over Rikidōzan before his death.[7][3] In June 1964, he returned to Los Angeles and beat Dick the Bruiser for another WWA championship run, losing it to Bob Ellis in September, regaining it in November, and finally dropping it in March 1965 to Pedro Morales.[3][4]

American Wrestling Association (1966–1972)

Beyer in 1969 as Dr. X

Between 1966 and 1972, Beyer wrestled as Doctor X while in Minneapolis.[4] He had matches with many of the top names in the business including his real brother-in-law Billy Red Lyons, who handed him his first American Wrestling Association (AWA) defeat on Minneapolis television, with a figure-four leglock.[3][4] In August 1970, he took a chance at revenge against his former partner Blackjack Lanza. He stood in the center of the ring with announcer Marty O'Neill, who told the fans that Doctor X was a former coach from Syracuse University. Doctor X then removed his mask, handed it to promoter Eddie Williams, and wrestled the match as Dick Beyer. In other AWA cities, Beyer was unmasked by Lanza or Paul Diamond. In these matches, his name was said to be Bruce Marshall. He wanted to lose the mask because he and his family were set to go to Japan, where he would be The Destroyer again. During 1972, he had several battles with "Crippler" Ray Stevens. Their last match saw him written out of the AWA with a purported broken leg.

All Japan Pro Wrestling (1972–1983)

From 1973 to 1979, Beyer wrestled in Japan on a deal with Giant Baba and NTV of Tokyo.[2] He feuded with Mil Máscaras in a series of seven matches, stating on his style, "He was the best competitor that I ever wrestled. He never gave you anything – it's true – but I didn't give him anything either. You talk about a shoot or a half-shoot, and that's the kind of match that it was."[8] He also helped promote All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) for Baba and established himself as a gaijin tarento in a late-night TV show called Uwasa No Channel.[7] His appearance on the musical-comedy show only furthered the Destroyer’s popularity in Japan, which led to him recording a Christmas album for his fans.[2] He held the PWF United States Championship until 1979, when he left AJPW and the championship was abandoned. Beyer was also the first American wrestler signed to a Japanese promotion.[3] His retirement match took place on July 29, 1993, where, he, his son Kurt Beyer, and Giant Baba defeated Haruka Eigen, Masanobu Fuchi, and Masao Inoue.[7][4]

Later life and death

Beyer in June 2010.
Beyer (left) with Mil Máscaras and Nighthawk.

Beyer went into semi-retirement in Akron, New York, in 1984. Until 1995, he taught physical education in the Akron Central School District, and coached football, wrestling and swimming.[2][9] He served on the board of directors of the Cauliflower Alley Club, which holds annual reunions in Las Vegas. He was a member of Toastmasters International, a public speaking club, and carried the club designation of Certified Toastmaster. He inducted Gorgeous George into the WWE Hall of Fame on March 27, 2010.[3]

On August 27, 2011, Beyer, along with his son, returned to Japan to take part in All Together, a charity event copromoted by AJPW, New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Noah. Appearing under his Destroyer mask, he hosted the Destroyer Cup and presented a trophy to its winner, Kentaro Shiga.[10] In 2013, he opened Destroyer Park Golf in Akron, the first park golf course in the United States.[9]

On November 4, 2017, the Japanese government awarded Beyer the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, for "a lifetime spent promoting goodwill and bi-cultural exchanges between Japan and the United States".[11]

Beyer died in his bed at his home in Akron on March 7, 2019, at the age of 88, surrounded by his wife and all of his children.[4] He had been suffering from health issues and spent time in hospice care.[2]

Championships and accomplishments

References

  1. ^ "Observer Radio, Interview with Dick Beyer, June 2, 2010". Archived from the original on June 6, 2010. Retrieved June 3, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Johnson, Steven (March 7, 2019). "The Destroyer Dick Beyer dies". SLAM! Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved January 18, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Dick Beyer bio". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved January 18, 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Mooneyham, Mike (March 16, 2019). "Dick 'The Destroyer' Beyer: A lifetime of masks and memories". The Post and Courier. Evening Post Industries. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c Mooneyham, Mike (January 7, 2012). "Destroyer unmasks secrets of success". The Post and Courier. Evening Post Industries. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e "The Destroyer: A heel gets respect in Japan". Tokyo Reporter. February 11, 2018. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d "The Destroyer: World's greatest masked man". Tokyo Reporter. February 13, 2018. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  8. ^ Oliver, Greg (June 11, 2006). "Race & Hennig go over at Cauliflower Alley Club banquet". SLAM! Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Klavon, Ken (February 11, 2020). "Japan's Park Golf finds first home in America". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved January 18, 2023.
  10. ^ "東日本大震災復興支援チャリティープロレス All Together". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved 2013-09-10.
  11. ^ "Ex-pro wrestling star The Destroyer receives the Order of the Rising Sun". Tokyo Reporter. February 4, 2018. Retrieved January 18, 2023.
  12. ^ "Misc. All Japan Events". Pro Wrestling History. Retrieved January 18, 2023.
  13. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "AJPW New Year Giant Series 1975". Cagematch. Retrieved January 18, 2023.
  14. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Champion Carnival 1977". Cagematch. Retrieved January 18, 2023.
  15. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Champion Carnival 1979". Cagematch. Retrieved January 18, 2023.
  16. ^ Duncan, Royal; Will, Gary (2000). "Texas: NWA World Tag Team Title [Siegel, Boesch and McLemore]". Wrestling title histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Pennsylvania: Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  17. ^ "National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Title [E. Texas]". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  18. ^ ""The Destroyer" Receives the 2016 Stanley Weston Award | Cauliflower Alley Club". Archived from the original on 2017-02-07. Retrieved 2017-01-26.
  19. ^ 東京スポーツ プロレス大賞. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). Retrieved 2014-01-20.