The Destroyer® Story

Dick Beyer, the son of Buffalo, NY minor league baseball pitcher, was
extremely active as a child. He was in the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts (he was awarded the Eagle Scout merit), and participated in high school sports, where he won a football scholarship to Syracuse University (S.U.). At S.U. he was co-captain of the1952 Eastern Championship team that played in the 1953 Orange Bowl game. After earning a Masters Degree in Education from S.U., he was recruited into pro-wrestling by Buffalo promoter, Ed Don George. George sent Beyer to Columbus, Ohio where promoter, Al Haft, who had one of the biggest territories in the country, agreed to train the young college amateur champion. There he trained under great wrestlers like Dick Hutton, Big Bill Miller, Ray Stevens and had his first match against Eddie Albers on Oct. 15, 1954. After a year in wrestling, Wrestling Life Magazine in Chicago named Beyer “Rookie of the Year.” After his rookie year, Beyer spent his “real name” career wrestling in and around Syracuse and Buffalo because he had an eight-year military obligation in the U.S. Army reserve, and he had spent nine years as an assistant football coach at S.U. from 1953 to 1961. He was on the staff when the Syracuse Orangemen won the National Championship in 1959. He did well in the Tennessee territory in 1958, where he had big matches against Freddie Blassie and Gorgeous George. 

From 1959 through 1961, he had success in the Buffalo territory against the likes of Fritz Von Erich,Billy “Red” Lyons, Miller Brothers, Gallagher Brothers, Tolos Brothers and Ilio DiPaolo. When he went to Hawaii in 1962 as Dick Beyer, and gained recognition with his W.W.A. title match against champion Freddie Blassie, he got the attention of promoters on the West Coast and in Japan. In Hawaii, he turned “heel” and got the attention of Jules Strongbow, the promoter in Los Angeles. 

In April, 1962, he received a phone call from Strongbow to wrestle in Los Angeles, and he went there soon after, with the idea of being a “heel” as Dick Beyer. Much to his dismay, he found out that he was going to wrestle under the “mask” as The Destroyer. Strongbow convinced Dick, “try it for four weeks, and if you don’t like it take it off.” The mask was made from a woman’s girdle, which fit over his head like a tube sock. The distortion of his features made him look fierce and actually helped his facial expressions. The Japanese called him the “white devil.” Of course with a mask that stretches as much, every wrestler did what he could to take it off. As The Destroyer, he promised to take the mask off only if he lost two pin falls or submission in a two-out-of-three fall match. We who were there, are still waiting. 

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?

Note from Dick Beyer, a.k.a. The Destroyer and Doctor "X": “I had a great career and if I had a chance, I would do it all over again. Along the way, I’ve had some great tag team partners – Don Manoukian in L.A., Art “Boom-Boom” Michalik in Oregon, Double X in Minneapolis and my boss, Giant Baba, in Japan. If I could, I would ultimately like to thank Ed Don George, for giving me a chance."