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Dick Beyer, who left an incredible legacy as The Intelligent, Sensational Destroyer, as former AWA World champion Doctor X, and a coach, passed away March 7th. He was 88.
"The Destroyer?" Fred Blassie asked during a 2003 interview with Jeff Walton of the Los Angeles territorial office. "Greatest masked man there ever was. He was very scientific, knew all the ins and outs. He had an answer for everything. The Destroyer would have to go down as one of the top 10 wrestlers of all-time."
Beyer was a talent, no doubt, as Wrestling Life picked him as its 1955 Rookie of the Year. But as Beyer recounted years later, at 5-foot-10 and 210 pounds there was a glass ceiling on a hero of his size. "When you're a good guy, you have to win. But when you're a villain ... I changed to being a villain as The Destroyer and I had people come to watch me just to see me get the hell get kicked out of me."
Oddly, it was Blassie who got Beyer to Los Angeles in 1962. The two wrestled in Hawaii, and Blassie excitedly returned to the Los Angeles office proclaiming Beyer the best babyface in the country. In the meantime, Beyer planted the seeds of his bad guy image by shaving his head and adopting the sarcastic personality of the Intelligent, Sensational Dick Beyer.
As The Destroyer Beyer had three turns with the Worldwide Wrestling Associates belt from 1962 to 1965. In a nod toward not wanting to rip the mask off The Destroyer, Beyer appeared in the American Wrestling Association regularly from 1967 to 1972 as "Dr. X".
Beyer won his first match in the territory against the seemingly invincible Crusher, and had many more battles with him the next three years. Headlining cards in virtually every city the AWA promoted in, he briefly held the AWA crown, but considered the piece of synthetic fabric to be his real title.
"The mask was the reason for his success," said Harley Race, a star in the AWA at the time. A great, athletic wrestler with a growling voice, the mask hid Beyer's looks while letting him turn up the volume on his personality and showcasing skills unusual for a villain.
Tag team partner Don Manoukian liked how Beyer treated both his profession and the mask with respect, instead of as some sort of gimmick. "He respected the business, and he'd wear that mask until he was in his bathroom at home. He was serious about keeping his identity."
In 1973, Beyer inked a pact with Shohei Baba and NTV in Tokyo to wrestle in Japan for six years. "I'm as popular in Japan as any star in the United States," Beyer legitimately claimed to his hometown Buffalo paper in 1975. Angelo Mosca put it succinctly: "This was like walking with God in Japan."
He returned to North America in the late '70s, and wrestled for several more years before becoming a coach at Akron Central School in Akron, N.Y. The English version of his life story, titled Masked Decisions, came out in 2011.
REVENGE MATCH -
Bockwinkel & Stevens vs Dr. X & Andre The Giant
WORLD TITLE MATCH! -
Verne Gagne vs Dr. X