An enormous star in Japan, Dick Beyer also dominated across North America, winning titles and defeating many of the best wrestlers in the sport. Whether he wrestled as the Destroyer or as Dr.X, he was a true champion.
The Sensational Intelligent Destroyer
Real Name: Dick Beyer
Stats: 5′ 10″ 265 lbs.
By Steve Slagle
Pro wrestling has featured many masked men during its 100+ year history, with North America contributing its fair share to the primarily international genre of wrestlers. All-American masked marvels (both “good” and “bad”) such as Mr. Wrestling I & II, The Assassin, The Masked Superstar, various incarnations of the Super Destroyer character, Mr. Florida, The Grappler, Sweet Brown Sugar, The Executioners, and other masked men enjoyed immense popularity and success throughout the various pro wrestling territories of the past. However, one North American masked man in particular not only excelled in the U.S. mat wars, but truly broke through to the international wrestling audience, and in the process earned his spot in history. Dick Beyer a.k.a. The Super Intelligent Destroyer was that man, and although his attention grabbing moniker might not be familiar to many modern fans, his impact on wrestling, especially in Japan, is nevertheless enduring. Known worldwide as a true mat technician, the man under the mask was well schooled in the arts of both the amateur and professional aspects of wrestling, and his reputation as a champion preceded him.
Dick Beyer was a high school wrestling stand out, and became an amateur champion and football player in college at Syracuse. As was the case for many Greco-Roman wrestlers, the pro ranks were one of only a few options open to a grappler once his amateur career was over, and Beyer climbed into the squared circle in the early 1960’s. The maskless Beyer gained some modest success wrestling in various territories. However, when a series of circumstances led to him donning a mask (supposedly for only a few weeks, before he was to be unmasked) and calling himself The Destroyer, Dick Beyer’s career truly took off. Beyer later explained in an interview: “So when I went into LA, I went in there on a Thursday. I talked to the office and said, “You guys must not want me to come in here. I’m down here at the commission office and my name isn’t even in here to get a license.” Jules Strongbow says, “Well, you’re not in here as Dick Beyer.” “What the hell have you got me wrestling under?” He says, “We’re going to put a mask on you and call you The Destroyer.” I said, “I don’t even have a mask!”
The Destroyer was an almost instant hit with the fans, and when his paychecks began to increase dramatically, Beyer resigned himself to the fact that he would be a masked man for the rest of his career, instead of the few weeks he originally planned. Although The Destroyer made his presence felt as a villain originally, he wrestled “on both sides of the fence”, so to speak, and was often the fan favorite. His wrestling skill was undeniable, and separated him from his competition. In addition, he was admired for taking the long-held traditions of being a masked man very seriously, as all masked greats have. Beyer has stated in interviews that, after leaving whatever arena he had just performed in, he would sometimes have to drive his car while wearing his (trademark white w/blue trim) mask for as long as a half an hour — just to make sure no fans would catch a glimpse of his face.
He established himself as a popular attraction on the various regional promotions he competed in, and his legendary feuds with the likes of Fred Blassie, Dick the Bruiser, Pedro Morales, “Cowboy” Bob Ellis, Nick Bockwinkle, “Mad Dog” Vachon, The Sheik, and many others drew sold out crowds wherever he performed. Later, he would go on to achieve even greater fame and notoriety in The Land of the ring Sun, where he was (and still is) considered a true wrestling legend. A brief look at his title history speaks for itself…
He won the prestigious WWA World Heavyweight title in 1962, and held the title for nearly a full year before being defeated by archrival “Classy” Freddie Blassie. All total, The Destroyer held the WWA World title on 3 separate occasions. In 1963 & 1964, he teamed with Art Michalik to win the Pacific Northwest Tag Team title, twice. Also (twice) in 1964, The Destroyer teamed with Hard Boiled Haggerty to win the W.W.A. World Tag Team title. He also defeated “Mad Dog” Vachon to win the prestigious NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight title in the mid-1960’s. During the late 1960’s in the AWA, Beyer transformed himself into the evil Doctor X (pictured, left), and scored an AWA World Heavyweight title when he defeated Verne Gagne for the championship in 1968. In 1970, The Destroyer defeated rival Pedro Morales to win the Hawaiian version of the North American title, and he also won the Canadian International Heavyweight title in 1983.
Yet, as popular as he was in America, The Destroyer truly made a lasting impact in the nation of Japan, competing both with and against Japanese wrestling icon Rikidozan. Appreciating the style of competition there, The Destroyer was a frequent and highly visible figure on TV and in the arenas during the early years of pro wrestling in Japan. He competed against the very best competition on the Island nation in dozens of tournaments, and was a revered star in The Orient at a time when foreigners were almost universally hated by the Japanese wrestling public.
However, despite the many worldwide success of the famed Destroyer (seen on the right, being interviewed by a masked Regis Philbin) Dick Beyer somehow maintained his other identity as a high school wrestling coach and teacher. Realizing the correlation between the success of amateur wrestling in relation to future generations entering the pro ranks, Beyer often participated and helped promote amateur wrestling tournaments throughout the United States. When he wasn’t performing in the ring, The Destroyer could surely be found somewhere in the U.S. supporting amateur wrestling, as well as occasionally training men entering the pro ranks. His commitment to the sport carried on long after his retirement in the early 1980’s, and he has stayed very much in tune with the happenings in both professional and amateur wrestling. As a result of his lifelong love and dedication to the sport, both genres of wrestling are better off. The Ring Chronicle is proud to induct this masked ambassador of wrestling, the world-famous Sensational, Intelligent Destroyer into T.R.C.’s Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame…