"The Destroyer" Dick Beyer Passes Away

One of the greatest masked wrestlers of all time...

Dick Beyer, known the world over for the indelible mark he left on multiple continents as the masked "Destroyer", passed away Thursday at the age of 88. Beyer's son Kurt made the announcement earlier today.

Beyer began his career in 1954 under his real name, but would see his stardom skyrocket in 1962, after donning a simple white mask and dubbing himself The Destroyer. As The Destroyer, Beyer quickly won the first of three World Wrestling Association championships from "Classy" Freddie Blassie in San Diego.

Destroyer's other greatest success stateside came in the American Wrestling Association, where under the name Dr. X, Beyer defeated Verne Gagne for the AWA World Heavyweight title in August 1968. He would, however, drop it back to Gagne two weeks later.

The majority of the The Destroyer mythos comes from Japan, where in 1963, he battled the iconic and influential Rikidozan in a two out of three falls match that drew a reported 70 million television viewers.

In 1972, Destroyer embarked on an extensive partnership with Giant Baba and All Japan Pro Wrestling, where Destroyer's considerable level of cultural fame would be credited with boosting the credibility of the promotion.

Though entering semi-retirement in 1984, Destroyer would continue to wrestle sporadically until shortly after his 63rd birthday in 1993. In his final match, Beyer teamed with son Kurt, as well as Giant Baba, in a victory over Haruka Eigen, Masanobu Fuchi and Masao Inoue at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo.

Beyer's popularity and fame in Japan ranks among the absolute highest among international wrestlers in the Orient. Former wrestler Angelo Mosca summed up the masked Destroyer's renown across the Pacific by saying, "This was like walking with God in Japan."

Our condolences go out to Mr. Beyer's family and friends.

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Justin Henry

Written by Justin Henry

In addition to writing lists and commentaries for Cultaholic, Justin is also a features writer and interviewer for Fighting Spirit Magazine, and is co-author of the WWE-related book Titan Screwed: Lost Smiles, Stunners, and Screwjobs.