Southern California Pro-Wrestling Hall of Famer Dick “The Destroyer” Beyer died earlier today according to wrestling historian Roy Lucier, who has been in touch with Beyer’s family. Beyer, born July 11, 1930, was 88 year old.
Dick Beyer wrestled and played football at Syracuse University before getting into professional wrestling. After graduating with a master’s degree in education, Beyer made his wrestling debut in late 1954. From the mid-1950s until the early 1960s Beyer wrestled throughout the east coast.
In April, 1962, Dick Beyer received a phone call from Jules Strongbow to come to Los Angeles to wrestle, with the idea that he would be a heel as Dick Beyer. When he got to the area, to his dismay he learned that he would be wearing a mask and be known as “The Destroyer.” Despite his initial objections, Strongbow convinced him to try it for a few weeks, and if he didn’t like it he could take it off. On April 27, 1962, Dick Beyer made his debut as The Destroyer at the San Diego Coliseum with a victory over Seymour Koenig. The Destroyer was an instant hit.
By the summer of 1962, The Destroyer was feuding with Freddie Blassie, who had recently held the Los Angeles version of the world title. Blassie had regained his world title from Rikidozan on July 25, 1962 in Los Angeles. Two days later, the San Diego Coliseum witnessed The Destroyer defeat Blassie to capture the world title. Beyer would hold the title for 287 days before losing it back to Blassie in Los Angeles.
In early 1963, The Destroyer wrestled three sold-out matches against Shohei “Giant” Baba in Los Angeles at The Olympic Auditorium. In May 1963, Beyer made his first trip to Japan, where he wrestled Rikid?zan, in a match watched by 70 million TV viewers.
On July 22, 1964, The Destoyer defeated Dick the Bruiser at the Grand Olympic to capture the Los Angeles version of the world title for a second time. He would hold the title for 50 days before losing it to Bob Ellis.
The Destroyer reclaimed the title for a third time by defeating Bob Ellis on November 13, 1964 at the San Diego Coliseum. That would be the last world title change in San Diego until Chris Jericho defeated The Rock to win the WCW World Heavyweight title and then later Stone Cold Steve Austin to win the WWF World Heavyweight title on December 9, 2001 to unify the two belts.
The Destroyer was defeated by Toyonobori on December 12, 1964, in Tokyo, Japan, however the WWA did not recognize the title change. Pedro Morales defeated The Destroyer for the world championship on March 12, 1965, at the Grand Olympic.
From 1966 until his retirement in 1993, Dick Beyer would make occasional wrestling appearances in Southern California. In addition to his time in Southern California, Beyer was a major star in the AWA and in Japan, where he helped promote All Japan Pro Wrestling in the 1970s.
Dick Beyer was elected to the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame in 1996, the Southern California Pro-Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2002, and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in 2005. He was also awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by Japan in 2017, one of the country’s highest honors.