Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Doctor X!

Until we moved in 1972 when I was six, my family lived in West Fargo, ND. During that late-sixties/early-seventies era, one of the joys of being a kid (and adult too) in the Upper Midwest was AWA wrestling. Not being able to remember much about the AWA in that day, I asked my older brother to bring back some memories about a wrestler burned in my mind forever: Doctor X. All I remember about him was that he was masked and that he scared the bejeesus out of me. Take it away, Randy:

My brother has asked me to tell a story about a wrestler in the sixties called Doctor X. First, some background on Doctor X. He was a masked villain who wrestled in the American Wrestling Association. He was known for using the figure four leg lock to force his opponents into submission. He also had an agreement to remove his mask if any opponent could beat him two out of three falls, although if an opponent won because Doctor X was disqualified, that would not count. One of his opponents, the Crusher, labeled him a “Quack”. Sometimes, the Crusher would show up Doctor X’s TV matches and yell “Quack, Quack” at him and get the whole crowd going.

There were always rumors as to Doctor X really was, some felt he was another wrestler. Minneapolis sportswriter Sid Hartman reported that Doctor X was another wrestler called Hard Boiled Haggerty (“Hard Boiled” came from his shaved head). My friend next door, Jim, and myself bought into this rumor and made these claims to Jim’s older brother, Tom. “He’s his own man”, Tom proclaimed, whose statement proved to be foreshadowing. Shortly after Jim and I jumped on the Hard Boiled Haggerty bandwagon, Haggerty showed up at a Doctor X match on TV. Haggerty was outside the ring, yelling at Doctor X, which was strange considering that they were both villains. This was an obvious ploy to dismiss the Hartman claim.

As for the story about Doctor X, it was when he made an appearance on KXJB-TV in Fargo in the late 60’s. This TV station had a local afternoon TV show co-hosted by lead sportscaster, Jim Adelson, and one of the female anchors. This was before shows targeted certain demographics; in one segment they might interview a professional wrestler, then the next segment they would talk about cooking. When I was in the fourth grade, I would watch this show whenever they interviewed a wrestler. One day Doctor X was on when he was in Fargo for a match. Adelson interviewed him; then he and Doctor X took calls. One of the callers taunted Doctor X by chanting “Quack, Quack”. Doctor X played the perfect victim as he looked for sympathy from Adelson about all the abuse he took.

An elderly woman then called during the middle of the Doctor X segment (this was before callers were screened on talk shows; on this show, the host actually answered the phone). The woman asked the female host as to what was the best way to cook corn on the cob. The female host gave the woman her method, something about boiling the corn for so many minutes. After the woman hung up, Doctor X told the female host something like, "That’s not how you should do it. You want to get a steamer and steam the corn for x number of minutes so the corn has the right texture.” The female host looked at Adelson, dumbfounded. Adelson just pointed at Doctor X and smiled at his co-host, doing a fantastic job by not laughing out loud. Even as a 10 year-old, I realized that this was hilarious, a masked wrestler explaining the intricacies of steaming corn.

Doctor X was eventually defeated and had to take off his mask. His name was Dick Beyer, someone no one had ever heard of, “his own man” as my next door neighbor Tom predicted. Doctor X made a comeback as a good guy, while still wearing his mask, but it wasn’t the same, the mystique was gone.

Thanks, brother! To see Doctor X in action (in admittedly not too terrifying a scenario), here he is wrestling a bear.

And here's the website of Beyer/Doctor X/The Destroyer.