An Interview with Don Jardine - 

The Super Destroyer

We are pleased to present on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway website a special interview with Mr. Don Jardine, better known to all Mid-Atlantic Wrestling fans as the Super Destroyer. 

While known primarily to the rest of the wrestling world as The Spoiler, Don Jardine campaigned in the Mid-Atlantic region as the Super Destroyer. He, along with Johnny Valentine and others brought in by booker George Scott at the time, helped shift the focus from tag-team wrestling to a more singles-oriented territory.

During his tenure with Crockett Promotions, there was no more menacing a figure than the Super Destroyer. His feuds with Swede Hanson, Sonny King, and Wahoo McDaniel are remembered to this day. 

Our thanks to Don Holbrook for arranging the interview with Mr. Jardine and for relaying our questions. As you read the interview, you will find that some of the questions beg for a follow-up, but that wasn't possible, as we submitted the questions to Don in advance. Enjoy!

-Dick Bourne & David Chappell


Preface

by Don Holbrook

 

I have been very fortunate over the past several years to communicate with The Super Destroyer (Don Jardine) by mail and E-mail. He has always been a gentleman with many fond memories of the wrestling business. However, Iíve learned one thing; if you ask him a question, you will get a straight answer.  Simply put, the man says what he thinks.

 

Recently, I conducted this online interview with Super Destroyer regarding his tenure in the Mid-Atlantic Area during the 1970ís. His candid replies to the questions I asked may surprise some fans, but are presented here for those of us who remember the days when Super Destroyer was a main event star and helped make Mid-Atlantic Wrestling what it was. Some say those days have never been equaled.

 

My thanks to Dick Bourne and David Chappell for providing some thought provoking questions for me to ask. I also want to take this opportunity to thank the man himself, Don Jardine not only for agreeing to this interview but also for all the many great matches.

 

Other Super Destroyer Features on our website:

The Gateway Remembers The Super Destroyer

Bill Janosik Photos: Jack Brisco vs. The Super Destroyer

The Super Destroyer: A Cut Above The Rest by David Chappell

I Remember the Super Destroyer by Don Holbrook

 


The Interview

 

Q. Can you please describe the negotiations that led up to your entry into Jim Crockett Promotions in 1973?

A. I had a dispute in the Tulsa Oklahoma office and I talked to George Scott who was the booker in Charlotte. Crockett Sr. had just passed away and they were looking for some new talent. I told them I was available if I would be used on top and I could run my own programs.

 

Q. What was your feeling about entering a territory that had been dominated by tag team wrestlers for many years?

A. It didnít bother me because I wasnít a tag team wrestler and I was promised to work the main events. They werenít a threat because they had been there for years except that they were stooges and I had to watch my back.

 

Q. Who was your first major program with in the Mid Atlantic area?

A. It was a program with Swede Hansen. We had a 6 or 7 week program where if Swede Hansen beat me two falls I would take off my mask. He never did beat me two falls.

 

Q. Why did you enter the Mid Atlantic area as "The Super Destroyer" and not the "Spoiler" as you were known in other parts of the country?

A. Originally I wanted to come in as the Spoiler but they wanted me to come in as The Destroyer and we later added the name "Super Destroyer", because there was another wrestler in Japan who was called the Destroyer so we added Super to set me apart.

 

Q. Which Mid Atlantic cities and venues do you remember most and why?

A. I liked Greenville, SC because the people were more receptive there to what I was doing than anywhere else. I also liked Richmond, Va. because I got them to move from the little building in the fair grounds to the coliseum. I suggested they add some class to the show and move to the coliseum and they made nothing but money.

 

Q. What are your recollections of wrestling Johnny Weaver, the Mid Atlantic areaís biggest star when you had a program against him in late 1973 and 1974.

A. I remember him as a mediocre wrestler but he had made a good name because he had been in the area for 15 years or so. I thought we could draw a lot of money with him and we drew some good money.

 

Q. What sort of backstage politics did you have to deal with from the long established stars in the area (Weaver, Hawk, Hansen, etc.) Did you feel like an outsider?

A. I felt like an outsider because they were all stooges. I was a threat to their livelihood and they probably felt that their job was on the line because of me. I had to watch my back and I had a few stooges of my own to tell me what was going on and I tried to overcome it.

 

Q. What was the angle where you injured Bearcat Wright, and later had a lengthy program with Wrightís "brother" Sonny King?

A. Bearcat Wright was sick, so we had to work him out of the program and brought in his brother Sonny King.

 

Q. What did you think of King as an opponent?

A. I liked Sonny King and got along with him. I enjoyed working with him and he listened to my instructions in the ring.

 

Q. Describe your famous "Claw Hold" and how you used it in your matches.

A. I got the claw hold idea from Fritz Von Erich who was the originator of the hold. I added the glove, which added controversy and made me stand out.

 

Q. You teamed fairly often with Johnny Valentine. How would you describe that combination?

A. Johnny was a different type of wrestler than me. He was slower and more methodical than I was. I gave more action and high spots. Our different styles worked well together.

 

Q. You were able to scale the ropes like nobody else in your era. How were you able to develop such a skill?

A. I always liked the ropes and wanted to do something different. I have good balance, likely from my familyís circus background on the high wire.

 

Q. You had great matches with both Paul Jones and Wahoo Mc Daniel. What are your thoughts regarding these two?

A. I didnít think Paul Jones was up to my standards and was put in because the office

liked him. I had real good matches with him though. Wahoo was always difficult to work with. He always wanted to dominate the match and wanted to take off my mask even though it was never part of a program. I had to fight him off and watch him all the time.

 

Q. You had a series of tremendous matches with then NWA Champion Jack Brisco. Do you have any particular thoughts on Jack Brisco as an opponent and as a world champion?

Super Destroyer attempts to apply the clawhold on NWA Champion Jack Brisco

Photo © Bill Janosik

 

A. I thought Jack was a great wrestler and I really enjoyed working with him and he was a great NWA champion. I know we had some excellent matches because he was easy to work with. He was smaller than me and had the sympathy of the crowd which made my job much easier.

 

Q. You "managed" and teamed with Brute Bernard for a brief time in late 1974. That concept never seemed to catch on with the fans. Any thoughts?

A. It caught on with some fans but not others because the wrestling office used to get letters from fans about the way I was treating him. Brute played the idiot and I used to slap him in the face and he would drool, and do my dirty work for me. Brute Bernard was a real nice guy and was nobodyís fool. He didnít put up with any crap from anyone.

 

Q. Ric Flair was just starting out in the area during the time you were in the Mid Atlantic area. What are your thoughts regarding the young Ric Flair?

A. I thought at that time he was one of the few new wrestlers that was going to make it big because he had the charisma and the right attitude. I wrestled him quite a few times.

 

Q. Your program with Swede Hansen featured some of the roughest looking matches ever. Were they in actuality really that rough?

A. Yes, the matches were really rough. Swede had just returned back from a massive heart attack and I used to hit him hard and he would turn purple. Swede gave me a pile driverin Greenville, SC and drove my head right into the mat. It crushed my vertebrae in my neck and back and I had to go to the chiropractor for years afterward. I still have trouble with my back to this day.

Super Destroyer vs. Swede Hanson

Photo © Bill Janosik

 

 

Q. What are your thoughts on Swede Hansenís long time partner, Rip Hawk?

A. Rip Hawk always tried to sabotage things. He would steal the promotional tapes and hide

them so they wouldnít get to the towns on time. He was jealous and envious of people coming in to take his position. Eventually, he was fired.

 

Q. One of your last programs in Crockett Promotions was with another masked man, The Avenger (Reggie Parks). You ultimately won that feud, forcing him to unmask. How was that program developed?

A. Reggie was a good wrestler and drew a lot of money. That program ended up being sabotaged as well.  I think the program started that he came in to Avenge his brother I apparently had hurt. It started out that he would show up in different parts of the arena and I would look around and see him there. Then he would get on television and say things to get the program going. It was hard to keep things fresh because my ideas would get used by other wrestlers after I was done with them.

 

Q. Your trademark was your mask. Why did you become a masked wrestler and why did you continue to be a masked wrestler?

A. I felt it suited me to be mysterious and intriguing. I like the anonymity of not being harassed by people when I wasnít wearing the mask because no one knew me.

 

Q. Do you think the stipulation where if you were ever pinned or submitted, you lost the mask, ran out of steam toward the end of your tenure in the Mid-Atlantic? It seemed like in several matches just before you left the area you would run out of the ring to save the mask. Your thoughts?

A. I never agreed to have my mask removed because that was part of the mystery of my character. After two years being in the area it ran out of steam and we needed more programs. More new people were coming in and they were focusing more on them than me. I wanted to preserve my image and didnít want my mask removed.

 

Q. Did you in the Mid-Atlantic or in any other promotion ever consider turning baby face?

A. Not at that time, but if I had stayed there another couple years I would have turned baby face because I had respect. They may not have liked me but with that kind of respect you always turn into a baby face.

 

Q. In your last months in the Mid-Atlantic, you were mired in a seemingly endless series of semi-final matches with Sonny King. Were there ever any plans to break you out of that feud and into something fresh?

A. That was one of the reasons I left. I had brought the territory up and drew fans and money. They brought in all these other wrestlers and put them on top taking away my money.

 

Q. Immediately after you left the area in August 1975 they put Rufus R. Jones on TV saying he had unmasked you. They even showed a old black and white picture of you and told your real name. What was your reaction to that?

A. I would never let a talent like Rufus Jones remove my mask. He didnít have the notoriety to remove it . I liked him as a person. The unmasking did not happen. I wanted to leave because I wasnít making the money that I had worked so hard to create for the promotion. I wanted to leave before I was demoted to working the preliminary matches.

 

Q. What did you think when they showed the picture without the mask?

A. I didnít like it at all. I thought it was pretty low class. Especially when I brought their territory up and made them lots of money.

 

Q. Do you recall your last match in the Mid-Atlantic area. The arena, the opponent, the result?

A. It was in Charleston, South Carolina and I think I wrestled Jerry Blackwell. I think I got DQíd.

 

Q. Were you aware of the angle that Jim Crockett used soon after you left in August 1975

Where the masked Spoilers I and II came into the area to avenge your unmasking?

A. I think they were trying to damage me because I was working in Atlanta (Georgia Championship Wrestling) as The Spoiler and the tapes used to overlap each other. It didnít hurt me in Atlanta because I was selling out everywhere.

 

Q. Who would you say was the best opponent in the Mid Atlantic?

A. Jerry Brisco

 

Q. And the worst opponent in the Mid Atlantic to work with?

A. Paul Jones. The matches with him were OK, but he was kind of lazy.

 

Q. Did you ever consider returning to the Mid Atlantic, particularly after the plane crash in October 1975 that put out the areas two biggest heels (Flair and Valentine)?

A. No not after the way they did me regarding the unmasking.

 

Thank You, Don Jardine for your time.

 

The Official Spoiler / Super Destroyer Website