Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The Pride of the Carolinas, Don Kernodle: The Last of the Territorial Stars

Gateway Note: The following is a text version of Mike Sempervive's wonderful career retrospective and tribute podcast to Don Kernodle, who passed away May 17, 2021.  Sempervive writes, produces, and voices the Mid-Atlantic Championship Podcast heard on the Arcadian Vanguard podcasting network. He also co-hosts the nationally broadcast Wrestling Observer Live daily radio program with Brian Alverez for WrestlingObserver.com.

We are proud to host and archive this special text version of the 5 1/2 hour audio podcast of the Kernodle tribute that was originally published in two parts over the summer of 2021. The complete unabridged version of the podcast tribute (including a wealth of audio clips) can be found here at MidAtlanticPod.com. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MidAtlanticPod.

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By Mike Sempervive
Mid-Atlantic Championship Podcast (@midatlanticpod)
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Born on May 2, 1950 and hailing from Burlington, North Carolina, at the age of 7, young Don Kernodle knew what his life goal was as soon as he saw professional wrestling on television. 

Photograph by Ginger Layman Lynch

Attending high school at Eastern Alamance before moving on to Elon College, located ten minutes west of his hometown, Kernodle was a very good athlete. Not only would he serve the school as a four-year member of the wrestling team, Kernodle also got into powerlifting, as well as becoming a national championship-level arm wrestler, as well a practitioner of judo - which was a rarity, at the time, especially for those not in the military. That variety of physical talents in his toolbox would become Kernodle’s saving grace during his first experience with the pro wrestling business, which he was so smitten by.

At a Tuesday night house show at Dorton Arena, Kernodle mustered up the nerve to approach then-president of Jim Crockett Promotions John Ringley about getting into the sport. To his surprise, Ringley told Kernodle to come to the studios at WRAL-TV, the next day.

When he arrived, he found out he’d be facing off against Bob Roop, who represented America as a heavyweight wrestler during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. A newcomer to the area, Roop was doing an open challenge where he’d offer $2000 to any layperson who could defeat him in less than ten minutes.

After signing a battery of hold-harmless release forms presented to him by the company’s jack-of-all-trades, Les Thatcher, Kernodle was then placed into a dressing room. The only other person in said room? Bob Roop.  

According to the interview he did with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway website, Kernodle said: “I’m nervous; I’m scared. I didn’t know what to expect. So, when I sit down, I’m only about ten feet away from Roop as he’s lacing up his boots. He’s bent over, and he hasn’t even raised his head yet… finally he raised up his head, looked at me and said, ‘You must be the guy that I’m wrestling tonight.’”
Kerndole continued, “‘Yes sir, Mr. Roop, I am.’ I walked over to him and shook his hand and said, ‘My name is Don Kernodle. This is nothing personal with you…this is the only chance I’ve got to get into professional wrestling, so I want to try it… they were trying to intimidate me. Yeah, they were really trying to psyche me out…which they did!”

When it came time for his match, on his way to the studio floor, Kernodle was stopped by longtime bad-guy manager Homer O’Dell, who offered some words of encouragement, saying, “Kid, there’s gonna be a lot of people watching you tonight. You just go out there and do the best that you can do.”

And, boy did he. Roop - nearly 50 pounds heavier than Kernodle - was dispatching of wannabe’s, oftentimes with the legendary dreaded sugar hold, and most in well under a minute. But, with longtime referee Angelo Martenelli as the third man in the ring, Kernodle would shock everyone by taking Roop down, and nearly lasted the entire ten minutes before the former Olympian was finally able to submit the exhausted youngster with a front facelock.

While Kernodle failed, he highly impressed two men who weren’t easy to impress - the Minnesota Wrecking Crew of Ole and Gene Anderson. As he made his way into the locker room, they both told Kernodle how great he looked before Ole told him what he had always wanted to hear: “I tell you what I’m gonna do…I’m gonna break you into the business.” And he told Kerndole to be at the Charlotte YMCA at 9:00, the next Monday morning. Ole noted that while he wasn’t gonna punch him or break any bones, it would still be the hardest thing he’d ever done. Kernodle recalled that Ole had told him, “that if I said ‘I quit’ or ‘I give up,’ that there would be no questions asked and I’d get my ass in that car and go back to Burlington.”

Kernodle didn’t quit, and for eight weeks he was put through his paces by the Andersons. He was doing so well in training that, according to him, John Ringley told him that he’d be paid $300 a week.

Kernodle’s official debut took place on August 31, 1973 in Richmond, Virginia, where he wrestled to a time-limit draw against another young amateur standout, Terry Sawyer, who grew up on Virginia’s Tidewater.

Like most up-and-comers, Kernodle’s undercard matches would usually take place in whatever the smaller B or C towns were, and he traded carefully plotted wins, losses, and draws. He alternated between teaming with cagey veterans (such as Danny Miller, Abe Jacobs and Johnny Weaver) as well as fellow youngsters (like Ted Oates, Rick McGraw and Richard Blood - the future Tito Santana using Ricky Steamboat’s real name). He even teamed with a guy by the name of Jay Youngblood.

Even though Kernodle was adjacent to some of the best talent in the world in the Mid-Atlantic, he wouldn’t stay stagnant, and traveled to several territories to keep learning. Kernodle ventured west and south, working in Knoxville, Nashville, Birmingham, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and Amarillo. During 1976, while in Memphis, Kernodle would pick up his first championship, teaming with Randy Fargo - the nephew of Jackie Fargo - to win the Mid-American tag team titles.

In Atlanta, Kernodle would face off against fellow youngster Randy Savage, still going by the name Randy Poffo, and recalls having some great matches with the highly athletic former baseball player.

It would be in Amarillo where Kernodle would see, for the first time since that fateful night at the WRAL studios, one Bob Roop. There, Roop would reveal that if Kernodle hadn’t run out of gas during his challenge, he would have won because Roop also had nothing left.

The Funk family’s west Texas territory was also where Kerndole would get booked for All Japan Pro Wrestling, as well as a shot on the silver screen, appearing alongside Terry Funk in the 1978 Sylvester Stallone movie Paradise Alley, as one of the wrestlers.

As the 1980’s started, Kernodle - now seven years a pro - was still looking for his break, as he continued to team with veterans like Herb Gallant, Nick DeCarlo and, of course, Johnny Weaver. Kernodle would also team with vets that would come into the area, like SD Jones, Pedro Morales and Tony Garea, with his role being the fall guy.

A side note about 1980: At the Richmond Coliseum on August 1, the NWA World tag team champions Ray Stevens and Jimmy Snuka defeated Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood in a cage match. Also on the card, Don Kernodle faced Jim Nelson. This is the earliest date that I could find all four men, who would become so tied at the hip just a few years later.

Speaking of Nelson, on June 4, 1979 in Orangeburg, South Carolina, he wrestled Nick DiCarlo in the earliest match I could find of him competing for Jim Crockett Promotions. Born James Harrell, the future Jim Nelson grew up venturing to a renovated old bowling alley in his hometown of Roanoke, Virginia, re-christened the Starland Arena, to watch Mid-Atlantic wrestling live. Introduced into the business in 1977, by fellow Virginian Ric McCord, Nelson was trained by local wrestlers Eclipso and Steve Savage in rural southwest Virginia. Working in the shadows of Jim Crockett Promotions, Nelson would finally migrate to larger pastures, on a full-time basis, during the summer of 1980.

Kernodle received his most special moment, to that point in his career, on March 19, 1981. Running in his hometown of Burlington, at Cummings high school, Ole Anderson booked Kernodle to team with Nature Boy Ric Flair in a match against Flair’s arch-rivals, Greg Valentine and Roddy Piper, with Flair and Kernodle walking away victorious. On June 4, 1981, Flair and Kernodle would team again - although this time it was due to Kernodle subbing for Masked Superstar in a victory over Roddy Piper and future Kernodle teammate, Ivan Koloff.  

In May of 1981, Kernodle would wrestle for the Crockett-affiliated Knoxville office of Ric Flair and Blackjack Mulligan, teaming with Steve Muslin, under hoods, as the heel Super Destroyers. In the rest of the territory, the two would team unmasked as babyfaces, but here the pair would face teams such as the Mulligans, Sr and Jr - who would later go on to more fame as Barry Windham, and fellow youngsters Terry Taylor and Keith Larsen - Kernodle’s brother, Wally Kernodle, who had also broken into the business. On June 20, Muslin would get unmasked on television, after losing to Blackjack Mulligan Sr, and soon depart the area. Kernodle’s alter-ego would continue his run in east Tennessee and West Virginia into early 1982. But, we’ll get back to that later.

As the summer of 1981 came to a close, seismic shifts were beginning to take place in Jim Crockett Promotions. On August 19, in Columbia, South Carolina, Ole and Gene Anderson made a defense of their World tag team title against Ric Flair and Jay Youngblood, at the Township Auditorium. While the specifics of the finish are unknown, the Andersons did hold on to their championships. But, what’s really notable is that it’s the last result listed before Gene Anderson suffered a minor stroke which drove him from the ring. Beginning two nights later, on August 21 in Richmond, Mr. Fuji would become Ole’s partner, as a temporary solution. On October 18, in Salem, Virginia, Gene would return in a disqualification loss against Paul Jones, but never regained anywhere close to the form he possessed prior.

A few weeks later, airing on September 12, 1981, Sgt. Slaughter made his Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling television debut in a one-sided affair, defeating Mike Davis with the Cobra Clutch. During the bout, announcer David Crockett noted that Slaughter was coming off having success in the northeast, while fellow heel (and booker) Ole Anderson actually ran out to the commentary table to gush over Slaughter’s capabilities.

A week later, on September 19, for the first time on television since he returned to the area, Ricky Steamboat teamed with Jay Youngblood to defeat the future Black Bart, Rick Harris and his partner Mike Miller, when Steamboat pinned Miller after a flying bodypress. In the following bouts, Sergeant Slaughter defeated Ron Ritchie with an over-the-knee stomach breaker, followed by Jake Roberts defeating Jim Nelson after a DDT and a running kneelift. Early in the match with Roberts, announcers Bob Caudle and David Crockett noted Nelson’s buzz haircut, and joked about him looking like he could be in the Marines, himself. During the match, Ole Anderson and Roddy Piper came down to the ringside to fire Nelson up, and menaced Roberts after it was all over.

On October 4 in Charlotte, Sergeant Slaughter defeated Ricky Steamboat in the finals of a 16-man tournament, to win the vacant United States heavyweight championship and instantly establish himself as the top heel in the company. Soon, the Marine drill instructor would be looking for a few good men to join his mission - and we’d soon get an interesting television moment.

Taped a few days earlier, the Saturday Halloween edition of Mid-Atlantic TV featured a surprisingly competitive main event matchup between Slaughter and Don Kernodle in a non-title match. Eventually, Slaughter put Kernodle to sleep with the Cobra Clutch to win the match. Towards the end of the bout, Jim Nelson would mysteriously come down to the ring, dressed in camouflage. After the match, Slaughter joined Bob Caudle at the announce desk to bellow that he had wrestlers asking to be Marines, and that he had chosen Nelson as the one to “turn from a boy into a man.”

A month or so later, on December 12’s Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Sergeant Slaughter announced he’ll be putting up $1,000 to anyone who wants to try and break his Cobra Clutch sleeper. Later in the show, he and Private Jim Nelson defeated Tony Anthony and Larry Hamilton. During the match, Slaughter went over to talk to the announcers, which brought out Jay Youngblood to challenge him. Slaughter stuttered, and said there were other challengers, before walking back to the ring. After that incident, the match would continue with the announcers putting over how much more aggressive and focused Nelson is.

As Nelson’s star was rising, Kernodle would stay on the losing side of the ledger. In fact, at a house show in Asheville, on December 27, 1982 the new Marine defeated Kernodle, a feat he would repeat several times throughout early 1982.

As we entered ‘82, the NWA World tag team championship scene which went awry when Gene Anderson suffered his stroke, began to start seeing some clarity. After giving Ole time to try and find a proper replacement partner, on the January 23 Mid-Atlantic TV show, NWA official Sandy Scott finally stripped the Andersons of the titles. Scott also revealed there would be tournaments held in different cities around the world, requiring $1,000 buy-ins, and featuring $25,000 prizes. Winning teams would then qualify for positioning in a global tournament, which would decide the new champions.

January would also offer some clarity into the future of Don Kernodle, as well. After a few weeks of being wooed by Slaughter, on January 30’s Mid-Atlantic TV, Kernodle had an incident with his tag team partner Johnny Weaver. During a match against Private Nelson and Steve Sybert, Slaughter would come to the ring - seemingly in support of his Private, Jim Nelson. Not long after he did, there was a spot where Kernodle held Nelson to allow Weaver to hit him. The Private moved, and Weaver chopped his partner into the corner. After this happened, Nelson quickly tagged out to Sybert - who would end up the recipient of a now very aggressive Kernodle, who quickly power-slammed him for the victory.

Towards the end of the program, Slaughter and Nelson appeared for an interview with Bob Caudle. As it begins, seemingly in disbelief, Sarge wonders aloud how Kernodle can take from Weaver, considering he had gotten “punched in the face,” by his partner. He once again tells Kernodle that his offer to join “Slaughter’s Brigade” is still on the table. Before the match, Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood would reunite as a team, and cut a promo. Later in the show, the pair defeated Doug Vines and Bill White.

On February 13, Kernodle would finally turn on Johnny Weaver. The next week, during Slaughter’s win over Vinnie Valentino on Mid-Atlantic TV, Kernodle appeared at ringside wearing identical singlet and camouflage gear to Nelson. And, as an act, the three men immediately began paying dividends. The next week, on the 20th, at the Charlotte Coliseum, in addition to Sarge’s US title match against Dusty Rhodes - which Rhodes won by disqualification - Slaughter also got involved with the main event between Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat.

Before the NWA World title match, Slaughter confronted both men stating that no matter which man won he wanted the next title shot. After Flair had won the match by pinfall to retain, Slaughter and his Privates attacked Steamboat. This sparked Flair to rush back into the ring to help, but he ended up being beaten down too, with Slaughter busting him open. Steamboat then stormed back into the ring with a steel chair that he used to hit the heels, and chased them off. Afterwards, Steamboat famously picked up Flair’s lifeless body off the apron, and carried him up the aisle way to the back.

The next weekend’s Mid-Atlantic Championship, airing February 27, featured the new team of Sarge’s Privates defeating Vinnie Valentino and Mike Davis, in a one-sided affair. Afterwards, Slaughter appeared to cut a promo on Ric Flair, as a VTR of Flair’s match with Ricky Steamboat from February 21 played. Kernodle and Nelson then cut a spirited promo, talking trash about both. Announcer Bob Caudle questioned if the new recruits were still “their own men,” to which Kernodle barked that it took a special kind of person to carry out Slaughter's orders.

On March 1, in Fayetteville, Kernodle and Nelson won a tag team title qualifier, which made Nelson the first man to win a tournament with two different partners, as he had already claimed one with Slaughter.

But, even though the idea of worldwide tag tournaments began with so much promise, before the month was over so was the concept.

The idea sputtered out due to several factors, including Anderson’s choice to work exclusively in Georgia. As a result, in July of 1982, Anderson and Hansen began claiming the belts on Atlanta’s television, forcing then-Mid-Atlantic booker Dory Funk Jr to make other arrangements.

On the March 6, 1982 edition of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Jake Roberts once again showed the tape of Ric Flair’s match with Ricky Steamboat, from February 21 in Charlotte, where Sergeant Slaughter and the Privates beat down both Flair and Steamboat, after the match. Later in the program, Kernodle and Nelson teamed up to defeat Ron Ritchie and Tony Anthony, afterwards cutting a promo about Roberts, saying that their motto with Slaughter is, “If they get in our way, they must pay.” This brings out Ricky Steamboat, to the fans' delight, literally, sending the heels back-tracking out of the studio. Steamboat laments the loss of Kernodle as a friend, but says he was happy to be able to welcome Flair back as one.

Now, remember when we were discussing a then-babyface Don Kernodle cavorting under a hood as the evil Super Destroyer? Well, on March 5 in Knoxville, The Boogie Woogie Man Jimmy Valiant defeated Destroyer to win his mask. The next day, on March 6, 1982 in Bluefield, West Virginia, it was Jay Youngblood’s turn, in a match featuring Kernodle’s mask vs. Youngblood leaving town.

So, with that loose end tied up, The Privates continued to roll. On March 26, 1982, at a house show held at the Taylor-Whitehead Gym, on the campus of St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Virginia, the pair defeated Porkchop Cash and Jay Youngblood to win the Mid-Atlantic tag team championship.

The titles were the first ever won by either man and, according to Kernodle in an interview years later with the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Gateway website, it was an unexpected victory.

“We won it there…we beat Jay Youngblood and Porkchop Cash. But…get this, we didn’t even know we were going to win! We had a finish that we thought we were doing…to lose (the match). We hadn’t been champions yet…we were just wrestling together.”

Kernodle continued, “All of a sudden, we were going into our deal and we thought we were gonna lose…and I covered Youngblood. The referee counted One, two, and I thought Jay was gonna kick out…and then, three! (We) were supposed to win the belts. They just didn’t tell us ahead of time. They did it as a joke! We won the damn belts, when we thought we were losing."

As was mentioned earlier on, with the NWA World tag team titles under the banner of Georgia Championship Wrestling, Mid-Atlantic booker Dory Funk Jr was forced to make other arrangements.

One key issue was resurrecting the image of the Mid-Atlantic tag team titles, which were thrust into a higher profile as they were now with the men who were aligned with the top bad guy in the territory, Sgt. Slaughter. Another was pushing the United States heavyweight championship, which Slaughter was heavily involved in, into the top position of importance.

In April and May, Kernodle would mix it up with Terry Taylor several times on TV, with neither man gaining the clear advantage. This flowed into Kernodle and Nelson being used as pawns to set up the fans for what would happen with Sgt. Slaughter and Wahoo McDaniel, who would defeat Slaughter for the title on May 21.

It went like this: on the Mid-Atlantic Championship show, which aired on May 15, 1982, Kernodle and Nelson went to a time-limit draw with Johnny Weaver and Jake Roberts, after stalling in order to run out the clock on the television time that was remaining. But, per an “experimental rule” announced earlier in the show by NWA official Sandy Scott, if a bout’s time runs out, or ends in a double disqualification or double countout, then the match would be picked up again next week.

So we go to May 22, in an interview to start the show, Jake Roberts explains to the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling viewership that the scheduled rematch from last week, between he and Johnny Weaver against The Privates, will have to wait a week due to the other three men being “out of the country.”

They got back to the match on May 29 - but there was a catch. During the show, Johnny Weaver joined Bob Caudle to discuss the situation. Weaver told Caudle that Roberts wasn’t going to be there this week, and showed a tape of The Ninja blowing green mist into Roberts' eyes. He adds that Mike Davis would be taking Roberts’ place in the match.

Okay, so we get the match. And, even odder than the “experimental rule” the promotion was trying out, under the guise of wanting to make sure all matches ended in a decisive finish, was the decision during this match to ring the bell, and pause the action, while the show went to a commercial break. Finally, the match would end with Kernodle using a clothesline from the top rope to incapacitate Davis, and then draped Nelson on top of him for the pinfall victory.

After the match, the Privates would beat their downed opponents until Ron Ritchie ran out from the locker room to help. He concentrated his attack on Kernodle, and was able to tie up the heels long enough to allow Weaver to recover. Later in the show, Ritchie (and Terry Gibbs) joined Bob Caudle for a promo, where a still-winded Ritchie took Kernodle to task for going heel.

It should be noted that the experimental rule that the company introduced the fans to was later used as the reason that Wahoo McDaniel had to surrender the United States title, after being attacked by Don Muraco.

But, back to Kernodle. On June 1, in Columbia, South Carolina, Porkchop Cash and King Parsons defeated the Privates to win the Mid-Atlantic tag team titles. Parsons had entered the area from LeRoy McGuirk’s Tri-State territory the month before, and was immediately paired with Cash. On the June 5 edition of Mid-Atlantic, Cash and Parsons defeated The Privates to retain the belts. During the match, Sergeant Slaughter came out to brag about  - and make excuses for - he and his team. As his side was flurrying on offense, suddenly, Cash small-packaged Nelson for the sudden victory.

Earlier in the show, Kernodle and Nelson had cut a promo running down Cash and Parsons, and claimed there was a promotion-wide conspiracy against both them and Slaughter, regarding the Mid-Atlantic tag team and United States championships.

At the June 8 television tapings for Maple Leaf Wrestling, in Guelph, Ontario, Sergeant Slaughter’s recruits are featured heavily. Under the control of local promoter Frank Tunney, Weaver was booking the territory on behalf of Jim Crockett Promotions, and he was partial to Kernodle and Nelson. Talking to David Chappell of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway website, years later, Kernodle recounted, “Yeah, all the big boys wanted to come up there and make a lot of money! But we’d pioneered it… I guess that’s what you’d call it. Weaver was the boss, and Weaver really liked us.”

Liked them, he did. And the new careers of Kernodle and Nelson were still ascending. On June 17 in Roanoke, the pair regained the Mid-Atlantic tag team from Cash and Parsons.

Nine days later, on Georgia Championship Wrestling, Gordon Solie announces that due to the split between Wahoo McDaniel and Don Muraco, Stan Hansen and Ole Anderson have been awarded the NWA World tag team championships. While in Mid-Atlantic, The Privates cut a promo bragging about getting back the Mid-Atlantic tag team titles, making Slaughter proud, and Kernodle reminding Steamboat that Slaughter was the one who had originally sent him packing.
Kerndole would eat those words, on July 25 in Toronto, when he and Nelson lost to Steamboat and Youngblood, in a non-title match, at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Things would continue to heat up on the July 31 edition of  World Wide Wrestling, as Jay Youngblood teamed with Johnny Weaver to defeat Private Kernodle and Bill White, in the main event, while Ricky Steamboat knocked off Private Nelson in a singles match.

Meanwhile, at a TV taping in Ottawa on August 10, The Privates once again dominated the television tapings for Maple Leaf Wrestling, appearing in six of the thirteen matches that were taped for the next few weeks. Notably, in a singles match, it was Jay Youngblood’s turn to defeat Private Nelson, and would finish 3-0 during the tapings.

This would all peak on August 22, 1982 at Maple Leaf Gardens when Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood won the Mid-Atlantic tag team titles. As that was taking place, down in Charlotte, Wahoo McDaniel was knocking off Sergeant Slaughter to win the United States heavyweight title.

Also on the show, in the semi-main event, Roddy Piper, Jerry Brisco and Jimmy Valiant defeated the team of Ivan Koloff, LeRoy Brown and - for one night only - Ole Anderson.

However, the real piece of business for Anderson in the area was to drop off the World tag team championship belts, as an agreement was reached that saw him turn over control of the titles to Jim Crockett Promotions. On Georgia TV, Anderson and Hansen were storyline suspended, and the area’s National tag team championships would take precedence with the Fabulous Freebirds feuding with Sonny King’s Wild Samoans, Afa and Sika.

A month later, on the September 25 edition of Mid-Atlantic, Jay Youngblood defeated Private Nelson after a double-sledge chop, and a jumping elbow drop. During the match, Youngblood escaped Nelson’s Cobra Clutch attempt. But the real story was, as the bout began, announcer Bob Caudle announced that Private Kernodle was supposed to be there but abruptly left for Japan, when he had received a telegram sent to him by Sergeant Slaughter.

During the last few weeks, in storyline, Slaughter had been suspended. So, when everyone sees him again on the October 2 Mid-Atlantic show, he appears standing alongside Don Kernodle as the National Wrestling Alliance World tag team champions. The pair claimed they had defeated Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki in the finals of a Japanese tournament - which, of course, didn’t really occur.

On Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, the new champions defeated Mike Davis and King Parsons. Slaughter dropped Davis neck-first over the top rope, covering him for a two before pulling him up. He then tagged in Kernodle, who used the Slaughter Cannon clothesline for the victory.

Also on the program, Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood teamed up to defeat Ken Timbs and Ben Alexander, when Youngblood pinned Alexander after a double sledge chop and a jumping elbow drop. Later, the two cut a promo saying that their rust is wearing off, and they’d be looking for a championship match soon.

This would be a match that Slaughter and Kernodle would bring upon themselves when they took part in some heinous heel activity on the October 30, 1982 edition of Mid-Atlantic TV.

Early in the show, Bob Caudle presented Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood a picture that was drawn by a young fan named “Tommy Peterson.” Purported to be seven years old, Peterson drew both men, and the words “The Uncrowned World Tag Team Champions.” Steamboat and Youngblood gushed over the gift, and gave Caudle their ceremonial lei and headdress to pass along to Peterson. The pair would go on to defeat Private Nelson and Ben Alexander. During the match, Caudle once again pointed out the drawing that the fan had sent in, and how sentimental it was for Steamboat and Youngblood.

Well, you know how that goes. As the show drew to a close, Greg Valentine handed Sergeant Slaughter and Private Kernodle the drawing that young Tommy Peterson had sent in for Steamboat and Youngblood. The three proceeded to tear up the picture, after Slaughter had put his cigar out on it, before doing the same to the lei and the headdress, as Bob Caudle looked on in disbelief.

That incident would lead to a match, two weeks later on November 12, at a big Charlotte Coliseum house show. In a title match, Slaughter and Kernodle fought to a no contest with Steamboat and Youngblood. It looked like Youngblood had pinned Slaughter after the slingshot, but the referee had missed Slaughter’s foot on the ropes. As Steamboat and Youngblood celebrated, referee Tommy Young tried to get their attention. Kernodle then knocked Steamboat into Young, and then rammed Steamboat’s head into the ringpost.

The Marines then introduced their new double team finisher, which saw Kernodle hold Youngblood up in the air - as if he was going to deliver a back suplex - and Slaughter leaping off the second rope with his Slaughter Cannon clothesline. Slaughter then proceeded to put the Cobra Clutch on, as Kernodle lifted up Youngblood’s legs. The two then slammed Youngblood to the mat, as the babyface dealt damage to his neck. The two continued to work Youngblood over until Steamboat recovered, chased the heels off, and carried Youngblood back to the dressing room in his arms.

On the next day’s airing of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle were cutting a promo, but they're interrupted by Roddy Piper. Slaughter and Kernodle challenge Piper to find a partner, and face them. Piper says he already has one, which leads Slaughter to joke that it was The Fabulous Moolah or Tommy Rich. Piper calmly says “It’s Abdullah The Butcher,” before walking away, and leaving Slaughter and Kernodle to marinate. That match would be set-up for November 28, in Charlotte, and serve as Abdullah’s only spot that wasn’t teaming with Jimmy Valiant, and others, against the House of Humperdink.

The footage of Youngblood being injured at the hands of Slaughter and Kernodle, on November 12, aired on November 20’s TV. Steamboat reports that Youngblood’s neck has been injured so badly that he’d miss over a month of time. Private Jim Nelson probably wished he would have missed time that day, as he lost to Roddy Piper by way of a gutwrench suplex. To close the show, Slaughter and Kernodle cut a promo, where Kernodle exclaims “No more headdresses, no more lei’s, and no more Jay.” Slaughter again claims they have no more competition, and is getting ready for Roddy Piper and Abdullah The Butcher - a match which the Marines would go on to lose.

Now, the non-kayfabe reason that Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat wouldn’t be around for a month had to do with their traveling to Japan. The duo was part of the All Japan Pro Wrestling Real World Tag League, which began on November 26 at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall. Steamboat and Youngblood lost to Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen to begin the tournament, and finished with a 1-4-1 record (3 points). Consisting of seven teams, and running until December 12, the tournament was eventually won by Dory Funk Jr and Terry Funk.

With Steamboat and Youngblood gone, on the next three editions of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Bob Caudle interviewed Sergeant Slaughter and Don Kernodle, as they watched footage of the match from November 12, where the two men had injured Youngblood’s neck. On the December 4 edition of World Wide Wrestling, much to the chagrin of announcer David Crockett, Slaughter cracked, “Every time I pass by a cemetary I think of Jay Youngblood.”

On the December 4th edition, Slaughter and Kernodle also defeated Ken Hall and Gary Black, using their double-team Slaughter Cannon on Hall, allowing Slaughter to get the pin. After the match, Slaughter applied the Cobra Clutch to Hall. He and Kernodle then went for the same post-match double-team that injured Youngblood but referee Tommy Young was able to stop it.

Fast-forward a few weeks, to the December 18 weekend of television. On Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Sergeant Slaughter and Don Kernodle were standing in the ring, readying for a non-title match, when Steamboat and Youngblood attacked. As the crowd went nuts, Steamboat and Youngblood battered the heels across the television studio. When the show came back from break, Steamboat and Youngblood had been removed, and Slaughter and Kernodle defeated Abe Jacobs and Mike Davis, when Slaughter pinned Davis following the Atomic Bomb. After the match, Steamboat and Youngblood attacked the champions again, chasing them off.

Later in the show, on different occasions, both teams came out to join Bob Caudle for an interview. Steamboat and Youngblood challenged the champions, any place, any time. Conversely, the upset heels sold how surprised they were to see Youngblood back. Slaughter claimed that when he got to the Carolinas, he recruited Kernodle because he was “the maggot of all time to help me conquer the Mid-Atlantic area… the lowest, the sleaziest, the slimiest guy,” who was already in the good guys locker room, and knew everything about Steamboat and Youngblood. A moment to remember for the future.

But, as Slaughter was making those grandiose claims on the Mid-Atlantic show, patting himself on the back, over on World Wide Wrestling, Steamboat and Youngblood defeated Private Jim Nelson and Rick Harris (the future Black Bart). During the match, Sarge came out to join David Crockett and Johnny Weaver on commentary. Slaughter would shout encouragement at Private Nelson, and began to celebrate when Nelson seemed to have Youngblood trapped in the Cobra Clutch. But, suddenly, Youngblood used a Russian leg sweep to break the hold, and score the pinfall on Nelson - who continued to suffer without Kernodle. After the match, Steamboat and Youngblood charged a retreating Slaughter, with Youngblood claiming he could also break Sarge’s version of the hold. The two also made it clear that they were back in the hunt for the NWA World tag team titles, as well.

On Christmas morning’s Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling program, the show began with Bob Caudle interviewing Youngblood and Steamboat, about Youngblood’s challenge to Slaughter that he could break his Cobra Clutch. The match from the previous week’s World Wide Wrestling was shown, with Youngblood breaking Nelson’s attempt at the Cobra. Afterwards, the team went on to defeat Frank Monte and Bill White, when Youngblood pinned White after the double-team slingshot splash.

Meanwhile, on World Wide Wrestling, Slaughter and Kernodle defeated Mark Fleming and Ron Ritchie, in short order. After the match when David Crockett sniped that Youngblood had the answer to the Cobra Clutch, an annoyed Slaughter emphasized “He broke a Cobra Clutch, but he didn’t break MY Cobra Clutch!” He then offered a wager of $5,000 that there was no one who could break it.

Fans with good memories may recall that escaping the Cobra Clutch was also a main event storyline of Mid-Atlantic television the prior Christmas, when Slaughter was feuding with Blackjack Mulligan Jr over the United States title. The television shows were taped weeks ahead of time, as the promotion took a hiatus between December 16-24, with everything taped leading into the huge Christmas night and December 26 shows, in Charlotte and Greensboro, respectively. On those shows, Steamboat and Youngblood would defeat Slaughter and Kernodle, but not take home the NWA World tag team titles.

As we turned to a new Year, on January 1, fans of Mid-Atlantic TV saw Don Kernodle defeat Tommy Gilbert after a series of swinging neckbreakers, a running Slaughter Cannon clothesline, two kneedrops to the throat, and, finally, the Cobra Clutch - which Gilbert makes Kernodle dramatically fight for. After the match, Kernodle wouldn’t break the hold, which caused Ricky Steamboat to hit the ring, and chase Kernodle off. Later, during a promo, Kernodle claimed Slaughter wasn’t there because he had “some important business with Ronald Reagan at the White House.” Even though that was just an empty bluster, when working for the WWF, Slaughter did actually meet Reagan as he campaigned for reelection in 1984.

Later in the program, Ricky Steamboat defeated Masa Fuchi via the Octopus/Inoki stretch. Afterward, Steamboat began to cut a promo responding to Kernodle’s promo from earlier. Kernodle came out, grabbed Steamboat’s shirt, and ripped it, which led to the two men brawling through the closing credits that began scrolling on the screen.

The next week, on January 8, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling began with Slaughter and Kernodle once again complaining to announcer Bob Caudle that they’re ready to defend their titles, but there’s no one around with enough guts to face them. Slaughter notes Kernodle was wearing a $300 sports jacket, and a $50 shirt, claiming that he helped Kernodle buy them once they became World Tag Team Champions.

Jay Youngblood defeated Rick Harris with an overhead chop to the head, followed by a jumping elbow smash. Later, Steamboat and Youngblood came out to react to Slaughter and Kernodle continuing to dismiss them, vowing they’d take advantage of their chance at the titles - just as soon as the heels gave one to them. Steamboat also added he’d get revenge on the twosome for destroying their personal property - which referred to the drawing from “Tommy Peterson.”

Later in the program, during Kernodle’s match with Johnny Weaver, Steamboat hit the ring wearing a sports jacket. Kernodle had Weaver trapped in the Cobra Clutch, but released the hold and went over to Steamboat. Kernodle snatched the jacket off of Steamboat, and happily tore it up, while Steamboat went over to Bob Caudle at the commentary desk. There he revealed that the jacket Kernodle tore up was actually his own. Incensed, Kernodle backdropped Weaver over the top rope, to lose the match by disqualification. Steamboat exited stage right, as Kernodle and Slaughter went ballistic, and demanded to know who gave Steamboat access to their locker room.

The following week, on January 15, Bob Caudle interviewed Slaughter and Kernodle, and demanded Steamboat and Youngblood come out and get their comeuppance. Slaughter once again pondered who could have given Steamboat the jacket, and also claimed the $300 piece of haberdashery was “made in Atlanta at Barnett’s Apparel, the biggest place in the United States for clothing.” The duo went on to defeat Tommy Gilbert and Vinnie Valentino, when Slaughter pinned Valentino after a double-team Slaughter Cannon. Later, in a pre-taped interview, Youngblood and Steamboat responded to Kernodle and Slaughter, saying they were in Kernodle’s head, and they’re working on Slaughter’s.

Two weeks later, on January 29’s TV, Kernodle was still highly annoyed about his coat. He and Sgt. Slaughter cut a pre-taped promo, where Slaughter reveals that someone has also stolen his field campaign hat, and points the finger at Steamboat and Youngblood. Later, a tape is shown of Steamboat and Youngblood taunting the Marines over their missing gear, and bragging that they’ve learned the secrets of the Cobra Clutch.

Opening February’s Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Steamboat and Youngblood defeated Rick Harris and Ken Timbs, when Youngblood put Timbs out with the sleeper hold.  The two then joined Bob Caudle to talk about their frustrations over getting NWA World tag team championship matches with Slaughter and Kernodle.

Steamboat said they want the match on national television, so they can expose the heels to the Alliance leadership if they do anything dastardly, while Youngblood explains that the two teams can’t be in the same building at the same time, due to all of the incidents they’ve had.

The promos would continue throughout the broadcast. First, in a pre-taped promo, Sgt. Slaughter screams about wanting his hat back. He’s not only joined by Kernodle, but also Private Nelson, as well. As Kernodle smirks, Slaughter screams at Nelson, calling him a maggot, asking if he’s found his hat yet.

Later, the babyfaces talked about how they’ve been able to turn the tables on Slaughter and Kernodle. First, Johnny Weaver taught them the sleeper hold. Second, they received information on how to escape the Cobra Clutch. Now, they’ve learned how to apply the Cobra Clutch.  

Unbeknownst to the viewers, on Saturday morning, was the insanity that would take place that night at the Greensboro Coliseum.

The main event saw Steamboat and Youngblood battle Slaughter and Kernodle to a no-contest when Steamboat and Slaughter became physical with the two referees, Stu Schwarz and Tommy Young, that were used to try and keep order.

After the bout, all four men took turns tossing referees who had gotten in their way, and kept brawling. At one point, Steamboat busted Kernodle open with a steel chair that the champions had brought into the ring. Going on for several minutes, eventually Steamboat and Youngblood gained the advantage, and popped the crowd, when both baby faces were simultaneously pounding on the heads of the heels. At that point, an army of wrestlers and officials stormed the ring to break things up.

Both February 12 weekend television shows revolved around film being shown of the NWA World tag team title match between Slaughter and Kernodle against Steamboat and Youngblood, which had taken place on February 5 in Greensboro. Voiceover on the footage is provided by David Crockett and Johnny Weaver, and Crockett, in particular, notes how out of control everything has gotten and decrees that “something has to be done about this.”

On World Wide Wrestling, official Sandy Scott joined David Crockett for an interview. It was there he revealed to Slaughter and Kernodle that the National Wrestling Alliance Board of Directors had levied one of the largest fines in the history of the sport. After a promo, Slaughter takes out a check, and reveals that he knew what the fine was, so he was prepared. He hands it over to Scott and announces that he and Kernodle will never wrestle Steamboat and Youngblood again.

Scott then stuns the two when he says they will wrestle Steamboat and Youngblood one more time, in a title match, in March. For several reasons, including the match being scheduled when they were going on holiday, Slaughter was upset. Both men became nuclear when Scott then informed them that the match would be taking place in the confines of a steel cage.

In a local market interview with announcer “Big” Bill Ward, Slaughter and Kernodle are joined by Private Jim Nelson, as they prepare for their title defense against Jack and Jerry Brisco, that night in Charlotte. Slaughter admits to being distracted by Sandy Scott’s fine, and isn’t happy with having to face Jack and Gerald Brisco, while also having to focus on Steamboat and Youngblood.

At the end of the Mid-Atlantic television show, Steamboat and Youngblood joined announcer Bob Caudle in order to express their regret over how out of control things have gotten. Official Sandy Scott then joined them to announce that the babyfaces would also be receiving one of the biggest fines in the history of the sport. Momentarily distraught, Scott then informed the pair about the cage match stipulation, which then jubilantly sent the show off the air.

During the weekend of February 19, on both Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and World Wide Wrestling, footage was shown of the two teams appearing in a conference room - separated by NWA official Sandy Scott - for the contract signing of the match on March 12 at the Greensboro Coliseum.

During the signing, Sgt. Slaughter revealed he had one additional stipulation: if he and Kernodle successfully defended their titles, then Steamboat and Youngblood could never team up again. After quickly conferring, the two-time former champions agree, and both teams sign.

Later on the show, Ricky and Jay cut a promo where they thanked those who have helped them prepare for the upcoming cage match. One of those men, Johnny Weaver, came out to tout their skills and wish them luck. As Youngblood smiled, Steamboat then spoke about the shadowy presence that’s been assisting them over the last few weeks.

“We’ve been talking about a conspirator. We’ve been talking about a man behind the lines, behind the scenes. Somebody that’s been helping us out a great deal,” Steamboat said. He added a few more words, before bringing out Private Jim Nelson, carrying Sgt. Slaughter’s riding crop, and wearing his drill sergeant hat and whistle.

Nelson admitted to everything. From Kernodle’s coat, to helping teach counters to the Cobra Clutch, Nelson stated he wanted revenge for being treated so poorly by Slaughter, and vowed to get even more revenge on his former teammates.

One of the more notable promos leading into the cage match was Slaughter and Kernodle addressing Jim Nelson’s betrayal, their vow to get rid of him, and the other teams they’ll have to face before getting to Steamboat and Youngblood - including the Briscos and the Funks.

A month before that big match, everyone would appear in Greensboro on February 20, 1983 for an afternoon show. Slaughter and Kernodle would defeat Terry and Dory Funk Jr, while Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood defeated the top two singles players in the area, Ric Flair and Greg Valentine.

But, that night, at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens, Canadian fans got a preview of what fans the home territory would be seeing soon. With the order that the four men must stay away from each other not valid in Canada, Youngblood and Steamboat defeated Slaughter and Kernodle in a lights out, non-title, boot camp match.

Tag matches aside, Slaughter also was preparing to face his former recruit, Private Jim Nelson - who would have the old pro Buzzsaw Johnny Weaver in his corner - at the Charlotte Coliseum, on March 5. Nelson would go on to win the match by disqualification.

That brings us to the Final Conflict. March 12, 1983. The Greensboro Coliseum. 16,000 people in the building.

How many people were turned away? Depending on who you ask, anywhere between 6,000 and maybe even 600,000 people were denied entry into the biggest night in the history of Jim Crockett Promotions. Reports at the time claimed 6,000 turned away, with the police asking radio stations to ask that anyone without a ticket please stop trying to head towards the building. About two months later, when the national magazines such as The Wrestler and Inside Wrestling had a chance to hit the newsstands, the claim was up to 16,000 - which made for tidy headlines such as “16,000 attend; 16,000 turned away!”

Winning the World tag team titles for the third time, Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat then relinquished the Mid-Atlantic tag team titles. Hey! Remember those? Steamboat and Youngblood’s reign would be the last time the regional belts would see such heights. From there, the final three championship teams included the One Man Gang and Kelly Kiniski, Rufus R. Jones and Bugsy McGraw, and the Long Riders team of Black Bart and Ron Bass, managed by JJ Dillon.

A week after their victory, on March 19’s weekend of television, Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood were shown being interviewed by David Crockett. They were cutting a celebratory promo when Slaughter and Kernodle came out to remind the baby faces that they have rematches coming to them. And they’d be demanding those encounters also take place inside a steel cage.

As the next two weeks of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling went off the air, Slaughter and Kernodle made their way to the podium to put some more steam on their rematch challenges.

Nelson would still be a factor, as well. On March 26, at the Charlotte Coliseum, Slaughter, Kernodle, and United States champion Greg Valentine faced Steamboat, Youngblood, and Nelson in the main event.

Even though the feud climaxed in Greensboro, the two teams wouldn’t be finished with each other, yet. On March 27 in Toronto, the teams did a replay of the March 12 bloodbath in a cage, this time with Johnny Weaver as the special referee.

Once again, of course, Steamboat and Youngblood came out victorious.

The show drew 18,777 fans, and also featured Ric Flair defeating Roddy Piper to retain the NWA World title, and Private Jim Nelson defeating Terry Kay to regain the Canadian Television title.

While Kernodle and Slaughter were looking to get back their titles, they were also still looking to get revenge on their former partner, Jim Nelson - which they did on both television shows, the weekend of April 9.

During Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Slaughter and Kernodle had a chance at an easy victory against Nelson and Mike Davis, choosing instead to get disqualified by continuing to attack Nelson after delivering a Slaughter Cannon and the Cobra Clutch. Ricky Steamboat, Jay Youngblood, and Mike Rotundo would run out to make the save.

Meanwhile, over on World Wide Wrestling, the Marines suffered the same fate against Nelson and Mike Rotundo, losing by disqualification. Slaughter and Kernodle left Nelson lying after a Cannon and a Cobra Clutch, causing Youngblood and Steamboat to come out and chase them off.

This led to a rematch on May 1, also in Greensboro, where the team stakes would rise again. This time when the four men faced off in a no-DQ, no count-out match with two referees, the losing side would never be able to team again. Steamboat pinned Kernodle with a flying bodypress, and the team of Kernodle and Slaughter would be done for good. Unfortunately, interest in the feud peaked weeks earlier and the show drew only 6,200, and is more defined as being the night that Greg Valentine savaged Roddy Piper’s ear, which would lead to their match at Starrcade ‘83, that November.

Nine days later, Kernodle would defeat Marshall Bovee at the Agricultural Hall in Allentown, Pennsylvania, as he made his first television taping for the World Wrestling Federation. Unfortunately, this win over Bovee would be one of the few that Kernodle would pick up in the WWF, as he was immediately slotted in the lower portion of the card.

Kernodle would return to Charlotte, one more time, on May 15 to finish out his run with JCP. In the deciding match of a round robin tournament, which featured Jack and Jerry Brisco defeating tag team champions Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat by disqualification in the deciding match. Slaughter and Kernodle lost to both teams, and they’d both depart full-time to the World Wrestling Federation.

On May 23, 1983, Kernodle would make his debut at Madison Square Garden, facing off against Baron Mikel Sciculna. Kernodle started as the default babyface against the veteran heel. But, he’d employ the same rough tactics as Scicluna, as the bout wore on.

Kernodle would win the match with a sunset flip and, soon-after, he’d take on the nickname “The Pride of the South,” coming to the ring wearing a Confederate flag as a cape.

Kernodle and Sgt. Slaughter would continue to be involved in storylines when the pair visited Toronto to wrestle for the Tunney family. Kernodle would also enter into an alliance with Leo Burke and Kelly Kiniski, dubbing themselves “The Rat Pack.”

On August 7, 1983 Kernodle made it to the finals of the vacant NWA Canadian Television title tournament, but fell to Mike Rotundo. But, on October 16, Kernodle would turn the tables, and take the title.

Kernodle’s first title defense would come two weeks later, on October 30, defeating a familiar face: Johnny Weaver.

Trips to Toronto would be the only times Kernodle would attain success while working for the WWF. However, the company gave us a glimpse into the future when Kerndole would team with Ivan Koloff, on August 13 in Philadelphia, against The Invaders. A match they would lose.

Kernodle would wrestle his last match for the WWF on November 26, 1983 at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland, defeating Bob Bradley. The Washington D.C. suburb was the furthest town south Kernodle could work before stepping over the mythical Beltway border that separated Titan Sports from Jim Crockett Promotions.

A little over a week later, on December 3, Kernodle re-debuted in the Mid-Atlantic area, losing to Angelo Mosca Sr in Hampton Roads, Virginia. The next day, he was back in Toronto, where he and Slaughter teamed up again, losing to Mosca and Blackjack Mulligan. On December 17’s Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Kernodle would align himself with manager Gary Hart, and defeat Pete Martin. After the bout, Kernodle continued to pour it on, reestablishing his intensity.

Kernodle’s reputation needed no rehabbing when it came to smart pro wrestling fans of the era. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter Annual saw the March 12 cage match win Best Match of the Year, while Steamboat and Youngblood took home the Tag Team of the Year. Slaughter and Kernodle finished seventh in the category. Kernodle tied for fifth with Chic Donovan for Most Underrated, in an award won in a landslide by The Dynamite Kid.

In the main event of a show that was supposed to symbolically end an era, Ricky Steamboat defeated Sgt. Slaughter, on January 8, 1984 in what was billed, at the time, as Steamboat’s retirement match. On loan from the WWF, Slaughter came back to Charlotte for one night, losing the match by disqualification.

Due to Ricky Steamboat’s retirement, a ten-team tournament was also held that night to determine the next NWA World tag team champions. Names included The Youngbloods, The Assassins, Angelo Mosca Sr and Jr, Rufus R Jones and Bubba Smith - not the football player, but the wrestler better known in Florida as Bubba Douglas, Buzz Sawyer and Wahoo McDaniel, Ivan Koloff and Ernie Ladd, Dory Funk Jr and Jimmy Valiant, Kerry and David Von Erich (in from Dallas), the Road Warriors (in from Georgia), and, of course, the final team: Bob Orton Jr and Don Kernodle.

Former champion Jay Youngblood, along with his brother Mark, were eliminated in the first round by the Assassins team (consisting of Jody Hamilton and Hercules Hernandez). Conversely, Kernodle and his new partner Cowboy Bob had a much more successful time.

During the tournament, Kernodle and Orton received one of two byes in the first round, with the Moscas having the other. They defeated the Von Erichs in the quarterfinal, and received another bye through the semifinals due to the Road Warriors match against Wahoo and Sawyer ending in a double disqualification. Finally, they topped Valiant and Funk to win the belts.

The show would become even more notable as being David Von Erich’s only appearance in the Carolinas, before passing away on February 10, in Tokyo.

Two weeks later, on January 22 in Toronto, Kernodle faced off against Tito Santana. A month before he would defeat Don Muraco for the Intercontinental championship, Santana defeated Kernodle - who was the Canadian Television champion. But, as per the rules, Kernodle survived with his title, as it took Santana more than 15 minutes to defeat him.

As World tag team champions, Kernodle and Orton would defend their titles against Wahoo McDaniel and Angelo Mosca Sr, Greg Valentine and Dory Funk Jr, as well as the Youngblood brothers.

The city of Greensboro continued to be good to Kernodle, as he and Orton defeated the Youngbloods, on February 4, in front of a reported 6,000 fans. On February 27 in Greenville, South Carolina, the four men battled to an hour-long draw in a no DQ title match.

A side note about February 4, on that weekend’s Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Koloff was given an American flag by Kernodle and Orton, and given “honorary citizenship” - a decision that, months later, Kernodle would come to rue.

Kernodle’s rivalry with Jay Youngblood once again turned nasty, when on February 18’s edition of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, the champions lost a non-title match to Mark Youngblood and Wahoo McDaniel. After Mark pinned Kernodle, Jay jumped into the ring to help his friends celebrate. This led to the champions knocking their opponents to the floor, and double-teaming Jay.

But, the best working tag team in North America didn’t hold onto the belts for long, as Kernodle and the Cowboy would drop the titles on March 4, after Orton had given his notice. By the end of the month, he’d be working TV tapings for the WWF.

With Orton leaving the picture, he and Kernodle would drop a series of Texas Tornado matches to the new champions. Sadly, one of the best working combinations in the business would be finished - but only until the next Kernodle pairing came along.

We’d get a tease of it on the March 24 edition of World Wide Wrestling when Kernodle teamed with his Gary Hart stablemate, and Mid-Atlantic champion, Ivan Koloff in a winning effort over Brickhouse Brown and Gene Ligon.

By the beginning of April, the pair had made their intentions clear about taking the World tag team champions from Wahoo McDaniel and Mark Youngblood, who had been furiously feuding with Jack and Jerry Brisco.  

Koloff would drop the Mid-Atlantic title to Angelo Mosca Jr at an April 22 taping of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. A little over two weeks later, on May 8 in Raleigh, Kernodle and Koloff finally defeated Youngblood and McDaniel, bringing the belts back into the fold of Hart. Days later, the new champions would appear on World Wide Wrestling during the same episode that saw Dory Funk Jr - portraying The Masked Outlaw - also bring the Mid-Atlantic title back to Hart’s camp.

The champions would face a trifecta of Mark Youngblood teams, facing his unions with Wahoo, his brother Jay, and new partner Pez Whatley. Kernodle also was part of a unique match in Roanoke on May 27, 1984, when he teamed with Television champion Tully Blanchard in a loss to Wahoo McDaniel and the Junkyard Dog in a double strap and dog chain match.

On May 29, Kernodle would be part of the very first Star Wars show, taking place at The Meadowlands. The joint promotion featured wrestlers from Crockett Promotions, the AWA, Jarrett Promotions in Memphis, Puerto Rico’s World Wrestling Council, and Georgia Championship Wrestling. Kernodle and Koloff would defend their NWA World tag team titles by defeating Whatley and Youngblood, cleanly.

On June 2 in Roanoke, we got a little inter-promotional mean guy action as the National tag team champion Road Warriors brawled to a no contest with Kernodle and Koloff, on the undercard of a Ric Flair title defense against Dick Slater.

This may have been around the time that Kernodle had spoken to Road Warrior Animal, Joe Laurinitis, about Animal’s friend Scott Simpson, who was looking for work.

On June 7 in Norfolk, during their barnstorming away from World Class and before they ended up in the WWF, The Fabulous Freebirds descended upon the area and Buddy Roberts and Terry Gordy defeated Koloff and Kernodle by disqualification.

Three days later, the Pride of the Carolinas headed up to Toronto, where he would drop the Canadian Television title to Brian Adidas.

Back on the homefront, as NWA tag team champions, Kernodle and Koloff were facing a variety of teams, with the one breathing down their necks the most being Mark Youngblood and Jay Youngblood - now under the guise of “The Renegade.”

The two teams would dominate each other’s dance cards from May into September.

While business was down in the territory in 1984, Kernodle would occasionally have opportunities to wrestle unique opponents.

On July 8, he revisited another era when he and Ivan Koloff would face off against Ole & Gene Anderson, in Asheville, NC, and defeat the reunited Wrecking Crew by disqualification. In September, he and Koloff battled to a draw against new territory babyfaces Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo, and also faced Windham’s teams with Ricky Steamboat and Dusty Rhodes. On July 23, he teamed with both Koloffs and dropped a six-man by DQ to The Youngbloods and their special guest from New Orleans, The Junkyard Dog.

Rewinding, for a moment, to June 9’s weekend of television, Mid-Atlantic fans saw the first appearance of the new Russian monster - Nikita Koloff - billed as the nephew of Ivan. With the entrance of Nikita, a new dynamic was created.

Kernodle had spoken with Joe Laurinitis - better known as Road Warrior Animal - when Laurinitis brought up the name of his former college football teammate, a bodybuilder named Scott Simpson. Since the eastern bloc countries were boycotting the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, in retaliation for America’s boycott of Moscow in 1980, Kernodle came up with the idea for Ivan’s nephew to be a weightlifter who was livid that his opportunity for a gold medal was taken away from him. Simpson became Nikita Koloff, who began referring to Kernodle as his “coach,” and the rest would go down in history.

One moment of fictitious history would be any suggestion that Kernodle and the Koloffs had defeated the Fabulous Freebirds for the NWA World six-man tag team championship, as was done during July 21’s World Wide Wrestling, when the trio defeated Tom Shaft, Rufus R. Jones and Angelo Mosca Jr.

Taped in Greenwood, South Carolina on July 25, and airing for the first time in local markets on July 28, Nikita Koloff opens Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling by wiping out Sam Houston. Later, Nikita joined his Uncle Ivan and The Pride for an interview with Bob Caudle. After Kernodle did a little bragging, Ivan began to talk about his nephew. He referenced The Olympics, for which Nikita was storyline training. “The Russian Bear” turned his attention to Kernodle. Ivan noted that Kernodle helped get Nikita into the country, and did such a good job training him for wrestling that he hasn’t been knocked off his feet, let alone lost. Nikita then thanked his coach, presented him with one of the gold medals that he’d been wearing since his debut, and gave him a big embrace.

A month later, on August 25, Ivan gave Nikita “the family chain,” before he joined Kernodle in the ring to face off against The Youngbloods.

While Kernodle and Koloff had hooked it up with Dusty Rhodes and Manny Fernandez in different scenarios, the two babyfaces hadn’t declared themselves a team until the September 22 weekend of TV, when they said they wanted a shot at the World tag team titles. As soon as they did, swift retribution was in order. Rhodes was already familiar with the Russians and Kernodle, due to getting thrashed after winning a left-handed (literally, not just a figure of speech) arm-wrestling contest against Nikita, on September 8, and then getting beaten down for it.

Two weeks later, on World Wide Wrestling, as Rhodes and Fernandez finished up their match, Kernodle and the Koloffs attacked and the three busted open Fernandez with their steel chain.

As Jim Crockett Promotions barrelled towards the Starrcade Rally and United States title tournament, taking place in Greensboro and Charlotte, respectively that weekend, Saturday’s television would be taped on October 2, in Columbia, South Carolina. But, as can be the case, plans change. Dusty Rhodes had taken over for Dory Funk Jr as the booker for JCP in late 1983. As 1984 came to its close, his plans for the future would begin to come together. One of the main pieces of the puzzle was supposed to be Barry Windham, who was tapped to win the United States title tournament that Sunday in Charlotte.

But, Windham, his brother-in-law Mike Rotundo, and his father Blackjack Mulligan, all quit the company on that Thursday, October 4. Not only did that throw a monkey wrench in the title tourney, but it also forced a change in Kernodle and Koloff’s match at the Starrcade rally. Ole Anderson had cut a promo a few weeks earlier, on television, threatening his return to the area. He was scheduled to team with Windham to face off against Kernodle and Koloff at the Starrcade Rally on October 6. Ivan Koloff even mentioned it during that weekend’s television, decreeing the champs just found out that Windham and Anderson were the number one contenders for the belts.

With Windham leaving, Brian Adidas stepped into the spot and ate the loss against Kernodle and Koloff, and Ole would disappear back down to Georgia. The next day, on October 7 in Charlotte, Kernodle would lose in the first round of the US title tournament to Dusty Rhodes, and the title was eventually won by Wahoo McDaniel.

The next weekend, on the October 13 edition of World Wide Wrestling, Manny Fernandez baited Kernodle into putting up the tag team titles against himself and Dusty Rhodes - inside of a steel cage.

So, once again for Don Kernodle, it all came down to Greensboro. October 20, 1984. The NWA World tag team championships, inside of a steel cage. With the territory in a slump, attendance was only 4,329 - which was still higher than many shows during the first half of the year. But, the angle that came from it would become an easy-to-tell, emotional story that played itself out across television over the next several months.

As was usually the case inside the fence, men bled - with Kernodle’s face looking like a full crimson mask by the time the finish came. The bout ended after referee Tommy Young was knocked over, and Nikita Koloff tossed a pair of brass knuckles over the top of the cage to Kernodle.

Pride nailed Fernandez in the ribs, as he attempted to work over Ivan Koloff, before turning his attention to Rhodes. Kernodle charged the Dream, who sidestepped, and ended up face first into the cage. Rhodes delivered a bionic elbow to Kernodle, grabbed the object, and punched Koloff in the back of the head. Koloff fell backwards with Fernandez on top of him, and Tommy Young rolled over to count the pin.

After the match, Nikita Koloff was furious. And, as Kernodle tried to collect himself, he ate a Russian Sickle clothesline. Ivan immediately jumped in to help his nephew, and the pair proceeded to slam Kernodle’s already bloody face into the cage. The Koloffs grabbed their steel chain and proceeded to clothesline their now-former partner across the throat with it, but they didn’t stop there. Nikita picked up Kernodle, as Ivan climbed to the top rope with the chain. He proceeded to deliver a Slaughter Cannon type of clothesline, with the chain wrapped around his arm, and Kernodle fell to the mat on the back of his neck.

The Koloffs did the same thing a second time, although Kernodle’s landing this time around was much more protected by Nikita. Referees Tommy Young and Sonny Fargo attempted to stop the Russians, and they were joined by undercard wrestler - and real life Kernodle brother - Keith Larsen. Larsen also met the mesh fence, and the team of international unity was officially no more.

Seven days later, television viewers would get to see what went down in Greensboro between Kernodle and the Koloffs, and - just like that - the former American turncoat began to be transformed into a redemption story. Footage of Kernodle’s parents entering the ring as Don is being tended to was played and, as he was stretchered out, the question of whether he’d ever be healthy enough to return would be pondered.

This is from World Wide Wrestling...

Later in the show, a VTR would be played of Kernodle at his parents' home. Laid out in a bed, flanked by his parents and wearing a neck brace, The Pride of the Carolinas told the viewing audience that he was hurt badly. He said he could be out for a significant period of time, before thanking his family, and expressing remorse for his actions.

On crutches and in a neck brace, Kernodle would return to television on November 10. He stood beside his mother and his brother for an interview on World Wide Wrestling, with David Crockett. Kernodle thanked his family for standing by him, as he recovered. We’d see a VTR from Don’s father, supporting his son, before Pride moved his attention toward Starrcade ‘84. Kernodle is doubtful he’ll be able to make it, but he has a man in mind for revenge - Ole Anderson.

Anderson, who was running the depleted Championship Wrestling from Georgia, noted he helped to break Kernodle into the business, before announcing he’d reveal his mystery partner for Starrcade next week.

The next week, Kernodle once again joined David Crockett - this time on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, to discuss who Ole Anderson’s partner would be. The Rock has chosen Don’s brother Keith Larson - which didn’t make The Pride very happy.

That, of course, takes us to Thanksgiving night, November 22 - Starrcade ‘84.

54,755 between live attendance and closed circuit - which would combine to create the largest gate in the history of pro wrestling, to that point. An event which wouldn’t have come into being without Kernodle’s work in paving the road to Greensboro the year prior.

That night, the Koloffs defeated Larson and Anderson, when the future Rocky Kernodle walked into a right hand from Ivan that was wrapped in a steel chain. After the match, Nikita ran Ole into the post, and the Russians attempted to do more damage. Don Kernodle, who had been knocked to the concrete earlier by Nikita, was able to make the save and get a small measure of revenge afterwards, by running the heels off.

Two days after Greensboro, the syndicated TV that was taped two days prior to Greensboro, started to hit the airwaves. Holding pattern shows, which wouldn’t reveal the hand of Starrcade to the live fans - but also wouldn’t be able to be post-produced in time to directly speak about what happened on Thanksgiving night - Don Kernodle made appearances on both Mid-Atlantic and World Wide.

On Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Kernodle joined David Crockett on commentary during Ivan Koloff’s match with Tommy Lane. While over on World Wide Wrestling, Kernodle joined Manny Fernandez during an interview, and then stuck around to once again provide commentary with Tony Schiavone, as Ivan Koloff thrashed Mike Fever.

Kernodle’s mea culpa to the fans, and partnership with his tag title successor Manny Fernandez, paid dividends on the house show circuit. Still selling his injury, Kernodle would see Fernandez and Rhodes take up the battle to try and get the American flag that he gave Koloff back.

That match in Greensboro saw the good guys get the victory over the Russians, but Kernodle wasn’t satisfied with letting others get the revenge for him. It also marked the debut of the incoming Krusher Kruschev, who joined names like Magnum TA, Superstar Billy Graham, Steve Casey and The Barbarian, as new faces in the area.

On December 1’s Mid-Atlantic show, Kernodle would attack both Koloffs after a match where Nikita had defeated Gene Ligon, but the Russians continued their attack. Much to the chagrin of the announcers, who worried about his weakened condition.

And that weak neck would be the focus of the TV on December 8. Still in a neck brace, Kernodle was shown working out with his brother, as the Koloffs commented over the tape. About two minutes of the film are shown with Kernodle heavily favoring his neck, as Ivan Koloff runs him down.

But fans knew Kernodle was on the comeback trail. And, as the month went on, promos began to play including the announcement that he’d be involved in flag matches himself.

This would bring storyline doom for Keith Larson.

During a cage match on December 9 in Charlotte, Dusty Rhodes and Manny Fernandez had received Larson’s help in defeating the Koloffs. Two days later in Spartanburg, in a match shown on December 15’s World Wide Wrestling, Larson took Mark Fleming’s place, teaming with Sam Houston against the Koloffs.

The Russians quickly disposed of Houston, without Larson ever tagging in. After the match, Larson looked to attack, but ended up being hung with a chain over the ropes. Don Kernodle, among others, hit the ring to chase off the bad guys, before he ripped off his neck brace and cut an impassioned promo.

Kernodle hit the ground running on his comeback, jumping into both singles and tag team flag matches against the Koloffs. He returned on Christmas afternoon in Greenville, South Carolina defeating Nikita Koloff, before heading to Charlotte for a loaded television taping where he knocked off Ivan.

This kicked off the next phase of the feud: Kernodle’s quest to take back the American flag he had given Ivan the year prior. For tag team flag matches, one of Kernodle’s most common partners was Manny Fernandez, who was in the unique position of being tag team champion with Dusty Rhodes - one of the biggest singles stars in the company. In addition to dealing with Kernodle, Ivan Koloff had also amplified his intentions on taking back said championships from The Bull and The Dream.   

December 22’s syndicated TV shows served as an end-of-the-year special. On it, Dusty Rhodes reflected on his tag team title victory and was joined by the proud American, who reiterated his commitment to bring home the flag.

Considering that Nikita Koloff was Kernodle’s idea, and The Russian Nightmare would have a tremendous 1985, Dusty was right when he said Kernodle had the key to wrestling in America over the next year.

On Christmas night, the company was in Charlotte doing a big show which also served as a television taping for that weekend’s Mid-Atlantic Championship and World Wide Wrestling. In a flag match, Don Kernodle defeated his former partner Ivan Koloff, and took possession of his American flag. Rules stipulated that both Keith Larsen and Nikita Koloff were banned from ringside. But, after the match, Nikita ran down and helped to double-team Kernodle until Dusty Rhodes made the save.

As the year came to a close, once again, Kernodle would be recognized by the hardest-core of wrestling fans. In the 1984 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Annual, Kernodle repeated a fifth-place finish in the Most Underrated category, receiving 12 of the 69 reported first place votes.

As was usually the case with The Pride of the Carolinas, his path led back to the Greensboro Coliseum, for Kickoff ‘85, on January 6. Jim Crockett Promotions marketed 1985 as its 50th Anniversary (despite patriarch Jim Crockett Sr beginning several years prior), and Kernodle would have another opportunity to face off against The Russian Bear, with the flags on the line.

The syndicated TV which began airing that weekend would show the footage of Kernodle winning the match against Ivan on Christmas night, but getting beaten down and having the American flag taken from him.

Once we got to Sunday night in Greensboro, things were taken to another level.

Kernodle defeated Koloff to claim the flag but, after the bout, Ivan threw the referee into the cage as Nikita came in and locked the door behind him. As the Koloffs double teamed Kernodle, Ricky Steamboat ran down to the ring, pulled the cage door off its hinges, and helped fight off the Russians.

Video of that was the cold opening of that weekend’s World Wide Wrestling. However, the heat of the weekend came from the flagship Mid-Atlantic Championship program, which was taped before World Wide.

Early in the program, Steamboat and Kernodle had cut a promo about what had taken place in Greensboro. Later, Ivan Koloff faced off against Mark Fleming. After the match, Koloff began screaming at Steamboat, telling him to come down to the ring. Steamboat acquiesced, but was attacked from behind by Nikita Koloff who walloped him with a Russian sickle to the back of the head.

In the first two months of the year, on house shows, Kernodle would team up with Steamboat, his brother Rocky, Magnum TA, Dick Slater, Manny Fernandez, Jimmy Valiant, and Dusty Rhodes, in both tag and six-man tag efforts against the Koloffs and Krusher Kruschev, who was now in the area full-time.

On February 17 in Greensboro, the back and forth continued as Ivan defeated Kernodle in a Russian Chain match. Something was going to have to give in this battle, and The Pride of the USA knew exactly what to do.

On that weekend’s TV, Kernodle was attacked by Nikita and Krusher Kruschev, after he issued a challenge for a tag team match. Kernodle was announcing that he was bringing back “the best partner he ever had” when he was jumped by the pair.

Bringing Sgt. Slaughter back as a crusading hero had been something that Kernodle had originally envisioned when he got the ball rolling on the career path of Nikita Koloff, the previous summer. Kernodle pictured a scenario where the Koloffs would turn on him, and he’d rally the fans to petition for the promotion to allow him and Slaughter to team again.

Unfortunately, due to wrestling politics, once Slaughter left the WWF his options were limited. With Dusty Rhodes in place as the booker, and top babyface, a full-time return to the Carolinas was not going to be in the cards - especially when Magnum TA was being positioned, firmly, as 1A. As a result, Slaughter would begin working for Verne Gagne’s AWA in January 1985. But, before he did, we would end up getting a version of the old Marine team, one more time.

Two years after Kernodle and Slaughter helped make the Greensboro Coliseum, in March, the place to be - and a year after Boogie Jam ‘84 drew 13,900 people to the building - Jim Crockett Promotions announced Silver Starr ‘85 to take place on March 16.

The event would serve as a hybrid show, as it would feature matches that would be taped for TV, as well as being beamed throughout the region on closed-circuit television. There would be several title matches, including Dusty Rhodes-Tully Blanchard for the Television title, and Ric Flair defending his World title against United States champion Wahoo McDaniel.

But, for many, the real appeal was seeing the now-heroic Sgt Slaughter back into the area, teaming with old friend Don Kernodle - and new friend Magnum TA - against the devious Russians.

Of course, the road to that match wasn’t going to be smooth. As a result of their losses to Steamboat and Youngblood a few years prior, Slaughter and Kernodle were not allowed to team together anymore - a fact that Ivan Koloff wasn’t going to forget.

Special troubleshooting official Sandy Scott reported the NWA’s official ruling on the controversy. Scott noted that while Slaughter and Kerndole were not able to team up with each other in an Australian rules tag, they could be on the same side in a larger tag match - such as a six-man tag. Which, of course, worked out perfectly.

On March 2, 1985 we saw the contract signing by the three babyfaces, at the offices of Jim Crockett Promotions, and heard some final words before the event.

Two weeks later, on March 16, before 9,947 fans at the Greensboro Coliseum, the former World tag team champions and Magnum TA defeated the Russian contingent, much to the delight of the fans.

Taped a few days prior to Greensboro, that TV from the weekend on March 16 saw Don and his brother - now known as Wally “Rocky” Kernodle - announce they were a new tag team on the scene.

Kernodle would spend the rest of the spring competing in singles, tags and, six-mans against the Russians, with teammates such as Manny Fernandez, Pez Whatley, Buzz Tyler, Johnny Weaver, Magnum TA, Dick Slater, and his brother. With the only real deviation from this coming when Kernodle would have a series with arrogant area newcomer Nature Boy Buddy Landel, and his manager JJ Dillon.

On May 26, 1985, Kernodle and Slater would face the Koloffs in Fayetteville, before The Pride of the Carolina’s would disappear from the scene for several months.

He’d return in October, with his first reported match taking place on the 4th in Hampton, Virginia - a losing effort against Superstar Billy Graham. Because old habits die hard, Kernodle would once again face-off against the Russians, teaming with the Rock and Roll Express to defeat the Koloffs and Krusher Kruschev on October 10 in Raleigh.

Over the next few months, Kernodle would get a last collection of championship matches under the banner of Jim Crockett Promotions.

On April 15, 1986 in Lansing, Michigan, the Midnight Express defeated Ricky Morton and Kernodle, who filled in for an absent Robert Gibson. According to Jim Cornette’s 25th Anniversary Scrapbook, the show’s gate was $22,800.

On April 21, 1986 Kernodle battled NWA World Television champion Arn Anderson to a draw in a match that would be aired on NWA Pro Wrestling, the spiritual successor to Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. A few weeks later, on May 5 in Greenville, SC, Kerndole won his Mid-Atlantic heavyweight championship challenge against Black Bart, but by disqualification.

On June 24, 1986, Kernodle would get one more opportunity to face off across from the man who initially broke him into the business - Ole Anderson - at a taping of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, when the Minnesota Wrecking Crew of Ole and Arn Anderson defeated Don and Rocky.

It appeared as if Kernodle was paired with Dick Murdoch, when on the August 2 edition of World Wide Wrestling, Pride introduced Captain Redneck back into the area.

Sadly, that was not to be. Kernodle would end up getting his last championship match in Jim Crockett Promotions on November 1, 1986 in Philadelphia. Teaming with Hector Guerrero, the pair lost a United States tag team championship match to his old partner, Ivan Koloff, and the man who ultimately replaced him, Krusher Kruschev.

November would prove to be the winter of Kernodle’s time in JCP. But there was one more high moment to go. Three years after main eventing the match that inspired the event, Don Kernodle finally got to get in the ring and wrestle on his first Starrcade show.

He and his brother Rocky lost to Nelson Royal and Tim Horner in Greensboro, in the match that would kick off the two-city event.

Two days later, on November 29 1986, Kernodle would wrestle his last listed match with Jim Crockett Promotions, defeating Gary Royal at the Philadelphia Civic Center.

Kernodle would stay semi-active for years afterward, working local shows, and attending fanfests and other functions. When his old friend Nelson Royal decided to try his hand at promoting with Atlantic Coast Wrestling in late 1988 and 1989, Kernodle jumped in with both feet.

The promotion, which got regional TV time on cable network Home Team Sports for a short period, would feature many names familiar to late-era Crockett fans, such as Baby Doll, The Rock & Roll Express, Ivan and Nikita Koloff, Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin, Scott Armstrong and Sam Houston. Many others were best known for their fall guy work on JCP TV: George South, Ricky Gibson, Gene Ligon, Joel and Vernon Deaton, Todd Champion, The MOD Squad, David Isley, Trent Knight, Tommy Angel, Rick Nelson, and Colt Steele.

No surprise, Kernodle was a main event player and feuded with fellow veteran Pretty Boy Doug Sommers for the ACW heavyweight championship. 

Most prominently, in recent years, Kernodle also lent himself to CWF Mid-Atlantic, where he made a few appearances inside the ring, and plenty outside of it. In 2017, the promotion would honor the reputation of Don and Rocky by instituting the annual Kernodle Brothers Tag Team Tournament. 

The Pride of the Carolinas was scheduled for induction into the George Tragos-Lou Thesz Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Iowa, this summer. Something he had told people was the biggest honor of his career, because the induction recognized his amateur wrestling credentials, as well as his pro wrestling fame. 

Don Kernodle passed away on May 17, 2021 at the age of 71.

Thank you for reading, and please listen to the Mid-Atlantic Championship Podcast on the Arcadian Vanguard podcasting network. For more information on the show, and for daily moments of zen from throughout the history of Jim Crockett Promotions, please follow @midatlanticpod on Twitter.

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Links to the Don Kernodle episodes: