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FORMER NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPION DON KERNODLE PASSES AWAY

By Mike Johnson on 2021-05-17 19:45:00
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by PWInsider.com (@pwinsider)

PWInsider.com is sad to report the passing of Don Kernodle, who performed for Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, the WWE and the NWA, among other promotions, earlier today.    Kernodle, 71 at the time of his passing, had been dealing with a number of health issues in recent years.

Born Charles Donald Kernodle Jr., he lettered four times in amateur wrestling while growing up in North Carolina and was a two-time national arm wrestling champion before being broken into the business by Ole and Gene Anderson. 

Kernodle debuted in 1973 for Jim Crockett Promotions after stepping in the ring to wrestle Bob Roop in what was billed as a legitimate challenge.      

Kernodle had a memorable run in the early 1980s as a member of Sgt. Slaughter’s Cobra Corp., including a run with Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship alongside Jim Nelson (the future Boris Zukhov) as they defeated Jay Youngblood and Porkchop Cash.  

After Nelson’s departure, Kernodle regularly teamed with Sgt. Slaughter, with the duo winning the NWA World Tag Team Championship (their win was part of a fictional tournaent in Japan) to set up a feud against Ricky Steamboat and Youngblood.  The feud built to a steel cage match at the The Charlotte Coliseum on 3/12/82, a bout that was so hot a ticket that thousands were turned away at the door and the babyfaces in that main event, Steamboat and Youngblood, had to park their car and walk through the traffic jam as there was no other way for them to reach the building.  The success of the match spurred on the idea of using closed circuit for Starrcade when that event was instituted on Thanksgiving night 1983.

While never under contract to the WWF, Kernodle appeared on WWF, defeating enhancement talents but losing to pushed babyfaces of the era, including Rocky Johnson and Tito Santana.  Kernodle also worked a number of events co-promoted by the WWF with the Tunney family in Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens Arena from 1982-1984, including a bout where he won the NWA Canadian TV title from Jay Youngblood.

In the mid-1980s, Kernodle returned to Jim Crockett Promotions as a heel, initially managed by Gary Hart and teaming with Bob Orton Jr., having another run with the NWA World Tag Titles.

Kernodle later took part in an angle where he aligned himself with Ivan Koloff as something of a Russian sympathizer. Years later, in an interview with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway, Kernodle denied he ever actually turned on the United States, commenting, "An American turning on his damn country. Well, you know guys, I never really turned on the country. I just said, ‘What do you get when you get the greatest American wrestler and the greatest Russian wrestler and you team them up? You get the World Tag Team Champions!’"

Koloff and Kernodle won the NWA World Tag Team Titles from Wahoo McDaniel and Mark Youngblood during a Greensboro, NC house show.  When Nikita Koloff debuted as “The Russian Nightmare”, the story was that Kernodle helped train Ivan’s storyline nephew and the trio held the NWA Six Man Tag Team Championship.

The Koloffs turned on Kernodle after he and Ivan lost the NWA World Tag Titles following a five month reign, dropping them to Manny Fernandez and Dusty Rhodes.  After the bout, the Koloffs beat Kernodle down after the match.  Now firmly a babyface, Kernodle began teaming with his brother Rocky as they feuded with The Koloffs and then took part in Starrcade ‘85, helping The Rock N’ Roll Express defeat Ivan and Nikita in a steel cage to win the NWA Tag Team Titles.

Kernodle also made appearances for the World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico, holding the WWC Puerto Rican and WWC TV titles.

The Kernodles departed Crockett Promotions in 1986.  In his post-wrestling life, he became a Sergeant for Immigration Customs Enforcement for Alamance County and was later a deputy sheriff in Alamance County as well.

In 2002, The Kernodles began to make semi-regular appearances for the CWF Mid-Atlantic promotion in Burlingon, North Carolina and were regulars at the Greg Price conventions in Charlotte celebrating the history of the NWA and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling.

PWInsider.com sends our deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of Don Kernodle.

You can check out an excellent interview with Don Kernodle with Mid-Atlantic Gateway at this link.

If you enjoy PWInsider.com you can check out the AD-FREE PWInsider Elite section, which features exclusive audio updates, news, our critically acclaimed podcasts, interviews and more by clicking here!

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