Yesterday, the NWA broke the sad news that Don Kernodle was dead at 71 years of age.
The National Wrestling Alliance is saddened to hear about the passing of multi-time NWA Tag Champion Don Kernodle. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.— NWA (@nwa) May 18, 2021
RIP Don pic.twitter.com/t7Dgd80PER
A North Carolina native who was trained by Ole & Gene Anderson, Kernodle was a star in Jim Crockett Promotions’ Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in the 1970s and ‘80s. He was best known as part of Sgt. Slaughter’s “Cobra Corps”, and twice winning the Mid-Atlantic Tag titles with fellow Corps member Jim Nelson. He & Slaughter eventually also became the NWA World Tag champs, an honor Kernodle attained three times (he also had reigns with Cowboy Bob Orton and Ivan Koloff).
In 1982 and 1983 he appeared for the then-WWF, working singles programs putting over the likes of Rocky Johnson and Tito Santana. It was in ‘83 that his steel cage tag match with Slaughter against Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood did so much business for Crockett that it inspired the promoter to hold the first Starrcade later that year.
He retired from the NWA in 1986, but continued to wrestle occasionally on the independent circuit. Kernodle was also a deputy sheriff in Alamance County, North Carolina. He was slated for a July induction into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.
PWInsider notes Kernodle had been dealing with numerous health issues recently.
Join us in sending condolences to Kernodle’s family and friends. Here’s some of the remembrances being shared by his peers on social media.
WWE is saddened to learn that Don Kernodle passed away at the age of 71.— WWE (@WWE) May 18, 2021
WWE extends its condolences to Kernodle’s family and friends. https://t.co/Ugi9dIKCO2
After A Tremendous Day With Mongo Yesterday, I Arrived Back At The Hotel To Hear That My Friend Don Kernodle Had Passed. One Of My Best Friends And A Great Wrestler In The 70’s & 80’s. I Cannot Thank You Enough For The Friendship And Great Times We Shared. RIP! pic.twitter.com/2m4jGaLYqH— Ric Flair® (@RicFlairNatrBoy) May 18, 2021
I’m so sorry to hear the news! My prayers for his brother Wally, his family, friends and fans! What a great guy! Always enjoyed seeing them at the events in the Carolinas! He’ll be missed! Always came to my Tuff Man competitions in Burlington as well. So sorry to hear the news! pic.twitter.com/yGBoJScQF9— Bobby Fulton (@TheBobbyFulton) May 18, 2021
RIP Don Kernodle. Any fan of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling remembers The Final Conflict in March of 83 in Greensboro. It’s wrestling at its best https://t.co/5f4Ru8qHXj— Tony Schiavone (@tonyschiavone24) May 18, 2021
Sorry to hear of the passing of— Tommy Dreamer (@THETOMMYDREAMER) May 18, 2021
He was 1 hell of a wrestler loved all his Mid Atlantic stuff former 3 time @nwa tag champ
Always enjoyed talking w/him every time I saw him pic.twitter.com/C9S3YDPkqG
RIP Don Kernodle. He was one of my father’s absolute favorite.— SONJAY (@sonjaydutterson) May 18, 2021
I know if dad was still around, he’d be calling me to talk about Don. I remember my dad always told me how Don/Slaughter v Youngblood/Steamboat was one of the greatest matches he ever saw.