Don Kernodle, a former WWE and NWA star died on Monday. He was 71 years old. According to the Wrestling Observer, Kernodle's death was self-inflicted, but there are no other details at this time. It has been known that Kernodle dealt with various health issues over the past several years.
"WWE is saddened to learn that Don Kernodle passed away at the age of 71," WWE said in a statement. "Kernodle broke into the sports-entertainment world with Jim Crockett Promotions in 1973. The grappler burst onto the scene of the National Wrestling Alliance as part of Sgt. Slaughter's 'Cobra Corps,' teaming with Slaughter and Pvt. Jim Nelson. The partnership spawned multiple NWA World and Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship reigns for Kernodle, battling the likes of Ricky Steamboat, Jay Youngblood, Iceman King Parsons and others."
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
Kernodle spent time in WWE throughout 1982 and 1983 as a team with Nelson. He also competed in singles action and took on the likes of Tito Santana and Ricky Johnson. There were a number of legends to pay tribute to Kernodle, including Tommy Dreamer and Ric Flair.
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
"Kernodle was best known in the Carolinas as Sgt. Slaughter's tag team partner as one of the best and most underrated historical teams from the early 80s," Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer wrote. "Many consider the Slaughter and Kernodle cage match with Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood in 1983 as the most important wrestling match ever in the Carolinas since its success in turning so many fans away led to the first Starrcade later that year where they the show was available via closed circuit around the territory."
After his time in WWE, Kernodle returned to NWA and have success until he left in 1986. He later competed in independent promotions and then entered the world of law enforcement. Kernodle was set to be inducted into the Lou Thesz/George Tragos Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in July.