Former NWA and WWE star Don Kernodle passed away at the age of 71 this week. The North Carolina native made his debut in the pro wrestling business in 1973 in Jim Crockett Promotions and found success alongside Sgt. Slaughter and Jim Nelson in Mid-Atlantic Championship wrestling as a member of the Cobra Corps. His success within the promotion eventually led him to working on a series of co-promoted cards with the WWF and propelled him to win the NWA World Tag Team Championships three times with three different partners. Both the WWE and the NWA commented on Kernodle's passing shortly after the news broke.
"WWE is saddened to learn that Don Kernodle passed away at the age of 71," WWE wrote in a statement on Tuesday. "... Kernodle competed with WWE throughout 1982 and 1983, as a team with Nelson and in one-on-one bouts against legendary competitors such as Tito Santana and Rocky Johnson. After the singles stint, Kernodle returned to the NWA for memorable tag team runs with Bob Orton Jr. and Ivan Koloff. Kernodle stepped away from the NWA in 1986 but continued to wrestle in a number of independent promotions. Outside the ring, Kernodle served as a deputy sheriff with the Alamance County sheriff's office in North Carolina. WWE extends its condolences to Kernodle's family and friends."
WWE is saddened to learn that Don Kernodle passed away at the age of 71.
WWE extends its condolences to Kernodle’s family and friends. https://t.co/Ugi9dIKCO2— WWE (@WWE) May 18, 2021
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
Several legends of wrestling business have also offered their condolences online.
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
Another day filled with sad news as we learn of the passing of Don Kernodle at the age of 71. We send out our condolences to his friends, fans and family, thank you for the memories Sir. R.I.P. Don pic.twitter.com/FawNivbBQO— CauliflowerAlleyClub (@CACReunion) 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