Updated: Dec 28, 2020
In wrestling, fans of all generations can recall the match or matches that define their fandom, or their favorite era.
Whether it was Johnny Valentine/Wahoo McDaniels, Dusty Rhodes/Ric Flair, Steve Austin/The Rock, a feud between two wrestlers takes tremendous talent and chemistry between two people, but even rarer is a tag team feud. A tag team feud requires four, sometimes five people to be on the same page and make the fans suspend disbelief to buy into the bad blood. The pinnacle of a tag team wrestling feud, in my opinion, is The Midnight Express and The Rock "n" Roll Express.
The Midnight Express, consisting of “Loverboy” Dennis Condrey and “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton was managed by Jim Cornette and found their perfect opponents in Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson. The teams were kind of just thrown together. Jerry “The King” Lawler called Morton and Gibson to Memphis from San Antonio and Pensacola to form a tag team. Condrey had been teaming with Dr. David Schultz, Phil Hickerson, and Randy Rose (original Midnight Express). Bobby Eaton had teamed with George Gulas and Koko Ware, and Jim Cornette was managing several other wrestlers.
The Teams first found their footing in Bill Watts' Mid South Wrestling, which was notoriously known for “Big Guys” in the wrestling business - Watts loved legitimate tough guys. The Midnight Express first appeared while Watts chose to introduce the Rock "n" Roll through music videos to get fans excited for their initial appearance.
The Midnights and the Rock "n" Roll helped Bill Watts to his biggest years of Mid South Wrestling, with their tag team feud as the catalyst.
Fans saw magic on Watts weekly wrestling show as The Midnights captured tag team gold, and held a celebration complete with cake, only to have Cornette's face shoved in the cake. The tag teams faced off in Scaffold Matches long before the Night of The Skywalkers.
In 1985, the Expresses both found their way to Jim Crockett Promotions with The Rock "n" Roll Express finding success as they captured tag team gold on their first night in by beating The Russians (Ivan Koloff and Krusher Khruschev). The Midnight Express defeated the RnR Express for the tag team titles on a TBS nationally broadcast show “Superstars of The Superstation.” The teams continued to battle on and off from 85-87 until Dennis Condrey departed and was eventually replaced by “Sweet” Stan Lane. In a very difficult position, Stan kept the chemistry and provided a different aspect to the rivalry, as Stan had a more martial arts offensive arsenal using a variety of kicks and strikes. To me, this showed the staying power of the teams, which kept the fans clamoring for more.
This feud has spanned well over 35 years, as the teams will still occasionally meet up on the Indy circuit to give fans a glimmer of one of the brightest feuds and angles in the entire history of professional wrestling.
Through several Promotions, different members, blood, sweat, tears and even blown out knees, the Battle of The Express still gets fans to the building and out of their seats to see two teams who paved the way and laid the groundwork for how innovative tag team wrestling was suppose to be. Thank you for the memories and years of entertainment Dennis Condrey, Bobby Eaton, Jim Cornette, Stan Lane, Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson.