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Midnight Express

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The Midnight Express is a professional wrestling tag team that has had various members and achieved most of its success in the 1980s.

History

Origins

The Midnight Express was originally formed in 1983 as a three-man tag team with Dennis Condrey, Randy Rose and Norvell Austin in Alabama's Southeast Championship Wrestling. The group's gimmick was the so-called "Freebird Rule"; which allowed any two members of the team to wrestle their matches on any given night, thus their opponents who had only (kayfabe) signed to face "The Midnight Express", didn't know which combination they would get.

Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton

In 1983 Bobby Eaton joined the Mid-South territory under booker Bill Watts. Being good at spotting young talent, Jim Cornette recruited him to team up with Dennis Condrey. Condrey was a former rival of Bobby Eaton so they were familiar with each other's styles and with the addition of cornerman Jim Cornette they became a tight knit unit. Cornette including Eaton into the group led to dissension within the original 3 members, with first Rose and then Austin leaving the stable.

The Express had up until then been a tight stable but once Eaton and Condrey joined together the Midnight Express wrestled exclusively as a 2-man team until end of the Midnight Express legacy. Eaton was nicknamed “Beautiful” Bobby to compliment “Loverboy” Dennis, a nickname that Eaton still uses to this very day. The Express’ first target was the Mid-South champions Magnum T.A. and Mr. Wrestling II, the highlight of the feud had to be Eaton and Condrey tarring and feathering Magnum TA. The Express got their first gold when Mr. Wrestling II turned on Magnum TA allowing Eaton and Condrey to walk away with the titles.

The duo had just won the gold when they ran into the Rock & Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) and kicked off their legendary feud that would run well into the 90ties. The two Expresses had a series of matches that were so unlike how tag-team wrestling was usually presented by in the Mid-South gathering a lot of attention both locally and nationally. They feuded throughout 1984 in the Mid-South territory before the Midnight Express was ready to move on. The Midnight Express had a short say in World Class Championship Wrestling where they feuded mainly with The Fantastics but when opportunities in WCCW looked to go nowhere the Midnight Express made a big change.

In 1985 Eaton, Condrey and Cornette signed with Jim Crockett Promotions and thus got exposed on a national level through JCP’s deal with SuperStation TBS.

Shortly after joining the territory the Midnight Express reignited their feud with the Rock & Roll Express whom they won the NWA World Tag-Team titles in February 1986 and lost the titles back to the Rock & Roll Express 6 months later. Besides feuding with the Rock & Roll Express Eaton & Condrey also had a long running feuds with The New Breed & The Road Warriors including a high profile Scaffold Match at Starrcade 1986 which the Midnight Express lost.

Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane

In the early parts of 1987 Dennis Condrey left JCP from one day to the next, he literally abandoned the team when they were scheduled to appear at an event in Los Angeles as he changed his plane ticket to go somewhere else so he could drop out of sight. No specific reason has ever been given by Dennis Condrey only speculations from people around him. However Rose did reunite in the AWA for a long run with ex partner Randy Rose as "The Original Midnight Express" with Paul E. Dangerously" for what was said to be much better money and a lighter schedule.

Enter a man that Eaton is very familiar with and a man who’s no stranger to tag-teaming, Stan Lane formerly of ‘’the Fabulous Ones’’’. Lane and Eaton knew each other well from working against each other in the past and this showed as the new version of the Midnight Express gelled from the beginning.

In May of 1987 the combination of Eaton and Lane proved to be a golden one as they won the NWA US Tag-Team titles (A title they would win three times during their time together). A year later the team was cheered on to victory as the Midnight Express won the NWA World Tag-Team Titles from Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (See also: Brain Busters) on September 10, 1988. This feat meant that they were the first tag-team to ever hold both the NWA World tag-team and NWA United States tag-team titles, a feat only the Steiner Brothers would go on to duplicate in 1991. The Midnight Express’ run with the titles only last a little over a month and a half before the Road Warriors took the gold from them in a brutal match up that saw the Road Warriors turn heel (bad guys) and the Midnight Express turn face (good guys).

Now the fan favorites the Midnight Express soon had to content with a blast from the past: The Midnight Express. Only this Midnight Express was billed as The Original Midnight Express as it consisted of Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose who had teamed up as two of the three original members before Condrey and Eaton became a team. The duo was led by long time Jim Cornette nemesis Paul E. Dangerously in the hopes of proving that the originals were better than the new version. The shock of seeing the Original Midnight Express gave Dangerously’s team the initial advantage in the feud but once again Dennis Condrey left, being replaced by Jack Victory to cut the feud short.

Due to various booking issues Jim Cornette and the Midnight Express left the promotion for a short while, around the time that Ted Turner bought out Jim Crockett and began promoting the federation as the National Wrestling Alliance / World Championship Wrestling. When the booking issues started to clear up Cornette and the Midnight Express returned to the federation and a very strong tag-team division. One of those teams was The Dynamic Dudes (Shane Douglas & Johnny Ace), who admitted that the Midnight Express was one of their favorite teams and asked if Cornette would be their manager as well. Cornette agreed but the Midnight Express were not happy about it at all. After arguing Jim Cornette stopped accompanying the Express to the ring, choosing to only manage the Dudes. At the Clash of Champions IX the two teams met with Jim Cornette in a neutral corner, forced to choose between the teams. The Express started out very aggressive, especially for a team that was supposed to be fan favorites and when the night was over the Midnight Express had once again established themselves as heels with Jim Cornette in their corner, Cornette had never stopped siding with the Express.

After their heel turn the Midnight Express started feuding with Flyin’ Brian and ”Z-Man” Tom Zenk over the recently re-activated US Tag-Team titles, winning the gold from the young team in early 1990. The Midnight Express would lose the titles to The Steiner Brothers 3 months later.

After appearing at Halloween Havoc 1990 the Midnight Express split up when Jim Cornette and Stan Lane left the federation. For the first time in 7 years there was no Midnight Express, it was the end of an era in tag-team wrestling.

Randy Rose and Dennis Condrey

In late 1988, Condrey and Rose came to the NWA with manager Paul E. Dangerously and called themselves the "Original Midnight Express", "Ravishing Randy" and "Loverboy Dennis". They worked for the American Wrestling Association where Condrey/Rose won the AWA World Tag Team Championship, eventually heading to the NWA to feud with Eaton/Lane/Cornette.

The New Midnight Express

The Midnight Express name was resurrected by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in the late 1990s when they put a combination of Bob Holly (as Bombastic Bob) and Bart Gunn (as Bodacious Bart) together as The New Midnight Express with Cornette as their manager—all as part of the "NWA invasion" angle They came in as NWA Tag Team Champions but did not achieve much success (nor did the angle).

Midnight Express Reunion (2004-2011)

In 2003, Eaton worked for NWA Mid-Atlantic forming a new version of the Midnight Express with Rikki Nelson. This Midnight Express version was very short lived as Eaton soon started touring with Dennis Condrey (and sometimes Lane and Cornette) as the Midnight Express instead. In January 2005, Eaton and Condrey were briefly managed by Terri Runnels in SCW when they wrestled The Fantastics for the vacant tag team titles (they lost). On June 7, 2008, they lost to The Rock 'n' Roll Express at the NWA 60th Anniversary Show in Atlanta, Georgia. In August 2011, The Midnight Express (Condrey & Eaton) wrestled their last match as a team together against The Rock 'n' Roll Express at Juggalo Championship Wrestling's "Legends & Icons" show.

Midnight Express 2.0 (2016- )

In 2016, the Midnight Express name was resurrected again in Sports Entertainment Xplosion (an AWA affiliate in Bronx, NY) by Barry Ace and Skyyler Knight, who were previously known as the Badass Xpress. On May 13, 2016, Ace & Knight defeated S-E-X Tag Team Champions, BiG TiMe TaLeNT, for the titles in what was to be BX's farewell match. Later on in the show, BTT's manager (and S-E-X's owner), BiG TiMe, called them out, demanding they return the belts to BTT since that was BX's last match. Ace stated that neither him or Knight ever said they were retiring or disbanding, but just "dropping the goofy name" and from that moment they would be known as the new Midnight Express. However they were obligated to surrender the titles as they won them as Badass Xpress. Due to the fact they never lost the titles, this new Midnight Express was awarded the AWA World Tag Team Championship. Unlike their predecessors, they are babyfaces, don't use "pretty boy" nicknames or nicknames that begin with the first letter of their names and they wear all black as opposed to their predecessors neon tights and jackets.

In Wrestling

Eaton and Lane had for a time what many considered the best finishing move in all of wrestling. The "Veg-O-Matic" consisted of Lane bear-hugging an opponent while Eaton ascended to the top rope. When Eaton was in position, Lane would lower the opponent to a horizontal position a few feet above the mat with Eaton then jumping from the top rope and leg droping the suspended opponent across the neck. When performed correctly it was the (kayfabe) most devastating maneuver of its time in tag-team matches, compared only to the Road Warriors (Animal and Hawk) Doomsday Device.

Cornette was known for giving very original names to the Midnights' moves. Besides the aforementioned "Veg-O-Matic", Cornette coined the names "Flapjack" (now a common tag-team maneuver), "Double Goozle" (a combination school boy/clothesline), "Rocket Launcher" and "Divorce Court" (for an armbar takedown).

Championships and accomplishments

  • Austin and Condrey
  • Condrey and Rose
  • Southeastern Championship Wrestling
  • Condrey and Eaton
  • Eaton and Lane
  • Gunn and Holly
  • AWA World Tag Team Champions (1 Time)
  • Sports Entertainment Xplosion Tag Team Champions (1 time)


Pro Wrestling Illustrated

  • Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) ranked the Midnight Express two times in the best tag teams during the "PWI Years".
  • 21 Dennis Condrey & Bobby Eaton
  • 32 Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane

Wrestling Observer Newsletter

  • 1987 Tag Team of the Year (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane)
  • 1988 Feud of the Year (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane Vs Bobby Fulton and Tommy Rogers)
  • 1988 Tag Team of the Year (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane)

Trivia

The Midnight Expresses' intro song was a revamped rendition of the song "Chase" by composer Giorgio Moroder for the 1978 Midnight Express film.

Trent Acid and Johnny Kashmere frequently use "Chase" by composer Giorgio Moroder as their team music as a tribute to Bobby Eaton, Stan Lane, and Jim Cornette after Eaton and Lane granted them permission to use the music at a ROH show.[1]

References

  1. ROH The Midnight Express Reunion- Philadelphia, PA 10/2/04,


External links

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