The Midnight Express (professional wrestling)
The Midnight Express was a professional wrestling tag team of changing members, mostly under the management of Jim Cornette. The group started in the early 1980s with Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose (and originally Norvell Austin). The late 1980s saw a new incarnation, consisting of Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane, compete in JCP and WCW and briefly feuding with "The Original Midnight Express" of Condrey and Rose. In the 1990s, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) combined Bob Holly and Bart Gunn as "The New Midnight Express". A combination of Condrey, Eaton and Lane occasionally compete as the Midnight Express on the independent circuit.
|The Midnight Express|
|Name(s)||The Midnight Express|
The Original Midnight Express
The New Midnight Express
Dennis Condrey, Randy Rose and Norvell Austin (1980–1983)Edit
In 1980 a new team was formed in Southeast Championship Wrestling  In an attempt to throw Rose and Condrey off, Austin adopted the masked persona of "The Shadow" and together with Brad Armstrong defeated Condrey and Rose for the title on May 4, 1981. After losing the title back to Condrey and Rose on July 27, 1981, Austin turned on Armstrong and joined up with Condrey and Rose to form a stable (group) known as The Midnight Express. In the book The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams Condrey explains that the name did not stem from the movie Midnight Express (although later versions of the Midnight Express would use the film's theme by Giorgio Moroder as their theme music) but from the fact that they all dressed in black, drove black cars, and were out partying past midnight.
Together the three men won the AWA Southern Tag Team title in the CWA and invoked a rule that allowed any two of the three men to defend the titles on a given night, so that their opponents never knew what combination to expect. The Midnight Express lost the AWA Southern tag team title to Bobby Eaton and Sweet Brown Sugar before returning to SECW in the spring of 1982. Upon their return to Southeastern Championship Wrestling the Midnight Express quickly regained the Southeastern Tag Team title from Robert Fuller and Jimmy Golden on September 27, 1982. The Express then became involved in a feud with the Mongolian Stomper and his storyline son "Mongolian Stomper Jr.", with whom they traded the Southeastern title. The Midnight Express's next challengers were "Dizzy Ed" Hogan and local workhorse Ken Lucas. The two team repeatedly traded the title until the Midnight Express, repeatedly using their 3-on-2 advantage to regain the titles, finally reclaimed the championship by the end of July 1983. The Midnight Express's final feud in the SECW was with the local heroes Jimmy Golden and Robert Fuller who managed to drive the group out of SECW. After dropping the Southeastern Tag Team titles to Brad and Scott Armstrong, Austin, Condrey and Rose went their separate ways.
Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton (1983–1987)Edit
When Bobby Eaton was sent to Mid-South Wrestling under promoter Bill Watts as a part of a talent trade it was decided that he should be part of the new version of the Midnight Express. Eaton teamed with former rival Dennis Condrey under the management of Jim Cornette to form a new version of the Midnight Express. The Express had up until this point been a group of wrestlers, but once Eaton and Condrey joined together the Midnight Express worked exclusively as a two-man team. To complement "Loverboy" Dennis Condrey, Eaton was nicknamed "Beautiful Bobby", a nickname he still uses. The Express was first booked in a storyline with the Mid-South Tag Team champions Magnum T.A. and Mr. Wrestling II. The highlight of the angle saw Eaton and Condrey tarring and feathering Magnum TA in the middle of the ring. Condrey and Eaton won their first tag team championship when Mr. Wrestling II turned on Magnum TA and attacked him during a match, allowing The Midnight Express to walk away with the titles without much opposition. Collectively Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton hold the record for the most Tag Team Titles in all of professional wrestling with 51 together; earning the right to be called the most decorated Tag Team of all time. See Title History below.
With Mr. Wrestling II and Magnum TA splitting up, the Midnight Express needed a new team to defend their newly won title against. This team was The Rock 'n' Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson), whom they started a long-running series of matches that would run well into the 1990s and span several wrestling promotions. The two Expresses had a series of matches which differed so much from the way tag team wrestling was traditionally presented at the time, that it gathered a lot of attention both locally and nationally. The two teams feuded throughout 1984 in Mid-South Wrestling before the Midnight Express left the promotion to work elsewhere. The Midnight Express versus Rock 'n' Roll Express series of matches was so well received by the fans that independent promoters all over the United States still book that match today, 30 years after the rivalry started.
The Midnight Express had a short stay in World Class Championship Wrestling in Texas where they feuded mainly with The Fantastics (Bobby Fulton and Tommy Rogers). When opportunities in WCCW looked to go nowhere the Midnight Express signed with Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) in 1985, giving them national exposure through JCP's television shows that were broadcast on SuperStation TBS. Shortly after joining JCP, the Midnight Express reignited their feud with the Rock 'n' Roll Express from whom they won the NWA World Tag team titles in February 1986. Eaton and Condrey lost the titles back to the Rock 'n' Roll Express six months later. Besides feuding with the Rock 'n' Roll Express, Eaton and Condrey also had long-running feuds with The New Breed (Chris Champions and Sean Royal) as well as The Road Warriors (Animal and Hawk). The feud with the Road Warriors included a high profile Scaffold Match at Starrcade 1986, which the Midnight Express lost.
Reformation with Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane (1987–1988)Edit
In March 1987, Dennis Condrey suddenly left JCP without giving any reason, leaving Eaton without a partner. Bubba Rogers worked a few dates to fulfill obligations, but Dusty Rhodes made the decision to pick Stan Lane who was a singles star in Florida at the time. Tom Pritchard was thought about but never officially suggested.
Eaton and Lane reached the semi-finals of the Crockett Cup Tag Team Tournament on April 11, 1987 in Baltimore. On May 16, 1987 the combination of Eaton and Lane won the NWA United States Tag team titles for the first time, a title they would win three times during their time together. A year later the team was cheered on despite being heels as they won the NWA World Tag Team Titles from the Horsemen Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard on September 10, 1988 (Anderson and Blanchard left NWA to go to World Wrestling Federation). The Midnight Express's title run only last a little over a month-and-a-half before the Road Warriors (who had recently turned heel on Sting) took the gold from them in a brutal match.
Feud of the Midnight Expresses (1988–1989)Edit
After leaving JCP in 1987, Condrey reunited with Rose in the AWA, where they won the AWA World Tag Team Championship, and were managed by Paul E. Dangerously and became known as The Original Midnight Express, since Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose first teamed up in 1980. In 1988, they went to JCPs. Led by longtime Jim Cornette nemesis Paul E. Dangerously, Condrey and Rose set out to prove they were better than the new version. Condrey's and Rose's surprise appearance gave Dangerously's team the initial momentum in the feud, but the promising feud short was cut short when Dennis Condrey left the promotion once more before a "loser leaves town" match at Chi-Town Rumble. Rose teamed with Jack Victory and took the pin, leaving the promotion. Cornette contends in a shoot interview that backstage politics and animosity between the Original Midnights, promotion head Jim Crockett and head booker George Scott led to the feud being cooled off and Condrey once again leaving the promotion.
The Midnight Express in NWA (1989–1990)Edit
Due to various differences over the direction of the Midnight Express, Cornette, Lane, and Eaton also left JCP for a short while, around the time that Ted Turner purchased the company and it was renamed World Championship Wrestling (WCW). When the issues were resolved, Cornette and the Midnight Express returned to the promotion. In the tournament to determine new World tag team champions, the Midnight Express advanced to the finals before losing to the Freebirds with some assistance from the Samoan Swat Team. They engaged in a feud with the Freebirds and Samoans until the 1989 Great American Bash, where they teamed up with the Road Warriors and Dr. Death Steve Williams to defeat the Freebirds and Samoans in a War Games match.
The Midnight Express soon turned heel as a result of a feud with the Dynamic Dudes (Johnny Ace & Shane Douglas). Jim Cornette duped the Dudes into thinking he wanted to be their manager but then turned on them during their match against the Midnight Express at Clash of the Champions IX in New York. The Dynamic Dudes gained a measure of revenge when the Midnight Express laid out an open challenge for any team for $10,000. After dispatching of a couple of no-name teams, the Express was challenged by the masked Dynamic Duo, billed from Gotham City, who pinned the Express and unmasked as Ace and Douglas. The feud soon lost steam and was forgotten soon after.
After returning to their cheating ways, the Midnight Express started a feud with the up-and-coming team of Flyin' Brian and "Z-Man" Tom Zenk over the United States Tag team titles. The Express won the titles from the young team in early 1990, but lost them to The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott) three months later. After a loss at Halloween Havoc 1990, the Midnight Express split up when Jim Cornette and Stan Lane left the federation. For the first time in almost a decade there was no Midnight Express.
New Midnight Express (1998)Edit
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. On March 30, 1998, they won the NWA World Tag Team Championship from The Headbangers, but did not achieve much more success in the WWF. Despite the name "Midnight Express" and having Cornette in their corner, wrestling fans consider this incarnation of the team as nothing more than a rib by Vince McMahon on Cornette, and in shoot interviews Cornette has indeed indicated that he never considered the team as continuing the lineage of the Midnight Express, since it was not his idea nor his intention to have "glorified jobbers" like Gunn and Holly take on the moniker (although Gunn and Holly were both former tag team champions prior to being teamed).
Midnight Express reunited (2004–2011)Edit
In 2003, Eaton worked for NWA Mid-Atlantic forming a new version of the Midnight Express with Rikki Nelson. This Midnight Express version was short-lived as Eaton soon started touring on select independent wrestling cards with Dennis Condrey (and sometimes Lane and Cornette) as the Midnight Express instead. On June 7, 2008, they lost to The Rock 'n' Roll Express (Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton) at the NWA 60th Anniversary Show in Atlanta, Georgia. In August 2011, The Midnight Express wrestled their last match as a team together against The Rock 'n' Roll Express at JCW's "Legends & Icons" show.
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
- Austin and Condrey
- Condrey and Eaton
- All-Star Wrestling (Virginia)
- ASW Tag Team Championship (7 time)
- International Wrestling Cartel
- IWC Tag Team Championship (10 time)
- Jim Crockett Promotions
- Mid-South Wrestling
- NWA Bluegrass
- NWA Bluegrass Tag Team Championship (10 times)
- NWA Rocky Top
- NWA Rocky Top Tag Team Championship (19 time)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked them #21 of the 100 best tag teams during the "PWI Years" in 2003
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
- Class of 2019 - Inducted with "Ravishing" Randy Rose
- World Class Championship Wrestling
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
- Tag Team of the Year (1986)
- All-Star Wrestling (Virginia)
- Condrey and Rose
- American Wrestling Association
- Continental Wrestling Association
- Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
- Class of 2019 - Inducted with "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton
- Southeastern Championship Wrestling
- Windy City Pro Wrestling
- WCPW Tag Team Championship (1 time)
- Eaton and Lane
- Jim Crockett Promotions / World Championship Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI Tag Team of the Year (1987)
- PWI ranked them #32 of the 100 best tag teams during the "PWI Years" in 2003
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
- Eaton and Nelson
- Holly and Gunn
- Wrestling 1989, Spring 1989 issue, article: Mouth vs mouth, Cornette and Dangerously lead their teams into battle, p.38.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Greg Oliver and Steve Johnson (2005). "the Top 20: 10 The Midnight Express". The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams. ECW Press. pp. 58–62. ISBN 978-1-55022-683-6.
- Greg Oliver and Steve Johnson (2005). "the Top 20: 10 The Midnight Express". The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams. ECW Press. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-55022-683-6.
"At once time, we all dressed in black. We had black Lincolns, black automobiles and everything else, and we were all out until midnight, so we went as the Midnight Express.
- Greg Oliver and Steve Johnson (2005). "the Top 20: 7 The Fabulous Freebirds". The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams. ECW Press. pp. 46–52. ISBN 978-1-55022-683-6.
- Greg Oliver and Steve Johnson (2005). The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams. ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-55022-683-6.
- Watts, Bill; Williams, Scott. The Cowboy and the Cross: The Bill Watts Story: Rebellion, Wrestling and Redemption (Paperback ed.). ECW Press. XIV. ISBN 978-1-55022-708-6.
Bill was the first to promote The Midnight Express – The Rock & Roll Express rivalry that would define tag team wrestling in the decade and that would make such an impression that the independent promoters would still be booking the match twenty years later
- "WCCW Parade of Champions Results (1985)". ProWrestlingHistory. Retrieved February 19, 2007.
- "WCW Starrcade Results (1986)". ProWrestlingHistory. Retrieved February 19, 2007.
- "WCW Halloween Havoc Results (1990)". ProWrestlingHistory. Retrieved February 19, 2007.
- Shields, Brian; Sullivan, Kevin (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0.
- "Independent Wrestling Results – December 2004". onlineworldofwrestling.com. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
- "Pro Wrestling History". prowrestlinghistory.com. Retrieved November 22, 2018.