Volume 2, Issue 119
January 29, 1997
The History of the Midnight Express: Part 1
THE MIDNIGHT EXPRESS: This name is synonomous with mayhem, violence, and creativity. It is also synonomous with tag-team excellence. The names of "Ravishing" Randy Rose, "Loverboy" Dennis Condrey, "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton, "Sweet" Stan Lane and James (Jim) E. Cornette have carved a place in wrestling history that will never be taken away.
The Midnight Express was formed around 1983. The team was originally a three-man team which featured Rose, Condrey and mid-level wrestler Norvell Austin (no relation to Steve Austin). This threesome was mildly successful in regional federations in the south. Later, after this team split, Dennis traveled up to the Mid-Southern (USWA) area where he started teaming with Bobby Eaton. By this time, Eaton was being managed by Jim Cornette. This team became the second Midnight Express and quickly won the Mid-South (UWF) Tag Team Titles. It was also during this year that their legendary feud with the Rock n Roll Express began. A feud that would go on periodically for over seven years. They also butted heads with the Fabulous Ones. This team was the tandem of Steve Keirn and Stan Lane (the latter would later go on to team with Eaton to form the third Midnight Express). They also won the World Class Tag Team Titles in a classic feud with the Fantastics in 1985. It was also in 1985 that they made their move to the NWA.
At this point, their arch-rivals the Rock n Roll Express were also in the NWA and were involved in a classic feud with Ivan and Nikita Koloff over the NWA World Tag Team Titles. Meanwhile, The Midnights were feuding with Jimmy "Boggie-Woggie Man" Valiant and Miss Atlanta Lively (Ron Garvin in drag). Both feuds came to a conclusion at Starrcade '85 as the R n R's won the World Tag Titles for the second time and the Midnights were humiliated by Valiant and Garvin in an "Atlanta Streetfight Match." After Starrcade, the two team could not ignore each other anymore and, by January 1986, the warfare began in earnest.
Next week, I will begin Part 2 of the Midnight Express saga which will include their feuds with the Rock n Roll Express, Dusty Rhodes and Magnum TA, Baby Doll (?!!!), and the Road Warriors. It will also include the events that led up to, in my opinion, the change from Dennis Condrey to Stan Lane. See ya!!!
Ervin Griffin Jr. is a regular contributor to Solie's Wrestling Newsletter as well as the Ringside Insider and other publications. He has also helped to enliven the discussion on the Readers Forum since its inception.
I wonder what's really up with Bret Hart...this crybaby act he's been putting on lately has an eerie semblance to what another wrestling star went through late last year. This other wrestler had repeated episodes of whining about his inability to win a certain world title. After a friend of his won the belt he marched into the ring and immediately demanded a title match. He rather begrudgingly congratulated the new champ, but only after the latter reminded him that "...I am the Worlds Champion!"
That other wrestler was, of course, Hulk Hogan.
Now what could these similarities portend for our hero the Hitman? The popular belief at the moment is that we are being set-up for a Michaels/Hart showdown at WrestleMania. The story goes - Hart will win the Final Four Match and secure his title shot. At WrestleMania he will defeat the "Boy Toy" and become the WWF Champion for the fourth time.
But what if Vince & Company are throwing us a curve? Here's a scenerio for you. Say Bret Hart doesn't win the Final Four Match...then what? Say he throws another tamtrum and and goes after the winner (say Vader) and injures him to the point that he can't compete at WrestleMania...where does that leave the Hitman? They couldn't give him another shot...they'de have to award title match to one of the other competitors - maybe have yet another preliminary bout to decide who challanges Shawn Michaels. What would the Hitman do?
Or how about this...? Bret Hart does win the Final Four Match, but he does so in such a way as to shock his legions of fans.
What I'm searching for here is a way for Bret to make a heel turn. Think about it. Bret has been doing his crybaby act now for months - as if we are being set-up for the idea that perhaps he doesn't deserve to be the WWF Champion. The turn is gradual so that it is not too much of a shock - but still its a monumental betrayal of his millions of fans...sound familiar?
It should. The heel turn that Hulk Hogan underwent last year has revived his career and breathed new life into a wrestling promotion that was beginning to become moribund next to the WWF juggernaut. Now he is, by far, the most hated heel on the planet. The WWF fans that sign on to my Readers' Forum are foaming at the mouth over him and even the WCW fans constantly complain about his lack of wrestling skills and his incessant hogging of the spotlight...in other words he has become the ultimate heel. Everybody hates him - even NWO fans, and WCW is reaping the rewards for his perfidy.
So imagine for a moment that you are Vince McMahon. You see that the competition spiraling into the stratosphere with a storyline that revolves around a popular hero gone bad. At first you thought that the whole phenomenum was based on the popularity of two of your own "superstars" who went over to the other side. You even revived their characters in a vain hope of reducing their appeal. But you begin to see that the real focus of the fans hatred is that charismatic poser you lost from your organization a year ago...
So how do you counter..? There is only one other athlete who comes close to being the fan favorite that Hulk Hogan once was...one wrestler who's betrayal would possibly so affect the fans' feelings that he would be able to eclipse the phenomenum of "Hollywood Hogan". There is only the Hitman Bret Hart.
In this scenerio, McMahon goes to Bret and offers him a multi-million dollar deal to came back and gradually transform himself into a monster heel. He reasons with Hart, telling him that the fans are changing, they're starting to embrace the most loathsome heels more and more. The popularity of Steve Austin might have been cited as an example...or even the success of "Hollywood Hogan"...
Now I'm not saying I believe this scenerio, I'm only suggesting it as a possibility. With WCW clearly winning the TV ratings war of late it makes sense that the WWF brass might decide to resort to desparate measures in order to turn the tables. Somehow, I don't think the idea of Bret Hart as a face Champion really fits the bill...
Anyway, that's the way I see it...
editor Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
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