Friday, July 17, 2015

Famer Friday: The Midnight Express & Jim Cornette

Cornette, Lane, Condrey and Eaton

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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One of my favorite tag teams of all time is the Midnight Express.  I'm talking about the "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton, "Sweet" Stan Lane and Jim Cornette version.  Not "Bombastic" Bob and "Bodacious" Bart from the late 90's.  While the Eaton/Lane version of the Express is my favorite, I do appreciate and respect the work that "Loverboy" Dennis Condrey added to the team.  I don't go back far enough in my fandom to remember the original Express of Condrey, Randy Rose and Norvell Austin.

The early years
I want to say my first memories of Eaton, Condrey and Cornette are when they came to World Class Championship Wrestling.  The trio engaged in a very memorable feud with The Fantastics.  Their time in Texas was brief, but by watching them I learned quickly these two knew what they were doing in the ring.  Those matches helped establish my love for tag team wrestling.  The three headed to the NWA and had a classic scaffold match against The Road Warriors.  Eaton told me in a podcast interview I did with him that he didn't enjoy it because his team ended up tumbling to the ring below.  

The Express gets sweeter
Eventually Condrey would leave the group and Lane would replace him.  Many times that spells doom (not Ron Simmons and Butch Reed) for a tag team, but I enjoyed this incarnation even more.  Lane brought youth component to the team and in my opinion was more physically gifted than Condrey.  This new duo quickly started collecting championships winning the U.S. tag team titles three times and the NWA world tag team titles once.  

Their feuds with the Rock 'n Roll Express, The Road Warriors and Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson are what defined an era of tag team wrestling.  Lane and Eaton's chemistry as well as their abilities in the ring and Cornette's skills on the mic made them nearly flawless.  

Heel turn
Another one of my favorite memories was during their brief face run and "partnership" they had with the Dynamic Dudes (Shane Douglas and Johnny Ace aka Laurinaitis).  It was at a Clash of the Champions that Corny screwed over the young duo and helped his main charges win their match.  And who can forget when a young Paul Heymen reunited Rose and Condrey to feud with Lane and Eaton over the Midnight Express name?  

The Midnight Express simply never had a bad match as far as I'm concerned.   Their work still holds up more than 30 years later.  Watching their matches reminds me of an era in wrestling that's long forgotten when it comes to putting on compelling tag team matches. So I say Cornette, Eaton, Lane and Condrey all deserve to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

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