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Wrestling / The Midnight Express

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The Midnight Express was a Professional Wrestling Tag Team from the 1980s. It started in Alabama when "Loverboy" Dennis Condrey started teaming with "Ravishing" Randy Rose. After feuding with Norvel Austin and various partners, Austin turned heel and joined with Condrey and Rose. They spent some time in Memphis before returning to SECW. The team split in 1983.

Condrey and "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton formed the second version after Eaton was traded from Memphis to Mid-South. It was here where they started their epic feud with The Rock 'n' Roll Express. The MX had a brief run in World Class before jumping to the National Wrestling Alliance in Charlotte in 1985. They feuded with the RNRs and The Road Warriors until Condrey surprised a lot of people in 1987 by leaving without really giving notice. This led to "Sweet" Stan Lane, formerly of The Fabulous Ones, replacing Condrey after Jim Crockett brought him in after closing down Florida.

Meanwhile, Condrey and Rose had reformed their team in the AWA with manager Paul E. Dangerously. They surprised everyone by jumping to the NWA to feud with Eaton and Lane and manager Jim Cornette. Cornette's team ultimately won the feud, sending Condrey and Rose away. The MX left after 1990, with Lane eventually going with Cornette to set up SMW.

Even into the 2000s, Condrey/Rose/Eaton/Lane could still be found together in various combinations to compete at legends shows and on the indy circuit. The Express' final match involved Condrey and Eaton at an August 2011 legends show run by JCW. The first primary member to pass away was Eaton in 2021.

Among their in-ring achievements: They were 2x NWA (Mid-Atlantic) World Tag Team Champions (1x Condrey/Eaton, 1x Eaton/Lane), 1x AWA World Tag Team Champions (Condrey/Rose) and 3x NWA (Mid-Atlantic) United States Tag Team Champions (Eaton/Lane).

Not to be confused with Midnight Express

"These tropes stay up past midnight":

  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • Suspected of Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane, if not for each other than for the sissy Cornette, whom fans didn't even think was "ambiguous" during the 80s.
    • Cornette and Eaton played this up for homophobic crowds by hugging and kissing on the cheek before matches.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Rock N Roll Express, the Road Warriors, the Fantastics
    • The Midnights vs. Midnights feud was the In-Universe beginning of the Cornette-Heyman feud.
    • According to Cornette, Jim Herd hated the Express in Real Life. Herd was a significant factor in the team breaking up in 1990 when Lane and Cornette left the company.
  • Bash Brothers: Except for the managers, and even then Cornette had been forced to wrestle sometimes
  • Beard of Evil: Condrey
  • Cower Power: Cornette would often ask Bobby Eaten to give him hugs when he got scared.
  • Determinator: No matter how many times they were beaten and humiliated, the Midnight Express and Jim Cornette would not stop returning to hassle Mid-South's baby faces. This actually got fans coming back too, hoping this would be the time the no good Midnights were driven away for good. Sometimes they would be sent away for awhile (if only so new teams could shuffle around) but after a few months or a year, they'd be back again.
  • Enemy Mine: While normally they and the Road Warriors were intense enemies, they joined forces with "Dr. Death" Steve Williams to defeat the Fabulous Freebirds (Terry Gordy, Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin) and Samoan Swat Team (Samu and Fatu [Rikishi]) in War Games at NWA The Great American Bash 89.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The feud between Cornette’s Mignight Express and Paul E’s Original Midnight began while both teams were Heels.
  • Finishing Move: Double Goozle, Rocket Launcher, Veg-A-Matic, Flapjack, Gravedigger
  • Fleeting Demographic Rule: Subverted, Cornett claims that in the Mid-Atlantic region he still gets greeted with excited cries of “Midnight Express!” In fact, Cornette stated that Vince McMahon expressed surprise that, despite appearing regularly on WWF tv at the time, Cornette would still be greeted with shouts of “Midnight Express” in airports ten years after their heyday. Cornette has suggested that the New Midnight Express was at least partially inspired by Vince’s bemusement at their continued popularity.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Mama Cornette, Jim's wealthy mother who’s as supposedly bankrolling the team and using her money to shield them from legal consequences.
  • Hammy Herald: Cornette. As one example, from NWA WrestleWar 90:
    JIM CORNETTE: "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Kings of the Ring, the Gangster of Love and the Sultan of Swing, Beautiful Bobby and Sweet Stan, the Midnight Express!"
    • Paul E. filled the same role for Condrey and Rose in the AWA.
  • A Handful for an Eye: They threw powder into the LOD's eyes during their scaffold match at Starrcade 86. It didn't help, as the LOD still won the match.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Dennis Condrey would wrap Cornette’s belt around his fist. Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton once loaded Cornette's tennis racket carrying case with a brick to make its strikes more powerful.
  • In Name Only: The New Midnight Express, "Bombastic" Bob Holly and "Bodacious" Bart Gunn, who had a brief run in the WWF in '98. Neither Gunn nor Holly had ever been part of a previous iteration, or ever worked in any of the territories the real Midnight Express had. The only similarity they had with the Midnight Express was being managed by Cornette, and Cornette despised the whole angle.
  • Parts Unknown: "The Dark Side"
  • Power Stable: At one time, they were known as Midnight Express Inc., and included Wayne Farris (The Honky Tonk Man), Ron Starr, the Midnight Stallion (Archie "The Mongolian Stomper" Gouldie) and Rick Harris (Black Bart), along with Condrey, Rose and Austin.
    • Condrey and Rose were in the Dangerous Alliance in the AWA.
  • Red Baron: Eaton was "The Sultan of Swing," Lane was "The Gangster of Love."
  • Riddle for the Ages: The reason Condrey left the team in 1987 has never been revealed. Even Cornette and Eaton didn't know for years after. All Cornette will publicly say is that it had nothing to do with the wrestling business.
  • Ring Oldies: From the 2000s onward. They are the oldest International Wrestling Cartel Tag Team Champions in the promotion's history.
  • Salt and Pepper: The Norvell Austin/Dennis Condrey version of the team, with Condrey being the straight laced Salt to Austin's more flamboyant Pepper.
  • Training Montage: Subverted in the lead up to their Starrcade scaffold match against The Road Warriors. The Midnight Express were too scared to do anything with the scaffold, only hired muscle Big Bubba Rodgers was able to even walk across it.
  • Wrestling Family:
    • Bobby Eaton's son Dylan. He was also wrestler/promoter Bill Dundee's son-in-law.
    • Wayne Farris is, of course, Jerry Lawler's cousin.