In pro wrestling lore, there are many legendary bad guys including tag teams – and one of the most famous heel teams of all time is unquestionably the Midnight Express managed by the inimitable Jim Cornette.
The Midnight Express With Jim Cornette pic.twitter.com/OoO14Pm1vL
— Wrestling Quotes (@JustRasslin) January 15, 2019
In the 1980s, the Midnight Express’ feuds with babyface mega-stars and WWE Hall of Famers the Rock n’ Roll Express set the National Wrestling Alliance on fire, taking tag team wrestling to heights not seen since. The enduring MVP of the Midnight Express, who went through two incarnations of the team, the first with partner “Loverboy” Dennis Condrey who was later followed by “Sweet” Stan Lane, was the one and only “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton.
As an ’80s kid and longtime fan of the Midnight Express, I’ve listened to many wrestlers and performers within the business over the years talk about how Eaton always had a reputation for being one of the kindest and gentlest souls in the industry. His saint-like compassion toward others is legendary.
On Wednesday, a documentary tribute to Eaton titled “The Beautiful One: Bobby Eaton” was released on YouTube. It’s a heartwarming film, including wrestling legends like Jeff Jarrett, JJ Dillon, and Bill Dundee recounting old tales of the Midnight Express, but a highlight is Cornette expressing how kind Eaton was to anyone he crossed paths with.
“Everybody that’s come into contact with Bobby, they’d do anything for him. They always want to look out for him, take care of him, help him in any way, because he’s just that kind of person,” Cornette said.
“Oh, there’s a mudhole? Let me lay down. Let me throw my body in the way…’ That’s Bobby Eaton. Nobody is going to say anything bad about him,” Cornette continued. “This is going to be the most boring documentary ever because you’re not going to find anybody to say anything bad about him.”
Then Cornette gave an example of the kind of guy Bobby Eaton is.
“We stop in this store. It’s downtown Dallas. It’s not a good neighborhood, and it’s a little liquor store. I go in and grab a soft drink real quick, get in the car and lock the door. Dennis (Condrey) comes out and says ‘Look at Bobby,” Cornette said.
“One of the bums had gone in and Bobby’s talking to a bum, right, in the store. Well, we sit there… and minutes later the guy comes out with a shopping bag, like this (Cornette holds up his hand to emphasize a stuffed bag) with a loaf of bread sticking out, and Bobby’s got him a bottle of some kind of booze, got him a bag of groceries, he’s shaking his hand, he’s sticking a cigar in his pocket, patting him on the back… Bobby just bought all that stuff for him…”
“He did the same thing one time in Kansas City. Guy down on his luck sitting there, (Bobby said) ‘Hey buddy, come on in. He took him in, bought him some food, bought him something to drink, shook his hand, patted him on the back…” Cornette recalled.
Cornette then explained how there was simply no ego in Eaton.
“It was like Bobby was the fan and the people he met were the stars. That’s the way he treated people,” Cornette said.
“The biggest heart and the nicest guy, and then to get in the ring and to be able to do what he could do… anyone should have been egotistical if they were that talented…”
“Bobby never was,” Cornette finished.
Cornette elaborated on these stories about Eaton’s generosity and more on his podcast last year.
If you’re a fan of ’80s wrestling or the Midnight Express in particular, “The Beautiful One: Bobby Eaton” is a documentary well worth watching — if only to learn that one of the best bad guys ever was more beautiful on the inside than arguably anyone else in the history of professional wrestling.