WWE Hall of Fame 2017: Rock ‘n’ Roll Express

To be inducted by Jim Cornette

Renowned as one of the greatest tag-teams in wrestling history, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express – with Tag-Team Championships won in virtually every company they have competed in – have long been assured of legendary status, but now they can add one accolade to the long list; WWE Hall of Famers.

Formed in 1983 by Jerry Lawler, mainly as an alternative to top team The Fabulous Ones when they were unavailable in certain territories, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express’ gimmick of glam music fans found early success, with that particular genre of music proving popular at the time. After gaining experience as a team with matches against the likes of the Bruise Brothers and brothers Randy Savage and Lanny Poffo, Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson moved onto Mid-South Wrestling, where they first clashed with the team who would go on to become one of their greatest rivals; the Midnight Express and their manager Jim Cornette.

In 1985, the Express showed up in Jim Crockett Promotions, where they would go on to win the Tag-Team titles on four occasions, the first reign starting on their July debut courtesy of a victory over Ivan Koloff and Krusher Khrushchev. Their fourth and final title reign came to an end against Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, following an attack by regular foes Midnight Express. Following this, they switched to the Continental Wrestling Association for a short feud with The Midnight Rockers over the AWA World Tag-Team titles; the first match between the teams ended in a no-contest, leading to the belts being vacated. The Rockers won the rematch to claim the belts, and the Express again moved on.

1989 saw Morton and Gibson returning to the NWA, however their position as the top babyface team was longer available, with the emergence of the Steiner Brothers and the Road Warriors overshadowing them. Consequently, the Express found themselves in the mid-card. They did receive an NWA Tag-Team Championship match against Doom at 1990’s The Great American Bash, however they came up short. Almost a year later, they were split up by the booking committee, with Morton turning on Gibson to join the York Foundation. The inevitable feud followed, though it never led to much success for either man. Gibson was eventually released.

The two would not remain separated for long, however, with the reunion taking place in Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling promotion. The reunited Express jumped into a feud with the Heavenly Bodies, which would go on to last well over a year and expand into other organisations; in 1993, through agreements between Cornette and both the WWF and WCW, the Express defeated the Bodies at WCW’s SuperBrawl III event to win the SMW Tag-Team titles, and then lost the belts to the same team at WWF’s Survivor Series. Back on SMW home turf, they exchanged title reigns with Chris Candido and Brian Lee, and even at one point had Cornette as their manager. Inevitably he would turn on the Express, leading to a rivalry with The Dynamic Duo, who snatched the titles in April of 1995. That same month, they become NWA Tag-Team champions and a short time later also picked up the USWA Tag-Team Championships. Being double champions didn’t last long, however, with the USWA belts going back to former champions PG-13. Back in SMW, plans were put in place for Morton and Gibson to turn heel, however before it could play out in the ring, Morton was suspended following an incident with his girlfriend and another party. In Morton’s absence, Gibson’s heel turn continued, and when his former partner returned from suspension, the plan was for the two to feud. Unfortunately, SMW folded soon after.

A brief stay in WCW did not lead to much success, before a similarly-short stay in the WWF also failed to offer much in the way of highlights. They debuted as part of Cornette’s failed NWA angle, and later competed in a tag-team battle royal at WrestleMania XIV. They did receive an NWA Tag-Team title shot against the New Midnight Express at Unforgiven, however they were not successful and soon departed the company.

In the years following, Morton and Gibson remained active on the independent scene, most recently appearing on TNA’s Total Nonstop Deletion event.

With a wealth of championship gold on their resume, and classic wars with some of the best tag-teams the business has ever had to offer, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express have virtually done it all in professional wrestling. Now, being inducted by their sometimes rival/sometimes manager Jim Cornette, Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson will now take their rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame.

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