Kayfabe, Lies and Alibis: The Rock and Roll Express – Timeline NWA 1986

Ricky and Robert cover the wars, the women, drugs, paydays, riots, bar fights and much more

Presented by Kayfabe Commentaries

Hosted by Sean Oliver

The gimmick for Rock and Roll Express shoots is that Ricky Morton does most of the talking and Robert Gibson will offer an occasional comment, but mostly defers back to Morton. Oliver attempts to ask Gibson some questions throughout this interview, and he’ll say a few words and then say something like “dat’s right, huh Ricky?” I find it to be subtle amusement for me.

Ole Anderson didn’t like anything. Once you got used to him, he was okay to be around.

Anderson came up through the AWA training camp, and it made him a hardened warrior.

While booking, Ole had ideas and you had to follow them or face his wrath.

Anderson did not want to work with the The Rock and Roll Express at first because he thought they were too small. Selling out arenas against the Express across the South turned Ole’s mindset around.

Ole wanted things to look legit in the ring and tried to temper down his opponent’s high spots.

Tommy Rich got over in Georgia with Ole booking him to lose a lot. He showed great fire and every week he came a little closer to victory before he finally started beating top guys.

Dusty Rhodes was smart enough to get himself over no matter what bookers or real life threw at him to deal with.

Sean asks if Baby Doll screwed Dusty. This leads to a hilarious moment as Ricky Morton makes a face and says

“I was never interested in seeing Dusty Rhodes naked.”

I howled with laughter!

Harley Race was brought in for a spot against Magnum TA. Rumor had it that TA was supposed to go over but Race refused. Race ended up winning their match and was then removed from the roster again. Oliver brings up rumors that TA and Race shot on one another during the match, but the Express shoot that down.

Morton thinks Race still had something to offer, but he was indeed aging and would have to come to terms with his career winding down.

The Midnight Express attacked the Rock ‘n Roll Express at a TV taping in early 1986 to kick off their feud.

Morton was hurt in the throat as part of the angle, and he went at least a month without cutting a promo to sell the injury.

Ricky was smaller, so he naturally became the guy who sold on their team. It was never really by design, it just sort of happened.

Morton could sell so well that at times Arn Anderson or others would whisper to him to make sure that he was not really injured.

Ronnie Garvin was one of the few guys on the roster who could have believably became the World champ. Dusty booked him very well and Garvin was able to overcome his average promos.

The TBS studio had no locker rooms, so the wrestlers went into an attached office to change. The office workers were not there, and probably had no idea that a bunch of bare asses had been on their desks over the weekend.

Stan Lane and Dennis Condrey had different styles, but both men were good workers.

Robert and his brother Ricky Gibson fought the original Midnight Express (Condrey, Norvell Austin and Randy Rose) years before he and Morton paired up.

Condrey was the ring general during the feuds with the Rock and Roll and Midnight Express.

The Express were not worried about being champions, they just wanted to draw fans and to collect the money that came with that.

In the middle of February of 1986, the Express were scheduled to go an hour draw with the Midnights, but the timekeeper was a mark and wanted Ricky and Robert to win, so he refused to call the match off and the match kept going until the guys figured out what was up and audibled the ending..

Even after working hour-long matches, the Express partied afterward.

“I didn’t go to bed for 35 years” – Ricky Morton

After Jim Crockett bought private jets, Flair and the others could party on the plane without consequence. Morton has seen Flair drunk and naked so often that it didn’t even faze him after a while.

Morton relates a story from the southern wrasslin’ he watched as a kid where a manager was being hoisted in a shark cage above the ring. The good guy grabbed the cage and shoved it to make it swing, then turned around. The cage swung back and cracked the guy in the head and knocked him out legit.

The AWA and NWA combining rosters to battle Vince in the North is discussed. Morton thinks the groups should have just focused on their own homelands and fended off Vince defensively.

The AWA talent tried to talk Crockett into signing them. Finishes were also a problem, as a lot of guys did not want to put over stars from another area.

Morton broke his finger during a jobber squash. Condrey yanked it back into place. Morton had no time for a doctor and his hand swelled up. Dusty found an ice cream vending machine at an airport, ate the ice cream and then taped the sticks on Ricky’s fingers.   Morton went on to work two more shows before having a doctor place his hand in a cast. Then Ricky decided he could not work well enough with the cast, so they sawed it off and had a special cast made for Morton.

Ricky broke his arm in Japan and they tied his arm up in the air in a harness. He had to fly home with his arm up over his head.

Baby Doll got thrown around by the men a bunch. This would not fly in today’s PC culture.

Precious was well respected by the guys. Jimmy Garvin and her could party as well as anyone.

Morton wanted to snort some cocaine before boarding a plane, so he asked Precious to stand guard. The plane’s engine roared up and a pile of coke blew right in Precious’ face – causing her to fall into a drug-induced freak out. I can’t do the story justice in the written form. Ricky does a great job telling it.

Jim Cornette got molten heat because he was so good at promos, but at the same time he was small enough that many of the fans figured they could whoop him.

Corny was attacked by fans a bunch when he first started out in Memphis and Mid-South and he learned to fight after a few months of taking abuse.

Nikolai Volkoff was battling Morton in Mid-South when a fan attacked the commie with a weapon so sharp that it cut through Volkoff’s boot.

Bill Watts ordered the heels to stay in the building until the end of each night in case a riot broke out in the arena.

Fans would jump off balconies to leap on the Midnight Express.

Ole Anderson fought a jobber once who tried to shoot tackle him several times. Ole grabbed him and slammed several headbutts into the man’s face, leaving his mouth pouring out blood.

Rhodes was upset that the Rock and Rollers could sell more tickets them him, so Rhodes tried to kill them off. Dusty didn’t mind stealing their heat by tying hankies on his arms and legs and teaming with the Express.

The Express got fired in early 1988 – JCP went under a few months later. They were brought back that Fall but there was no talent ready to draw with them and they left again. Morton admits they were fired because he refused to have his hair cut for an angle.

Morton did not know that Flair was going to bring out a training bra during a promo he was cutting on Morton and his fan base. He and Flair used to improv most of their segments.

Ricky would not split with Robert when Dusty requested him to. Morton implies he was booked to win the World title in late 1987 instead of Ron Garvin but Morton would not quit the team.

The guys did not watch the WWF product. They were too busy working.

Robert and Ricky never had a contract in JCP. Morton figures they screwed themselves out of a bunch of money by not signing one.

“Our money went to buy a fucking jet!”

The Express would love to have a toy released now because they think it would sell enough to give them a nice royalty kick back.

The WWE recently sent them a royalty check for DVDs and such for the whopping sum of 13 dollars.

Ricky and Robert were not booked to win any Crockett Cup tournaments because Rhodes did not want to heat them up.

The Road Warriors won the Cup in ’86 to push them harder because Rhodes was fixin’ to feud with them. Morton says the Warriors were too smart to agree to work an angle with Dusty.

Morton scratched up his own face with sand paper to sell the effects of Ric Flair grinding his face in the cement.

If the guys had to pick a 3rd member of the Express, they would have chosen Brad Armstrong because he was so underrated and talented.

The Mulkeys got over as cult heroes as jobbers because they bumped violently.

The jobbers were welcome to party after shows if they worked the circuit. George South was religious and behaved himself compared to his co-workers.

Morton wore make-up and a face guard around town to town to sell his injuries Flair gave him as part of another angle.

Ricky talks down Magnum TA’s potential as the future of the business before his accident.

Dusty was a great worker and a great promo. Hogan was the same way and both guys knew how to sell to gain sympathy.

Morton wishes the matches told stories like the old days and guys didn’t have to rely on gimmicks and spots to really get the fans to pop.

Gibson (actually talking for once!) relates the fact that the Express had to leave an amusement park one time because security told them their presence was creating too much of a scene.

A number of female fans won “dream dates” with the Express during a contest. Many of the gals were teenagers, so they had their parents with. Bill Apter was also in tow, shooting pics for his magazines, so there was no hanky panky.

One woman wrote in and said “I’m a nurse and I’d like to give Ricky and Robert the clap so I can cure them!”

The female fans would line up dozens of cars deep to chase them after house shows.

Ricky gets annoyed when he tells people about some of the stories of the fans and ring rats and they tell him he’s bullshitting.

Women would come to Morton’s house and tell his wife that they have been banging Ricky. One large woman was beaten up by Ricky’s wife for lying.

The fans used to even buy them expensive watches and such. Free drugs too of course!

Morton is impressed that Jimmy Valiant worked such a safe and easy style that he could not only work for 3+ decades, but he stayed over as well.

Guys should do their signature spots every night because it’s similar to a band playing all their hits.

Workers who complain that the fans were dead during their matches have only themselves to blame. You’re the conductor in this symphony.

Dusty winning the World title was not going to be good for long term business as the money is in the babyfaces chasing a heel champ.

Buddy Landell was a good hand, but liked his drugs and such too much to keep up a sustained run. Bill Dundee may have been paired with him during this run as a means to babysit him.

Dick Murdoch returned and Dusty placed him on the “B-team” with the Rock and Roll Express headlining on top. Dusty headlined the “A-team”. Rhodes asked Murdoch a few months later to join the “A-team” and Murdoch refused because the Express were drawing so much money. Rhodes was pissed.

“I can’t be nicknamed “Big” Dick Murdoch, because that would be false advertising” – Dick Murdoch

The Express were headlining stadium shows and not getting payoffs anywhere near what they were drawing.

Morton claims the “Rock and Roll Express Fan Club” sold over a million kits at $19.95 each. The Express did not get any kickback. Once JCP went under, the Express sued and received 3 cents of every dollar they were owed. The checks came out to 12 grand for each Ricky and Robert.

Morton has no idea how many women he slept with over his run as a top sex symbol. 35 years later, women come up to him and tell him they banged. Time has not been kind to some of these ladies….

Wahoo McDaniel got into a fight with a woman at a bar and threw nachos on her. This led to her boyfriend attacking him with a mop and Wahoo being arrested.

Gibson broke his ribs in the latter part of 1986. The office told him that if he didn’t work with his bad ribs that the towns were going to be down 40 grand a night.

The office pulled money out of the house show funds every night to send to Magnum after his car wreck.

On one of the Starrcade shows that the Express co-headlined saw ref Tommy Young receive a bigger payoff than the Express.

Ricky has his PWI awards and magazine covers up on his wall at home.

Final thoughts: This was almost two and a half hours of entertainment as Morton provided a bitter, yet entertaining look into the lives of a pair of pro wrestling legends.


Written by Andrew Lutzke

The grumpy old man of culturecrossfire.com, lover of wrasslin' and true crimes.