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The Rock 'n' Roll Express never failed to steal the show in the NWA

As one of the most popular duos of all time, Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson were embraced by wrestling fans in the South as larger-than-life megastars

WWE Hall of Famers The Rock 'n' Roll Express never had any problems getting anyone's attention. All you had to do is follow the sounds of the screams.

As one of the most popular pairings of the 1980s, Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson forged a partnership and career that cannot be denied. Over the course of a decades-long relationship, the Express has captured the NWA World and Smoky Mountain Wrestling Tag Team Championships on numerous occasions. Their last world title came in 2019 when both members were in their sixties. They still compete from time to time to this day, and Morton runs a very successful wrestling school.

But it's their heyday that longtime fans fondly recall when they look back to a special era of professional wrestling. Far from the carnival and cartoons of Vince McMahon's WWF, the Rock 'n' Roll Express was as organically popular as any characters he ever created. They were real, and their brotherhood was evident to their followers.

Many of those followers were of the female persuasion, who enjoyed their spandex as much as their suplexes.

Gibson and Morton were young and good-looking, and they did much more than draw the attention of the ladies. They became like rock stars themselves, and their entrances sounded like a crazy concert. The screams of the hot and bothered women in the audience were the same kind that rained down on MTV hotshots like David Lee Roth or Jon Bon Jovi.

To their faithful following, The Rock 'n' Roll Express were larger than life. Celebrities and gods, all at the same time

And often, just getting to the squared circle from the locker room was a bit of a battle, in and of itself. They had to wade through a sea of admirers, who were frantically tearing and clawing, just trying to touch the Express, or grab a piece of their apparel.

To say that the team was loved would be a huge understatement. A better term might be adored. Or possibly even worshipped. It's what made them huge stars wherever they went. They found an even match-up with longtime rivals, The Midnight Express, and the two teams wrestled some of the greatest contests ever.

The Rock 'n' Rolls had successful stints in both the Mid-South and Memphis territories. It's where they 'cut their teeth', as the folks down South like to say. After tagging with his brother (also named Ricky), Robert Gibson had experience as part of a successful dup already. Likewise with Morton, who had partnered with Eddie Gilbert previously.

The pair had great chemistry together. Their matches often displayed incredible psychology and exciting storytelling. It was often a similar tale, but told in a million different ways by the artists who created it: Morton would take most of the beating and the bumps, only to make a hot tag to Gibson, who fired back.

(Ricky became so well-known for his ability to sell the pain and anguish of his in-ring punishment that he's become somewhat of an adjective in pro wrestling circles today. Many young wrestlers are told to 'sell it like Ricky Morton' when they are in training.)

Then, the pair would typically get back in on the action together, finishing their foes with their double-dropkick finisher. It was a thing of beauty, and that blueprint would carry them all the way to the Carolina Territory, and Jim Crockett Promotions.

Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson had a major appeal to fans of the sport in the '80s.

This was the era of the 'fun-loving, pretty boy' gimmick, where several tag teams made it clear to the audience that all they wanted to do was rock and roll all night and party every day. The Fantastics, Fabulous Ones, and (later) The Midnight Rockers also followed this same prototype. It was proven to be a popular persona.

But it was the Rock 'n' Roll Express that was perhaps the most adored with that gimmick. While others may have been simply playing the hits, Morton and Gibson were blaring them like a sonic boom.

They quickly moved up the card in the NWA and were one of the JCP's featured acts. Often, they would headline a card in another town in the territory, while singles stars like Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes would entertain fans in a different town in the territory. Sometimes, the Express would even outdraw those marquee names. It made them one of the industry's most valuable commodities.

They had their own fan club, and on-air contests for ways their followers could meet them, and they were major players in the second-largest promotion in the world. Their matches were broadcast on SuperStation TBS, the audience would dress like them, and Morton even engaged in a high-profile feud with Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight title.

This was the team at its apex; they had risen to the top of the charts. Number one with a bullet, and they were taking in all the accolades and awards that went along with their achievements. The Rock 'n' Roll Express were named Tag of the Year by Pro Wrestling Illustrated in 1986 and had four world titles on their resume.

Unfortunately, a change in ownership and an injury to Robert Gibson would lead to the team being dissolved for a few years. Morton would go on to a singles career as a heel under the guidance of Alexandra York (Terri Runnels).

The two partners would reunite later in Jim Cornette's Smoky Mountain Wrestling, where they became the 10-time tag team champions. They also had a brief - and uneventful - run as part of Cornette's 'NWA Invasion' of the World Wrestling Federation in the late '90s. During this time, they appeared on RAW multiple times but did not win any championships under the WWF banner.

The Rock 'n' Roll Express was deservedly inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2017. To say that they left their autograph scrawled all over the decade of the 80s would be an understatement. They hung enough gold records on the wall that it would make Motley Crue mad and Ozzy Osbourne envious.

They played the role of rock stars of the ring and lived the life of legends. Big at the box office and titans of television, Morton and Gibson were the epitome of the era. Loud and proud, with about 150 decibels of pyromania to back it all up.

They were the perfect combo of electric and acoustic - known affectionately by their friends as Punky and Hoot. Without a doubt, The Rock 'n' Roll Express provided music to our ears and action for our eyes.

The magical memories they gave the fans were like a great song. One that will play forever.


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