Riding Off Into The Sunset: The Final Days of The Midnight Express

Brian Damage

One of the greatest tag teams in the history of the wrestling business was the Midnight Express. It didn’t matter if it was the tandem of ‘Beautiful’ Bobby Eaton and ‘Lover boy’ Dennis Condrey or the combination of Eaton and ‘Sweet’ Stan Lane….The Midnight Express were an extremely successful team. Not only could the team work a great scientific match, they could brawl and adapt to any type of match they were thrust into. Add to that, having one of the greatest talkers managing them in Jim Cornette…you had a tag team that was both hated and beloved.

The Midnight Express experienced success in every territory and promotion they set foot in. Whether it was Mid South, World Class, Jim Crockett Promotions…the Midnight’s made a name for themselves. At one point in time, the Midnight Express (Eaton and Lane) simultaneously held both the NWA United States and World tag team titles. They were consistently in the running for tag team of the year by major wrestling magazines of the time like Pro Wrestling Illustrated.

Jim Crockett Jr loved Jim Cornette and the Midnight’s so much, he offered them an astounding 225,000 dollar contract to remain with the NWA and be one of his top attractions. All seemed right in their world….and then the bottom quickly fell out. Crockett sold his promotion to Ted Turner and it was renamed World Championship Wrestling. You would think having a genuine billionaire owning WCW would be a great thing for all involved. It probably was until the announcement was made that Jim Herd was named Executive Vice President of World Championship Wrestling.

Almost right off the bat, Jim Herd and Jim Cornette seemed to butt heads. Herd wanted to renegotiate the Midnight Express’ lucrative contracts…which he Herd felt was way more than what they were worth. He was successful in getting the team to take home less money. It didn’t end there, as the two also clashed on booking decisions. Cornette was a member of WCW’s booking committee that also had people like Ric Flair and Jim Ross on it. The met once a week to decide all the different creative aspects of the company and had to get final say from Herd.

Many of the booking committee’s ideas were shot down, as Jim Herd saw to make WCW more of an entertainment based wrestling company to compete with the WWF. That led to a very contentious relationship between Herd and Cornette as Cornette felt that WCW should remain purely wrestling based. Cornette readily admitted that others on the committee were far more diplomatic than he was. He was not afraid to tell Herd to “Fuck Off” if he thought Herd’s ideas were stupid.

Naturally, that led to a bitter relationship between the two men that affected the way The Midnight Express were booked in the company. Herd wanted to split up the team and pay each member different salaries. He wanted Jim Cornette to be solely a color commentator and no longer manage. Stan Lane would get the worst of the deal with him getting nothing more than a pay per appearance deal of around 300 bucks a show. Cornette refused this offer and continued to fight Herd on several different issues.

Cornette saw that the Midnight Express were still a draw for WCW and came up with an idea that he felt would make everyone happy. He approached Ric Flair and the rest of the committee and revealed his idea to have Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton join the Four Horsemen. At the time, the Four Horsemen only consisted of Flair and Arn Anderson. Jim Cornette would “sell” their contracts to Woman and then retire as a manager. Flair loved the idea as did the rest of the committee. It was all set in stone.

While Cornette was on a vacation in Hawaii, he received a call from Jim Ross, where Ross broke the news that Herd rejected the Four Horsemen idea. The news obviously didn’t sit well with Cornette who felt that Herd was simply incompetent and a cancer to the wrestling business. It also looked as if Herd had a vendetta against the Midnight Express and Cornette. The team was booked almost every night jobbing to other lesser tag teams.

The breaking point finally occurred in 1990 when Cornette looked at the Midnight’s booking sheet for a series of television tapings with Stan Lane working singles matches and Bobby Eaton not being used at all. Cornette complained about it and was told by Ole Anderson…”If you don’t like it…go home.” Little did Anderson expect that Cornette took that as a legitimate offer and stormed out of the building with Stan Lane following quickly behind. Bobby Eaton offered to walk out with both Lane and Cornette, but was told to stay behind because he had a wife and kids.

That was the end of the great Midnight Express as we knew them to be. Cornette would eventually revive the team name with the WWF years later…but without Eaton or Lane involved. Instead it was Bodacious Bart Gunn and Bombastic Bob Holly. Not exactly the same thing.

5 thoughts on “Riding Off Into The Sunset: The Final Days of The Midnight Express

  1. Jim Herd was a cancer to wrestling. Since Pizza Hut doesn’t do restaurants anymore and only delivers. Jim Herd should’ve just stick to being a pizza delivery guy. Doing that to the Midnight Express was awful and this is just one of many things Herd did as we all know about what he did to Ric Flair.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Herd. The man who gave us Oz, Ding Dongs, who was sold on El Gigante since he could step over the top rope, and the Black Scorpion. Who wanted Hunchbacks, more wrestlers based on Turner owned film properties (Long John Silver, Rhett Butler with Scarlet O’Hara and Flair as Spartacus), who told Mark Calloway that he had no future in wrestling. The mind boggles.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Remembering ‘Beautiful’ Bobby Eaton | Ring the Damn Bell

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