This week, professional wrestling lost one of its best friends when ‘Beautiful’ Bobby Eaton passed away. A true professional in and out of the ring, Eaton was considered a quiet and gentle soul. A vastly underrated worker who could bring the very best out of any opponent he was competing against. Stone Cold Steve Austin named Eaton as the best wrestler he ever shared the ring with. While a great worker, it was his quiet demeanor that perhaps held him back from bigger accolades as a singles competitor.
Bobby Eaton grew up a big wrestling fan and started his career setting up the ring for shows when he was just 13 years old. It was wrestler Tojo Yamamoto who spotted Eaton play wrestling in the ring before a show and saw a natural talent within the youngster. Tojo took Eaton under his wing and began training him for a pro career. Bobby Eaton made his debut at the age of 17 years old after another wrestler no showed an event. Promoter Nick Gulas was a big supporter of Eaton saying the teen was one of the toughest and most talented wrestlers he ever saw.
Bobby Eaton’s first big break came when Gulas paired Eaton with his son George to form a tag team called ‘The Jet Set.’ The duo won the NWA Mid America tag team titles on three occasions. While the promoter’s son George Gulas was meant to stand out and become a star…it was Eaton who truly stood out. George’s wrestling career would eventually fade away.
Eaton would also find tag team success teaming with Sweet Brown Sugar aka Koko Ware to win tag team gold. Eaton became a true tag team specialist teaming with various other wrestlers. It wasn’t until Eaton formed a tag team with ‘Loverboy’ Dennis Condrey in Bill Watts Mid South wrestling that his career really took off. Eaton and Condrey took the name ‘The Midnight Express’ from Condrey’s old three man team that featured Norvell Austin and Randy Rose. The “new” Midnight Express were also paired with a brash, loudmouth manager in Jim Cornette.
Together the Midnight Express became a top team for the Mid South territory winning the tag titles twice. What made them stars of the promotion was the fact they were a bit smaller than Watts usual big, burly wrestlers and they stood out with their speed and finesse. The Midnight Express would be in high demand to wrestle for other territories across the country. Eaton and Condrey won tag team titles in various other territories, with their biggest achievement coming from winning the NWA world tag team titles.
The Midnight Express’ feud with Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson of the Rock N Roll Express was one of the all time greatest rivalries in pro wrestling history. The two teams battled it out in classic matches for over four years. When Dennis Condrey abruptly quit the team and disappeared from wrestling, ‘Sweet’ Stan Lane was chosen as his replacement. Lane and Eaton made the transition flawlessly and many say that the Midnight Express became an even better team. The new and improved Midnight Express won the NWA United States tag team titles on three separate occasions.
They would also simultaneously hold the NWA world tag team titles with the United States tag team belts to show their absolute dominance in the tag team division. The icing on the cake was the Midnights being voted 1987 tag team of the year by Pro wrestling Illustrated magazine. When the Midnight Express had a falling out with Jim Herd and decided to quit the company…it was Eaton who stayed behind while Lane and Cornette walked away.
Bobby would find some moderate success as a singles wrestler winning the World Television title and unsuccessfully challenging Ric Flair for the world heavyweight title. Still, Eaton’s biggest accomplishments as a wrestler were being a part of a tag team. He joined Paul E Dangerously and his Dangerous Alliance faction where he formed a team with another tag team specialist in Arn Anderson.
Under Dangerously’s guidance, the team won tag team gold in WCW. He also teamed with ‘Lord’ Steven Regal in a team called the Blue Bloods. By the mid 1990’s, Bobby Eaton was still employed by WCW, but was used more as enhancement talent to get other stars over. When Eaton wasn’t losing matches on TV, he was assisting young wrestlers train at WCW’s Power Plant.
Eaton was briefly hired by WWE to be a trainer in their developmental system. After being let go by the company…Eaton returned to wrestling on the independent circuit until his retirement in 2015. It ended a nearly 40 year career as a pro wrestler and trainer. For those that are curious, Bobby got his nickname “Beautiful” from an advertising campaign highlighting the beauty of his home state Alabama. The campaign slogan was Alabama the Beautiful and Eaton was proud to represent his home.
Over the past few years, Eaton had been battling a number of health issues. His wife Donna was the daughter of fellow wrestler ‘Superstar’ Bill Dundee and the couple had four children together. Sadly, Donna passed away in June of 2021. A little over a month later, Bobby was gone as well. ‘Beautiful’ Bobby Eaton was 62 years old.