These Were Bobby Eaton’s Best Wrestling Matches Of His Career

With his signature golden mullet and winning personality, Bobby Eaton was a titan in the ring during the 1980s and early ’90s, especially as a tag team wrestler. But “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton didn’t just excel in tag team competition, he pioneered styles and techniques that went on to define pairs wrestling for decades to come. As part of the legendary team the Midnight Express (first with Dennis Condrey and later, and more successfully, with Stan Lane), Eaton created some of the most memorable moments in tag team history. The Midnight Express’ fiercest rivalry was with a team called the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, comprised of Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson.

According to Fanbyte, Eaton’s biggest strength was his ability to play an impeccable sidekick to the heroes of the match, whether they be on his team or the other. Eaton’s talent wasn’t necessarily in winning championships, but rather the hearts of the people in the stands and in front of their televisions. He was an expert at what in the pro wrestling biz is called “putting over,” or giving the fans characters and rivalries they can really care about. Although he never reached the legendary status of other singles wrestlers of the day, such as Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, he did enjoy a bit of success on his own, as well. So now that we’re all reeling from the heart-wrenching death of Bobby Eaton, let’s honor his legacy by looking back at the highlights from his storied career.

Bobby Eaton's WCW World Tag Team Title Win

We’ll start with one of Eaton’s biggest wins. In 1992, after a spectacular career with the Midnight Express in smaller promotions, Eaton was wrestling for WCW at a time when the promotion was still a serious competitor to the WWE. As a member of Paul E. Dangerously’s Dangerous Alliance stable, he teamed up with Arn Anderson to go for the World Tag Team Title on January 16. According to The History of WWE, he and Anderson had lost to the reigning champs, Ricky Steamboat and Dustin Rhodes just a couple weeks earlier, and the duo from the Dangerous Alliance was ready for revenge. (Steve Austin had helped them give the defending champs a beat down after their loss on January 1, but they needed to make it official.)

The Best 2 out of 3 falls match saw Rhodes get disqualified on the first fall and Eaton get pinned by Rhodes on the second. Anderson ultimately pinned Rhodes for the third fall after giving him a solid smack in the noggin with Dangerously’s humongous cell phone that wrestlers often snatched from his hands for use as a “foreign object,” aka weapon, in wrestling parlance. Although Eaton got pinned, it was a perfect example of his aforementioned talent for doing what was needed to put the match over with the crowd. Going down on the second fall added suspense that kept the people on the edges of their seats before he and Anderson finally took the title.

Beautiful Bobby's WCW World Television Title Win

According to Fandom, Eaton and Anderson would hold the Tag Team Title for about four months before losing the belt to the Steiner Bros. in May. But less than a year before that shared victory, the two greats were wrestling against, rather than with each other. The venue was WCW SuperBrawl in St. Petersburg, Florida; the date May 19, 1991. Arn Anderson was defending his title as the first-ever WCW World Television Champion, which he had won in January. But Bobby Eaton had different plans.

As Wrestling Republic notes, the fast-paced match saw Anderson attempt several ways to take Eaton out by the legs, Beautiful Bobby’s weapon of choice. In the end, however, Anderson’s efforts were for naught, as he was finally taken down by Eaton’s signature finishing move, a diving leg drop he called the Alabama Jam. The WCW World Television Championship was the only singles title Eaton ever held, and he didn’t hold it for that long, either — only 15 days. Still, the win proved that Eaton was to be considered among the greats for his solo work in the ring, as well.

Eaton's WCW World Title Loss to Ric Flair

We know what you’re thinking: a loss on the list of Bobby Eaton’s best matches. But hey, the loss was to the incomparable Ric Flair, so no disrespect. After taking the TV Title, it appeared that Eaton was on his way to becoming a force to be reckoned with in singles competition. So, according to Wrestling Republic, Flair was actually the one who requested that Eaton take him on for the WCW World Heavyweight Title, which he had been defending since January. Flair and Eaton were actually good friends, and The Nature Boy really enjoyed working with Beautiful Bobby.

Eaton’s classic salesmanship was apparent from the get-go, but his chances at the belt were dashed when he was pushed off the ropes by Flair and hurt his knee. He sold the injury flawlessly for the rest of the match, but was ultimately put in Flair’s signature Figure-four leglock and the match came to an end in just 15 short minutes. Still, as you can see from the video of the match posted to Daily Motion, Eaton made sure to get a few good smacks and clotheslines in before Flair took him down.

The Midnight Express Vs the Fantastics, April 26, 1988

Now let’s get into the classic Southern tag team style that Bobby Eaton helped popularize as part of the Midnight Express in the 1970s and ’80s. The Midnight Express’ bitterest rivalries were with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (which we’ll get to shortly) and the Fantastics. Funnily enough, many of Eaton’s most iconic matches went down as losses on his record, but that just goes to show how skilled he was at putting over a crowd. According to Fanbyte, one such match was on April 26, 1988. The Midnight Express had beaten their rivals the Fantastics at the first-ever Clash of the Champions just a month before, and there was bad blood between them. These two teams always managed to bring out the ferocity in one another. Their matches often ended in all-out brawls, sometimes leading to disqualifications.

This rematch went down as one of the most iconic tag team bouts of the era, and it both followed the Southern style and also tinkered with it. The athletically superior Fantastics seemed to toy with the Midnight Express, while Eaton got down and dirty with some eye-scraping and closed-fist chin music. Eaton skillfully shifted the heat from the heels to the faces and back, driving the crowd absolutely wild. In the end, however, Tommy Rogers took him out with a dropkick and pinned him for the win. Still, the match is an excellent example of Eaton’s ability to entertain.

The Midnight Express Vs the Rock 'n' Roll Express, WrestleWar 1990

No review of Bobby Eaton’s career is complete without a discussion of the rivalry between the Midnight Express and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. Their iconic feud pretty much led the rise in popularity of the Southern tag team style. Again, however, we’ll look to a loss for Eaton as an example of his abilities. Although it was a few years after the true height of the feud’s popularity, Fanbyte calls the bout between the two Expresses at WrestleWar 1990 “the most textbook example of the Southern tag team formula there’s ever been.”

Faces Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express started the match off with a fast-paced offense full of energetic spots (i.e., planned moves) that Eaton and Lane expertly sold to the crowd. Eaton was at his best during their heel heat section, the part where the bad guys start to win and, if they’re good at what they do, get the crowd to boo them mercilessly. He had a way of injecting life into this normally low-energy segment of the match. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express went away with the win, but the evolution and popularization of tag team wrestling that took place that day wouldn’t have been possible without Eaton and all the other pros working together at the height of their games. Beautiful Bobby Eaton was a true legend of the squared circle, and while he is missed, he is definitely not forgotten.

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