“It was on Mid-South Television at the first part of 1984, when we had first gotten there, and the Rock-n-Roll was there after the talent trade in Tennessee. They basically decided to put us on TV for about six or seven minutes to see what would happen. Then Nikolai Volkoff and Krusher Kruschev ran in and interrupted it, so there was no finish.”
The history between the rivals dates even further.
“We had known Ricky and Robert from the Tennessee days for years,” Cornette said. “I knew Ricky before he actually started wrestling because he was the son of Paul Morton, an old referee here for 100 years. I met Robert when he was 18. We had almost grown up around each other. So the guys just got out there [in their first encounter] and for six or seven minutes the people were screaming and were on their feet because they never stopped moving.
“It was boom, boom, boom. Bobby, at that time, was a greyhound, and his bumps were amazing. Dennis was the general, and Ricky could sell, and Robert had the fire of a blast furnace. It was just amazing. As soon as we came back, everyone was saying that’s going to be the program.”
Looking back, the Louisville native says they didn’t know how big it was going to be at that point. It was their natural chemistry that led to their success. They created tag team wrestling magic together.
Cornette said: “Bobby and Dennis had never, even though we had all known each other, teamed up together, even though they worked in the same territories for years. They were always opponents. Ricky and Robert, even though they had been in Tennessee for years, Robert had been partners with his brother, Ricky Gibson.
“Ricky Morton had been partners with other people, until I believe March of 1983 when they put them together as the Rock-n-Roll Express. When they got a chance to be the team, they just blossomed. That was the first match we ever had, but as soon as we had it, we knew it was going to be as good as we thought it was going to be.”
Even though there have been some bright spots, tag team wrestling isn’t what it used to be. Cornette attributes Vince McMahon and WWE as a factor in why this type of action isn’t given the attention it deserves.
“Vince doesn’t like tag team wrestling, so if the industry leader doesn’t feature tag team wrestling then everybody else follows suit,” Cornette said. “Vince wants everybody to be an individual star. Going back to the days when you were a tag team and you decided you wanted to leave the territory, you left together. That’s what Midnight and I did all the time we were together.
“Now with contracts, if you are not signed at the same time, your partner may be under contract while you’re not. That’s why when Stan and I quit WCW, Bobby was still under contract. We all were, but we just quit, but we understood Bobby had three kids and a wife where as we didn’t. We just couldn’t put up with them anymore. So the contracts have partially given it a problem and also Vince not concentrating on tag team wrestling.”
With his experience observing and holding seminars, Cornette says tag team wrestling has become a lost art. This includes basic fundamentals of a tag team match such as building to a hot tag.