Rock-n-Roll will never die, and neither will the legacy of one of the greatest tag teams of all-time, The Rock-n-Roll Express.
Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton (The Rock-n-Roll Express) will be part of the debut of the Ronin Pro Wrestling experience on Saturday, Sept. 27 at the Miami Airport Convention Center.
“I like doing these independent shows because we get to go out there and meet the fans,” Gibson said. “We enjoy that now in our career.”
The Rock-n-Roll Express will join Rob Van Dam (WWE, WWF, ECW, TNA), Tommy Dreamer (ECW, WWE, TNA), Al Snow (WWF, WWE, ECW, TNA), Joel Gertner (ECW, WWE, TNA), B. Brian Blair (WWF, WCCW, New Japan, FCW), and some very good Florida indie talent like Alex Chamberlain, Frank Stone, Leva Bates, Shawn Prime, Edward Malken, Solo Darling, Donovan, Justine Silver, Aron Agony, Dynamite Didi and Jonny Vandal.
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As Ric Flair was to the singles wrestling division, The Rock-n-Roll Express was to tag teams, working well with any shape, size and style, and most importantly, they put butts in seats. They made you want to spend your money to attend. They could cut a promo, especially Ricky. They were young, good looking, energetic, flashy, synchronized, talented and rock-n-roll personified, welcoming the musical meshing with pro wrestling. They became larger than life superstars, living the rock star life.
Plain and simple, it worked.
In 2003, Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked them No.4 of the Top 100 Tag Teams of the PWI Years.
Talk about a run. The Rock-n-Roll Express is 31-years-young and counting.
“I knew when I was a young boy playing basketball and football, I wanted to be a wrestler,” Gibson said. “I started training when I was 11, riding my bicycle to the wrestling school. You’d get mat burns on your knees. Back then it was so tough, I’d ride home on my bicycle with mat burns on top of my head, but I wanted to do this. I wanted to be a world champion. Not only did I make my dream come true...”
But Gibson became one of the best in the business at tag team wrestling.
Gibson turned pro at 17. Inspired and trained by his older brother, Ricky Gibson, the Gibson brothers competed successfully in the South, but it wasn’t until Robert met another Ricky in Memphis that his career really took off.
“All we [Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson] done was take what me and my brother did to the next level,” Gibson said. “We [Gibson brothers] were a very popular team, held the Mid-South tag team titles and had a good run in Memphis.”
Ricky Gibson’s in-ring career ended by a drunk driver. He was very happy for the success of the Rock-n-Roll Express.
Memphis, a hot bed for pro wrestling, birthed many pro wrestling superstars including the Rock-n-Roll Express. Through Ricky Gibson’s vision, The King Jerry Lawler, ruler of Memphis Wrestling, decided to give these two young guys, Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton, a shot as a tag team.
Ricky Gibson knew Ricky Morton since he was a kid. The Gibson brothers and Ricky Morton wrestled some six-man tag matches, but Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton hadn’t tagged before, until Memphis.
“[Ricky Morton] learned quick, and we just clicked,” Robert Gibson said.
“We were a new young tag team, and they were going to call us the R-n-R Express,” he continued, “but back in the 80s, young boys into rock-n-roll, I just said let’s call it the Rock-n-Roll Express.”
Lawler and Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart, who worked Memphis Wrestling and prior was a vocalist in the band The Gentrys, liked the name, giving their stamp of approval.
“We really didn’t know what we were going to dress up as,” Gibson continued. “Jerry Lawler brought me a pair of tights that looked like the color of my skin, and it looked like I was naked with bandanas sticking on me.
“So me and Ricky went to the mall, and we went searching, looking in magazines to see what David Lee Roth and other rock stars were wearing, and we went with that.”
Born in Pensacola, Fla., Gibson enjoyed rock music -- Def Leppard, Van Halen, Joan Jett, some of his favorites.
Rock music helped shape a new era of pro wrestling, and the Rock-n-Roll Express was near its forefront. Entrance music for The Fabulous Freebirds in the late 1970s, early 1980s began a trend with music and wrestlers that still lives today.
The Rock-n-Roll Express put their own stamp on this new era with its look and fast-paced style, debuting in 1983 in Memphis for Mid-South Wrestling. WWE Chairman Vince McMahon Jr. began the Rock-n-Wrestling Connection with singer Cyndi Lauper and MTV in 1984, a springboard to WrestleMania I in 1985. Legendary manager Capt. Lou Albano did appear in a Lauper‘s music video ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun” in 1983.
Every fan favorite needs a hated rival. In Mid-South Wrestling, The Midnight Express (Beautiful Bobby Eaton and Loverboy Dennis Condrey) with annoying, instigating, irritating, loud-mouth, get-under-your skin manager Jim Cornette fit the bill.
“They were unbelievable,” Gibson said. “Back in the 80s, you had such good tag teams. The Midnight Express was our biggest rival. You had the Four Horsemen. There was so much talent back then.
“I do feel we were in the right place at the right time,” Gibson said. “It seemed like everywhere we went, we broke attendance records. Mid-South had been in business years before we got there. They used all these guys 250 pounds and up. So they’d never seen anything like me [6-0, 225] and Ricky Morton [5-11, 200]. We broke all the records [Promoter] Bill Watts ever had. When we went to the Carolinas for Jim Crockett Promotions, we became the world champions and broke records that they had for 50 years.”
Those extraordinary results took some time to accomplish, but within nine months of forming, they realized their star power.
“In Lafayette, Louisiana for the first time, as we were coming up to the auditorium, Ch.5 News was out there,” Gibson said. “We got out of the car, and they came around and introduced themselves, and then they said, ‘We came down here for one reason to see who you all are. Look at all these people. These people been camping out here for almost a week just to buy tickets. Who are you all?’”
The Rock-n-Roll Express won a cavalcade of championships including the NWA World tag team titles (Mid-Atlantic version) four times, the NWA World tag team titles twice and the NWA World Tag Team Tournament. More impress is their in-ring work, displaying their athleticism, chemistry and ring psychology, making them great.
“After Lafayette, we went to the Carolinas, NWA, and that was national exposure off of [cable channel SuperStation] TBS,” Gibson said, “and after that, we couldn’t go nowhere. I lived in Charlotte at the time, and I actually had to have a police officer parked in front of my driveway to keep the people away.
“Looking back at it now, we were like rock stars. We were like the Beatles and Elvis. Couldn’t go nowhere. To go out to eat was impossible. You had to eat something in the back where nobody knew you were there.”
Gibson recalls a look-a-like contest that two boys won, dressing like the Rock-n-Roll Express.
“For winning, they got to go with us to Carowinds Amusement Park [on the border of North and South Carolina]. The first ride we got on was a roller coaster, and we’re riding, and all of a sudden the roller coaster stops. Security comes running over and says, ‘Guys, I hate to say this, but you all are going to have to leave the park. Everybody that’s in this amusement park is at the entrance way [waiting for them]; you all have shut down the park.’”
Wrestling schools, social media
Robert Gibson, 56, is running the new All Pro Wrestling Academy at the Douglasville Boxing Club in Douglasville, Ga. Call 404-702-7359.
Ricky Morton, 58, is operating the School of Morton pro wrestling school in Chuckey, Tenn. Call 423-297-7623.
Trailer for Rock-N-Roll Never Dies: The Story of the Rock-N-Roll Express.
Ronin Pro Wrestling in Miami
Ronin Pro Wrestling www.roninprowrestling.com will debut in Miami on Saturday, Sept. 27 at the Miami Airport Convention Center.
Wrestling superstars, legends and performers will attend the event which includes wrestling, a fanfest and seminars.
Rob Van Dam (WWE, WWF, ECW, TNA), Tommy Dreamer (ECW, WWE, TNA), Al Snow (WWF, WWE, ECW, TNA), Joel Gertner (ECW, WWE, TNA), The Rock-N-Roll Express: Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson (WCW, NWA, UWF), B. Brian Blair (WWF, WCCW, New Japan, FCW), Alex Chamberlain, Shawn Prime, Edward Malken, Jonny Vandal, Leva Bates, Solo Darling, Justine Silver, Donovan, Aron Agony, and Dynamite Didi will be participating in the launch of this brand new wrestling organization, based in South Florida.
All talent booked for the event will be part of a fanfest from 4-7:30 p.m. The wrestling show, which starts at 8 p.m., features 10 matches, including Alex Chamberlain vs. Frank Stone; Shawn Prime vs. Tommy Dreamer; Al Snow vs. Edward Malken; Jonny Vandal vs Eddie Graves; Leva Bates vs Dynamite Didi; The FRENEMIES (Aron Agony and Jude Mackenzie) vs T.E.C.H. (TC Read and Mike Monroe) vs. The Fanboys (Jaison Moore and Shane Swift); Solo Darling vs Justine Silver; El Protagonista vs Jack Zero, Mikaze vs Joey Bricco; and Donovan vs Oliver Caine.
In addition to wrestling and the fanfest, industry veteran Joel Gertner will host a special seminar titled “EVERYTHING BUT (the) WRESTLING.” Gertner is an established wrestling manager, announcer, promoter, and personality with more than 23 years wrestling experience via ECW, TNA, WWE and MXW Pro Wrestling.
The seminar/symposium/workshop/Q&A will focus on developing skills as a wrestling performer, on-camera talent, writer, director, producer, promoter. Gertner will discuss all aspects of the industry that go hand in glove with wrestling itself, such as intangibles that elevate careers and the skills that allow people who are not ‘wrestlers’ to make a name for themselves, a living and if fortunate, a successful career in the wrestling business.
Topics include psychology, acting, character development, promos, writing, production, social media, self promotion, getting booked, negotiation, wrestling culture, being the CEO and more insight on how to be a better wrestling personality and get noticed.
Ronin Pro Wrestling is organized by the team behind Florida Supercon www.floridasupercon.com
and Animate! Miami www.animatemiami.com
which includes their very popular Florida Super Championship Wrestling events www.facebook.com/FSCWrestling.
Florida Supercon and Animate! Miami are the two largest comic-con type events in South Florida, with more than 43,000 individuals in attendance for Florida Supercon 2014. For the past five years, the organizers have presented Florida Super Championship Wrestling events at their conventions and partner events, with more than 30 wrestling cards booked.
Tickets for Ronin Pro Wrestling start at $10 advance and $15 at the door. The Miami Airport Convention Center is at 777 NW 72nd Ave., Miami, 33126. The event will occur in the 50,000-square foot west hall of the convention center.