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.
Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson (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.
The Rock-n-Roll Express wil 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.
Legends Ole Anderson and Jerry Jarrett told Ricky Morton he wouldn’t make it because of his size. He stood 5-foot-11, but that didn’t stop him from pursuing a dream. His drive, passion, training and stellar in-ring work, especially his ability to sell, paved the way, and he made it. Wow, did he make it.
“I was one of the first little guys to make it in this business,” Morton said. “They said I was too small to be in this business, but because of my love and what I wanted to accomplish in this business, [their opinion] wasn’t going to stop me.”
Recently celebrating his 58th birthday, he’s been in the business 40 years.
“I still wrestle four to five nights as week,” Morton said. “Matter of fact, I’m in better shape now than when I was 25-years-old. I’m not trying to be somebody I’m not.
“A lot of guys wrestle for years and retire, and then they come back. I love to see them, but you can’t take off 10 years and then step back in the ring. It don’t work like that. I’m not trying to insult anyone’s intelligence. Even though we are an entertainment business, we are still professional athletes.
“To do this continually, you have to keep your body in shape; you have to keep yourself in shape; you still have to train. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t train like I did years ago, but I’m in the gym. In fact, I have a wrestling school [School of Morton] in Chuckey, Tenn. Wrestling is all I’ve ever known. I love my business so much. I’m proud of what I do, and my success comes from my love of this business.”
The School of Morton is another extension of Morton’s love of pro wrestling. The School of Morton has produced talent like Hamrick, Kid Kash, Rick Michaels, Chase Owens, Rockin Rebel.
“I train young guys,” Morton said, ‘but it’s not only about wrestling; it’s also about making good decisions in life.”
Proving the doubters wrong, Morton not only formed with Gibson one of the greatest tag teams of all-time, but he more than held his own in a singles’ run with the measuring stick NWA champ Nature Boy Ric Flair.
“I wrestled Flair 17 nights in a row, and every one of them we went to an hour time limit, and when that was over, they all went to an hour and a half,” Morton said. “I had an opportunity to become the world champion, but I didn’t take it. I was a tag team wrestler. If I had won the world title, it would have torn the Rock-n-Roll Express apart, and I didn’t want that to happen. A lot of people say it was one of the greatest mistakes, but it was what I wanted to do. I was part of the greatest tag team ever, and that’s been part of the Rock-n-Roll Express.”
As Ric Flair was to the singles 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 see them wrestle. 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.
Plain and simple, it worked.
The Rock-n-Roll Express worked successfully for the territories in the South as well as the AWA, ECW, NWA, TNA, WCW and WWE. Fans loved the Rock-n-Roll Express. Males wanted to be them, and females wanted to be with them.
“Robert and I were rock stars and really didn’t know it,” Morton said. “I wouldn’t change anything.”
And some things remain the same.
“I wouldn’t know I’m old until I see a picture of myself,” he said. “I think I’m the last one still with a wrestler’s mullet. Everywhere I go, even today. I was at my son’s junior high football game [the other night], and I must have signed 200 autographs. The Rock-n-Roll Express was one of the top tag teams.”
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.
“We clicked right off the bat,” Morton said. “We had great, great chemistry together. We just knew what each other was going to do.”
The Rock-n-Roll Express won a multitude 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.
Forming the tag team in Memphis, Morton credits Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart for creating the name The Rock-n-Roll Express. Hart, who boasted a music background singing with the Gentrys, was working in Memphis with The King Jerry Lawler.
The Rock-n-Roll Express wrestled during a good time for tag team action. The rivalry between The Rock-n-Roll Express and The Midnight Express (Beautiful Bobby Eaton and Loverboy Dennis Condrey with manager Jim Cornette) epic.
“Not only did we have great matches, we made history,” Morton said. “My prayers and my love go out to Bobby Eaton who [recently] suffered a heart attack.
“Nobody can even understand the matches that we had with The Midnight Express and their manager Jimmy Cornette. We set attendance records, breaking Elvis Pressley [attendance] records, and that’s cool and a heck of a thing to do. I think we’ll go down one day in wrestling history not only as the best feud but some of the best matches ever in tag team wrestling.”
The Rock-n-Roll Express also wrestled classics against Ivan Koloff, Nikita Koloff and Krusher Khrushev, Raging Bull Manny Fernandez and Rick Rude, and members of the Four Horsemen.
“When it came to the Four Horsemen, when it came to Ivan Koloff, Nikita Koloff and Krusher Khrushev, when it came to Manny Fernandez and Rick Rude, during that day and that time in our life, if you were not a great wrestler, you were not even in our business. Our business was a great business, a sacred business, a business that was not given to you. We were in an era of the greatest workers, greatest combinations in our professional wrestling history.”
“A lot of people say in this business that Ricky Steamboat and myself were the two greatest babyfaces in our era,” Morton said. “Since then, you had Shawn Michaels, and he will tell you he followed in my footsteps, and he learned a lot from me.”
The 6-1 Michaels formed a stellar tag team with Marty Jannetty. Known as The Rockers, they had Rock-n-Roll Express tendencies. When The Rockers split, Michaels transitioned into a standout singles wrestler, one of the best all-time.
Morton has seven children including a 13-year-old son, Kerry.
“My son goes with me to the wrestling school like I did with my dad,” Morton said. “I’m not blowing smoke, but he’s as good as anybody I have seen on TV -- not only wrestling wise, athletic wise but talking wise, a great entertainer.”
Morton started training young, 16-years-old, but he did not have the passion, until he returned to it when he was 18.
“I took my wrestling bag with me with my dad. We went out of town,” he said, “and it just so happened somebody didn’t show up, and it just so happened I was away from the business those couple of years and didn’t realize until I went there to Memphis, Tennessee that I thought I was at a rock concert. That’s when I knew the business was for me.”
Wrestling schools, social media
Ricky Morton, 58, runs the School of Morton pro wrestling school in Chuckey, Tenn. Call 423-297-7623.
Robert Gibson, 56, is also training those with pro wrestling aspirations at the new All Pro Wrestling Academy at the Douglasville Boxing Club in Douglasville, Ga. Call 404-702-7359.
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.