The SmarK Rant For RF Video’s “Best Of The Rock N Roll Express”

The SmarK Rant for RF Video’s “Best of the Rock N Roll Express”

– Okay, anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a ridiculously huge mark for Ricky Morton specifically, and the RNR in general. Morton’s work may not have been the BEST of his era, but the more you see, the more you find to appreciate in the nuances of his selling and the way he influenced pretty boy babyfaces for years to come. Jeff Hardy specifically owes his career to Morton. There’s a reason why I refer to the face-in-peril of a tag match as “Playing Ricky Morton”.

– NWA World tag title, cage match: The Rock N Roll Express v. Ole & Arn Anderson. Robert dodges Ole and a pier-six erupts early. Arn gets caught in the wrong corner and retreats. Ole comes in, but can’t escape the RNR either. Ricky outguns him with some speed, and the Horsemen regroup again. Arn tries with Morton, but gets reversed to death. Rock N Roll work the arm, but Robert misses a charge and kneelifts the cage by mistake. Ouch. The Andersons just DIVE for the knee and destroy it. Robert kicks out of a figure-four, but Ole keeps up the punishment with a stepover toehold. Arn goes knee-to-knee on Robert and grinds it in. Robert gets an enzuigiri, tags Ricky, and he promptly goes facefirst to the cage to put a stop to THAT. Ricky Morton plays Ricky Morton and all is right with the world. Ole gets two off a snapmare and Arn bites at him. Back to the cage goes Ricky, and Ole methodically stomps away. Ricky bleeds huge. Arn switches to the arm and Ole keeps at it, slapping an armbar on. Hammerlock slam from Arn gets a pop and he goes to the 2nd rope, but gets nailed coming down. Ole comes in and pounds the arm, however, preventing a tag. Shoulderbreaker gets two. Morton kneelifts Arn, but can’t tag. Ole uses a stepover armlock, and Rick fires back, but Ole keeps at the arm. Rick fights back again, but gets double-teamed INCHES from the tag. The crowd is just about ready to riot at this point. He staggers up and walks into a spinebuster from Arn. D’oh. Ole comes off the top with a kneedrop onto Ricky’s arm, but Ricky won’t quit. Double-KO, but Ricky can’t capitalize. He fires away on Arn, lunges for the tag and Ole nails him, giving the crowd a heart attack. That’s just mean booking. He small packages Ole for two as Robert finally has had enough and brawls with Arn, distracting the ref long enough for the Express to double dropkick Ole and Ricky gets the pin with his last burst of energy to retain at 19:00. CLASSIC Ricky Morton here. ****

– The Rock N Roll Express v. The Midnight Express. Okay, I’m immediately confused – this is from TBS in 1987 and Tony clearly calls it a match in the US tag title tournament, but a couple of facts clearly contradict this: First, there was only two tournaments in the 80s for those belts – the one in 86 featured the Condrey-version Express getting punted in the first round via DDQ and this is the Lane-version Express; and the one in 1987 happened at about the same time as the RNR’s fourth and final World tag title reign was beginning, although there’s no actual start date due to it never really “beginning” – they were simply awarded the titles when Rick Rude jumped to the WWF. ANYWAY, whatever this is, it’s from 1987, and it’s from the old Center Stage set. Morton & Eaton do some feeling out to start, and Bobby gets a few choice cheapshots. Ricky starts on the arm and gets a dropkick, and goes back to the arm. Tony is elated with the match, if only because it’s so important to Cornette that he’s nowhere near the announcing position. See, they’re clearly making a big deal out of this, but it CAN’T be a tournament match because the RNR weren’t in that tournament. Lane comes in but gets armdragged as well. Gibson holds a wristlock for an insanely long time, as Lane tries everything short of serving him with a court summons to get him to release it, all unsuccessfully. You never see stuff like that anymore. Screw you “Attitude” Johnny-come-lately types with your MTV slacker attention spans! A donnybrook erupts, as Eaton and Lane bump all over the place and Ricky hits Eaton with a missile dropkick. Great mystery of the universe: How the HELL can those teenage girls in the front row maintain a “Rock N Roll!” chant for like 10 minutes straight without wrecking their vocal cords? I mean, I’ve sat next to Hardy Boy fans at live shows before, and they usually crap out after a minute or two, but the sustained heat for the RNR makes Jeff taking his shirt off look like Buddy Rose doing a striptease. Morton keeps on Lane’s arm, but Lane finally gets unhooked when Robert eases up for a moment. Eaton comes in and immediately falls victim to the same, however. Gibson then rolls up Lane for two, and back to the arm. Bobby slams him and quickly gets an Alabama Jam to turn the tide, and Lane gets two. We hit chinlock, but that just makes the crowd chant for Gibson LOUDER. Those old TBS crowds were astonishing. Morton, like an idiot, comes in to break things up, which just gives the Midnights a chance to beat the shit out of Robert. Eaton cradles for two. Rollup gets two. Lane drops an elbow for two. Abdominal stretch rollup gets two. Gibson comes back with an enzuigiri, HOT tag Morton. I mean, the place is just coming unglued. Crossbody gets two on Lane, and it’s BONZO GONZO in the truest sense of the word. Double dropkicks for both! It’s curtains for the Midnights, but the ref gets clocked by Cornette and can’t count. Morton is so pissed off that he dumps Lane over the top to vent his frustration, and that’s a DQ at 11:42. I miss 12-minute tag matches on free TV between two teams who were pushed meaningfully as a team towards a goal of winning the tag belts. ***1/2

– The Moondogs v. The Rock N Roll Express. From SMW, early on. The Dogs pounds on Robert with a 2×4, but Ricky evens the score. A barrel gets involved and they give each other some weak shots. Brawl outside and Gibson pounds Spot with can-lids while Ricky & Rex fight into the crowd and back into the ring. The RNR pound on the Moondogs, but that darn barrel keeps altering the destiny of the match like some sort of redneck monkey’s paw. Spot hits the ref for no adequately explored reason at 6:19. This had aspirations to be a wild brawl in the same way that Trish had aspirations to hit that bulldog on Jackie. ½*

– The Rock N Roll Express v. The British Bulldogs. Check this shit out: This is from a 1989 AJPW-AWA joint show in Kansas in 1989 that was a total disaster (main event: Mike George v. Stevie Ray – the younger whiter one I’d presume unless Stevie Ray Huffman was main-eventing in his rookie year). The commentary here thus features the Gagnes dubbed over the original Japanese, and it’s a mess. Much like Dynamite’s back and the Bulldogs’ relationship at this point, which is why I wonder who decided to give this 30:00. We’re JIP about 25:00 in, as Davey Boy has a headlock on Morton. He goes up, but misses a kneedrop. They cut off the tag, however. Finally hot tag to Gibson. Dropkicks abound and he gets a one-count on the Kid. Morton introduces Kid to the post, and back in for the double KO. Morton piledrives Davey Boy for two. Double dropkick gets two. Inside cradle gets two. Gibson backslides for two. Each guy goes for a dropkick and thus both miss. Gibson & Kid reverse cradles until time expires at 5:16 aired, all of which sucked.

– From NWA Pro: The angle that led to the RNR losing the tag titles, as Cornette makes an offhand comment about Ricky Morton’s dad being such a lousy referee due to his excessive drinking (with Stan Lane making the classy “tipping the elbow” motion in the background), and Morton comes out to knock Cornette on his ass in retaliation. The Midnights back off, but when the Rock N Rolls come out to defend against Tully & Arn later in the show, they jump them in the aisle and do really nasty things to Ricky’s arm. JJ Dillon immediately demands that they forfeit the belts, but Robert Gibson is a MANLY MAN (check that CHEST HAIR) and he wants to go it alone. Well, you don’t have to ask the Four Horsemen twice to accept a 2-on-1 beating.

– NWA World tag title: The Rock N Roll Express v. Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson. I’m glad to finally have this match on tape, just because that pretty much gives me the entire library of RNR-Brainbusters matches. Robert fights alone and holds off Tully, and gets the enzuigiri on Arn. Arn pounds away, but gets taken down into a spinning toehold. We take a commercial break and return with Gibson getting pounded by the Horsemen. Tully drops an elbow and piledrives him for two. BUT WAIT! Here’s Ricky, proving himself to be equally manly, wanting to tag in even with a sling on his arm. He slugs the Horsemen down, but Arn hits him in the arm and the Horsemen get medieval on his ass. Tully finishes with a standing armbar, as Robert begs for mercy and throws in the towel at 4:48. Dusty Rhodes loved this storyline so much that he recycled it a year later when the Road Warriors won THEIR first titles. **

– The next week, Ricky vows REVENGE~! on Cornette. Now he’s done gone and pissed him off.

– From NWA Pro shortly after, the Midnights take on a masked jobber team called the Texas Cowboys, but suddenly find themselves getting routed by two suspiciously familiar guys. The crowd figures out who they are well before the Midnights do, and after a pair of double-dropkicks, the Express decides to retreat now and fight at Starrcade.

– Scaffold match: The Midnight Express v. The Rock N Roll Express. Ah, my very, very favorite type of match…the same type that produced that -**** classic to open Bash 91. Eaton hugs Cornette goodbye before climbing the scaffold. Big Bossman Bubba Rogers the Guardian Angel gives the Bossman slam to Morton (and what a beauty shot it was, too) and that leaves Robert all by his lonesome on the scaffold. Morton mugs Cornette and steals the LOADED TENNIS RACKET OF DOOM and takes it up the scaffold. Gibson has the audacity to blade. They crawl around on the scaffold for a while, and Eaton blades too. Eaton throws powder in the RnR’s faces. For those who don’t know, the object is to knock both guys off the scaffold. Eaton gets the racket and swings away, but Gibson pulls a piece of the scaffold off and nails him. Lane gets knocked to the underside of the scaffold and Morton follows him down as Gibson wales on Eaton with the racket. Lane falls first, leaving Eaton 2-on-1 against the Rock N Roll. They hammer away on him and drive him off for the win. Probably the best scaffold match I’ve seen, but then there’s only been three of any note besides this and they all sucked. Big Bubba climbs the scaffold and challenges Morton, so Ricky hits him in the nuts and runs away. Wow, what a hero. **

– SMW tag title: The Rock N Roll Express v. The Heavenly Bodies. After the Rock N Roll left the NWA in 1988 due to the usual money bullshit, they wandered around the territories for a couple of years, returned to WCW in 1990 as a team, split up, then left again due to money and resurfaced in SMW working for Jim Cornette. As luck would have it, Stan Lane was also there with new partner Tom Pritchard, and things got wild immediately. This particular match is a street fight, and Gibson lays out both Bodies with a garbage can. Lane finds a kendo stick, but Morton steals it while Dr. Tom blades. Cornette nails Gibson to put him down, but the trashcan turns the tide again. They double-team Tom, but Lane beats on Morton with a belt. Gibson stops that, so Morton comes back with the BANDANA OF DOOM for two. The Bodies bail and regroup, and Lane has the bright idea of throwing Morton into a table at ringside. Now THAT’S strategy. Cornette then one-ups him by tossing powder in Gibson’s face and giving Morton a heaping helping of tennis racket to supplement his sporting equipment intake. Back in the ring, Dr. Tom pounds Gibson while Cornette ties Morton to the bottom rope. Ref gets bumped, and Morton does an admirable bladejob for a guy attached to one of the ropes. In the ring, the Bodies work Gibson over and try the old “suffocate the new guy with a plastic bag” rib that I hear is all the rage for the rookies in the WWE these days. What a kidder. Morton gets cut loose by a ringboy and destroys the heels with a chair in retaliation for messing up his hair. Gibson brings the table in and it gets put in the corner, where both Bodies get whipped into it. Everyone is bleeding now. Gibson looks to distribute some tennis-racket love, but Lane jumps him. The RNR double-dropkick him, but Pritchard loads up the boot, punts Gibson, and gets the pin and the titles at 9:22. Powder, quadruple juice, tennis rackets, tables and a loaded boot! This is why I love SMW. ***3/4

– Clips of a cage match where the Express regain the belts shortly after. This one features the one missing piece of the previous old-school puzzle: An ether-soaked rag. While main events in the WWE shouldn’t be featuring this stuff, for freakish throwback territories like SMW, this was perfect.

– SMW Tag title match: The Rock N Roll Express v. The Heavenly Bodies. Ricky controls Pritchard to start, and Gibson gets a kneelift on Lane. Hiptoss and flying headscissors, and the Bodies bail. Back in, Lane gets double-teamed in the corner as Robert Fuller (Col. Parker) and Jimmy Golden (Bunkhouse Buck) arrive late for what was supposed to be their title shot. They try to hit the ring but get hauled back by the refs, as the match is BONZO GONZO in the ring and the Bodies bail again. Morton gets tricked into turning his back (“Hey, Ricky, it’s a bottle of economy-sized conditioner!”) and once again plays, well, you know. Double-teaming results and Pritchard clotheslines him. More double-teaming and a Pritchard powerslam gets two. Flapjack gets two. Elbow gets two. Hot tag to Gibson, however, and it’s a rare BONZO GONZO reoccurrence in the same match! Ref is bumped as Morton rolls up Lane, however. Double dropkick, no ref. The Stud Stable fights back to the ring and a huge brawl erupts as Pritchard loads up the boot again. Morton hits him with it, but now Bobby Eaton makes a surprise appearance and does what he’s best at – hitting Morton with a legdrop behind the ref’s back and putting Lane on top for the pin and the titles at 11:14. Good stuff. ***3/4

– The Rock N Roll Express v. The Sheepf*ckers. Okay, back to the NWA in early 88. The RNR attack during the flag ceremony, and the heels bail. Luke starts with Ricky and gets dropkicked out again. Butch starts pounding Gibson, but the Express work him over in the corner. Luke also gets some of that action, but a shot to the throat puts Robert in a tight spot. He gets worked over on the floor and double-teamed in the ring. Robert’s rollup attempt is blocked, but he makes the hot tag to Ricky. In a better match, this would have been akin to the False Dawn in movie dramas, where you THINK that the hero is gonna win only to see him get captured by the Nazis again, but this isn’t that match and Morton doesn’t get clobbered again like he usually does. Double dropkick, no ref, and Johnny Ace runs in for the DQ at 5:29. Amazing that the flagbearer for the future Bushwhackers is now running the WWE, more or less. For the coup de grace, the Sheepherders threaten to CUT RICKY’S HAIR, which probably would have set off a riot and caused shampoo companies the world over to declare Chapter 11 on the spot. *

– The Rock N Roll Express v. PG-13. JIP from USWA TV, as this is the kickoff for the USWA v. SMW feud. Mark Curtis is playing heel manager for the RNR, who in turn are playing heel and stealing liberally from Tully & Arn in the process. We pick things up with Tully Gibson pounding the shit out of JC Ice (and really, who wouldn’t want to?) who obligingly bleeds all over the ring. He fights back on Arn Morton, but walks into a DDT for two. Morton goes up, but misses a fistdrop to give PG-13 a hope spot. Gibson cuts off the tag, however, and they hit a Hart Attack clothesline and work the cut like sadists. False tag to Wolfie D allows the RNR to double-team JC for two. Gibson smugly mocks Wolfie, but JC fights on. Gibson calmly slams him and drops a knee. Morton cuts off ANOTHER tag and they work JC over some more until the crowd is just going insane. Finally, Wolfie has had enough and he comes in to wreak havoc, and causes just enough confusion for JC to sneak in a sunset flip on Morton for the pin at 5:13 aired. **1/2 Mark Curtis then steals the show by taking off his boot and DESTROYING Randy Hales with it, doing a monster heel beatdown on the smaller PG-13 and Hales. The Mirror Universe RNR is pretty damn cool. They absolutely demolish the USWA contingent, laying out all three and drawing blood all over the place, and toss out reinforcement jobbers until Jerry Lawler finally makes the save. Mark Curtis gives the camera one last sneering pose. Man, this must have been Mark’s dream angle.

– The Rock N Roll Express & Arn Anderson v. The Heavenly Bodies & Bobby Eaton. Sadly, we stop picking at the USWA thread after one match and return to SMW. Morton monkey-flips Pritchard and follows with a rana, and Dr. Tom backs off. The faces work him over but he tries his own monkey-flip on Gibson, who counters with a fistdrop. Nice bit of psych there. Arn comes in and posts him a couple of times. Classic RNR double-teams in the corner and they work the leg, which leads to the melodramatic triple-figure-four spot that makes no sense but draws a huge pop every time without fail. Bobby hammers Arn, but misses a charge and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA. Arn DDTs everyone, but makes a rare tactical error by stopping to go after Cornette, and gets jumped. Gibson comes back in, but gets nailed by Cornette and here we go again. Lane clothesline and Pritchard elbow leads to some triple-teaming. They kick the crap out of Gibson, but Morton makes it backs in, and immediately hits the ringpost for the millionth time in his career and he’s YOUR face-in-peril. I swear that every time someone charges into the corner and hits the ringpost they should call it “Pulling a Ricky Morton”. See what I mean about the False Dawn, by the way? Eaton works the arm and gets a nice clothesline. Lane dumps him into a beatdown situation on the floor. Back in, cheating follows. I’m shocked, too. Pritchard works the arm, and a powerslam gets two. We’re clipped to the hot tag to Arn, and he slams everyone, and it’s BONZO GONZO. Eaton gets a neckbreaker to set up the Rocket Launcher, and that gets two. He goes for Plan B: The tennis racket. However, that hits the wrong guy by mistake, and Ricky pins him at 10:54. Fun match. ***

– The Rock N Roll Express v. Randy Savage & Lanny Poffo. From the Memphis coliseum, 84ish. This is a reasonably famous match, more for one spot than any merits as a tag match. Savage & Poffo do some stalling. Lanny gets double-teamed into oblivion and they work on the leg. Savage comes in and Robert misses a blind charge, but tags Morton, who cleans house. Morton & Savage brawl on the floor, where Angelo Poffo nails him to make him YOUR Face in Peril. Back in, Savage boxes his ears, but misses an elbow off the middle. Savage casually tosses him and drops the axehandle to the floor, which was state of the art stuff at the time. Lanny misses a senton off the top, leading to the hot tag. Angelo pulls the top rope down and Robert splats on the floor. They brawl at ringside, setting up the famous spot: Savage piledrives Morton THROUGH the ringside table, horrifying the crowd and guaranteeing a rematch, as the DQ is called at 6:42. You have to keep in mind that a plain ol’ piledriver was a godkiller in Memphis at the time, and combined with a table, you might as well just cremate Morton and scatter the ashes. **1/4

– The Rock N Roll Express & Arn Anderson v. The Heavenly Bodies & Bobby Eaton v. Dutch Mantel & Robert Fuller & Jimmy Golden. Yes, this is a NINE-MAN three-way and a street fight to boot. Chaos reigns as Dutch & Dr. Tom batter each other and there’s random acts of violence all over – it’s all so chaotic that there’s no way to follow it. Even the announcers give up on it. Mantel & Pritchard break stuff outside, and Eaton comes back from an excursion into the crowd with a tire around his neck. He comes back and hangs Gibson. Blood all over here. Pritchard does an absolutely gory bladejob and things finally calm down for a minute. Everyone kinda stops to take a breath as Eaton climbs up the basketball standard, pursued by Robert. Cornette gets involved, i.e., attacked. Fuller tries a chair but gets clocked by Morton with it and pinned at 9:10 to eliminate that team. Morton gets laid out and Eaton gets a Rocket Launcher for two. Arn sprays fire-extinguisher all over and DDTs all of them. Morton brings a table in and the heels all meet that. Gibson puts Cornette into a figure-four, but you GOTTA think any action by a babyface THAT stupid can’t possibly lead to anything good, and indeed Pritchard simply drops a knee on the completely exposed Gibson and gets the pin at 13:13. If you like those crazy Gangsta matches from ECW, check this shit out, yo. ***

– NWA World tag team title, cage match: Ivan & Nikita Koloff v. The Rock N Roll Express. This was the Express’ first real shot at winning the belts, as their prime in the sport proved to be only a couple of years. Nikita & Ricky Morton start, and Nikita overpowers Ricky. Morton dropkicks him to no effect. Ivan comes in and gets bodypressed, but crotches Ricky on the top for two. Robert Gibson comes in with a dropkick, slam and kneedrop for two. Ricky gets a fistdrop for two. Robert rolls him up for two. They double-team Ivan for two. Robert ducks a sickle and sends Ivan to the cage, and Ricky comes in with a fistdrop. Again, for two. Robert does the same for two, but gets caught in the communist corner and hotshotted into the cage by Nikita. To the cage another two times for good luck. Ricky keeps charging in like a madman, allowing the Russians to double-team. Ivan sends Robert to the cage and drops an elbow for two. Nikita bites him and poses, and they champs double-team again for two. Ivan crotches himself, but Robert can’t tag. Ricky charges in again, allowing more shenanigans. Ivan drops a leg for two. Nikita hits a chinlock as Robert bleeds. Ivan maintains control and gets two. Back to the cage via Nikita. Robert dropkicks Ivan, bumping the ref. RUSSIAN SICKLE OF DOOM for Robert, no ref. Rick sneaks in on a hot tag, rolls up Ivan, and gets the tag titles at 12:18, nearly blowing the roof off the arena. God, I don’t know how the screaming girls in the audience could keep up the volume for 12 minutes, but somehow they did. The RNR were so over with the females that they made Buff Bagwell look like Harley Race. ***

– NWA World tag team title: The Rock N Roll Express v. The Midnight Express. Okay, back to 1987, with this gem from Worldwide to hype the Great American Bash. Gibson & Eaton start and get nowhere fast. Hair-pulling is alleged by Eaton. Eaton grabs a headlock but gets powerslammed, and thus steps up the slander by asserting that it was only due to a well-timed pull of the tights. Tony’s selling of the situation (“Well, if the ref didn’t see it, he has to ask!”) is pretty funny on a weird ironic-detachment kind of level. Gibson goes to the headlock again and gets two. Now Eaton goes way over the top, accusing Gibson of being the guy who came up with New Coke, and even Earl Hebner can’t believe anyone could be THAT dumb. Okay, I made that last one up. At any rate, Eaton swears on his children’s lives that Gibson cheated, and thus Earl is immediately tipped off to his lying. Okay, I made that one up, too. Lane comes in and gives it a go, but ducks away from a slugfest, so Gibson boots him in the ass to draw a pop. Lane tries the arm, but wanders too close to the enemy encampment and gets blitzed. A well-timed hairpull allows him to control Morton, but the RNR double-team again and Lane is more screwed than Bret. They work the leg as Morton makes faces at Eaton. I always love watching guys who love working together, work together. Lane’s eyepoke is ineffective against Gibson’s crazy eyes, and the leg is maintained. They even do some cheating, switching off behind Hebner’s back and then swearing on their children’s lives that they didn’t do anything. Lane tries a slam, which Ricky counters for two due to Lane’s knee being shot. You see that? PSYCHOLOGY. Not hard. The RNR just keep destroying that knee, but Eaton gets the tag and walks into a drop toehold. Whoops. The Midnights regroup, and back in Ricky accepts a test of strength. When it goes badly, he walks up Bobby’s chest and flips over him, and then dropkicks him. That is such an awesome spot that I’m shocked someone hasn’t stolen it more often. I think Rey Jr. used to swipe it now and then. Gibson gets dumped, however, and meets the railing. Ricky protests to the ref about the nefarious dealings, and THAT’S just asking for trouble. Eaton drops an elbow on Gibson for two. Small package gets two, reversed for two. Lane superkicks him for two. Neckbreaker and savate kick put Gibson down, and Eaton nails him off the top. Gibson gets his enzuigiri to comes back, but Eaton cuts off the tag and Lane gets a backbreaker. Ref is distracted when Ricky keeps trying to get to the punchline of a road story, so over the top goes Gibson, and that just draws Ricky over again, which allows in turn the Midnights to use the ref’s distraction in handling Morton to throw Gibson over the top a SECOND time. They could teach CLASSES on this stuff. I mean, the psychology here is so awesome that you can get an honorary doctorate just by watching this tape. Gibson gets a sunset flip for two on Lane, but Eaton lays him out and rolls him up for two. Gibson finally gets a kneelift, but he makes the comeback in entirely the wrong half of the ring and thus gets smacked down like a googly-eyed bitch in short order. Eaton goes up and misses the elbow, hot tag Morton. He cleans house and crossbodies Eaton for two. Double-dropkick bumps the ref, and Big Bubba slams Morton and puts Bobby on top for the pin and the titles at 18:37. Awesome touch: In a match they had on the Bash ’87 tape, Bubba did that run-in, but forgot his hat and thus got his team DQ’d due to evidence of the crime. This time, he remembers to take it. But alas, as you can guess, it’s another ref running in to inform Earl of the monkey bidness, and the decision is reversed. If you REALLY want the full monty of RNR/MX matches, you need the even longer house show version, where Ricky tags in and gets walloped and beaten for another 10 minutes until the REAL hot tag back to Gibson. But this was pretty spectacular, bad finish aside, by itself. ****1/4

– The Rock N Roll Express v. The Nasty Boys. Off to the AWA we go, as 1988 saw the RNR working for whoever provided the most beer money. Gibson avoids a double-team a couple of times, but gets hammered in the corner by Sags. He gets the headscissors and Morton comes in with a piledriver that sends the Nasties running. Back in, Gibson rolls up Sags for two. Test of strength goes badly for Robert, but Ricky bails him out and comes in. Morton also tests his strength, and the RNR double-team Sags and sends him running. Knobs grabs a bearhug on Gibson, but the RNR double-team AGAIN and the Nasties bail. Back in, Knobs works a headlock on Robert. Morton comes in, but runs shoulderfirst into you-know-what, and plays you-know-who. Sags with the shoulderbreaker and the Boys work the arm. Sags with a clothesline and back to the arm. Double-teaming in the corner and Sags gets two. More cheating and double-teaming, but Sags misses a charge, hot tag Gibson. He’s a house of fire, but Morton’s still selling the arm. He dropkicks Sags and the heels collide and everyone is counted out at 12:53. Pretty formula, but the formula works. ***1/4

– The Rock N Roll Express v. The Heavenly Bodies. This is into the Jimmy Del Ray version of the Bodies, and this is a loser-leaves-town cage match. Pritchard hammers Gibson to start. “It’s truly an electrifying moment here in Tyco, Kentucky!” declares the announcer. Bet you don’t hear THAT every day. Gibson and Pritchard are at a stalemate, so Morton tries. He gets pounded, but clotheslines him. Del Ray comes in, but gets double-teamed. He slugs it out with Gibson, but gets backdropped. Cage is eaten and Gibson gets two. The RNR cleans house and we starts again. Del Ray slugs Ricky, but gets hiptossed and double-teamed. Gibson gets the enzuigiri for two. Pritchard tries again, but eats cage and blades. Gibson works him over in the corner, and Morton goes low and sends him back to the cage for two. Gibson works the cut and also sends him to the cage for two. He finally catches Ricky with his head down, and Del Ray superkicks Morton to turn the tide. Now Ricky meets his old friend the cage a few times. Pritchard starts slugging away and gets two. Double-team and Morton goes into the wooden support beam instead of the fence, and more nefarious dealings follow. Pritchard pounds the shit out of him and gets two. DDT gets two. Del Ray comes off the top for two. Morton sunset flip gets two. Del Ray DDTS him for two. Morton fights back, but gets mauled in the corner until Robert brings Ricky back to his corner himself, and makes the hot tag. Del Ray smartly blasts Mark Curtis to prevent a pinfall, however. Double dropkick, no ref. Another ref comes in to revive Curtis while the Bodies double-team like nuts. Del Ray’s moonsault gets two. Tennis racket gets two as Curtis suddenly arises from the dead to stop the count. Del Ray tries a powerbomb, but YOU CAN’T POWERBOMB MORTON, and he reverses to a rana for the pin at 24:13 (counted by BOTH refs) to send the Bodies WWF-ward. This was a hellacious shitkicking taken by Morton, and a great brawl. ****1/2

The Bottom Line:

Keeping in mind how NOT objective I am on the subject, I thought this was a great tape (with one or two notable exceptions – I would have put the RNR v. Horsemen 40-minute classic from TBS in 87 in there somewhere, for instance) that showcases exactly why the Rock N Roll ruled the tag scene in the short time they were on top and brought southern tag wrestling into the modern era at the same time. Highly recommended.

Here’s a link: http://www.rfvideo.com/merchant/index.cfm?action=moreinfo&id=4963