The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by one of their biggest rivals, Jim Cornette.
The tennis racket-wielding manager may have spent the better part of three decades trying to put an end to Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson, but even he can’t doubt the influence they’ve had on sports-entertainment.
“By any standard, Ricky and Robert belong in the Hall of Fame,” Cornette told WWE.com in an exclusive interview. “And that’s whether its longevity as a team, the attendance records they set, or the great matches that they had, which fans can still see on WWE Network.”
Cornette was a consistent thorn in the Express’ side since they first hit the ring as a team in the early 1980s. He managed against Ricky & Robert during their first week as a team, with the enmity intensifying when Cornette brought The Midnight Express into the squared circle. The team, which consisted of “Loverboy” Dennis Condrey, “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton, and later, “Sweet” Stan Lane, were the perfect dastardly villains for the fresh-faced Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. It didn’t hurt that they had Cornette on the microphone, hurling insults at Ricky & Robert at every opportunity.
“Superman needs Lex Luthor, Batman needs The Joker, and we were the antithesis of everything The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express stood for and their wrestling style. It just clicked,” Cornette said.
“I said these horrible, degrading things about these two, fine, young, upstanding examples of American boyhood,” Cornette continued, “and people, on numerous occasions, tried to kill us.”
Cornette survived the rivalry with The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express and turned toward the role of promoter in the 1990s. While on Smoky Mountain Wrestling television, he had the familiar role of manager to Ricky & Robert’s new enemies, The Heavenly Bodies. Cornette was also running the show for SMW, and realized how important The Express was to the company and its fans.
“Fans literally gave them pictures and gifts at the matches,” Cornette said. “They considered them members of the family. I’ve seen inside fans’ houses, and they would have pictures of Jesus on the wall, and next to it would be a picture of The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. That’s no lie.”
When it comes to inducting The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express into the WWE Hall of Fame, there is probably no one better than Cornette. After all, their careers have been intertwined for 34 years.
“Between the ’80s with The Midnight Express and the ’90s with The Heavenly Bodies, and then in the 2000s on the reunions with The Midnights, I think only Bobo Brazil and The Sheik had a longer-running rivalry,” Cornette said.
“And I still haven’t put an end to Rock ‘n’ Roll! I haven’t been able to do it, so I guess I have to roll over and induct them.”
Cornette’s induction speech will surely be one for the ages, as the motormouth has a career’s worth of memories to recall as he enters his biggest rivals into history.
“There’s one story I’ll probably tell at the Hall of Fame,” he said, “where The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express saved my life one night in Louisiana from an angry mob of fans.”
To hear that story — and a lot more — watch Jim Cornette induct The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express into the WWE Hall of Fame when the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony airs live on WWE Network on Friday, March 31 at 8 ET/5 PT!