Growing up in Huntsville, Alabama, Eaton was a fan of professional wrestling, especially the NWA Mid-America professional wrestling promotion. This promotion was operated by Nick Gulas, who staged wrestling shows in the Alabama and Tennessee region. First involvement in the sport came at the age of 13, while attending Chapman Middle School, when he helped set up wrestling rings in his hometown. He trained under Tojo Yamamoto to become a professional wrestler.
In 1976, at the age of 17, Eaton made his debut in NWA Mid-America. He entered his first match, a loss to Bearcat Wright, as a last-minute substitute for Wright’s absent opponent. He quickly became a regular in Mid-America and continued to train with the more experienced wrestlers. Before long, fans, as well as promoter Nick Gulas, noticed Eaton’s athleticism and showmanship. Gulas decided to “promote” Eaton up the ranks of NWA Mid-America, giving him matches later in the show, closer to the main event. The angle that really helped elevate Eaton’s name up the card in the promotion took place after the introduction of the tag team The Hollywood Blonds (Jerry Brown and Buddy Roberts). Eaton fought the Blonds with a variety of partners, including his old trainer Yamamoto and “Pistol” Pez Whatley. When the Blonds decided to move to a different wrestling promotion, the storyline maintained that Eaton was responsible for driving them out of NWA Mid-America.
In 1978, Eaton teamed with Leapin’ Lanny Poffo (brother of the more well-known “Macho Man” Randy Savage), and together they won the NWA Mid-America Tag Team Championship from Gypsy Joe and Leroy Rochester. It was Eaton’s first title win, and he and Poffo held it for a little over a month. Eaton went on to form a team, known as The Jet Set, with George Gulas, Nick Gulas’s son. Together, Eaton and Gulas held the tag team title three times. During their time as a team, the two were involved in a storyline feud with Terry Gordy and Michael Hayes before Gordy and Hayes became famous under the name The Fabulous Freebirds.
In the spring of 1979, Eaton started a feud with Chris Colt, designed to establish Eaton as more than just a good tag team competitor. The feud between the two was so heated that it saw Colt suspended for piledriving Eaton on the concrete floor, making it appear Eaton had been seriously injured. Eaton suffered no injuries, however. At that time, the piledriver was banned in most federations and treated as a move that could potentially paralyze a wrestler. This was done to give the move more “shock value”. Eaton conclusively defeated Colt, earning a place as one of the top faces (good guys) in NWA Mid-America. During 1979 and 1980, Eaton worked a series of singles matches against Dennis Condrey, a man he would later team up with to gain world wide fame.
At the end of 1979, Eaton turned heel (bad guy) for the first time in his career by joining Tojo Yamamoto’s group of wrestlers, whom the fans hated. Although Eaton is now thought of mainly as a heel, his fans were surprised at the time. Eaton’s heel run did not last long before he rescued his former Jet Set partner, George Gulas, from a two-on-one attack by The Blond Bombers (Larry Latham and Wayne Ferris) to return to the fan-favorite side once more. After reuniting the team, Eaton and Gulas had one final run with tag team champions and worked an intense feud with Latham and Ferris.
When Nick Gulas’ wrestling promotion closed due to dwindling ticket sales, Eaton briefly wrestled for a promotion in Georgia. Before long Eaton returned closer to home, working for promoter Jerry Jarrett’s Continental Wrestling Association (CWA), which was centered in Memphis, Tennessee. During his early days in the promotion, Eaton faced Stan Lane several times in tag team competition. Eaton’s most successful partnership in the CWA, in terms of title wins, was with Sweet Brown Sugar (later known as Koko B. Ware), nicknamed “the New Wave”. The two wrestlers blended their athleticism and high flying abilities to form a very successful team. The New Wave held the AWA Southern Tag Team Championship three times (twice with manager Jimmy Hart in their corner). After achieving success as a tag team, it was decided that Eaton and Sugar should split up and feud with each other. This storyline resulted in Eaton “forcing” Sugar out of the promotion after he won a “Losers Leaves Town” match against Sugar.
Sugar’s disappearance was soon followed by the appearance of a masked man called Stagger Lee, who looked and wrestled like Sugar. The storyline of Sugar returning under the mask to fight the heels helped make the masked man instantly popular with the crowd. Eaton, along with the rest of Jimmy Hart’s stable “the First Family”, tried in vain to unmask Stagger Lee. Eaton turned face and re-teamed with Sugar, although they maintained the storyline that Eaton’s partner was actually “Stagger Lee” and not Sugar. The team regained the tag team title before losing it to The Fabulous Ones (Stan Lane and Steve Keirn). Afterward, Eaton teamed up with The Moondogs (Rex and King) to face Jerry Lawler and the Fabulous Ones. During the match, one of the Moondogs accidentally hit Eaton with their trademark bone, costing their side the match. After the match ended, the Moondogs, as well as Jimmy Hart, turned on Eaton, beating him down until he was saved by Stagger Lee.
The Midnight Express
Soon after Eaton joined Mid-South Wrestling under promoter Bill Watts, he became part of the Midnight Express. Eaton teamed with former rival Dennis Condrey under the management of Jim Cornette to form a new version of the tag team. The Express had previously been a group of wrestlers consisting of Condrey, Randy Rose and Norvell Austin, but with Eaton’s arrival, the Midnight Express worked exclusively as a two man team. To complement the nickname “Lover Boy” Dennis, Eaton was nicknamed “Beautiful” Bobby, a nickname he still uses when wrestling. At first, The Express was booked in an angle with the Mid-South Tag Team Champions Magnum T.A. and Mr. Wrestling II. The highlight of the angle saw Eaton and Condrey tarring and feathering Magnum T.A. in the middle of the ring. The Express first won the tag team title when Mr. Wrestling II turned on Magnum T.A., attacking him during the title match and allowing Eaton and Condrey to win the title without much opposition.
With Mr. Wrestling II and Magnum T.A. splitting up, the Midnight Express needed a new team to defend their newly won title against. They began a long series of matches against The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) which ran well into the 1990s and spanned several wrestling promotions. The two teams feuded throughout 1984 in Mid-South Wrestling before the Midnight Express left the promotion. The Midnight Express versus Rock ‘n’ Roll Express series of matches were so well received by the fans that independent promoters all over the United States still book those two teams against each other today, 20 years after the rivalry started. The Midnight Express had a short stay in World Class Championship Wrestling in Texas, where they feuded mainly with The Fantastics (Bobby Fulton and Tommy Rogers).
In 1985 Eaton, Condrey and Cornette signed with Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) and were given national exposure on JCP’s televised programs on SuperStation TBS. Shortly after joining JCP, the Midnight Express reignited their feud with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express and won the NWA World Tag team title from them in February 1986. During the course of their heated angle, Eaton and Condrey lost the title back to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express six months later. Eaton and Condrey also had long running feuds with The New Breed (Chris Champion and Sean Royal) as well as The Road Warriors (Animal and Hawk). The feud with the Road Warriors included a high profile Scaffold match at Starrcade 1986, which the Midnight Express lost.
In early 1987, Condrey left JCP for undisclosed reasons, and “Sweet” Stan Lane took his place as part of the Midnight Express. In May 1987, after teaming for only a few months, Eaton and Lane became champions when they won the NWA United States Tag team title for the first time, a title they would win three times during their time together. A year later the team was cheered on despite being heels, as the Midnight Express won the NWA World Tag Team Title from Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard on September 10, 1988. Unfortunately this potentially classic feud was cut short when Anderson & Blanchard signed with the WWF over money issues. The Midnight Express’ run with the title lasted a little over a month-and-a-half before the Road Warriors took the gold from them in a brutal match up, which saw the heel Road Warriors brutalize the now-popular Midnight Express.
Now the fan favorites, the Midnight Express had to contend with a team thought to be disbanded forever: The Midnight Express. “The Original Midnight Express” consisted of Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose, who had been previously teaming together under the Midnight Express name in the AWA. The duo was led by long-time Jim Cornette nemesis Paul E. Dangerously, in a storyline that saw them trying to prove the originals were better than the new version. The surprise appearance of the Original Midnight Express gave Dangerously’s team the initial momentum in the feud, but soon after, Condrey left the promotion once more. This forced the bookers to bring in Jack Victory as a replacement as Condrey’s disappearance cut the promising feud short.
The Midnight Express then turned their attention to Paul E.’s new team, The Samoan S.W.A.T. Team as well as a new version of the Fabulous Freebirds. Eaton and Lane were defeated by the Freebirds in the finals of a tournament for the vacated World Tag Team Titles. Following this loss, the Midnight Express teamed with their former enemies The Road Warriors and “Dr. Death” Steve Williams to defeat the SST and the Freebirds in a WarGames match at the Great American Bash. Following this feud, Lane and Eaton began having issues with a young new team in the NWA known as “the Dynamic Dudes” (Shane Douglas and Johnny Ace). The Dudes admitted that the Midnight Express was one of their favorite teams and asked if Cornette would be their manager as well. Cornette agreed to manage the young team, to the displeasure of the Midnight Express.
After arguing with the Express, Jim Cornette stopped accompanying Eaton and Lane to the ring, choosing to only actively manage the Dudes. At the Clash of Champions IX, the two teams met with Jim Cornette appearing in a neutral corner, forced to choose between the teams. The Express started out very aggressively, especially for a team that was supposed to be fan favorites, and when the night was over, the Midnight Express had once again established themselves as heels with Jim Cornette in their corner; Cornette had never stopped siding with the Express.
After returning to their cheating ways, the Midnight Express started a storyline with the up and coming team of Flyin’ Brian and “Z-Man” Tom Zenk over the United States Tag team title. The Express won the title from the young team in early 1990, but lost the belts to The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott) three months later. After a loss at the WCW pay-per-view Halloween Havoc 1990, the Midnight Express split up, as Jim Cornette and Stan Lane left the federation, while Eaton chose to remain in WCW. For the first time in almost a decade, there was no Midnight Express.
Eaton made a one night only appearance for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling on August 13, 2003, as a part of a Kid Kash storyline where Kash faced off against a series of 1980s wrestling stars such as Larry Zbyszko and Ricky Morton. Eaton lost to Kid Kash in his only TNA appearance to date. Eaton is still competing on the independent wrestling circuit, taking select bookings, mainly in the United States.
Although Eaton has wrestled as a heel for most of his career, he is regarded as one of the nicest guys in the wrestling business. In his 1999 book Have a Nice Day, Mick Foley praised Eaton as being at once one of the most underrated superstars in the business, and its nicest, commenting that “it was damn near impossible to pay for anything with Bobby around, though I will confess to not trying that hard”. This opinion was supported in The Stone Cold Truth by Steve Austin.
In addition to his personality, he is also popular with other wrestlers due to his wrestling style. Wrestling Eaton is known as “a night off”, because Eaton is so skilled that the action looks very convincing but does not hurt the opponent.
Eaton is married to Bill Dundee’s daughter, Donna. When they first started dating, they had to keep the relationship secret from her father, as her father had forbidden her from dating the wrestlers he was booking. When Dundee found out she was dating Eaton, he relented because Eaton was such a nice guy. Eaton and Donna have three children: Dustin, Dylan, and Taryn. Dylan is a professional wrestler.
On September 6, 2006 Dave Meltzer reported that Eaton was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack. Two days later, after being released from the hospital, Eaton released a statement through the Wrestling Observer website saying that he did not have a heart attack but was diagnosed with high blood pressure with a hint of diabetes.
Bobby Eaton is one of the nicest people you will ever meet in your life. He is one that will go out of his way to be nice to you. It has been a pleasure to work with Bobby on several shows and call him a friend. We here at The T-Bone Effect congratulate and welcome Beautiful Bobby Eaton to the sites Hall of Fame!
The T-Bone Effect Staff