Ricky Morton Discusses The Rock & Roll Express and How The Wrestling Business Has Changed
One half of the legendary tag-team “The Rock N’ Roll Express” Ricky Morton joined Kayfabe Wrestling Radio Tuesday Night. In a nearly 30 minute interview, he discussed how the ‘Rock N’ Roll Express’ came together, facing the Fabulous Ones (Stan Lane and Steve Keirn), working for Jerry Lawler and Jerry Jarrett in Memphis back in the day and how he got started in wrestling, the differences with wrestling today, on moving to and working with the Crockett’s NWA promotion, being part of Starrcade ’85 and selling out two arenas for one event, the iconic match between the Rock ‘N Roll Express and the Andersons from Starrcade ’86 and that being named Steve Austin’s favorite match of all time, working different styles and the role of the babyface back in the day, his times as Richard Morton in WCW with the York Foundation and what as more fun: being Ricky Morton or Richard Morton, his upcoming match with Jerry Lynn vs Kid Kash and MMA fighter Josh Shockman at Crossfire Wrestling’s TV Taping and more.
On how the Rock N Roll Express come together as a team: “Well, I knew Robert real good; but in 1983, matter of fact this is our 30 year anniversary that Robert and I have been tag team partners, Jerry Lawler in Memphis, Tennessee put us together in 1983. We were, back then, were looking for a place; they had the Fabulous Ones in there and were looking for another tag-team, so he (Jerry) put Robert and I together and they came up with the “R N’ R Express”, the Rock N’ Roll Express, and that’s what we stuck with man.
Working for Jerry Lawler and Jerry Jarrett in Memphis and how he got into wrestling: “Oh, they were great. But you got to remember; we were back in the time when Memphis was real hot, that was after when Jerry and Jeff Jarrett and all of them came up there. Working for Lawler, you got to understand; not only working with Lawler, you had Bill Dundee too; they were two great, great thinkers, booker wise, for business. You got have to understand, you had to keep this territory going; you had to have new ideas. If you were working on top and you didn’t sell Memphis and Louisville and Evansville out, they moved you down the figurative spot.
That’s why I followed my dad’s footsteps; my dad was a referee there. He wrestled in the early days but he was a referee there in Memphis. You’ve got to understand, I’ve been in the business all my life; I broke into the business. I started when I was a very young kid, I’m talking back in elementary school, going with him and putting the rings up. But eventually I started in Memphis; I started out, first of all, with a promoter of the name of Nick Gulas in Nashville, Tennessee and then when I switched and went to Memphis and it was like going to the show, going the big leagues. When you stepped into the Memphis Coliseum, it was 10-12,000 people and that was every Monday night and working with these guys from all over; when you stop and look, some of the greatest stars that ever been in this business came out of Memphis, Tennessee because there you had to learn to carry the load, you had to learn what to do. You had Lawler, you had Jarrett and you had Bill Dundee and that was the main three that really ran that territory and kept it going, giving the people something to see every week and bring excitement to them. To me, it was a great pleasure to be there, you understand?”
The differences working back then as opposed to today: “Now-a-days, and I’m not taking nothing away from nobody, and understand these younger guys don’t have the opportunity to learn like we did and how sacred our business was too. You wrestled every night and you got into the programs and you were on a bicycle tape of the towns if you know what I mean by that; you went around from town to town and it wasn’t that you had the same match every night because you had to follow your TV shows and your shows were on a bicycle tape; it was a week late getting from Memphis to Louisville the next night. You might start an angle on Saturday with somebody that went to Memphis that Monday, but on that Tuesday, you had to wrestle from a week before that, which you shot on TV. And it was a great experience learning, not only that but watching how these guys ran these programs and kept them going. And another thing about back then, and I don’t know if you understand, the heel and babyfaces kayfabed; we didn’t even dress in the same locker rooms, so we didn’t have the time, like these guys do today, to go over every move of your match. When you went out, you called everything in the ring, you know, your finishes, well not the finish but every move you did. That was just the way it was back then with our business and I’m sorry that guys missed out, but business was different back then.”
What was more fun: being Ricky Morton or Richard Morton from this time with the York Foundation in WCW: “To tell you the truth, I’m Ricky Morton, that’s who I am and that’s who I’ve built my character off of for years. Robert (Gibson) got hurt, that’s what that was all about and I was lost in the shuffle. So, I had to keep a job, so they turned me heel and made me part of the York foundation. It’s not like I had a choice; I just needed to change a bit of character and it didn’t last for long because it wasn’t me and I didn’t stay in WCW much longer than that; that’s when Robert and I went to Smokey Mountain Wrestling and we toured. They only reason Robert and I weren’t together was cause Robert got injured and was out for about a year. So I had a lot more fun being Ricky Morton. We were just lost in the shuffle.”
The audio interview is available here.