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Five Midnight Express matches


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Midnight Express v Rock & Roll Express - NWA World Wide Wrestling 02/17/90


For an 8-minute TV match, this is about as fun as it gets. I love watching American tag matches because they're all basically the same in structure, but it's the presentation and ability to adapt that makes them work and that sets them apart from others. Gibson is mostly a cheerleader on the apron here, but Morton was on a roll at this time. Most of the R-n-R's run in 1990 seemed like a rehash, but the early stages of their comeback saw them motivated to strut their stuff and prove that they still had gas in the tank. This match is almost all face domination, with comedic selling and some great comeuppance spots against the heels. Some of my favorite sequences ever took place in this match, with Ricky Morton showing that not only could he sell, but that he could actually wrestle. The crowd heat is great, and Terry Funk and Chris Cruise are having a blast with this match on commentary. It feels more like a tease of a match and less of the real deal, but that's often the case with shorter TV stuff, no matter how good it is. The whole story is that the MX and Cornette know that on this night, they're probably not as good as Morton and Gibson so they use a lot of tactics to make them lose their cool, and to do that, they have to play into their hands a little, giving them an opening when a high-risk move goes awry. So much is crammed into a short time period here, but it doesn't really feel rushed at all. ***1/2


Midnight Express v Rock & Roll Express - Wrestle War '90


Best MX/Rock & Rolls match ever. Match runs about 20 minutes and takes about 10 to warm up, which was typically the way things went around that time. Getting them warmed up was just as fun as watching them beat the shit out of Ricky Morton though. There's a great spot that has never really been duplicated (although it has been tried) where Cornette tries to tell the ref how do his job by poking him repeatedly in the chest, only for Nick Patrick to do the same thing back, resulting in Cornette getting fired up and challenging Nick Patrick to a fight. Keep in mind that this is all going on in the MIDDLE OF A MATCH. They're about to box, and the way they transition back into the match is so brilliant and seamless that I don't really want to ruin it here. There's another segment where the Rock & Rolls keep outsmarting the MX on their double-team moves and they keep bumping into each other, to a point where they're ready to fight each other before Cornette begs them not to do so. Morton then proceeds to take great shitkicking after the MX finally find a way to calm the match down and gain control. The Greensboro crowd is just insane by this point, and they wouldn't have been without the new creative spots (all of which I didn't even mention) in the first ten minutes. MX/R&Rs had been done to death by 1990, especially in this arena in front of this crowd, but they were able to freshen up the presentation so much that they actually topped all of their previous efforts. MX have their usual double-team moves that I'm really shocked haven't been stolen by a team since then. This is one of those matches you watch and not only do you remember why you were drawn to wrestling in the first place, but it's one memory that's just as you left it, because watching it 15 years later still doesn't leave you disappointed. If anything, I probably appreciate it even more. ****1/2


Midnight Express v Brian Pillman & Tom Zenk - NWA Saturday Night 03/90

The MX were just fantastic in 1990, and I'm not sure they had a bad match during the year at all. If they did, I have yet to see it. Watch Pillman be an even better Ricky Morton than Ricky Morton, even if Tom Zenk sucks. He spends most of his time on the apron though, so we'll just ignore him. His single offensive move seems to be the dropkick. He's like Maven with a head full of hair and a great partner. The MX work over Pillman's neck through some great double team moves and eventually get themselves DQd for Cornette interfering. The post-match angle is great, as they decide to work on Pillman's neck and throat area some more, performing a rocket launcher with Cornette holding the stem of his tennis racket across Pillman's throat. Just to drive the point home, they then STEAL the tag titles (I always loved that angle) and pretend to be champs for weeks afterward. Worth seeing for Pillman's melodrama and the MX's ever-present knowing what to do with a babyface that is willing and capable. Not as much stooging and comedy as in most MX matches, even though there is some here. Great for a TV match. ***1/4


Midnight Express v Brian Pillman & Tom Zenk - Capital Combat 1990

The stipulation here is that Cornette is in a cage at ringside so he can't interfere, and the MX sell his importance to the team like death. They're uncoordinated, can't put together a decent string of offense, and everything they try to do fails. Cornette is able to give them some coaching from his ringside cage and finally, they're able to take control. The battle to get Cornette into the cage is hilarious, first of all, because he runs from the babyfaces before the referee LARIATS him. I'm not kidding. Anyway, they work Pillman over again and Pillman again knows how to sell it before switching out to Zenk and then beating the hell out of him too. Pillman's ringside bump into the guard rail is always great, but here, it's probably the best I've seen from him. Eaton gets in an amazing flying elbowdrop and top-rope legdrop. The heat isn't as strong since they're working in Washington DC, so that does hurt the match a little, and I thought Zenk was overselling some of the MX's offense considering that he had just made the hot tag not two minutes earlier, but this is still worth seeing for the greatness of the MX alone. ***3/4


Midnight Express v Southern Boys - Great American Bash 1990

I think I could be happy watching this match on repeat the rest of my life if I had to. The Baltimore crowd absolutely falls in love with both teams, although they are cheering the heel Midnights far more than relative unknowns Smothers and Armstrong early on. The MX and Cornette manage to turn the crowd against them and make the Southern Boys the biggest babyfaces of the night. They do this through comedy spots and great wrestling, as Stan Lane challenges Tracy Smothers to a karate fight early on and ends up getting his ass kicked, before Armstrong comes in and they end up using a lot of their double team moves stolen from Michaels and Jannetty, like the double superkick and the synchronized armdrags and dropkicks. There are a few times the MX tease taking control for good, but because they're the masters of crowd psychology, they hold off on it until they are happy with the heat Smothers and Armstrong are getting. This match tore the house down, and I didn't write anything down so I probably didn't do it justice here, but this was the best US match of the year in 1990. ****1/2-****3/4, somewhere in there

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