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The Rock ’n’ Roll Express rides through Columbia one more time

The Rock ’n’ Roll Express rides through Columbia one more time

Posted: Oct 7th 2017 By: Chris Dearing

“Rock and Roll!”

“Rock and Roll!”

“Rock and Roll!”

The thunderous chant was a familiar sound coming from inside The Township Auditorium back in the 1980s whenever the Rock-n-Roll Express would roll through Columbia. It didn’t matter if they were facing the hated Russians, Midnight Express, or Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard in the
wrestling ring, Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson were arguably the most popular tag team in the history of the NWA.

Fans in Columbia have another opportunity to cheer their heroes this Sunday when the Rock ’n’ Roll Express return to Columbia for the first time in more than a decade. Morton and Gibson are set to face the GymNasty Boys (White Mike and Timmy Lou Retton) this Sunday at Spring Valley High School as part of Palmetto Championship Wrestling’s “Showdown at The Valley 2”.

“Oh, the memories I have of Columbia and The Township,” Morton said. “That was the heyday for us. If you didn’t buy your ticket early back in those days, you weren’t getting in the building. When everybody would get to chanting ‘Rock and Roll,’ it’s a feeling that people will never understand.”

Morton, 61, and Gibson, 59, are on the downside of their career, but don’t call them a nostalgia act just yet.

“I might be 61 years old but I can still go,” Morton said. “I think people will be surprised if they come and see for themselves. And you never know. We are getting up in age and this might be the last time Columbia gets to see us in the ring together.”

The Rock ’n’ Express was inducted in the WWE Hall Fame on March 31. The eight-time National Wrestling Alliance world tag team champions found most of their success touring the Southern states back when wrestling existed as different territories. They never had much success in the WWE itself, but to be included in the Hall of Fame was a special moment for Morton and Gibson.

“You almost can’t have a Hall of Fame without the Rock ’n’ Roll Express,” Gibson said. “But to be honest with you, when we got the phone call, I cried. To be recognized by an organization where we didn’t have most of our success is just an awesome feeling.”

Shane Dorr, the owner of PCW, said being able to bring in the Rock ’n’ Roll Express is going to be something special.

“This is a dream come true,” Dorr said. “You ask any of the guys or the fans of this area. These guys are almost like gods in the sport of professional wrestling. Being a long- time fan myself, this is an honor to bring them in. They’re closer to the end of their careers than the beginning, so to get them together it brings the nostalgia back to Columbia.”

Dorr didn’t know whether Morton or Gibson would be interested in attending the show. Dorr has been involved in wrestling only a brief period of time but Ethan Case, the head trainer for PCW and another headliner on the show, is a 13-year veteran that’s grown close to Morton over the years. That relationship allowed Dorr the opportunity to extend the offer.

Morton and Gibson quickly accepted, and Sunday will give fans a chance to get up close and personal with the duo that 16-time world champion Ric Flair used to say had fans who consisted of “teenyboppers in their training bras.”

“The fans are what make this special,” Morton said. “They still remember us back in our heyday and we still remember them. We made an appearance in Raleigh a few weeks ago and saw several people that used to fill the Dorton Arena. We hope our fans from Columbia do the same thing on Sunday.”

 

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