Bobby Eaton Death – Undisclosed Causes
1958-2021 (Age 62)
Wrestling has seen many tag team specialists, talented workers who seemed to excel in tag teams. However, few came close to the skill and longevity of “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton, whose work in the legendary Midnight Express tag team was just one aspect of an amazing career that took him around the world’s wrestling promotions.
Robert Lee Eaton was born on August 14, 1958, in Huntsville, Alabama. Fascinated by wrestling, Eaton began working in “The Sport of Kings” at age 13, setting up rings in Nick Gulas’ NWA Mid-America territory.
Bobby trained with veteran wrestler Tojo Yamamoto, debuting in 1976. The 17-year-old became a familiar face in Mid-America, working in a number of tag teams before teaming with Lanny Poffo to win the NWA Mid-America Tag Team Championship, the first of many tag team titles in Eaton’s storied career.
The Legend Begins
While Eaton was already doing well as a territory wrestler, his career took off when he joined forces with wrestler “Loverboy” Dennis Condrey and manager Jim Cornette. Christened “Beautiful” Bobby, Eaton formed a new version of the Midnight Express (the previous Express had been made up of Condrey, Randy Rose, and Norvell Austin), working in Mid-South Wrestling. There, he feuded with Magnum T.A. and Mr. Wrestling II before staring the feud that would define their careers—their 30-year feud with The Rock-n-Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson).
The Midnights and the Rock-n-Roll Express battled in Mid-South Wrestling before heading to Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP).
Their JCP feud saw them battle over the promotion’s NWA World Tag Team Championship in a number of wild matches. When JCP became World Championship Wrestling (WCW), the feud showed no sign of letting up.
While the Midnights and Rock-n-Roll Express feud would define both teams, the Midnights had storied feuds with other teams including The Fantastics (Bobby Fulton and Tommy Rogers), the Road Warriors (culminating in an epic scaffold match at 1986’ Starrcade), and even the Four Horsemen’s Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard.
Whether it was his team with Dennis Condrey or his team with Stan Lane, Eaton’s tenure in the Midnight Express led to a king’s ransom in gold; including the Mid-South Tag Team Championship, the NWA American Tag Team Championship, the NWA U.S. Tag Team Championship, the NWA World Tag Team Championship, and many others.
When Bobby Eaton’s tag partner Dennis Condrey exited JCP, “Sweet” Stan Lane took his place, with the Midnight Express doing better than ever. At one point, the team turned babyface but like some acts, they were much better as heels, reverting to their villainous ways.
Bobby Eaton proved a versatile worker, one who had a natural chemistry with just about any opponent (other than P.N. News, an awful worker whose tag match alongside Eaton earned the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s “Worst Worked Match of the Year” award in 1991).
After Stan Lane exited WCW, Eaton formed a successful partnership with Arn Anderson as a member of Paul E. Dangerously’s “Dangerous Alliance,” winning WCW’s World Tag Team Championship.
Later, Eaton formed an interesting tag team with “Lord” Steven Regal (aka WWE Superstar William Regal) known as “The Blue Bloods.”
Eaton never slowed down as a wrestler, even after WCW’s demise.
“Beautiful” Bobby worked a number of independent promotions in later years, reuniting with Dennis Condrey, Stan Lane (and of course manager Jim Cornette) as the Midnight Express.
More Than a Tag Team Wrestler
Despite his many tag team accomplishments, Bobby Eaton was always regarded as a fantastic worker. While he may have lacked that “it” factor required for a main eventer (that’s a question for another day), his ability to make any opponent look great and his skills at selling were undeniable, so much so that Wrestling Observer Newsletter readers voted him “The Most Underrated Wrestler” in 1985, 1986, 1990, and 1993.
Given Eaton’s skills, it’s no surprise that while he became synonymous with tag team wrestling, he also competed in singles matches, winning singles belts such as the NWA Georgia Television Championship, the WCW Television Championship, the NWA Mid-America Heavyweight Championship, and several others. These wins are often forgotten due to Eaton’s legendary tag team career, but they show he was a strong singles wrestler as well.
Recognized For His Excellence
Bobby Eaton was highly-regarded by his peers, not only for his incredible ring skills, but for being a good person who helped wrestlers out. He was also known for being incredibly light in the ring, dishing out what looked like a terrible beating, but which left nary a scratch on opponents.
In 1986, he and Midnight Express partner Dennis Condrey won the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s tag team of the year award. After Stan Lane replaced Condrey, their tag team excellence continued, with Observer readers voting the new version of the Express the tag team of the year in 1987 and 1988.
In 2009, the Midnight Express entered the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2019.
Dealing with Illness
Bobby Eaton dealt with medical maladies later in life.
Diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure, he did his best, despite later cardiac conditions.
“Beautiful” Bobby was hospitalized on more than one occasion, and in 2013, he had a pacemaker installed. Nevertheless, Eaton continued wrestling until 2015 where he faced longtime Rock-n-Roll Express opponent Ricky Morton.
Bobby Eaton Death
On Thursday August 5, Bobby’s sister Debbie posted this message on Facebook:
“I never wanted to have to post this, but my Little Brother Beautiful Bobby Eaton passed away last night. When I find out all the details I will post them. Bobby was the kindest, loving person you would ever meet. I loved him so much and going to miss him.”
As of this writing, the cause of Bobby Eaton’s death remains unknown. He was 62 and passed away on August 4, 2021. According to Sports Illustrated, Eaton’s wife Donna died last June at age 57.
Bobby Eaton is survived by his children Dustin, Dylan, and Taryn.
A number of wrestlers expressed their feelings over Eaton’s death, including former tag partner William Regal who tweeted:
“My deepest condolences to Taryn, Dillon & Dustin and family of Bobby Eaton who has passed away. My dear friend, partner, travel buddy, teacher, superbly skilled Pro who would make everyone who knew him feel happy inside, love you.”