One of wrestling's greatest ever tag-team performers is gone.
"Beautiful" Bobby Eaton died at the age of 62 late on Wednesday, his sister announced.
“I never wanted to have to post this, but my little brother Beautiful Bobby Eaton passed away last night,” Debbie Eaton wrote. “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.”
He had been hospitalized in late July after a fall in his home. Eaton's wife, Donna, the daughter of Memphis legend Bill Dundee, died in June at the age of 57.
Eaton was one half of the hugely influential Midnight Express, alongside Stan Lane and Dennis Condrey, in the mid-'80s and held the National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Championship on three occasions. As a singles performer, Eaton held a number of titles including the World Championship Wrestling Television Championship, defeating another of his former partners, Arn Anderson, for the title at the inaugural SuperBrawl pay-per-view in 1991.
A native of Huntsville, AL, Eaton broke into the business in 1976 in the NWA Mid-America territory based in Tennessee. While Eaton would find early success, his career took off in 1983 when he jumped to Bill Watts's NWA Mid-South territory where he was paired with Condrey as a new incarnation of the Midnight Express team under manager Jim Cornette. Hated heels, the duo would enter a yearslong feud with the Rock 'N' Roll Express (Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton) that spanned multiple promotions.
Eaton and Condrey jumped to Jim Crockett Promotions in 1985. Two years later, Condrey exited the promotion with Lane replacing him in the team. In JCP (the company that would become WCW in 1988 with its sale to Ted Turner), the Midnight Express would feud with the likes of the Road Warriors (Hawk and Animal), the Four Horseman (Anderson and Tully Blanchard) and the Dynamic Dudes (Shane Douglas and John "Johnny Ace" Laurinatis). Eaton and Lane went on to turn face at one point for a program with the original Midnight Express (Condrey and Randy Rose) after they were brought into the company by Cornette's longtime on-screen nemesis, Paul E. Dangerously (future Extreme Championship Wrestling promoter Paul Heyman).
After dropping the tag team titles to Rick and Scott Steiner at Halloween Havoc 1990, the Express disbanded with Cornette and Lane leaving with the company and Eaton remaining. In 1991, Eaton would have his most high-profile singles match, taking on Ric Flair for the World Heavyweight Championship, ultimately falling in a best two-out-of-three falls encounter. Eaton would later go on to join Heyman's Dangerous Alliance alongside Steve Austin and Rick Rude.
Eaton departed the company in 1993 and began working for New Japan Pro-Wrestling before a permanent return to WCW in 1995. Eaton would join Steven Regal as "the Blue Bloods," comedic heels that played up the pair's disparate backgrounds with Eaton as a stereotypical Southern boy and Regal as an upper-crust Briton. The team would be phased out by the end of 1996 with Eaton becoming enhancement talent for the remainder of his time with the company, leaving WCW in 2000.
Since then, Eaton stayed sporadically active on the independent scene, wrestling his final match in 2012 and making appearances at various shows and conventions across the United States. His health had deteriorated in recent years with Eaton requiring the insertion of a pacemaker in 2013.
With the news of his death, tributes from across the industry poured in for Eaton.
My deepest condolences to Taryn, Dillon & Dustin and family of Bobby Eaton who has passed https://t.co/k9x6tbVLZm dear friend, partner, travel buddy, teacher, superbly skilled Pro who would make everyone who knew him feel happy inside, love you.x— William Regal (@RealKingRegal) August 5, 2021
"My deepest condolences to Taryn, Dillon and Dustin and family of Bobby Eaton, who has passed," Regal wrote. "Dear friend, partner, travel buddy, teacher, superbly skilled pro who would make everyone who knew him feel happy inside. Love you."
RIP Bobby Eaton. A friend, and an absolute master of the craft of professional wrestling. A man whom I hope will get the recognition that he undeniably deserves. It was my pleasure to know, watch and learn from you. Our industry is a better place because of you. Godspeed sir. 😔 pic.twitter.com/6VdcgBDcdt— Frankie Kazarian (@FrankieKazarian) August 5, 2021
"RIP Bobby Eaton - a friend and an absolute master of the craft of professional wrestling," AEW talent Frankie Kazarian wrote. "A man whom I hope will get the recognition that he undeniably deserves. It was my pleasure to know, watch and learn from you. Our industry is a better place because of you. Godspeed, sir."
Bobby Eaton is one of the best to ever step in a ring. I wish I could’ve had the chance to work with him. To listen to him more. To learn from him. To let him know how much we all appreciate him and the sacrifices he gave us. RIP Bobby. One of the good ones.— CASH (@CashWheelerFTR) August 5, 2021
"Bobby Eaton is one of the best ever to step in a ring," FTR's Cash Wheeler wrote. "I wish I could've had the chance to work with him, to listen to him more, to learn from him, to let him know how much we all appreciate him and the sacrifices he gave us. RIP Bobby. One of the good ones."