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RIP, Paul Morton, Memphis wrestling referee, father of Ricky Morton

December 20th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments
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Three is the magic number: The late Paul Morton raises the hand of the King.

I was saddened to learn of the passing over the weekend of longtime Memphis wrestling referee Paul Morton. Along with fellow official Jerry Calhoun, Morton was a staple of the territory for years during its heyday, officiating countless matches involving the biggest stars of the era, including Jackie Fargo, Don & Al Greene, Jerry Lawler, Tojo Yamamoto, Bill Dundee, the Fabulous Ones and even his son, Ricky.

With his short stature, bald head, crudely handsome face, and tattoos, Morton looked the part of a Southern rasslin’ referee. Morton was often viewed as the babyface ref, as he was more apt to deliver a quick count for the babyfaces, especially after a heel’s attempt to cheat had backfired. Likewise, he would often count slowly if a babyface had been wronged behind his back, perhaps because Memphis fans could be very unforgiving. Like all the good refs, he never upstaged the boys and blended in with the action.

Crowning the King: Morton awards the CWA World title to Lawler after a victory over Superstar Graham at Rupp Arena.

His son, Ricky, became enamored of his father’s profession and accompanied him on many road trips, eventually setting up the ring before breaking into the business by the time he was 17 or 18.

On more than one occasion, dastardly Memphis heels attacked Paul as revenge against Ricky, most notably the Bruise Brothers and Jimmy Hart, who brutalized the aging official to the point it appeared they’d killed him as the old man sold it perfectly. Afterward, Ricky and partner Robert Gibson–the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express–cut a memorable promo by Paul’s hospital bed vowing revenge to set up a rematch between the two teams.

Rest easy, old timer. You were one hell of a referee.

For more on my memories of Memphis rasslin’ refs–including my own stint–click here.

  1. Sean D.
    December 20th, 2010 at 11:16 | #1

    I was sad to see this news over the weekend. Morton and Calhoun were the refs I grew up with, but about every memory I have from going to the Wednesday night matches in Evansville have Paul Morton as referee. As the 80’s marched on, I think I missed his presence in the ring as much as I missed Lance when he went to work for WCW.

  2. David
    December 20th, 2010 at 16:20 | #2

    Paul was truly underrated as a ref… how did he get into the biz, Scott? Did he ever wrestle? RIP, Bald Eagle…

  3. Steve
    December 20th, 2010 at 20:03 | #3

    I got to meet Paul when he wrestled under a mask for Tony Falk at a house show in Benton KY. This was back I ’96. Granted, he didn’t do much in the ring that night, but still. RIP.

  4. Josh
    December 23rd, 2010 at 12:03 | #4

    RIP, the quintessential Southern ‘rasslin referee.

  5. angie
    December 28th, 2010 at 06:23 | #5

    paul was a good person and he will really missed by everyone love you paul

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