The Keith Richards of wrestling
While I’ve often sung the praises of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, I hate to see how Ricky Morton’s life has turned out. He’s long since pissed away the small fortune he earned as part of one of the hottest gimmicks of the Jim Crockett Promotions era on WTBS. In the last decade, the former teen idol also been locked up a few times for failure to pay child’s support, a debt reportedly as high as more than $60,000 at one point.
Relegated today to the indie scene, Morton still rocks the bandanas gimmick, often working “legends” shows in small gymnasiums in front of a few hundred fans—not exactly what I envisioned years back for one of the top workers of the ’80s. (Photos I came across of the ACW show that Morton appeared on last Saturday night make some of Randy the Ram’s appearances look like WrestleMania by comparison.) Sad part is, Morton can probably still work squared circles around a lot of the boys today. In his heyday, nobody could sell quite like Ricky Morton.
After watching Morton develop from a prelim guy in Memphis in the late 1970s to a superstar on the SuperStation, I recall telling a friend of mine in 1987 that Ricky would be wise to learn from the cautionary tale that is Tommy Rich’s career. After all, fame is so fleeting as a teeny-bobber heartthrob in the wrestling business. By the time I briefly became his manager in 1995, it was clear to me that not only was Morton unable to avoid the same pitfalls as Rich, he had dived in mullet first. During a drive from a show in Jonesboro back to Bartlett, Tenn., Gibson voiced his concerns to me over Ricky’s finances and state of mind, saying that Morton was so desperate for cash that he had pawned his half of the matching bracelets they had bought together to commemorate their NWA World tag title reigns.
Morton is supposedly writing a book, with the working title Sex, Drugs and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. (OK, that title kicks ass.) With the project, it sounds like Morton is owning up to his mistakes while trying to rememeber all the fun he had, so that could be one hell of a read.
Rock on, Ricky. Rock on.