FOREWORD: This is a story that every married man can relate to especially men that travel such as wrestlers. Wrestlers have lives but most of live them two lives. One on the road…and one at home and those two lives should never meet. Never.
Wrestlers are away from home for extended periods of times and during that time, temptation is right around the corner…almost every night. Some wrestlers could resist it and some couldn’t. Temptation could in various sizes, shapes and forms whether it be drugs, alcohol or the company of a woman. That doesn’t make wrestlers any less human than anybody else but it damn sure could make it tough back on the home front. It s called LIFE Everybody has one.
This is a story as told verbatim to me by my old good friend and running buddy, Ricky Morton and in it, he encapsulates every pro wrestler’s nightmare This chapter is presented free and in chapters due to it’s length.
BUT I SWEAR HONEY, I NEVER CHEATED ON YOU!
This is a true story of why Ricky Morton got a divorce from his first wife Connie. I knew Ricky and Connie almost from the first day that Ricky first started in the wrestling business. A couple of years back, Ricky and I appeared on a show together and like two friends who haven’t seen each other for awhile, we began to talk about old times. I asked about Connie and he looked at me quizzically and said, “Hey man…you didn’t hear about me and Connie?” I said “no, what happened?
For the the next half hour, Ricky filled me in on one of the craziest wrestling stories I’d ever heard. After hearing it, I knew it had to be preserved even if I had to change the names. The story involved the usual culprits…sex, drugs, infidelity, lies and deceit befitting a Quentin Tarantino movie with added scenes from the Cohen Brothers. After hearing Ricky’s tale, I asked Ricky could I share this story on my blog. He looked at me and said, “Dutchman, you can share it wherever you want to, my friend”. So buckle up sports fans…get ready for the WrestleMania of wild stories.
In the mid 80’s, Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson, the Rock and Roll Express literally owned wrestling on the East Coast while working with the NWA wrestling office based in Charlotte, NC. The talent level in Charlotte at the time read like a virtual Who’s Who in pro wrestling with names such as Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA, the Road Warriors, the Midnight Express, the 4 Horsemen and Jimmy Valiant regularly posting sellouts in every major arena on the East Coast from Philadelphia to Miami. But one of the major reasons business was so hot was because of one young exciting tag team by the name of the R&R Express which was one of the major reasons business was so good.
Along about this time, Tully Blanchard—a card-carrying member of The Four Horsemen—who were the main antagonists of the R&R Express…was undergoing a serious life change himself. Tully, it appeared, had seen the light. He became a BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN and was openly proselytizing to the world that everybody needed to accept Jesus as their personal savior. Also at this time, Connie was even considering undergoing a religious transformation herself and thus had become a regular viewer of the “700 Club” hosted by the Rev. Pat Robertson. The North Carolina/Virginia area had long been the home of what I called, THE GOD BUSINESS, as it headquartered such religious organizations as the PTL Club, which Jim and Tammy Baker had made famous, the 700 Club and Liberty University of Jerry Falwell fame.
I’ve always loved Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson—the Rock and Roll Express—not only as performers but as great guys. Jerry Lawler and I actually came up with their Rock and Roll gimmick one Tuesday afternoon as we drove to Louisville, KY., for a wrestling show. There is no doubting how ridiculously over the Rock and Roll Express were at their height. The Rock and Roll were born in Memphis then traveled south to the Mid South promotion owned by Bill Watts, and then they ended up in the NWA Mid Atlantic promotion in Charlotte. I have no idea why Vince McMahon never used the Rock and Roll Express in the WWF but if he had, Ricky Morton could well be in the same spot as Shawn Michaels is today.
During his time in the NWA, Ricky lived in Charlotte with his wife, Connie, and his three children. As with a lot of marriages in the wrestling business, Connie thought that Ricky may have strayed from his marital vows and maybe had cheated on her several times while he was away on wrestling trips but never with any proof. When Connie had confronted Ricky with her suspicions, Ricky had always denied the accusations and claimed innocence, saying that he loved her and would never, ever, have anything to do with another woman. Connie had her doubts about Ricky’s faithfulness but Ricky swore on a stack of Bibles that he had never, NEVER…had any sexual relations outside their marriage. Connie wanted to believe her husband and even though she had doubts, she accepted that what he was telling her was the TRUTH.
Connie, of course, blamed all her marriage doubts on the wrestling lifestyle. Ricky would leave and be gone for days and she had heard how wrestlers lived out on road. Plus the other wrestler wives reinforced her suspicions. She had heard about the “groupies who hung around the matches and she knew that wrestlers lived a life that didn’t lend itself to normalcy. She wanted her Ricky back…the one before the Rock and Roll Express were born.
As the story unfolded, Connie had been lobbying Ricky to turn his life around. She wanted Ricky to accept God and Jesus just like Tully had done. She believed that Ricky had been living a sinful life and she blamed the wrestling business, and she wanted both of them to change their lives. If Tully Blanchard had become a ‘child of God,’ then she and Ricky both could do the same. In Connie’s mind, it would strengthen their relationship and their marriage.
But Ricky had been resisting her efforts to fully convert him so she looked to Tully for help. She knew that Ricky looked up to Tully and respected and admired him, and if Tully could do it, maybe Ricky would see the light. Connie prayed every night that she could help save herself and Ricky.
As it turned out, around this time, Tully Blanchard was invited to appear on the 700 Club, which was hosted by the Rev. Pat Robertson, as a SPECIAL GUEST. Tully’s appearance on the show was to be a ‘testimonial,’ in where Tully would give a ‘personal account’ of how God had saved him from eternal damnation. The 700 Club had played host to many high-profile celebrities who gave credit to God for turning their lives around and for Tully, this was a big deal. As it turned out later, not only was Tully considering a ‘life change,’ he was also considering a career change and was thinking about dropping out of the WRESTLING BUSINESS completely to enter the GOD BUSINESS.
For what it’s worth, The 700 Club to evangelists and religious figures was what WWE RAW is to wrestlers or Comedy Central is to comedians. If any evangelist was going to be taken seriously among the Christian Brotherhood and is going to make any money in the GOD BUSINESS, then an appearance on “The 700 Club” was a mandatory stop. Since wrestlers were such high-profile personalities, The 700 Club loved having wrestlers give their personal life stories. Pat Robertson has played host to wrestlers regularly over the years but Tully was probably the first one. Since that time, he has been followed by Ted Dibiase, Nikita Koloff, Sting, Lex Luger and even Jake the Snake Roberts tried the GOD BUSINESS for a time. Of course, every wrestler that appeared on the show always blamed the ‘sinful wrestling business’ as the Devil himself. Connie felt much the same way.
On the night Tully was scheduled to appear, Connie told Ricky that she felt in her heart that a change was coming over their lives. She said she had been praying for it and wanted to know if Ricky would watch Tully’s appearance on the show with her that night. Ricky told her that he would. The show would be telecast LIVE and she felt that this could be the night that she could, along with Tully and God’s help, save lost little Ricky from the evils that lurked behind every corner. Or turnbuckle.
When the show came on, Ricky sat alongside his lovely wife, Connie, on their sofa as they awaited Tully’s first appearance on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson.
As the show opened, Ricky told me, Connie was talking to him about their relationship and how she felt that this could be a major turning point in their lives. Connie told him that no matter what had happened in the past, all was forgiven and Ricky assured Connie, one more time, that there had been no cheating in their marriage. Connie said she believed him and they kissed and as they sat holding hands, all was right with the world, as Ricky told me.
Ricky then stopped talking and looked at me and said, “Dutchman, everything was all right with the world one minute and the next, my whole world came crashing down on my head.”
TO BE CONTINUED….on the next installment of the University of Dutch Blog