Friday, August 06, 2021

My Sweetest Memory of Bobby Eaton

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

With the recent sad passing of Bobby Eaton, the one common thread among all the tweets and Facebook posts - - even more than the comments on what a great performer and worker he was - -  was that he was one of the sweetest, kindest people you would ever meet. He always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. In good times and bad.

My fondest memory of Bobby as a person goes back to the mid-2000s, attending shows promoted by George South in Mooresville, NC and surrounding areas. George booked Bobby somewhat frequently on his "trainee" shows back in those days, primarily because George loved Bobby, and Bobby was so easy to deal with and would happily do anything you asked and could still help draw a crowd to those little independent shows at that time. 

Being a friend of George's, I had the privilege to hang out with Bobby on a handful of occasions before the shows after he had arrived at the building. I was bit in awe of him at first because, well, he was "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton and one of the greatest in ring performers to ever lace up a pair of boots. But Bobby's friendly, gentle nature immediately put you at ease and before you knew it, it was like you had known him forever. He treated most everyone that way, that I could see. It said something about him.

During that time, I was collecting replica belts of the old territory championships. Crafted by Dave Millican from legendary beltmaker Reggie Park's original artwork, these belts were so special to me, and George and I decided to have a little fun with them. Whenever George booked one of our favorites on his shows (Bobby, Masked Superstar Bill Eadie, Jimmy Valiant, etc.) he would make them a champion for that night and we would come up with some outlandish pro-wrestling tale that explained why the Georgia or Missouri or Florida champion was defending that title in North Carolina. Some of George's students at that time (Ricky Steamboat Jr., Cedric Alexander, Tessa Blanchard, Jason Jones, Caleb Konnely, Mike Lee, to name a few) also held those mythical EWA regional titles. It was so much fun.

One night in Charlotte, Bobby was made EWA Georgia Heavyweight Champion. I will never forget the look on his face as George had me try to explain to Bobby why he was Georgia champion and why he was defending the Georgia championship in North Carolina. He thought it was hilarious. And he had such fun with it. 

Years later, when I would run into Bobby at conventions or at indy shows, he wouldn't always remember my name, but he knew me from George, and he would break into that smile, and hug me and whisper into my ear, "Am I still Georgia champion?" It was like we were both 12-year old kids or something. It was just Bobby's sweet way of reconnecting with you and letting you know he had fun memories with you. That little gesture just meant the world me, and was so Bobby Eaton.

I can only imagine the grief shared by Bobby's friends, family, and the hundreds of his peers who thought so much of him personally and professionally. He will be remembered by fans as one of the greatest wrestlers ever, and is forever associated with one of wrestling's greatest tag teams, the Midnight Express.  

Rest in peace, "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton. Your beautiful heart made the world a better place.