One of the YouTube channels I follow recently posted a really exciting Tag Team match from Christmas night 1984 featuring perhaps my favorite Baby-Faces of all time: The Fantastics. From my perspective, they could’ve called this team “Tommy Rogers And The Other Guy” because it was really Tommy who caught my eye and held my rapt attention.
Tommy And The Other Guy are wrestling an early version of the Midnight Express: Bobby Eaton and Dennis Condrey, with the annoying Jim Cornett in their corner. This is very promising because the Midnights always unleash a well-choreographed onslaught of Heel Brutality no matter what beloved Baby-Faces they’re against. The video quality is also excellent given the age of this footage. I’m stoked!
After a few minutes of Baby-Face shine, Eaton and Condrey subdue Tommy with some two-on-one Elbows and Kicks and I’m suddenly on the edge of my seat. You see, the really good Fantastics matches feature Tommy as the suffering FIP with The Other Guy watching from ringside. This is shaping up to be a really good one.
One of my favorite moments was this prolonged and repeated Over-the-Knee Backbreaker by Condrey. Tommy’s hard body is displayed for our viewing pleasure, his hard abs in high relief as Tommy sells the agony like he just slipped about 5 disks. Very HOT!
Check out the cute old dude over Mark Lowrance’s shoulder in the above image. I wonder if he’s turned on by that picture-perfect Backbreaker while he chants for his beloved Baby-Face: “Go Tommy, GO! Go Tommy, GO!”
Meanwhile Jim Cornett adds further excitement by screaming at his man to break poor Tommy straight in half! Nice verbal.
From the minute they entered the arena, Tommy And The Other Guy were just too good to be true. They looked fantastic (thus the name) in their red-spangled tuxedo jackets as they tossed candy canes to their fans in honor of Christmas. The audience shrieked for them like cats in heat. It is precisely their impossible goodness, their perfection, their super-human attractiveness that makes us crave their degradation and feel turned on by their pain.
These young studs were the epitome of the 80’s Baby-Face Tag Team: muscular, smiley, and charismatic. They were packaged to draw female fans to the shows, but also ended up hooking numerous queer young men into a lifelong addiction to wrestling and wrestlers.
And watching this match, Dennis Condrey on the Heel team really impressed me with his aggressive offense. I think he fills out his trunks nicely too with that brawny Dad Bod!
By the way, the He Is Out! blog also recently posted an excellent gallery featuring Tommy And The Other Guy vs. the Midnight Express. The images with the blue backgrounds are copied from his blog, and there are a lot more great ones on his site that I didn’t post here.
This match is a bit later in their careers, after the spectacular Dennis Condrey was replaced by the amazing Stan Lane. Regardless of who is in the Heel corner, it’s mostly Tommy that I can’t peel my eyes off…
He Is Out! does a great job in his gallery, as always, capturing the Heels’ dominance and arrogance and sexy brutality. For the Baby-Faces to be effective — for us to buy their suffering and thereby fall in love with them — you really need a talented and bad-ass Heel team as the nemesis.
The Midnight Express (in whatever iteration of members) were packaged and sold as the legit killer team that almost never lost, thanks largely to their mad skills but also to Cornett’s nasty tennis racket which he used as a weapon when necessary. They were the perfect foils for Tommy And T.O.G.
It’s Tommy’s exaggerated rag-dolling that really makes his suffering so appealing — the contradiction of his swole physique rendered powerless and weak, drained of all strength. He’s like Superman after chugging a Slushie laced with liquid Kryptonite. When Tommy goes limp, I go hard.
Tommy’s most humiliating abuse occurs when Cornett strangles him on the middle rope with the tennis racket, then flexes his “muscles” in a display of Alpha Male power.
One might expect Tommy Rogers, as the best looking and most muscular dude wherever he goes, to have a bit of an ego. But no — he submits himself to the Midnight Express and their mouthy manager, letting them do whatever they want to his body.
Tommy understands his role as the whipping boy perfectly and he plays along because he knows exactly what the audience wants to see: his total agony, punishment, and debasement. THIS is how to Baby-Face.