In the Southern region of the United States back in the 80s, there were a slew of tag teams that dominated their opponents inside the squared circle. They were The Sheepherders, The Rock n Roll Express, The Midnight Express, and The Fabulous Ones. When it came to Bobby Fulton and Tommy Rogers, they were known as the Fantastics and fantastic they were.
“It was like magic, and we just clicked as a team. We had a strong work ethic,” said Bobby Fulton. “It was just like a marriage in which you have two people where one excels, but we filled in the gap and that was what Tommy and I were as far as a tag team.”
It was known throughout the locker room that the Fantastics had a good work ethic. Fellow wrestler Arn Anderson would joke with Bobby and Tommy about not wanting to be in the match after they had wrestled because it was always a hard act to follow. There were times the Fantastics would get upset with their opponent’s performance because it didn’t always meet their expectations.
“Sometimes guys were tired and they would lie down. They wouldn’t want to do anything,” said Fulton. “One night, we were walking to the dressing room and promoter Jim Barnett approached us. He said if we always work as hard as we did in the ring, we would never have a bad match. He added an extra thousand dollars apiece to our pay that night.”
The two men met in Memphis in 1983, and they were later brought together to be wrestling partners by Bill Dundee who was a booker at the time for Bill Watt’s Mid-South Promotion. The Fantastics’ role was to be a 90-day replacement team for the Rock n’ Roll Express in Louisiana.
Rogers and Fulton would remain friends for the next 30 years up until Rogers’s untimely death in 2015 when he aspirated. He was only 54 years old.
“It hurt. He was family and he was my brother,” said Fulton. “He was a man that helped me realize my dreams in professional wrestling. We were a well-oiled team.”
If the shock of Tommy’s death wasn’t bad enough, Bobby had to read and deal with false reports that were circling around the industry concerning his friend’s death.
“It hurt me so bad that some of the newsletters said that he committed suicide. I cannot tell you how bad that hurt me. It was nothing further from the truth,” said Fulton. “I went nuts. I started to go after those people. Nobody knew the truth, but that was the stuff they were saying in the beginning.”
The day Fulton received the news about Tommy Rogers’s death might have possibly been one of the worst days of his life. Even though he misses Tommy and thinks of him often, Fulton is filled with so many fond memories of his late tag team partner. In the 30 years that the Fantastics were friends, brothers, and wrestling partners, they shared some incredible moments with each other. Some might compare their lives to those of rock stars.
Whether it was Memphis, Mid-South, World Class, UWF, or the Mid-Atlantic territories, the Fantastics would hold titles together everywhere they wrestled. The most prestigious belts they have held throughout their career were the NWA United States Tag Team Titles on two different occasions.
Whether they were defending their titles or chasing after them, their popularity soared. As soon as their entrance music would be heard over the sound system, the fans, the majority of them being women, would flock to ringside so they could get close to them.
“I wanted to be a wrestler as long as I could remember and it was like a dream come true,” said Fulton. “I was glad that they wanted to hug me and they accepted us, but it turned into a whirlwind because we were always rushing to the next place or town. We couldn’t stop and smell the roses.”
Having the attention of adoring women might have been flattering for two young men in their 20s, but often times, it got to be a little too much. Sometimes it even caused them a problem or two.
“We were both married at the time and even when we were out with our wives, we would be mobbed by so many women they would knock our wives down,” said Fulton. “I would look over and my wife would be standing by herself, pushed out of the way. A married woman doesn’t like that obviously.”
Leaving the venues was also a challenge. Often times, the two wrestlers would have to speed while driving when trying to get home or to the next town to get away from those who wanted their attention. Sometimes it got a little strange for the Fantastic wrestling team.
“We couldn’t even get home because they would be following us. If we drove 100 miles per hour, they would drive 105,” said Fulton. “We would open our doors and there would be pizza, food, and jewelry stacked up outside. It was unbelievable.”
When Fulton and Rogers weren’t being attacked by their fans getting to the ring or leaving the venues, they were being attacked by their opponents during their matches. They had some epic battles with the Midnight Express. Some of the most grueling and bloodiest matches that they had were against the Sheepherders during their time in the UWF in 1986.
“We had something like 37 barbed wire cage matches in a row with them. It was just blood and guts,” said Fulton. “The promoters had us there for the women, but when we were in there with the Sheepherders and the blood was flying, the guys in the crowd could see that we could fight too.”
In 1988, The Sheepherders would start wrestling with the WWF and they would change their name to the Bushwhackers. Their time there would take them all over the world. In every country the Bushwhackers went to, the fans wanted to talk to them about one thing.
“They wanted to talk about the bloody barbed wire fence matches that they had when they were the Sheepherders against the Fantastics in the UWF territory,” said Fulton. “That really helped us in a lot of ways.”
If going toe to toe with Butch Miller and Luke Williams doesn’t say that the Fantastics were tough, maybe wrestling with a torn rotator cuff and a broken neck does.
While the two were wrestling in Dallas for World Class and Fritz Von Erich, Bobby wrestled in nearly 40 matches in a three-week period knowing his shoulder was seriously injured.
When they were touring in Japan on one of their 17 tours in that country, Tommy went to warm up in the ring before the matches started for the evening. He attempted to do a dive off the top rope, but landed wrong on the mat and broke his neck. Tommy was hurt, but he didn’t realize the severity of the injury and went ahead and wrestled that night anyway.
“It was a whole different animal. Back then, you had to do that if you wanted to stay in professional wrestling. No one wanted to lose their spot,” said Fulton. “Tommy was tough. He would fight a buzz saw. He even fought David Shultz. He would fight anybody.”
By the end of the 90s, other than an occasional show from time to time, the team of Fulton and Rogers pretty much came to an end. Bobby had children and Tommy was slowed down by injuries. Eventually, both men would live on opposite sides of the country from each other.
Though they weren’t a part of each other’s lives like they had been on a day to day basis, they were still very close and they would talk to each other quite often. When the two were younger, they spent a lot of time talking about wrestling, but as they got older, they shared and talked about another common interest which was Christianity
In the last year of Tommy’s life, the two friends spent a lot of time talking about the Bible, their salvation, and Jesus Christ. Both men experienced a sense of piece in their lives when they accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
“He was searching and seeking and he was reading the scriptures,” said Fulton. “It brought me comfort as a believer to see him doing that.”
The initial pain from the news of Tommy’s death has subsided, but that feeling of loss will probably never go away. The memories of Tommy are still alive in Bobby’s mind. The Fantastics were like brothers. They shared a lot of life together, and they shared a lot of time in the ring together as well. For both men only being around five feet and nine inches tall, they accomplished a lot in wrestling that the bigger guys weren’t able to do.
“I have followed wrestling since I was seven years old and I think we were one of the better teams in professional wrestling. I’m not saying it was because of him, and I am not saying it was because of me,” said Fulton. “I am saying it in this respect. We went out and stole the show every night. I loved Tommy Rogers and I was proud to be a part of that tag team.”
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