Former Los Angeles Lakers beat writer, future screenwriter, and currently enjoy writing about the amazing superstars & legends of the WWE!
When you discuss a list of the most beloved characters in the history of WWE, there's absolutely no chance that you don't mention Jerry "The King" Lawler.
When "The King" made the jump over to the WWE, he was brought on-screen on an episode of WWE Superstars by another beloved color commentator, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. From that point forward, the WWE fans, or shall I say the peasants, were constantly reminded each time they saw Lawler just how good it was to be The King!
Lawler eventually entered a long-term feud with the most popular superstar in the WWE at the time, who just so happened to be known for executing with excellence...
The Bret Hart vs. Jerry Lawler rivalry became one of the most compelling storylines within the WWE in the 90's. The villainous antics displayed by Lawler towards Bret, as well as the entire Hart Family, caused The King to become one of the best heels in the business. From attacking Bret after he won the first ever King of the Ring tournament to verbally assaulting Stu and Helen Hart relentlessly, Lawler pulled out all the stops to ensure that the feud with Bret would be a memorable one for fans to enjoy.
This heated rivalry began primarily because of Bret being named KING of the Ring, and well, Lawler wanted to be known as the ONLY King in the WWE. So what kind of match could these two have to finally settle the score?
If you guessed a Kiss My Foot match, then you'd be absolutely right!
Unfortunately for Lawler, he had to live with the stench of The Hitman's foot inside of his mouth for quite some time. Although this moment of time didn't fare well for The King, in the perspective of the fans, it made for such great television. Lawler and Hart put on such an entertaining program with one another and the fans REALLY bought into it all.
When talking about this feud over the years, Bret always says how easy it was to work with Lawler because of the heat The King received from the audience. A good heel helps create incredible segments, and Lawler knew exactly what buttons to push in order to generate emotions from his peasants. (Whoops. I meant fans!)
After "kissing The Hitman's foot", Lawler apparently needed some help taking the smell and the "gingivitis" out of his mouth. Therefore, he reached out to a specific dentist in order to do exactly that. That dentist went by the name of Isaac Yankem, DDS. (who later became a monster that was big and red, a demon of the devil's choosing, and then, well, the mayor of Knox County)
As seen in the below video, Jerry Lawler was INCREDIBLE at delivering the exact promo needed for his character to continue on being the hated villain. Not only was he absolutely hilarious and made you laugh hysterically, he STILL made you just want to see him get his rear-end kicked. That's the beauty of what The King brought to the table during the mid-90's, which is one of the many reasons why I've respected him since then.
The Commentary Duo of Attitude
Once The King was done making his opponents bow down to him inside the squared circle, he brought his royalty to the commentary desk alongside the one and only, Jim Ross. The Attitude Era within WWE was a such a special time for everyone. I'm sure everybody who's been around pro wrestling, talent or fan, knows that. At the time, however, there wasn't a soul alive who could have told you how phenomenal of a duo those two would turn out being for YEARS to come.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin was taking the world by storm, DX was teaching that same world how to be rebellious, and The Rock was raising eyebrows and beating up jabronis. However, without the brilliant deliveries from the two men at the commentary desk every Monday night on RAW, I genuinely don't believe that any segment would have gotten as over as they did without them.
Every week you could just feel their chemistry with one another pouring through your television screens, as their banter made you laugh and their reactions to things made you excited. Any emotion that you needed to feel as a wrestling fan, those two provided just that.
In my personal opinion, "Good Ol' JR" and "The King" will go down as the greatest commentary team to ever grace the sport of professional wrestling. My respect and appreciation for what they provided me during the 90's and early 2000's is completely unparalleled. I don't think anybody on Earth could have taken their roles and perfected them as well as they did. If I could sum up their partnership at the commentary desk in just one word, that word would be magical.
There are WAY too many moments featuring these two at the commentary desk to write down. Therefore, let me provide you all with one of my favorite moments that Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler shared, much to the chagrin of one Paul Heyman....
A New Commentary Duo on RAW
WWE fans were shocked to hear the news during the 2008 Draft when Jim Ross was drafted to the SmackDown brand and Michael Cole made his way over next to Lawler on RAW. The end of an era happened right before our eyes and a new partnership on the RAW commentary desk began.
That new partnership between Lawler and Cole looked pretty promising for quite awhile. However, things took a slight turn on an episode of Raw in 2010 when The King FINALLY received an opportunity at the WWE Title against The Miz in a TLC match. As The King was ascending the ladder to capture the gold, Cole decided to interfere and prevented Lawler from winning.
This ultimately led to another first for Lawler's career -- a match on the grandest stage of them all, WrestleMania.
It's crazy to think that after all the years that Jerry Lawler was with the WWE, he had never had a Mania match. There was a whole lot of hype going into this showdown between announcers, especially with Stone Cold being named the special referee. Every fan around the world could not wait until The King got his hands on the conniving Michael Cole.
Although the "Anonymous RAW General Manager" disqualified Lawler because of Austin's biased actions as referee, the rivalry was something different that fans have never seen with its announcers before. The heel still walked away (well, was carried away) beaten and battered as the face celebrated inside the ring in front of the thousands of fans in attendance on the biggest show of the year.
Regardless of the "loss", Jerry "The King" Lawler finally had himself a WrestleMania moment along with his good friend, Michael Cole, and one of the greatest WWE superstars of all time in Austin. That's something, I'm sure, that The King will never, ever forget.
Perhaps one of the scariest things I've ever witnessed in my life, especially on live television, occurred in September of 2012 when Michael Cole announced to us all that Lawler was taken away on a gurney.
For the rest of that night, I personally couldn't focus on the show as all I wanted was to be updated on The King's condition. I have to admit that I received zero sleep that night and instead, began watching Jerry Lawler clips on YouTube, wondering how Jerry was doing, and praying for a full recovery. It haunted me knowing that one of my favorite people in the wrestling business almost lost their life in front of my very eyes on national television.
Thankfully, mine and other's prayers were answered as The King returned to the WWE nearly two months later, with a standing ovation waiting for him. That moment gave me one of the most gratifying feelings I've ever had while watching the WWE, seeing The King back where he belongs, alive and well, hugging Jim Ross and Michael Cole in the middle of the ring.
Seven years later, I'm incredibly glad to STILL see The King on WWE programming and absolutely love it when he pops up on a Kickoff Show panel.
Thank you, Jerry Lawler, for everything you've done for the sport of professional wrestling. Although I've only mentioned your career within the WWE in this piece, what you've done in Memphis and helping up-and-coming talent hone their craft before their jump to the WWE is something I've always admired about you.
As a talent, you've been one of the greatest heel mic talkers in the history of the industry. You then took that talent of yours and made yourself into one of the greatest announcers in the industry as well. You're really a one of a kind, once in a lifetime human being.
I think I speak for every single wrestling fan around the world when I say that you are appreciated, you are respected, and you will go down as one of the greatest wrestlers to ever lace up a pair of boots. (as well as packing one of the best punches in the business too!)
Whether it’s your hilarious reactions to certain in-ring moments, your uncanny ability to make comedic jokes to get fans to chuckle, or just simply yelling out the word that people usually use to describe a young dog, you always know how to entertain the large audience of the WWE.
I wish you all the success in the world and I also wish you great health and happiness. You deserve it, my friend.
Long Live The King!