Jerry O'Neil Lawler (November 29, 1949) is an American professional wrestler, wrestling commentator, musician, businessman, commercial artist and film actor, known throughout the wrestling world as Jerry "The King" Lawler. He is currently signed to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), working and wrestling on its flag ship program Raw and PPV events as the color commentator. He also wrestles and occasionally commentates for the Memphis Wrestling promotion.
Lawler has won more than 140 championships throughout his career, including one reign as American Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Champion and more than 50 reigns as American Wrestling Association Southern Heavyweight Champion. Lawler held the latter championship another 17 times when the National Wrestling Alliance controlled it. He is also a three-time World Class Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Champion (United States Wrestling Association Unified World Heavyweight Champion in the third case). He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007. Overall, Lawler has held more championships than any other current WWE employee, though he has never won any WWE singles and/or tag team championships since joining the company.
During a live September 12, 2012, broadcast of Raw from Montreal, Quebec, Lawler suffered a real-life heart attack and fell unconscious while doing color commentary duties alongside Michael Cole. Paramedics, who were stationed at ringside for a match that was taking place in the ring, immediately tended to Lawler before taking him backstage on a stretcher, where CPR was administered. Lawler was taken to a Montreal hospital, where he is recovering. Lawler had been involved in a wrestling match earlier in the evening and showed no apparent signs of illness prior to falling ill.
Professional wrestling career
As a young adult, Lawler was a disc jockey, and attracted the attention of local wrestling promoter Aubrey Griffith. The two made an agreement in which Lawler would give Griffith free publicity in exchange for free wrestling training. Lawler debuted as a wrestler in 1970 and won his first championship in September 1971 by winning a battle royal. He soon won the NWA Southern Tag Team Championship under the managerial service of Sam Bass with partner Jim White. In 1974, Lawler began feuding with Jackie Fargo, who had been his trainer and mentor. This led to a match for the AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship. On July 24, 1974, Lawler was booked to win the belt and the title of "King of Wrestling." While Lawler began his career as a heel, he became a face after splitting from Bass at the end of 1974. On November 12, 1979, while working in the Continental Wrestling Association (CWA), Lawler defeated Billy Graham to become the CWA World Champion. In 1980, his career was put on hold due to a broken leg, but he returned to the ring after several months.
In 1982, Lawler began a notorious feud with comedian Andy Kaufman. At the time, Kaufman wrestled women as part of his skits and had declared himself the Intergender Heavyweight Champion. On April 5, Lawler, who had taken exception to the skits, wrestled Kaufman in Memphis. During the course of the match, Lawler delivered two piledrivers to his opponent, sending him to the hospital. On July 29, Lawler slapped Kaufman in the face on an episode of Late Night with David Letterman. Kaufman responded by throwing his coffee on Lawler. Years later, Lawler appeared as himself in the Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon; the movie revealed that Lawler's feud with Kaufman had been kayfabe (staged). Lawler later revealed that not only was his entire feud with Kaufman staged, but the two were actually very good friends.
On March 7, 1983, Lawler won the AWA International Championship by defeating Austin Idol. He also defeated Ken Patera on July 25 to begin his second reign as the International Champion. Lawler became the NWA Mid America Champion on April 12, 1984 when he was booked to defeat Randy Savage for the title. In 1985, Lawler traveled to Japan, where he won the Polynesian Pacific title on January 25, 1986. He later returned to the United States, where he defeated Bill Dundee on July 29, 1986 to begin a new reign as the AWA International Champion. Lawler feuded with Tommy Rich, Austin Idol, and Paul E. Dangerously throughout early 1987. The animosity began after controversy over an AWA World Championship title shot involving Nick Bockwinkel. During the feud, the trio defeated Lawler in a steel cage match and cut his hair, which caused a riot in the Mid-South Coliseum.
Lawler won the AWA World Heavyweight Championship from Curt Hennig. During his reign, Lawler feuded with World Class Championship Wrestling's Champion Kerry Von Erich. He defeated Von Erich on December 15, 1988 at Superclash III to unify the two titles. Soon after, Lawler's issues with Verne Gagne led to his departure from the AWA. In 1991 and 1992, while working in the United States Wrestling Association (USWA), Lawler teamed with Jeff Jarrett in a match against The Moondogs over the USWA World Tag Team Championship.
World Wrestling Federation (1992–2001)
Lawler began his WWF career in December 1992 as an announcer on WWF Superstars of Wrestling. From 1993 to 1995, he feuded with Bret Hart and the rest of the Hart family. The feud began at King of the Ring when Lawler interrupted Hart's victory ceremony and attacked Bret. Lawler claimed that he was the only true king in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), and the two were scheduled to wrestle at SummerSlam to settle the dispute. At the event, however, Lawler came to the ring on crutches and claimed that he could not wrestle because of injuries suffered in a car accident. Hart faced Lawler's "court jester", Doink the Clown instead, and beat him by submission. Lawler then attacked Hart, revealing that he was not injured. Hart defeated Lawler by submission but refused to release the Sharpshooter. As a result, the referee reversed the decision and awarded the title of "Undisputed King of the World Wrestling Federation" to Lawler.
Simultaneously, in a form of cross-promotion, Lawler engaged in a bitter feud with Vince McMahon (who at the time was never acknowledged as the actual owner of the World Wrestling Federation) back in the USWA. There Lawler played the babyface to his hometown Memphis audience, whereas McMahon (who had always played face in the WWF) was being portrayed as a smug heel intent on dethroning Lawler as the king of professional wrestling. As part of the cross-promotion, McMahon, Bret and Owen Hart, Giant González, Tatanka, and "Macho Man" Randy Savage would begin appearing on USWA television to further the feud. While the program continued in the USWA, the feud between Lawler and McMahon would not be acknowledged on WWF television.
The Hart Family (Bret, Owen, Bruce, and Keith) were scheduled to face a team captained by Lawler in an elimination match at Survivor Series. However Shawn Michaels had to take Lawler's place because Lawler was facing legal troubles. As a result, the feud between Lawler and Vince McMahon back in the USWA was also abruptly discontinued. Lawler did not face Bret Hart at another pay-per-view until the first In Your House, when he beat Hart after Hakushi and his manager Shinja interfered. This set up a "Kiss My Foot" match at King of the Ring 1995, which Bret won. As a result, Lawler was forced to kiss Bret's feet. The feud took one final turn when Lawler introduced his "dentist" Isaac Yankem, D.D.S.. After Hart defeated Yankem by disqualification, however, the feud quickly disappeared.
Following the end of his legal troubles which kept him out of Survivor Series 1993, Lawler eventually returned to the WWF at WrestleMania X, which was also the first WWF pay-per-view he ever commentated at. During the main event of the night, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper served as special guest referee for the second WWF championship match. During this Lawler began making disparaging remarks about him. Lawler would continue to berate Piper on later episodes of Monday Night Raw, including bringing a skinny kid into the ring dressed as Piper and forcing him to kiss his feet. This ultimately led to a match between the two at King of the Ring 1994 which Lawler lost.
In the fall of 1994, Lawler initiated a feud with Doink the Clown. Lawler popped the balloons carried by Doink's midget sidekick, Dink. After Doink and Dink retaliated, Lawler introduced a midget sidekick of his own, who he named Queasy. In the following weeks, Doink added two more sidekicks, Wink and Pink, while Lawler introduced Sleazy and Cheesy. This led to an elimination match at Survivor Series 1994, which Lawler's team won. After the match, however, Lawler's team turned on him, joining with Doink's team to attack Lawler.
In late 1994 and early 1995, Lawler wrestled briefly in Smoky Mountain Wrestling while still continuing to commentate sporadically for the WWF. During his absences, Shawn Michaels filled in for him as color commentator on Monday Night Raw. He defeated Tony Anthony for the promotion's top title in January 1995. By 1996, Lawler wrestled occasionally on WWF Superstars where he would take on jobbers while holding a microphone in the ring to, essentially, "do the commentary on (his) very own matches" while occasionally serving as the official cornerman for Isaac Yankem D.D.S. After a brief feud with the Ultimate Warrior, Lawler began feuding with Jake Roberts after making fun of Roberts' drug and alcohol problems. The two met in a match at SummerSlam 1996, which Lawler won. After the match, Lawler poured Jim Beam whiskey down Roberts' throat.
In 1997, Lawler became heavily involved in the working relationship between the WWF and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). In interviews and commentary, he referred to the promotion as "Extremely Crappy Wrestling". His frequent insults toward ECW eventually led to the promotion "invading" Monday Night Raw in February 1997 and ultimately to a match with ECW wrestler Tommy Dreamer at ECW's event Hardcore Heaven, which Dreamer won.
In mid-1997, Lawler entered the King of the Ring tournament for the first time and advanced to the semi-final round where he was defeated by Mankind. By the fall, the WWF introduced a new "light-heavyweight division" to compete with World Championship Wrestling's cruiserweight division. Lawler's son, Brian Christopher, was one of the major light-heavyweight superstars in the division, although, the WWF played up an angle where both Lawler and Christopher would deny their family relationship, even though the two would aide each other in matches and so on.
By 1998, Lawler rarely wrestled in the WWF and focused on commentary. Despite their feud in the USWA in 1993, by 1998, Vince McMahon had turned heel in the WWF for the first time and left the announce position, to which Lawler began praising McMahon's name on commentary as part of his own heel persona, much to the chagrin of Jim Ross. It was McMahon's departure from the commentary team which led to the strong on-screen chemistry between Lawler and Ross in subsequent years. This played a key role in a change of Lawler's character; although he still supported the heels, he showed a sense of right and wrong, and would condemn actions of heels when they went too far. This began when Lawler surprisingly attacked Tazz when he started bullying Ross. At SummerSlam, The King wrestled Tazz in defense of Ross. With the creation of the XFL in 2001, Lawler was given the job as an announcer for the new football league. Lawler claims that he never wanted to announce for the XFL, but that he agreed to it after McMahon and Kevin Dunn asked him.
Post–WWF and the independent circuit (2001)
In February 2001, Lawler's then-wife Stacy "The Kat" Carter was released by the WWF, and Lawler quit the company in protest. In his account, there was no clear notice as to why she was fired; when Jim Ross broke the news to him, he stated that the Creative Team simply said that Stacy had "an attitude problem." Vince McMahon told Lawler that he did not know exactly what the attitude problem was, and failed to straighten the issue to the Lawlers. Considering that McMahon was Head of the Talent Creative Team, Lawler found it highly suspicious that McMahon then allowed him simply to quit, as if McMahon knew it would happen.
Lawler has stated several theories as to why he was allowed to leave. His first involves the ascent of Carter's career alongside the downfall of Chyna's. In his contention, Chyna was jealous of his wife's push inside the company, in part due to the Right to Censor storyline, and in part because of his wife's offer to pose for Playboy magazine. Until that time, Chyna had been the second major wrestling star from the World Wrestling Federation to have done a piece in Playboy (after Sable); during Chyna's debut on the adult magazine, she had suddenly broken her friendship with Carter.
In interviews, he has also stated that there may have been an alternate reason, namely, that the company wanted to fire him. He also criticizes McMahon for the cavalier attitude he had given him on the day he quit. In his recollection, Jim Ross was fired by McMahon with exactly the same demeanor while struck with a bout of Bell's palsy in 1994, a time when Ross' "usefulness" had run out. Lawler felt that Carter's release was an attempt to remove him as well, stating that the company was well-aware that he would walk-out alongside his wife. Lawler's replacement with Paul Heyman launched a theory in which Heyman was promoted at Lawler's expense. Internet rumors circulated that the company was in better terms with Heyman than Lawler, and used remarks Lawler had made in criticism of ECW to launch a theory whereby Heyman wanted Lawler out. Lawler has stated repeatedly that he has no resentment towards Paul Heyman, accusing the media and internet theorists of spreading false information.
During this time, Lawler made appearances on the independent circuit in both Australia and North America, as well as joining the fledgling Xcitement Wrestling Federation promotion alongside WCW veteran Tony Schiavone as a color commentator. Also during the time Lawler divorced Carter.
Return to the World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment (2001–present)
On November 19, 2001, Lawler returned to the WWF. He was reintroduced by Vince McMahon on Raw as the replacement for color commentator (and The Alliance member) Paul Heyman, who had been (kayfabe) fired in the aftermath of the Alliance's loss at the previous night's Survivor Series. As he had been before his departure, Lawler once again became color commentator on Raw and pay-per-view events alongside Jim Ross and SmackDown! with Michael Cole, until the brands were separated and Lawler became exclusive to Raw. Lawler stated that his well-worked chemistry with Jim Ross has been a result of their different styles; according to Lawler, Jim Ross is a fine storyteller and keeps fans well-versed with current storylines, whereas he provides reaction and emotion to liven the commentary.
In 2003, Raw's announce team of Lawler and Jim Ross feuded with Sunday Night Heat's team of Jonathan Coachman and Al Snow. At Unforgiven, Lawler and Ross lost a match against Coachman and Snow, thus losing their right to do commentary on Raw. In a rematch, however, Ross defeated Coachman, winning Lawler and Ross their position back. In June 2006, Extreme Championship Wrestling was re-launched and began a small invasion within WWE again. ECW and WWE went head to head for several weeks on Raw, which spanned to include the SmackDown! superstars. This created tension between the Raw and SmackDown! announce teams, as Tazz, an ECW alumnus, insulted and criticized Jim Ross until Lawler came to Ross' defense, reigniting their feud from 2000. The feud concluded when Tazz and Lawler faced each other in a match at One Night Stand, which Tazz won in only 30 seconds by making Lawler pass out to the Tazzmission after a distraction from Joey Styles.
On March 31, 2007, Lawler was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by William Shatner, whom Lawler had a memorable altercation with on a January 1995 episode of Raw. In August, King Booker claimed to be the only one entitled to be known as "King". After being beaten by Booker in the ring, Lawler was supposed to be forced to crown his opponent at an August 13 show in Madison Square Garden. During the ceremony, however, Lawler announced another king as a new opponent for Booker, "The King of Kings" Triple H. This led to a worked brawl between Lawler and Booker.
On the July 7, 2008 edition of Raw, Lawler was attacked by Kane after saving Michael Cole from a similar attack, in which Kane repeatedly asked "Is he alive or is he dead?" Later that summer, he teamed with "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan to face Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes for the World Tag Team Championship but lost.
At the 2009 Royal Rumble, while announcing the Rumble Match, Lawler said "Randy Orton needs to be the winner of this Royal Rumble, but Orton's almost out at the hands of Triple H", as Randy Orton was the winner of the Royal Rumble many people are led to believe that Jerry Lawler made a mistake by saying this. However, in previous weeks Randy Orton had abused Vince McMahon and his family thus he was in danger of being fired, so he had to win the Royal Rumble to keep his job. It wasn't edited out of the DVD and can also be seen on YouTube.
On the March 23, 2009 edition of Raw, Lawler challenged Chris Jericho to a match because of his disrespect and erractic behavior to WWE Hall of Famers, which Jericho accepted. The following week, Lawler lost to Jericho after submitting to the Walls of Jericho. After the match, Jericho outlined how he would remain supreme against WWE Hall of Famers at WrestleMania XXV.
On the Monday July 20, 2009 episode of Monday Night Raw, Lawler announced himself as the opponent against The Brian Kendrick. He went on to defeat Kendrick. On the November 16 edition of Raw, after recent acquisition Sheamus attacked the timekeeper in frustration for not receiving an opponent, Lawler left the announce table to confront Sheamus and check on the victim, only to receive a kick to the head for his troubles. On June 7, 2010, during a Viewer's Choice edition of Raw, Lawler lost his crown to the IRS because he had apparently not paid his taxes, but it was regained by Quinton Jackson later on. At the end of the night, Lawler was one of the many employees at ringside that were brutally attacked by the season 1 NXT rookies. Lawler however, was the only person at ringside that fought back, as he used punches and chops to attack the NXT rookies assaulting him until it was a 3-on-1 assault. The following week on Raw Lawler got some payback, being part of the Raw roster to fight off the now-called "The Nexus" when they again came to ambush John Cena. On June 28, Lawler, Ricky Steamboat, Michael Hayes, Arn Anderson, Mike Rotunda, and Dean Malenko were severely attacked by the Nexus, just as they were celebrating his career. Josh Mathews had to replace Lawler for color commentator for the remainder of the show.
On the July 26, 2010 episode of Monday Night Raw, Lawler teamed with Mark Henry, Goldust, Yoshi Tatsu, Evan Bourne and The Hart Dynasty tag team elimination match versus the Nexus. Lawler was eliminated by Heath Slater.
Feud with The Miz and Michael Cole (2010–2011)
On the November 29 episode of the King of the Ring special of Raw, Lawler, who was celebrating his 61st birthday, would challenge The Miz for his WWE Championship, to which Miz would decline. Miz's decision would be reversed by the anonymous Raw General Manager, who made the match the main event of the night, making it Lawler's first shot at the title, with the match type being a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match. Miz would retain his title from Lawler after interference by Alex Riley and Michael Cole.
Cole's interference would cause tension between the two. On the December 6 episode of Raw, Cole would first apologize to Lawler, only for him to take it back and demand an apology from Lawler to himself. After Lawler threatened to attack Cole, the anonymous Raw General Manager would then issue a "cease and desist" order, which barred any physicality between them and that if either of them violated the order, that individual would have their contract terminated immediately.
Lawler would then continue his feud with The Miz, where on the December 20 episode of Raw, Lawler would team with Randy Orton and John Morrison to take on Miz, Riley and King Sheamus in a 6-man Tag match with Lawler picking up the win by pinning Miz. This would lead to a rematch between Miz and Lawler the following week, with Lawler once again getting the victory, this time by count-out. Later on that night, Miz would attack Lawler from behind as Lawler was sitting at the announce table. Lawler would once again team with Orton on the January 10, 2011 episode of Raw to take on Miz and Riley. Lawler was once again successful in getting the victory, this time pinning Riley.
On the January 31 episode of Raw, Lawler was placed in a 7-man Raw Rumble match, where the winner would receive a WWE Championship match against The Miz at WWE Elimination Chamber. Lawler would win the match by last eliminating King Sheamus.> At the pay-per-view, Lawler was unsuccessful in winning the title, ending the feud. The following night on Raw, Lawler, after having enough of Cole's attitude, which included the mocking of Lawler's mother's recent death, would challenge him to a match at WrestleMania XXVII. Cole would respond by throwing water into Lawler's face, with Lawler chasing Cole off to the backstage area. The following week on Raw, Cole accepted Lawler's challenge to a match at WrestleMania. He would then announce that he would be trained in the coming weeks by Jack Swagger for the upcoming match. The following week, Stone Cold Steve Austin was announced as the guest referee for the match. The following week, Lawler was confronted by his son Brian Lawler, who was invited to Raw by Michael Cole, to "expose" his father's character. Brian, in storyline, claimed his dad was never there for him, mentioned that Lawler never mentioned that Brian was his son on commentary, boasted that he competed at WrestleMania before his father, and stated that he was ashamed of him. Brian then slapped Lawler and left. Michael Cole continued to harass Lawler, who still couldn't physically harm him, but was interrupted by a returning Jim Ross. As JR and Cole were about to fight, Swagger attacked Lawler from behind, and then preceded to attack and lock in the ankle lock on JR, while Cole harassed him. Lawler tried to stop the attack, but fell victim to the ankle lock as well.
At WrestleMania, Lawler won the match by submission, using the ankle lock submission hold Cole and Swagger attacked Lawler with the last couple of weeks. While celebrating his victory with Stone Cold, the anonymous Raw General Manager would reverse the decision, due to Stone Cold physically getting involved in the match by pushing Cole, thus, making Cole the winner by disqualification. On the April 11 episode of Raw, after defeating Swagger, Lawler announced that at Extreme Rules, he and Jim Ross will challenge Cole and Swagger in a tag team match. On May 1 at Extreme Rules Lawler alongside Jim Ross lost to Jack Swagger & Michael Cole in a Country Whipping Match. On the May 9 episode of RAW, Jerry Lawler attacked Cole inside the Cole Mine with his tie, forcing Jack Swagger to take Cole backstage. Since Jerry didn't physically touch Cole, Jerry was not in violation of the RAW General Manager's orders from last November. Then, Swagger, on behalf of Cole, set up a match for Over The Limit Pay-Per-View on May 22 between Cole and Lawler, where if Cole wins, he will get Lawler's Hall Of Fame ring, and Lawler must induct Michael Cole into the WWE Hall Of Fame. The following week, while Lawler and Cole were signing contracts for the event, Cole added a stipulation in which the loser must kiss the winner's foot. At Over the Limit Lawler defeated Cole and, per the pre-match stipulation, made Cole kiss Lawler's foot. Their feud ended after Michael Cole returned to normal commentating.
Return to commentating and part-time wrestling (2011–present)
Lawler competed in the 2012 Royal Rumble match as the number 12 entrant, but was eliminated by Cody Rhodes after 43 seconds. He, along with Booker T, eliminated Michael Cole afterwards. On the April 30, 2012 episode of Raw, Lawler competed in a Beat the Clock challenge to determine the number one contender for the WWE Championship match at Over the Limit, but was defeated by Daniel Bryan, who went on to challenge for the title. On the July 9 episode of Raw, Lawler went against Michael Cole in a WrestleMania XXVII rematch, which he quickly won, but the anonymous Raw General Manager, who returned that night as the guest general manager, reversed the decision and Lawler lost to Cole by disqualification following interference by Booker T. Santino Marella came out to reveal that Hornswoggle was the Anonymous Raw General Manager, who was hiding underneath the ring.
On the July 23 episode of WWE Raw 1000, after CM Punk attacked The Rock, Lawler would mention on commentary that "CM Punk has turned his back on the WWE Universe". The following week on Raw, Punk would confront Lawler about what he said before being interrupted by Big Show. On the August 20 episode of Raw, after John Cena wouldn't tell Punk he was the "Best in the World", Punk would ask for Lawler to get in the ring and say it for the WWE Universe. After Lawler refused to say Punk was the "Best in the World" too, Punk would attack Lawler from behind. The next week on Raw, after Lawler demanded an apology from Punk, Punk would challenge Lawler to a match, which Lawler would accept later that night, where Punk would defeat Lawler in a Steel Cage match. Before the September 3 episode of Raw, Punk and Lawler brawled backstage, with Punk getting the upper hand before officials stopped them, Lawler was kicked in the throat, which caused Lawler to miss commentary that night, with The Miz filling in for him.
On-air Monday Night Raw heart attack
On September 10, 2012, Lawler collapsed (legit) at the announcers table while Kane and Daniel Bryan competed against The Prime Time Players. Updates were provided during the live broadcast by commentator Michael Cole. At the end of the broadcast at 11:15 p.m. EDT, it was announced that he had received CPR, but was breathing independently and reacting to stimulus. It was later confirmed on WWE.com that Lawler had suffered a heart attack. On September 11, 2012, he underwent an angioplasty to improve blood flow to his heart. On September 12, 2012, Lawler was reported to be slowly being eased off sedation, his ventilator removed. He was able to blink, nod, and squeeze with his hands, and that same day, the results of several CT scans showed no signs of brain damage. By September 17, Lawler had returned to his home in Memphis.
It was announced in the October 29, 2012 episode of Raw that Lawler would return to WWE on November 12, 2012, in which he would continue his rivalry with CM Punk, after Punk interrupted his emotional return.
During the September 10, 2012, broadcast of Raw from the Belle Center in Montreal, Quebec, Lawler was part of a tag-team match, partnering with Randy Orton in a match against heels CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler. Afterward, he began commentary alongside Michael Cole. During the Kane-Daniel Bryan vs. The Prime Time Players match, Lawler was commentating when he suddenly fell ill and collapsed. Emergency personnel immediately gave Lawler emergency medical treatment as the wrestling match continued to its scripted finish and Cole continued on commentary, trying to maintain his composure and attention to the match. (The only deviation from the planned series of events in the match was Prime Time Player Titus O'Neil making a hand signal to summon personnel to ringside immediately for an actual emergency, and referee Charles Robinson becoming distressed at the events going on at ringside, after both became aware of what had happened.) After Lawler was removed from ringside to receive CPR, and a subsequent match, Cole announced to the audience that Lawler had indeed fallen ill and that the events were legitimate. As of the end of the broadcast at 11:15 p.m. EDT, it was announced that he had received CPR, but was breathing independently and reacting to stimulus. It was later confirmed on WWE.com that Lawler had suffered a heart attack. It was announced the next day that he had undergone a percutaneous coronary intervention. Lawler's son, Brian Christopher, confirmed later on September 11 that his father "does not look good," but was "responsive to questions" after being removed from sedation.
Lawler's sudden illness gained mainstream media coverage, with Ric Flair being interviewed on CNN and news stories about what had occurred being covered by the USA Today, Fox Sports, MSNBC, the Los Angeles Times and other outlets. Several wrestling newsletters raised questions about Lawler's age and decisions by wrestling promoters to book older wrestlers – Lawler was 62 at the time of his illness – in wrestling matches for the sake of ratings.
SmackDown's color commentary return
Lawler would make his return at the announce table of SmackDown after the hospitalization from diverticulitis on January 15, 2015. Lawler had then left SmackDown commentary team after the SmackDown Live premiere on USA Network.
Memphis Wrestling (2007)
In 2007 it was announced that Lawler would be participating in a 'dream match' with Hulk Hogan which had been set to take place in the Memphis Wrestling promotion on April 27. The match had been heavily-hyped by promoter Corey Maclin as Hogan had competed in the Memphis territory early in his career. On April 12, however, Lawler pulled out of the event citing his contractual obligations to WWE rendering him unable to appear on a show that was due to be filmed by VH1 for the television show Hogan Knows Best. On January 11, 2008, Maclin revealed he has recently filed a lawsuit against WWE, claiming that pressure on Lawler (and others) to withdraw from the event violated section two of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Jerry Lawler's Memphis Wrestling (2010)
In May 2010, Jerry announced a new TV wrestling show called, "Jerry Lawler's Memphis Wrestling." The show is set to debut on Ion Network Channel 50 in Memphis on June 5 at the classic 11AM timespot. 3 episodes were taped May 20, 2010 at the Vine in Memphis. On September 11, 2010, Jerry announced that there would no longer be any new shows, but that the talent was still available for fundraisers.
Lawler has created some musical recordings. Among these are two late-70s singles: "Cadillac Man/Memphis", and "Bad News". During his feud with manager Jimmy Hart (Lawler is a factor for "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart entering professional wrestling; Lawler wanted to record a wrestling album with him singing and, since they had gone to school together, he called Hart and asked him to be a part of it) in the mid-80s, Hart became known as "The Wimp", a nickname given to him by Lawler and chanted by fans. Hart was the subject of the song "Wimpbusters", which was sung by Lawler to the tune of the popular hit Ghostbusters by Ray Parker, Jr.. A music video was also made, featuring Lawler, legendary announcer Lance Russell, and wrestlers such as Randy Savage, Jimmy Valiant, Dutch Mantel, Tommy Rich, and Rufus R. Jones, along with footage of "The King" beating Hart and his "First Family." A very young Brian Christopher also made an appearance as a young child being bullied, and another child is seen wearing a replica of Tully Blanchard's West Texas State jersey. He also recorded a CD titled "Memphis' Other King".
In 1998, Lawler appeared in the movie Man on the Moon, starring Jim Carrey. According to Lawler's autobiography, It's Good To Be The King... Sometimes, an incident involving Jim Carrey forgetting a line led to animosity between the two actors during filming. Between scenes Jim Carrey often remained in character as Andy Kaufman and at one point spit on Jerry, just as Kaufman had done in 1982. A 'stunned' Lawler reacted by grabbing Carrey by the hair and locked him in a sleeper hold and jerking his neck—supposedly sending Carrey to the hospital.
In 1999, Lawler ran for mayor of Memphis, Tennessee. His platform focused on making the streets safer for residents, beautifying the city, and improving the quality of education. In addition, he vowed to attract businesses to Memphis, improve the flow of traffic, create more parks, and decrease property taxes. Lawler ended up with 11.7% of ballots, beating twelve of the fifteen candidates. Ultimately, however, Mayor Willie Herenton was easily reelected.
In 2000, Lawler made a very brief cameo appearance in the music video of I Can't Lie To Me By Clay Davidson. In 2002, he released an autobiography titled It's Good To Be The King... Sometimes. On July 8, 2009, Lawler again ran for the position of Mayor of Memphis in a special mayoral election on October 15, 2009. He was in 5th with 4% of the vote.
Lawler is also an accomplished commercial artist, designing a lot of graphics for various companies, including WWE. In 2007, he painted the cover of the wrestling comic book, Headlocked.
Lawler has been married three times. He has two children, Brian and Kevin, from his marriage to his first wife, Kay. His son Brian, who has previously wrestled in WWE as "Brian Christopher" and "Grandmaster Sexay", is now performing in independent promotions. His other son, Kevin, has dabbled in professional wrestling as both a referee and wrestler under the names "Kevin Christian" and "Freddie Gilbert", the latter of which was used during a stint as the "brother" of Eddie Gilbert. In his book It's Good To Be The King... Sometimes, Lawler says he believes Kevin's short physical stature has prevented him from reaching success similar to Brian. In August 2008, Kevin was arrested on charges of trespassing and aggravated burglary. After divorcing Kay, Lawler was later married to Paula from February 14, 1982 to October 2, 1991.
He met his third wife, Stacy "The Kat" Carter, at a charity softball game in Memphis, Tennessee on July 23, 1989. They married in September 2000. In mid-February 2001, Carter (who was a valet and has also made in-ring appearances) was released by the World Wrestling Federation. Lawler then left the company in protest. Carter decided to leave Lawler in July 2001, and they separated not long after. Their divorce was finalized on October 15, 2003. He soon rejoined the WWF in November 2001.
In 1993, Lawler was indicted for raping and sodomizing a 15-year-old girl, who later admitted she had lied about the incident, which caused him to miss Survivor Series 1993. Lawler was arrested on March 16, 1999 after throwing a ticket at a police officer and running over the officer's foot.
Though he has spent most of his life in Memphis, Lawler did spend a part of his childhood in Ohio after his father was transferred to a job in the state. Though this stay was brief, it would have an influence on Lawler throughout his life thereafter. He often cites Cleveland as his second-favorite city behind only Memphis and is a die-hard fan of both the Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Browns. When WWE comes to Cleveland, Lawler will usually wear a Browns jersey or an Indians jersey, and during baseball season, he will throw out the first pitch at an Indians game. Jerry Lawler is also a collector of Coca-Cola merchandise. It was announced on the February 14, 2011 edition of Raw that Jerry's mother Hazel passed away. Jerry missed that edition of Raw where he was in Memphis dealing with the passing.
- Finishing and signature moves
- Diving Fist Drop
- "The King"
- Tag teams and stables
- Wrestlers trained
- Theme music
Championships and accomplishments
1These title changes took place during an AWA hosted card as part of an interpromotional relationship between the American Wrestling Association, World Class Wrestling Association, and Continental Wrestling Association. Lawler also won the championship during a CWA hosted card.
2Lawler won the championship while wrestling on a CWA card in Memphis, Tennessee during the time when the AWA and CWA had a working partnership. It was the same situation during both of Lawler and Dundee's AWA World Tag Team Championship reigns.