Monday, September 26, 2011

Old School Profile - Jerry "The King" Lawler

While in Memphis this weekend I was able to visit the home of the King of Rock n Roll, one Elvis Presley. While touring Graceland I was inspired to write about the King of Memphis Jerry Lawler. A lot of you know him as the long time ring announcer for WWE Raw. What you may not know is that Jerry is a long time legendary wrestler in the Memphis area. The King has won 164 championships through out his wrestling career.

Jerry was a local DJ working in the Memphis area and would frequent the local wrestling shows. He was also a local very gifted artist who would draw for the wrestlers. His talent for art got the attention of a local promoter Aubrey Griffin. Griffin made a deal with Lawler that in exchange for free publicity in exchange for wrestling training. Starting his career in 1970 and in 1974 had a feud with Jackie Fargo who also mentored him. The rivalry led to match where Lawler would defeat Fargo for the NWA Southern Heavyweight Title and the title as the King of Wrestling. From where Jerry "The King" Lawler was born.

His career went well onto the 1980's where he held several titles in regional organizations. Working with such legendary wrestlers as Billy Graham, Austin Idol and Randy Savage. One of his notable feuds with Tommy Rich, Austin Idol and Paul E. Dangerously over the AWA International Heavyweight Title. During the feud, When Lawler was beaten in a steel cage match and cut his hair, which caused a riot in the Mid-South Coliseum.

At the end of the decade Lawler became the AWA World Heavyweight Champion by defeating WWE Hall of Famer Curt Henning. He then had a rivalry with WCCW Champion Kerry Von Erich which led to their unification bout at Superclash III in 1988. Lawler won the bout and unified both title belts.

Mainstream Fame
Jerry Lawler became known to mainstream audiences when he had his famous feud with actor/comedian Andy Kaufman. In 1982 the star of the TV show taxi frequently wrestled women and defended the Intergender Heavyweight Champion. The feud began with Kaufman started making skits that poked fun at Memphis and insulting people from the south. This led to a match between the 2 where The King piledrived Andy 2 times which sent him to the hospital. On July 29th, Jerry slapped Kaufman in the face on the David Letterman show.
Lawler actually appeared in the movie "Man on The Moon" a bio movie about the life of Kaufman as himself. In the movie it revealed that the feud with Andy was kayfabe and that the two were actually good friends behind the scenes.

The Return of Lawler to Memphis

Career from the 1990's to Now
Since 1992 Jerry worked with the WWE as part time wrestler and announcer. During the 90's he had a very notable feud with Bret Hart and the Hart family. This started in 1994 after Bret won the King of The Ring tournament. Lawler stated that he was one true king of wrestling.

In 1997 he was a big part of an angle involving ECW. As WWF and ECW had a working relationship and staged an ECW invasion of the organization. He would refer to ECW as "Extremely Crappy Wrestling". This lead to a him having a match with Tommy Dreamer at ECW's Hardcore Heaven PPV.

After 1998 he focused more on his commentary and was seen less and less in the ring. But he still had issues from time to time with the likes of Booker T, Tazz and Chris Jericho. In 2007 Lawler received the ultimate honor being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. It was a well deserved honor for some one who still continues to give so much to the wrestling business.
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