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Wrestling / Jerry Lawler

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"It takes a king to know a king!"

Jerry O'Neil Lawler (born November 29, 1949), better known as Jerry "The King" Lawler, is an American softball player, professional wrestler, promoter, illustrator, almost-politician and color commentator from Memphis, TN.

Starting in 1970, Lawler wrestled for numerous wrestling promotions including the AWA and various promotions based in the Memphis area working as both a Face and Heel. He's also managed a few of them, such as Continental Wrestling Association/Pro Wrestling USA (Where he had a famous feud with Andy Kaufman) and the United States Wrestling Association.

He gained the title "King of Wrestling" after winning the (Memphis) Heavyweight Championship, a title he rosed and held 51 times. Besides this Lawler is a former 3x CWA International Heavyweight Champion, former 9x NWA-Southern (Tenesse, Alabama and Kentucky) Heavyweight Champion, former 3x CWA Tag-Team Champion (1x w/Tommy Rich and 2x w/Austin Idol), former 16x NWA Mid-America/AWA Southern Tag-Team Champion (7x w/Jim White, 4x w/Bill Dundee, 1x w/Giant Hillbilly Elmer, 1x w/Big Bubba, 1x w/Austin Idol, 1x w/Jimmy Valiant and 1x w/ Jos Le Duc), former 3x NWA Mid-America Heavyweight Champion, former 2x AWA World Heavyweight Champion and former 27x WCWA World Heavyweight Champion, having unified both last titles by defeating Kerry Von Erich at AWA SuperClash III in December 1988.

Lawler would eventually join the World Wrestling Federation in 1992, originally as a heel color commentator and part-time wrestler. Lawler was noted for his humorous digs at popular wrestlers and, once the Attitude Era was in full swing, his... um... appreciation of certain aspects of the female anatomy, which he gleefully called "Puppies!" at every opportunity.

In spite of the WWE's often 300 day a year schedule, Lawler has still found time to wrestle for independent promotions from time to time and even some major ones outside of the continental United States every once and while.

He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007.

"The King's Tropes":

  • Accidental Pun: There was some snickering when people saw the card for Main Event Championship Wrestling Arrives. The promotion boasted that it had a WWE star in Lawler and a TNA star in Jeff Jarrett on the same card. Some people also recognized Chikara star Chuck Taylor but most noticed it had Jerry Lawler, who has a reputation for "raiding the cradle", and a much younger woman named Su Yung on the same card. It became even funnier when she got a developmental deal with the WWE version of FCW later that year and wound up teaming with Lawler, though WWE repackaged her as "Sonia".
  • Annoying Laugh: Lawler has a grating laugh as a heel. As a face, he uses his real, much more bearable laugh.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • (in Memphis): "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart and his huge stable the First Family (which included, among others, Kamala, Andy Kaufman, Kevin Sullivan [who had turned heel on Lawler], The Iron Sheik and Rick Rude) and "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert
      • Randy Savage, and not just in the ring. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Poffos (Angelo, Lanny and Randy) were running International Championship Wrestling in Lexington, KY, which was an outlaw (runs in the same territorial areas as an established promotion in opposition) promotion against the Continental Wrestling Association in Memphis, TN run by Jerry Jarrett and Jerry "The King" Lawler. ICW's TV announcers would give away the real names of CWA wrestlers, issue challenges on the air, and Savage even once attacked CWA wrestler "Superstar" Bill Dundee at the CWA's gym. ICW closed in 1984, leading to the Poffos going to Memphis to actually feud with Lawler and co. Many of these dirty tricks would be recycled during the Monday Night Wars, except for the part about attacking guys at the gym.
      • Another interesting side note: Before Randy Savage left for WCW, he was the color commentator for the WWF. Who replaced him once Vince found out he jumped ship? Jerry Lawler. It was originally supposed to be for one night, but it ultimately turned into a full-on career.
    • (in WWE) Michael Cole, and before that the entire Hart family, minus Owen (who was usually a heel).
  • Authority in Name Only: Only in that he has no legal authority. Jerry Lawler earned his red baron "the king" by breaking Elvis Presley's consecutive sellout record of the Memphis' Mid-South Colosseum. The only stars that can be argued to be brighter than his in Memphis are Sputnik Monroe or Jackie Fargo.
  • Autobiographical Role: Lawler played himself as he was in 1982 in the biopic Man on the Moon, reenacting his famous feud with Andy Kaufman.
  • Batman Gambit: Pulls off one on Michael Cole on the May 16th edition of Raw. He tells Cole that he respects Cole's Dragon-in-Chief Jack Swagger because he's a former champion and that Cole has made Swagger nothing but his sidekick. Cole's own ego results in his saying no one remembers Jack being champion and being his sidekick was the best thing to ever happen to him. Jack responds by telling Jerry "he's all yours" and walking out on Cole. The look on Jerry's face can only mean this was exactly what he'd planned to happen.
  • Berserk Button:
    • You think Cole is bad when he gets on a rant these days, don't bring up ECW to Lawler because he will outdo Cole by a mile.
    • Messing with Jim Ross, even back when Lawler was a heel, was a good way to bring out his malice.
  • Big Damn Heroes: At AWC's Andy Kaufman 20th Anniversary Party Lawler got a standing ovation after he rescued Los Gallineros from Los Sanchos. He then gave Angel a pile driver for good measure.
  • Big "OMG!": While it is actually Joey Styles' Catchphrase, Lawler used it beautifully during Backlash '04 in the match between Mick Foley and Randy Orton when Foley dropped Orton into a pile of thumbtacks.
    Lawler: [Foley drops Orton into the tacks] Oh my God! [sees the actual tacks in Orton's back] OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!!
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Has been creeping into his commentary as of late. During the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match on the No Way Out 2012 PPV, Jerry said the crowd was chanting let's go Sheamus when they were clearly cheering for Dolph Ziggler.
    • Also happened on Raw, where he stated that the previous week, he apologised to CM Punk and was then kicked in the back of the head unprovoked. While Punk did kick him, it was only after he had told Jerry to admit that he (Punk) was the best in the world (for which he has a credible case, having held the WWE Championship for 9 months and counting, putting on match after stellar match, and yet receives little respect for it in storyline) and Lawler simply said "I can't say that", and tried to shove past him. Punk's action was dickish, yes, but it was made abundantly clear he would not tolerate such blatant disrespect.
  • The Cameo: Present in 2009 for All American Wrestling and Dragon Gate's joint show in Chicago for autograph signings.
  • Carpet of Virility: He has a very hairy torso and at one point figured himself a heartthrob. Well, if reports of his coworkers are to be believed, he never stopped being hairy or thinking himself a heartthrob.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: During the "Death of Mr. McMahon" angle, Jerry Lawler kept accusing Paul London of having something to do with it. He's also the one who lead the walkout vote of no confidence on Raw against Triple H for (correctly) pointing out someone behind the scenes was messing things up to make Triple H look bad.
  • Continuity Nod: During NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair's only visit to Memphis Studios, he acted as if he did not know who Lawler was only for Lawler to tell the announcer they had just wrestled in Florida.
  • Cool Crown: Carries around a regal-looking crown whenever he wrestled and would wear it sometimes whenever he was commentating.
  • Cool Old Guy
    • At the ripe old age of 61, Lawler took on The Miz, thirty years younger than him, for the WWE Championship. In a ladder match. How did he earn this title shot? By winning a battle royale that also included the likes of John Cena, Randy Orton, CM Punk and King Sheamus.
    • Made all the more badass by the fact that he would've beaten the Miz if Michael Cole hadn't interfered.
    • Three days after he had a heart attack that nearly killed him, Lawler was on Tout thanking the fans and cracking jokes.
      Lawler: I've got more wires coming out of me than AT&T
  • Costume Porn: Even as a heel commentator, Lawler would dress up in gaudy royal looking attire. When he turned face, he started to dress like a normal person.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Maybe just maybe if he and Bill Dundee hadn't ruthlessly mocked a young Jim Cornette, Jim wouldn't have snapped and turned into the Hot-Blooded Motor Mouth we all know and love.
  • Crossover: Memphis Wrestling's 2018 Beale Street Brawl was a three way crossover with UFC and the reality show Dana White: Lookin' for a Fight where White was in the corner of pro wrestler Derrick King and mixed martial artist Matt Sera (and was attacked by Maria Starr, who was managing their Tag Team opponents Din Thomas and Dustin Starr).
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Most fans today would know Lawler as the laid-back, mammary-obsessed commentator and only-occasional wrestler. What most fans don't realize is that he holds the world record for most championship reigns in a career.note 
  • Dirty Coward: As a heel in his wrestling matches. He even hid under the ring during the 1996 Royal Rumble while not technically eliminated yet, just to wait it out so he could jump in later.
  • Dirty Old Man
    • He showed shades of it in the United States Wrestling Association before it immigrated into the WWF/E.
    • Jokes about Lawler's apparent preference for women significantly younger than him have persisted for years, though not all of them have been good-natured.
  • Dissonant Serenity: His call of Mankind being thrown through the roof in his Hell in a Cell match with The Undertaker is a rather blasé sounding declaration of "he's dead", considering he legit thought Foley was indeed dead.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Not Lawler himself, but his 2000-10s version of Memphis Wrestling had a counterpart in Memphis Ladies Wrestling, centered around Kevin White's evil manager turned baby face rookie Su Yung.
  • Era-Specific Personality: Watch a match with commentating in the 2012. Try one from 2003 next. Now, watch one from 1999. Then, watch one from 1994. It's like night and day.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Deeply entrenched in the heel role at the time and trolling Jim Ross at every turn, Lawler still didn't think too highly of Tazz bullying JR and finally socked him out before Tazz could punch out JR. After that, Jerry would wobble between face and heel for a good long while before settling on face.
    • Throughout his run as the pro-heel commentator, he would ruthlessly mock the good guys and sometimes condone the most despicable acts by the heels. He was arguably at the height of this persona in 1998 and 1999, but broke character during two pay-per-view events when two wrestlers he regularly mocked with mean-spirited commentary were involved in horrible accidents: Mankind being thrown both off and through the roof of the cage and knocked unconscious, he was outright calling for the match to be stopped after the latter; and Owen Hart suffering a fatal injury after a ring stunt gone wrong. In the latter instance, Lawler (just minutes after making Owen Hart jokes) somberly announced that it didn't look good for Hart.
    • Conversely, when Lawler suffered his legit heart attack during a live broadcast of Raw, Cole broke away from his heel-leaning, trolling-of-Lawler persona to pray for a speedy recovery.
    • The Dudley Boys powerbombed Terri Runnels through a table. Even Lawler, who was a heel at the time, was disgusted by this. Mind you, this is the same heel commentator who would defend nearly anything other heels did.
    • When it comes to any weapon to any match, Lawler DOES DRAW THE LINE when it’s something that can cause amputation of any limb and/or can kill. This was seen during the 1998 Royal Rumble when he was appalled when Chainsaw Charlie brought, what else… a chainsaw.
    • He was also among the wrestlers who was disgusted by the actions of the New Age Outlaws when they threw a dumpster containing Mick Foley and Terry Funk over the ramp. Note… this is coming from the same guy who gave Scott Putski, who suffered a dislocated knee, a hard time after Lawler’s son, Brian, fought him. However, pushing a dumpster off the entrance ramp and onto to the concrete floor with people inside, like Foley and Funk, he was upset about it.
    • Despite being a Vince McMahon fan boy, he had a hard time watching Vince's misplaced retribution reach insane levels, wherein Vince ordered Umaga to all but murder a jobber whiles screaming "That's Triple H! That's Triple H!"
    • In spite of his love of puppies, King was disturbed by the beating Lita put on Trish Stratus at New Years Revolution. Not just for heel Trish's sake but for Lita's own when he thought she might do as much damage to herself. He also didn't like to see Beth Phoenix go to town on Candice Michelle.
    • The Right to Censor was a heel stable that Lawler never had anything nice to say about, always cheering for any face who opposed them, and he would usually talk more negatively about them than about any face on the roster. Eventually, he feuded with them, unfortunately it ended with Lawler walking out of the company for about 9 months before the storyline could end.
    • When Bob Backlund was at the height of his "Crazy Bob" gimmick, he was shocked by how far Backlund was going.
  • Exact Words: Used after he grabs Michael Cole by the tie and uses it to slam him head first into the side of the "Cole Mine" over and over again. When Swagger tries to invoke the protection the "GM" gave Cole from Jerry, Jerry replies that he didn't lay a hand on Cole. He only touched his tie.
  • Expy
    • Of his trainer, Jackie Fargo, as Lawler took a lot of mannerisms, particularly his big comeback, from Fargo.
    • Heel Lawler in WWF was eerily similar to Andy Kaufman, especially with him walking out when fans would boo while he was on the microphone and his making multiple appearances a night with many of them being fake outs. Was in that Lawler eventually became a lustful commentator instead.
  • Face–Heel Turn: He turns heel after Smackdown moves to USA channel.
  • Fanboy: Of Vince McMahon during the Attitude Era. Lampshaded by Jim Ross on numerous occasions. What makes this interesting is that Jerry Lawler was the first face that Vince ever feuded with as a heel, though it happened in USWA and not WWE, and they were on opposite sides during commentary with Vince being the face and Lawler being the heel.
  • Finishing Move: The Piledriver and the Diving Fist Drop, currently he only uses the Fist Drop because the Piledriver is too dangerous.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With Jim Ross as his broadcast commentary partner.
  • Flanderization: Being more known for screeching "Puppies!" at every possible moment than he is for his decades in the wrestling business and, in particular, his legendary status in Memphis, TN.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: He quite enjoyed the sight of female wrestlers kissing each other, like Candice Michelle and Victoria.
    Lawler: I like girls that like girls!
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: For his "Kiss My Feet" Match with Michael Cole, Jerry suspected that Cole would try something, so he called for the help of Eve Torres, Jim Ross, and even Bret "The Hitman" Hart to make sure Cole got payback for all the crap Cole put all of them (except Hart, who was just there because he really hates Cole anyway) through for months in the form of a Humiliation Conga.
  • Gratuitous Hebrew: After Barry Horowitz and Hakushi defeated Skip and Rad Radford (Louie Spicolli) (w/Sunny) on the September 30, 1995 WWF Superstars, in re Horowitz's efforts to "Americanize" Hakushi, Lawler said that Horowitz's next move was going to be to get Hakushi to "take that lampshade off his head and put a yarmulke on."
  • Heel–Face Turn
    • A very slow, gradual one. Completed once he was paired with Michael Cole.
    • He was a face while commentating alongside Jonathan Coachman too, but went back to being a heel when Jim Ross returned.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: He was a face in USWA at the same time he was the opposite in the WWF.
    • Despite his current face leaning commentary style on WWE Raw and live pay-per-view events, Lawler always reverts to his classic heel-style commentary for the WWE's video game releases, playing the antagonizer to whomever is the face commentator (usually Jim Ross or Michael Cole), and when he and another lead commentator are asked to re-create (word-for-word) the commentary for classic WWE matches. For instance, in WWE 2K14, Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy in a steel cage at WrestleMania 2, Lawler read the heelish Jesse Ventura's commentary's lines while Ross took on Lord Alfred Hayes' commentary.
  • Hidden Depths: Did you know that Lawler is an accomplished commercial artist? As well as designing graphics for numerous companies, including WWE, he also painted the cover art for 2007 wrestling comic book Headlocked.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Bret Hart defeated Lawler in a "Kiss My Foot" match at King of the Ring 1995. After the match, Bret shoved Lawler's smelly foot in Lawler's own mouth. In the month or so leading up to the match, Lawler was in taped vignettes doing things like walking barefoot through a stable and other activities to "prepare" his foot for the match. Keeping that in mind, the match finale was that much more over the top. This led to Glen "Kane" Jacobs getting his first shot in WWE as Lawler's evil dentist, Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS.
  • How Much More Can He Take?: His sixty minute time limit draw against Harley Race was famous enough to get referenced on WWE television.
  • Ironic Echo: Of the unintentional kind. An old early-90s promo for the Royal Rumble involved Jerry dying of a heart attack and being involved in a Battle Royal in Heaven with various other "Kings", such as King Arthur and Elvis Presley. Flash forward to September 2012... Thankfully, got better.
  • Kick the Dog: During his feud with Bret Hart in 1993, he decided his No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Bret at King Of The Ring wasn't enough, and he interrupted Bret's Raw match with Bam Bam Bigelow and interviewed Bret's parents, Stu and Helen, in the crowd, just to be a dick to them. Bret, of course, was not happy. See it here.
  • Legacy Character: His nemesis, Lord Humongous, has been portrayed by at least eleven different men. The two don't fight anymore but the Humongous gimmick is continued to have enough value to be used in the indies. The problem is getting Lawler on a reliable enough basis to start any new programs or angles between them.
  • Leotard of Power: His wrestling gear nowadays.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: He sent Shinja, Hakushi and Bull Nakano against Bret Hart by spreading rumors that Hart was a liar and racist against Japanese people. What's worse, they never got back at Lawler for using them though Hart would ultimately get the King.
  • Long Runner: He started 2 years before Ric Flair and can still wrestle a match.
  • Older Than He Looks: He's aged pretty well. He even put on some pretty decent wrestling matches at the very end of his WWE in-ring career. He was still climbing that top rope even in his 60's.
  • Only Sane Man: With Michael Cole as his broadcast commentary partner.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Tragically, his son Brian Christopher,note  better known as Grandmaster Sexay from Too Cool, committed suicide on July 29, 2018 while in prison and was brain dead on the way to the hospital. Lawler made the difficult decision to end his life support shortly before he passed away.
  • Perky Female Minion: Sunny in the International Wrestling Cartel
  • Playing with Fire: He threw fireballs on many occasions in Memphis.
  • Power Stable: Lawler's Army, in Memphis, which included "Dr. D" David Schultznote , the Mongolian Stomper, Porkchop Cash and Stan Fraziernote .
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • His mother's death was incorporated into his feud with Michael Cole, as Cole mocking Lawler for it is what prompted him to call a match at WrestleMania between them in the first place.
    • The reason Lawler hates ECW so much is because of a real-life incident. In the 1990s, Lawler was accused of raping an underage girl. However, the charges were dropped when the girl revealed that she was lying. Even so, ECW treated Lawler as if he was found guilty. Naturally, Lawler wasn't too happy about that, and developed a lifelong grudge towards ECW.
  • Ring Oldies: Still found time away from WWE to wrestle at age 64.
  • Rogues Gallery: In Memphis Lawler had a memorable series of arch-enemies including Nick Bockwinkle, Andy Kaufman, Bill Dundee, Tommy Rich, Randy Savage, Jimmy Hart, the Gilberts and Terry Funk.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: He won more championships than anyone else in the WWF (though most of them are not recognized by WWE) and sold out a longer string of shows than anyone else in his city. And he does commentary. He'd like to train some younger wrestlers too.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Jerry quit the WWE in early 2001 after his then wife was fired. He was replaced by Paul Heyman who was even more irritating as a heel commentator than Lawler was. Jerry soon divorced his wife and replaced Heyman after Paul was "fired" after the Invasion concluded.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Jim Ross and him fits this trope to a T.
  • Signature Move
    • Jerry is renowned for his punches, not because they're deadly, but because they look really good. Early in Memphis he was fond of fireballs.
    • In general, he favors the piledriver and a diving fist drop to end matches. Less of the former once Vince decided to ban all non-Tombstone versions of the piledriver but he has used it since then a few times.
  • The Starscream
    • Had a feud with the man who trained him, Jackie Fargo.
    • Jimmy Hart tried to takeover The King's Army and replace Lawler with Precious Paul Ellering. Hart was too pathetic to make a move until Lawler was in the hospital and Lawler broke Hart's jaw when he got out.
  • Start My Own: Besides the various wrestling promotions he owned or had partial ownership of (CWA, USWA, a few versions of Memphis Wrestling, etc), he also has a "Hall of Fame Bar & Grill", which sometimes gives free ringside seats to Memphis Wrestling shows.
  • Stealth Insult: When Michael Cole(!) wished Jim Ross would get well soon and that he wants him back on commentary(!!!), Jerry Lawler added, "I really want you back."
  • Stealth Pun: When Mick Foley entered the 2012 Royal Rumble, Jerry said that it wasn't a Cheap Pop but a real pop. Figured it out yet?
  • Strong Family Resemblance: His late son Brian Christopher was enough of a ringer for him that no matter how much his promotions tried to hide their relationship, it became possibly the worst-kept secret in wrestling history... and that's saying something.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: On September 10, 2012, Lawler had an absolutely, 100% real heart attack on a live airing of Monday Night Raw. As ringside medics attended to him, there was a very legitimate concern that he would die that night. Michael Cole, despite being a heel and having on-and-off feuds with Lawler at the time, was visibly distraught and didn't even bother to call at least one match after the incident. If one looked at the commentary area at ringside, Cole could be seen sitting alone with his head in his hands, likely doing anything he could to not break down into tears at the thought of his partner on commentary and real-life friend passing away right in front of him.
  • Tag Team:
    • (in Memphis): The Outlaws, with Jim White and Sam Bass
    • (in Florida): The Masked Superstars, with Karl Von Steiger and Don Greene
  • Talk Show with Fists: "The Jerry Lawler Show" in Memphis; "The King's Court" in WWE (1993-1995).
  • The Rival: The Moon Dogs in tag team matches, especially when Lawler was teaming with Jeff Jarrett.
  • Throwing Down the Gauntlet: When he heard "El Rey de la Lucha Libre" Chicky Starr wanted to retire in 2015, Lawler challenged him to one last match to decide who the real king of wrestling was.
  • Tournament Arc
    • Won USWA Heavyweight Title Number 1 Seed Round Robin in January of 1990 with three points. He went on to beat Austin Idol in the Finals of the USWA Heavyweight Title Tournament in August.
    • Defeated Carlito Caribbean Cool in the finals of the Caribbean Cup at WWC Wrestle Fest 2014.
  • Trademark Favorite Drink
    • Coca-Cola, in Real Life. An episode of WWE Confidential had him reveal his extensive collection of Coca-Cola merchandise. Also Fried Chicken. He bemoaned in an interview post heart attack that aside from it being unsafe for him to wrestle at present, his biggest complaint about his health was that he could no longer eat fried chicken due to the risk it poses to his heart. Although this didn't stop him from stuffing his face with it on the February 25th, 2013 edition of Raw.
    • As it turned out, his heart attack was not due to a blocked artery, but was instead a sudden unexplained arrest. He was medically cleared to continue wrestling, and still works indie shows that don't conflict with his WWE schedule (he is only under contract to appear on Raw and PPV events). Presumably he has also been medically cleared to continue eating fried chicken.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Got one from Paul E Dangerously, Tommy Rich and Austin Idol.
  • Unrelated Brothers: With Steve Lawler (real name Steve Kyle).
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: "Superstar" Bill Dundee, as he and Lawler alternated between being allies and enemies for DECADES in Memphis.
    • This dynamic is what made Lawler and Jim Ross one of the greatest commentary teams in wrestling history.
  • Wrestling Family: Lawler is the father of professional wrestler Brian Christopher, cousin to the Honky Tonk Man, and ex-husband of Stacy "The Kat" Carter.
  • Yes-Man: To Vince Mc Mahon during the Attitude Era, something Jim Ross frequently called him out or mocked him for, especially when Stone Cold Steve Austin was involved.