WWE: Is Jerry Lawler Still Effective as a Commentator?
Jerry Lawler was first hired by WWE in 1992 to do announcing with some occasional wrestling sprinkled in.
Outside of a nine-month patch in 2001, Lawler has continued to work in WWE while his family has blossomed in the business.
His cousin was given the gimmick of The Honky Tonk Man and owns the longest reign of the Intercontinental Championship in history. His son, known to some as Brian Christopher, went by the name of Grandmaster Sexay in the jobber-turned-fan-favorite tag team Too Cool.
All the while, Lawler continued to do what he was hired to do—commentate matches on television and pay-per-view. Lawler was fine as the heel color commentator who liked to support the bad guys and look the other way when illegal things were being done. Lawler would crack bad jokes and act practically loopy at times.
When Lawler became a face color commentator, it was more of the bad jokes and acting loopy. None of it really mattered too much, though. Just as Bobby Heenan's style was perfect in the 1980s, Lawler was great for the 90s, especially when the Attitude Era hit WWE in the late 1990s.
Lawler's fascination with the Divas made an almost perverted Lawler sound just fine at the time. It was the Attitude Era, and most fans were thinking that way anyway. The term "puppies" became rather acceptable when referring to the breasts of WWE Divas.
Lawler left in 2001 to support a Diva, his wife at the time that was known in the ring as The Kat. Stacy Carter was apparently not getting along too well with people in the company, especially backstage.
Supporting his third wife, Lawler left with WWE as well and was replaced with Paul Heyman just weeks before the WCW InVasion storyline began. Carter left Lawler that July and officially separated prior to Lawler returning in November.
After WWE remained in business following Survivor Series 2001, Paul Heyman was gone and Jerry Lawler returned to the commentary table alongside Jim Ross.
JR and The King have always had such great chemistry together. Then again, JR's storytelling abilities are second to none, and just about anyone with Ross sounds great on commentary.
When the change was made to include Michael Cole on RAW broadcasts, things went downhill. That only got worse when Cole became a heel play-by-play announcer.
Classically, the heel commentator is a color commentator, which allows him to use his job to show his displeasure for faces and how heels aren't doing the cheating that they are trying to do. With a heel play-by-play guy, it brings opinion into what is supposed to be a job fully based on facts.
It isn't that what Cole is doing is terrible, because Cole is actually one of the more valuable assets among non-wrestler personae in WWE today. It is just that Lawler is not able to match Cole's intensity and counteract Cole's reasoning, which often sinks into logic.
Lawler could easily blindly defend a bad guy when he was a heel back in the day. Now, Lawler is a babyface and seems to turn a blind eye.
With WWE branching to so many avenues of technology and social media, Lawler has trouble keeping up with the times.
He's had trouble on live television going on the WWE website, seems to struggle to grasp the point of Twitter and can't get the YouTube website correct. As WWE branches into the investment of Tout, I dread the idea of Lawler trying to keep up.
It isn't that Lawler is the only commentator to make mistakes, but Lawler is the seasoned veteran and the go-to color commentator on the flagship show for the company. Lawler is a fixture in the history of Monday Night RAW, and the commentary needs to reflect how good he is.
If mistakes like this continue to be made, should a change be in order? Could Jerry Lawler be gone from WWE commentary in the coming years?
Michael Cole could be an intriguing hybrid of color commentary and play-by-play, while also bringing in a guy like Josh Mathews, who is slowly becoming a respected voice on the SmackDown brand.
Mathews could be the voice of the future, and Cole is channeling Bobby Heenan vibes, which isn't a bad thing.
Lawler needs to change something. Being his normal self is not really beneficial in the PG era. His knowledge is out of date, and his jokes—especially those against Vickie Guerrero—are pretty brutal, if not offensive.
Lawler cannot go back to being a heel, because it would conflict with the good thing Cole has going. Either Lawler needs to revamp his style or he may commentate himself right out of his own job. As WWE grows, they may just be outgrowing Jerry Lawler.
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