Jerry 'The King' Lawler: Why WWE Shouldn't Be Criticized for Finishing RAW
In what was one of the scariest wrestling moments in recent memory, long-time announcer and WWE Hall of Famer Jerry "The King" Lawler collapsed during the tag team match between Kane and Daniel Bryan and The Prime Time Players Monday night on Raw.
While you could argue that the show should have been stopped, I think the WWE made the right decision.
It's impossible to say whether or not Lawler will ultimately be fine at this point, as WWE.com is reporting that he suffered a heart attack and was taken to a Montreal hospital. Michael Cole reported at the end of Monday's broadcast that Lawler was breathing on his own and was more responsive, so hopefully the positive news continues.
The WWE would have been well within its rights to cut the show short, and everyone certainly would have understood, but I can't fault Vince McMahon for his decision to continue.
As insignificant as it may seem when you take King's health into account, Night of Champions is on Sunday, and the WWE needed to see the show through to the end from a business perspective.
The headliner for that show is CM Punk vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship, and while Punk had his opportunity to address the fans earlier in the night, Cena had yet to even make an appearance. Also, Bret "Hitman" Hart was involved in the closing segment, and it had to be done in Hart's home country of Canada for full effect.
As hard as it probably was for the performers to continue on, knowing that Lawler was fighting for his life, they did their jobs like professionals and completed the show.
The WWE also made the right decision by having no commentary for the final few segments of the night out of respect for Lawler, and Cole handled updating the fans at home with great class and dignity.
The rest of the night was particularly eerie because you could draw comparisons between Lawler and what happened with Owen Hart at the Over The Edge pay-per-view in 1999. Owen, of course, famously fell from the rafters when the cable supporting him broke, and it resulted in him falling to his untimely death.
To make matters even worse, Bret was in the building on Monday night, so he must have had a sick feeling in his stomach. He wasn't present during the Owen tragedy, since he had already jumped ship to WCW, but I'm sure he'll never forget that night.
Lawler isn't part of Hart's family, but the two of them had a very long feud in the mid-1990s, so I'm sure they have a mutual respect for each other from working together so often.
What should WWE have done in the wake of Jerry Lawler's heart attack?
Many fans and the Hart family alike were upset that the WWE decided to continue the show following Owen's death in 1999, particularly since Jim Ross announced to the viewing audience that Owen had, in fact, died. There was no such announcement to be made for Lawler, as his condition had reportedly stabilized, but he's obviously far from being out of the woods.
One argument that some WWE supporters made in the aftermath of the Owen Hart situation was that Owen would have wanted the show to continue. We have no way of knowing how a person who has died or is incapacitated really would have felt, but I have that same feeling when it comes to Lawler.
Lawler has been a WWE staple since 1992 and has done more for the company than almost anyone, so I can't imagine that he would have wanted the show halted on his behalf. He understands the business and knows that the WWE has a pay-per-view event coming up on Sunday and that it has an obligation to USA Network to air three hours of programming.
A man's life shouldn't take a back set to that, but it's the nature of the beast in the wrestling business. The WWE dealt with things about as well as it could have in terms of continuing the show, so I can't say a bad word about the way things were handled.
If Lawler is tragically unable to win the battle he is currently fighting, then I'm sure there will be revisionist historians who try to tear down McMahon for his decision, but he had to make a judgment call under duress.
We can only hope that Lawler makes a full and speedy recovery, so that everyone can put this terrifying situation behind them.
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