Whether you have liked the direction of Jerry "The King" Lawler's character or not in recent years, every member of the WWE Universe should respect him. He's been a wrestling stalwart for decades, making his heart attack during Raw a sobering moment for fans.
He's been making progress in his recovery, but still isn't out of the woods yet. Houston Mitchell of the Los Angeles Times reports he can now respond to basic commands and has been taken off a ventilator, both steps in the right direction.
As he continues to fight his way back toward full strength, the WWE schedule goes on. That includes the Night of Champions pay-per-view on Sunday night, which will have to go on without Lawler at the commentary table.
Even though the challenges of commentary are usually overlooked by fans, Lawler and Michael Cole have a lot of pressure on their shoulders at the marquee events as well. They have to hit certain points throughout the match just like the superstars.
It's even more important on a marquee show like Night of Champions and the WWE will have a tough time finding somebody who can match Lawler's usual enthusiasm.
Who should fill in for Lawler?
Josh Mathews would be the logical replacement, but he's more of a play-by-play guy like Cole as opposed to a color commentator like Lawler. When Mathews and Cole have worked together in the past the lack of chemistry was evident.
Mathews has also been involved in a storyline about the poor treatment of employees by superstars like Kane, so if the creative team was planning on doing some type of extended angle about that on the PPV, it would have to get delayed.
The WWE doesn't have much choice, though. Booker T recently moved to the role of SmackDown general manager after a stint as a commentator, likely eliminating him as an option despite working some pay-per-views.
A lesser-known name like Matt Striker, who has done work on Superstars, is another option, but putting him into action at a PPV would be a risk. There isn't a perfect option available after the shocking events of Monday night.
It's unclear if Jim Ross would be an option. The popular legend has been used sparingly, but nobody would complain if he was the choice.
Whatever the WWE decides, Lawler's absence will be noticeable. Hopefully he can make a complete recovery and make his triumphant return at some point in the future.