The Jerry Lawler Effect: Future Impact on the WWE
If you were watching television Monday night, you may have heard about—if not seen—WWE Hall of Famer, Jerry "The King" Lawler's collapse live on WWE Monday Night Raw. King collapsed ringside in his chair at the announce table during a #1 Contenders' tag-team match between the Prime Time Players and the team of Daniel Bryan and Kane.
His collapse was due to a heart attack.
There is no doubt that everyone in the WWE loves and supports Lawler, from the on-air updates from Michael Cole, to the constant stream of Twitter updates from WWE talent and industry supporters, and blog entries by WWE colleagues. Jerry's health has definitely been at the forefront of everyone's thoughts.
The King, according to family and friends, has responded well to medical treatment. Lawler's son, Brian, has indicated via Memphis reporter, Tealy Devereaux (as reported in the Washington Post), that his brain scan came back normal this morning.
His other son, Kevin Lawler, has said that he is now communicating: "[Jerry] is hooked up to tubes and is still not able to speak … but he's writing stuff on a notepad to talk to people... Not just brief notes, but detailed stories which show he knows where he is and what is going on.”
The update on his health is fantastic news for the WWE and its fans. However, the primary function of the WWE is to entertain fans and maintain television ratings.
As such, the manner in which WWE producers maintained control of the show Monday night during a moment of such great emergency was both masterful and practically flawless. The people who work in the production trucks deserve an immense amount of credit for keeping viewers at home entertained, while minimizing the amount of on-camera attention visibly drawn to what was going on at ringside. Even more so, the in-ring performers should be credited for carrying on with their match.
It seemed a little eerie, in retrospect, that the WWE aired one of their "Please DO NOT try this at home" public service announcements just before the match during which Jerry Lawler collapsed due to a heart attack. And, looking back on at the events that transpired Monday night on RAW, it must be said that King looked a little uneasy on the sidelines from the onset of the show, and his speech, at times, seemed a little slower than normal.
His last words on-air were a mumbled statement about Titus O'Neil's forearm chop being like a sledgehammer. Afterward, around the two-hour mark of the show, it is evident that he began having problems. His voice was no longer heard, and Cole's commentary was stuttered, as he was clearly distracted. Meanwhile, as Titus O'Neil attempted to choke Daniel Bryan out, Jerry Lawler was clearly slouching behind the announcers' table while receiving attention from the crew around him.
All of this occurred almost exactly a half-hour after King competed in-ring action as part of an ongoing story arc in which he had been feuding with CM Punk. This brings to mind the big-picture question: At nearly 63 years of age, should the WWE continue to allow older wrestlers to step inside the ring to compete?
In the past, the WWE has thought little of trotting out their past heroes and putting them on display in the squared-circle for everyone's entertainment. From the likes of the Brooklyn Brawler and Sergeant Slaughter to such greats as Rowdy Roddy Piper and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, fans have always been spectators to the nostalgia of the wrestlers of yore...but should they?
Should Jerry Lawler's heart attack serve as a warning sign to World Wrestling Entertainment that after a certain age, some people just aren't meant to be active in the ring? And, if so, where does one draw that line? How old is too old?
What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave them below in the comment box below.
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