WWE: Who Will and Won't Work as Replacements for Jerry Lawler on Commentary
After suffering a heart attack live during the WWE Monday Night Raw broadcast, we can't expect Jerry “The King” Lawler to be back at the commentary table anytime soon—if he returns at all.
The positive news came out that Lawler is stable and did not suffer any brain damage.
Having learned that, the question naturally comes up: Who fills his role?
Here are all the possible candidates and if they will or won't work in filling the color commentator role on Raw.
Josh Matthews has already been heard every Friday night on SmackDown with Michael Cole. It seems Matthews is viewed as someone for the future, and fans are familiar with him, so it would make sense if he got the spot.
Matthews is a safe pick and would draw little attention to being Lawler's replacement.
However, I don't think I'm ready for him on Raw.
As great as any scenario is to hear Jim Ross on commentary―this is the wrong decision.
First, he's a play-by-play guy. Michael Cole and Ross paired together wouldn't have a good flow to it.
Secondly, given his close relationship with Lawler, I don't think these are the terms Ross would want to return to the commentary position.
Always the reliable hand, or voice, is Matt Striker.
Personally, I've always enjoyed Striker on commentary for the most part.
I don't think WWE management feels the same way. He was on pay-per-view commentary teams throughout 2010 and some of 2011, but was eventually removed.
Striker is an old-school fan of the product. This isn't the case for all of the others who work in a broadcast position for WWE. Striker likes classic commentary, calling moves by their name and using his teacher/intelligence gimmick—all things that go against the grain of what WWE wants out of its commentary.
WWE wants storytelling, not moves. Striker also had some memorable blunders on commentary. Perhaps most memorable was when John Cena was involved in a storyline of having to join the Nexus.
The outcome of a pay-per-view match determined if Cena was going to be with the Nexus or not. When the match ended, Striker tried to have the sound-bite call and screamed, "Cena's free."
He actually wasn't and was immediately corrected by his colleagues. Striker had to cover himself, saying he got caught up in the emotion.
Everybody has mistakes, especially on live television, but I don't think things like this ever did him favors in the eyes and ears of management.
The return of JBL to commentary would get a huge pop. He is a larger-than-life personality on the mic, plus a return always grabs fans' attention.
He has many years of experience with Cole on SmackDown from years ago, which would make an easy transition for Cole.
If JBL appeared as the new color commentator, this means WWE hit the panic button and surfed the phone book.
I would interpret a big return like JBL to mean WWE isn't expecting a Lawler return for a long, long time. That is, if he returns at all.
Paul Heyman is back on WWE television each week and has color commentary experience.
This should not and likely won't happen.
This would take away from whatever plans there are with CM Punk.
Also, the fact Lawler was involved in a storyline with CM Punk would cause an issue. The moment Heyman, who is linked to Punk, replaces Lawler on commentary, it will come off to some fans as Lawler's medical issues were all a storyline work.
You don't want that.
Heyman is always entertaining on the mic, but this isn't his mic to have.
Rotation of Guest Commentators
A rotation of guest commentators each week would be a possibility, given WWE has done this with the social media ambassador, GM and host.
However, this would be tough on Michael Cole. New colleagues each week would make it tough to find any chemistry.
Also, creating a gimmick out of Lawler's health would leave a bad taste with fans. Just as with Heyman, it could send the message this was all a work.
It may seem hard to believe, but for at least a day after Lawler's emergency, some fans had questions of what to believe.
William Regal would be the best choice.
He's used to the role, having done it many times over the years and currently does it on NXT.
Regal is a perfect guy with talent for Michael Cole to work with weekly.
Guys like Striker, Scott Stanford and Mathews are all trying to climb the ladder. Regal isn't climbing the ladder. He is filling the color role where needed. He is needed for Raw right now and is the right guy for a time of uncertainty. He could easily be pulled off whenever Lawler is ready to return or be kept on as the new full-time color guy.