WWE: 10 Stars Who Could Eventually Replace Jerry Lawler on Commentary
Jerry Lawler will be back on WWE TV one day.
When that is, I have no idea. But Lawler himself has stated that he hopes to return at the SmackDown taping in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee on Oct. 16.
I doubt that will lead to his full-time return just yet, however, and even when Lawler does come back after suffering that life-threatening heart attack, the WWE is going to have to start preparing for a future without him.
Lawler is 62 years old and is a lot closer to the end of his career than he is the beginning, so I think it's absolutely imperative that the WWE begins grooming his replacement, whether he'll be back anytime soon.
The obvious question, though: Who will that replacement be?
Well, here are 10 stars who I think could eventually replace Jerry Lawler on commentary (listed in order from least likeliest to likeliest, in my opinion).
10. David Otunga
I don't think David Otunga will ever really make a sizable splash as a wrestler.
But it's clear that the WWE is very willing to find ways to get him on TV. That's been evidenced by his position as the legal counsel for John Laurinaitis, Alberto Del Rio and Ricardo Rodriguez, which has given him a pretty big TV role at times.
Since Otunga is in a high-profile relationship with actress/singer Jennifer Hudson and the WWE obviously likes the media attention that comes along with it, I fully expect him to get all the opportunities in the world to be a consistent TV character.
No one knows where that will lead Otunga in the future, but you have to believe that a role as a heel commentator is at least a distant possibility.
After all, if Otunga can remain on TV for so long despite his lackluster in-ring performances, then we have no reason to think he'll just disappear for good anytime soon. On the flip side, we have plenty of reasons to think he'll get a chance to do something other than sip coffee.
9. Zack Ryder
Zack Ryder doesn't necessarily strike me as someone who would make a great commentator, but he does strike me as someone who the WWE would have fill Jerry Lawler's vacated seat at the announce table.
Why? Because of the similarities between the two.
Lawler is a charismatic and beloved baby face who makes a lot of jokes, but can be pretty corny at times. That sure sounds a lot like Zack Ryder to me.
Both Lawler and Ryder have huge fan bases, and should the WWE want to fill Lawler's vacancy with someone who can be just as goofy (yet over) as he's been, then Ryder might have a chance at joining the announce table down the road.
I mean, if the WWE isn't going to push "Long Island Iced Z" as a wrestler, then they might as well get some use out of him besides jobbing.
8. Santino Marella
I know what some of you may be thinking: Please, no! No, no, no!
But with the WWE's ever-so-strong commitment to its PG era, Santino Marella replacing Jerry Lawler isn't as far-fetched of an idea as you might think. Both Triple H and Vince McMahon have maintained that WWE PG is here to stay, and there's no more PG-friendly superstar than Santino.
He's over big-time with the WWE's younger fans, and just like Jerry Lawler, he's known for his "comedy," which he's even brought to the announce table before.
Santino has done commentary for the WWE's newest show, Saturday Morning Slam, and this could be seen as a way to test Santino out in front of a smaller audience and prep him for an eventual commentary career once his days in the ring are done.
Though Santino's over-the-top accent would be a bit of a hindrance, he's a pretty quick-witted talker, can be very entertaining at times and is a beloved babyface, just like Lawler.
7. Paul Heyman
Paul Heyman seems to have settled into a role as the "representative" for both Brock Lesnar and CM Punk, which makes a move to the announce table seem rather unlikely.
But let me ask you this: How many of you actually thought that Heyman would return to the WWE earlier this year? Exactly.
As the saying goes, you never say never in the wrestling business, so we should never completely dismiss the possibility of Heyman returning to the announce table for the first time in roughly a decade.
Though I think it's much more likely that Heyman eventually replaces AJ Lee as Raw GM, you have to wonder if Heyman's newfound working relationship with the WWE will lead to a long-term deal with the company and another stint as Raw's commentator.
It's a long shot, yes. But so was Heyman's return to the WWE this summer, and it still happened.
So, don't be totally shocked if he makes one more return: to the announce table to once again replace Jerry Lawler.
When I was making this list, Christian kept popping into my head, and I initially had no idea why.
Then, I thought about it for a while and realized that Christian as Jerry Lawler's eventual replacement on commentary might actually make a lot of sense.
Christian is a pretty popular WWE star, but unlike his old tag team partner Edge, I don't think he's quite big enough of a star to have an overly successful post-wrestling acting career, nor am I even sure that that's something he'd be interested in.
Thus, I think it's very possible that Christian remains with the WWE once his wrestling days are over and steps into a role similar to the one that William Regal is currently in: as both a producer/agent and a commentator.
Christian has always been a great in-ring performer, which is why I think he'd make a fantastic agent. But he's also always been a great talker, which is why i think he could easily make the transition to commentator.
Captain Charisma knows how to work the mic (whether during promos or on commentary) and, given his history in both roles, could easily perform as a face or heel commentator much like Lawler has done.
5. The Miz
The Miz got his first crack at commentary about a month ago, and he certainly had his ups and downs.
While he did an excellent job of putting some things over (like the "hug out," for example), he also seemed to be too quiet at times and then talk too much at others.
All in all, though, The Miz did a very good job because commentating is 100 times harder than it looks, and when you're just thrust into that position with very little time to prepare for it, it's easy to find yourself struggling at times.
Even though The Miz was seemingly a last-minute pick for Jerry Lawler's one-time fill-in, it does appear as if the WWE might be on to something here with the Awesome One on commentary. After all, he did commentary on Saturday Morning Slam not too long after he did it on Raw.
Could this be the WWE preparing The Miz for a spot in the company once his wrestling days are over? Possibly.
The Miz still has a lot of time left in the ring and doesn't figure to be hanging up his boots anytime soon, but I definitely think he could make the transition to the announce table if the situation calls for it.
4. CM Punk
In November 2010, an injured CM Punk left the ring for a month and made a short-lived transition to the announce table.
But oh, what a transition it was.
Even though Punk didn't last very long as a commentator on Raw, he made a huge impact in the short time that he spent there, dropping plenty of memorable lines, including the infamous "diet soda" one that he directed at John Cena.
Punk was a snarky, quick-witted heel commentator during his run at the announce table, and he was ridiculously entertaining in the process, even mentioning that in his infamous worked shoot promo last summer.
I could easily see Punk heading back to the announce table when his wrestling days are over because he brings plenty of entertainment value, wrestling knowledge and credibility along with him.
My only concern: Is he too big a star to be on commentary full-time? I think you could argue that that would be true.
3. Byron Saxton
Before he was an NXT rookie, Byron Saxton spent most of his time in broadcasting.
Prior to his WWE days, he earned a degree from the University of Florida and worked as both a producer and a reporter on local Florida TV stations.
Once he made it to the WWE, Saxton performed as both a play-by-play announcer and commentator for FCW, NXT and ECW, which means that he has arguably more experience as a broadcaster/announcer than anyone not named Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler or Michael Cole.
At just 31 years old and with plenty of experience as both an announcer and a wrestler, Saxton is an obvious choice for Jerry Lawler's potential long-term replacement.
With his in-ring future seemingly pretty cloudy and the WWE in need of building up both full-time announcers and full-time commentators for the future, Saxton is someone who, at least on paper, seems poised to solve the WWE's problems.
JBL returned as a temporary fill-in for Jerry Lawler at Night of Champions and the following night on Raw, and he instantly reminded us why we missed him so much.
Though JBL received a babyface pop from the crowd, he was usual great heel self on commentary.
Rather than spending all of his time mocking Michael Cole or Jim Ross, he instead actually put over the wrestlers in the ring, spouting off a list of their accomplishments (that I'm sure diehard fans were even unaware of) and doing an absolutely fantastic job of calling the action.
At the same time, JBL didn't have to rip the babyfaces and worship the heels to do so. Somehow, he managed to be a heel while putting over both the good guys and the bad guys, which isn't easy to do.
Although I would agree that part of the reason we missed JBL so much was because the WWE's announce teams have been pretty bad over the last few years, another big reason is because he really is great at what he does.
Quick-witted, knowledgeable, entertaining and objective? If JBL ever wants to return full-time, he's got at least one supporter in me.
1. William Regal
If anyone is going to replace Jerry Lawler on commentary anytime soon, I think it'll be William Regal.
Regal has been honing his craft as a commentator on NXT, and if you've heard him call matches alongside Jim Ross before, you know that he's already great at what he does. And that's with relatively little experience doing so.
Although I'm not sure what the short or long-term plans for Regal are, I take it as a good sign that he's getting some seasoning in on NXT, which is probably an indication that he'll be on Raw or SmackDown at some point.
I'll say this, though: It should be Raw, and it should be to replace Lawler.
After Lawler's heart attack and uncertain future (and the fact that he's 62 years old), it makes a ton of sense for the WWE to prime Regal for a promotion to the main roster just in case Lawler can't return in the near future or even can't return at all.
Regal is a respected and incredibly knowledgeable wrestler (still active, I might add), he's just 44 years old, and he's already proven to be a high-quality commentator.
All he needs is the chance to do it in front of the WWE's biggest TV audience.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!