WWE color commentator, former USWA world champ and Hall of Fame wrestler Jerry Lawler is not only an artist between the ring ropes, but a gifted visual artist as well.
Few men are great at one thing, much less two, so it's surprising that someone who was so successful in the ring is also so talented with a canvas in front of him.
Lawler is an illustrator, a caricaturist and a master with a pencil.
Older fans may remember him from his days in Memphis. He battled Jackie Fargo, Eddie Gilbert and Andy Kaufman for pride or for championships. Younger generations know him as the man who feuded with Bret Hart in the early '90s or as the often-lustful commentator on Monday Night Raw.
When he wasn't piledriving his enemies or slobbering over WWE's females, Lawler was creating art.
Among his varied portfolio, his best works are his drawings. His illustrations and caricatures are whimsical and fun, but his drawings are remarkable. His work ranges from realistic to satirical, a gallery that features an array of varied subjects.
WWE has taken advantage of its resident artist, having him illustrate some of their own publications.
In 2000, WWE published Mick Foley's Christmas Chaos. Lawler drew all of Santa Claus' sprightly helpers, as well as all of the WWE superstars who invaded the North Pole in the story.
On the cover, Lawler shows off his skills at both cartoony and realistic work. The Christmas characters are lively and demonstrative. Foley's mug is strikingly authentic.
Lawler also provided the cover art for an issue of the WWE Heroes comic book.
This is a glossy, stylized interpretation of Triple H and The Undertaker. The art here isn't jaw-dropping, but shows off Lawler's versatility. It’s the fact that he so often chooses wrestlers as muses that makes his art of particular interest to WWE fans.
Few artists choose pro wrestlers as their subjects. Much of the great artworks are of landscapes, of Jesus, of bowls of fruit.
In a way, Lawler is wrestling's Norman Rockwell.
Among his many artworks, many of them are, not surprisingly, of his wrestling brethren. Lawler showed off his comic-book style drawing skills when he captured his feeling for long-time rival Jimmy Hart.
This piece shows a depiction of Lawler that would be right at home in a comic book. He blends a semi-realistic style with an over-the-top approach.
By choosing to portray these wrestlers in his art, Lawler also serves as wrestling historian. A USWA or general pro wrestling Hall of Fame would do well to acquire some of Lawler's drawing and paintings.
He is not an artist stuck in the past though.
One of his best pieces to date is a black and white drawing of some of WWE's recent icons.
The depictions of Triple H and Chris Jericho are excellent, but Lawler's drawing of Undertaker here is stunning. It has photo-like realism, but also employs a good deal of dramatic shading.
Should Lawler tire of wrestling or working behind the announce desk, he could still maintain his connection to the ring by continuing to sketch wrestling's greats.
Lawler's personal website reveals how diverse his artistic inspiration is.
It's no surprise that a guy who got so excited on screen about women's "puppies" would choose sexy ladies as subjects.
Whether he is capturing Clark Gable's aura in art form or taking a jab at Bret Hart, Lawler's art is expressive and embodies his passion. He may never get his own wing at a major museum, but Lawler is a unique and talented artist.
His artistic acumen makes one watch wrestlers differently. While we witness them toss their bodies about the ring or grind their foe in a headlock, one has to wonder what hidden skills these men and women have.
Do they, like Lawler, live a double life, one where they exude creativity beyond the ropes?
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