WWE Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler has opened a wrestling museum in Memphis, a city that was his kingdom for the majority of his career. WWE should take Lawler's lead and set up a physical location for its Hall of Fame.
Before he sat at the WWE announce desk with Michael Cole or Jim Ross, Lawler was a multi-time champion and folk hero in Memphis. Much of the memorabilia he amassed during those years is now on display in a new museum.
Lawler's museum features crowns, championships, photos and robes from his long career. Though it is just one man's collection, Lawler's museum appears to offer a memorable experience and a healthy supply of wrestling history.
Just watching this news segment on the museum, one feels as if he is traveling backward through time.
Imagine what kind of journey WWE could take its fans on if it ever constructed a museum and Hall of Fame.
This year, WWE will induct Bruno Sammartino and Mick Foley into a Hall of Fame that only exists on an abstract level. A dedicated, eager-to-learn fan can't go see a Sammartino section in a WWE museum to learn about his 2,803-day reign as WWE champ. Fans don't have a place to go see Mankind's mask hanging up or to see Mr. Socko propped up in a glass case.
Ric Flair's robes, Abdullah the Butcher's forks and Steve Austin's smoking skull belt all need to be hanging up somewhere.
WWE displays these kinds of things at events like WrestleMania Axxess, but there is no pilgrimage for wrestling fans to take. NFL fans can travel to Canton. Baseball fans can head to Cooperstown. WWE fans are still without a cathedral that celebrates the industry's heroes.
Memphis wrestling fans, on the other hand, now have a reason to take a road trip to western Tennessee.
Lawler's museum appears to be bursting with ring gear and relics of the rich history of Memphis wrestling. It is certainly a place fans should stop and visit. Memphis featured some of wrestling's greatest rivalries and angles. Lawler seems to have done a great job in putting his museum together, in bridging the past to the present.
Lawler wrote on his Twitter account that over a thousand people came on the museum's opening day.
Thanks to everyone who came out to the opening of my museum yesterday.Over a thousand people showed up! It was amazing!! Thanks again!— Jerry Lawler (@JerryLawler) March 31, 2013
Now it's WWE's turn.
WWE history, from Buddy Rogers to John Cena, deserves a structure to house it. There is no shortage of fans who would be willing to pay to enter. Should WWE want anything Memphis or Lawler-related, the King is likely to have items to share.