"Will you shut up while I'm talkin'?!"
-Jerry Lawler to Matt Striker at WWE Over the Limit
Do you hate this feud?
Hate is a strong word, but I don't know how much more of this I can take.
It's one thing when feuds are used to further a storyline, elevate a wrestler, or draw ratings. In fact, this is why feuds are developed.
However, it's entirely different when a feud negatively impacts a pro wrestling broadcast on a routine basis.
This brings me to my next point.
The escalating feud between WWE announcers Jerry "The King" Lawler and Matt Striker has taken on a life of its own.
The constant bickering between these two individuals during monthly pay per view broadcasts don't contribute anything to the wrestling matches they are paid to enhance.
Matt Striker and Jerry Lawler do not like each other, it doesn't take a therapist to decipher that. What's worse is that these two have become embroiled in a real life feud.
It's mind-boggling that Vince McMahon hasn't nipped this thing in the bud. For someone with so much control over everything that comes out of an announcer's mouth, why hasn't he stepped in and told these two to cool it?
Conspiracy theories are one of my well known staples, so for the sake of staying true to myself, I'll just throw one out there to get things warmed up:
Perhaps Vince is sabotaging the broadcast.
Maybe he wants Michael Cole's mediocre commentary to be coupled with Striker and Lawler's mean-spirited banter. This would encourage wrestling fans to purchase tickets to the actual event instead of suffering through the three stooges at pay per views.
After all, it did play a role in me ultimately deciding to attend my first Wrestlemania live.
Okay, that's a bit much. Vince McMahon wouldn't come up with an idea that dumb.
In any event, this mini feud has picked up enough steam to merit further analysis. Hopefully, by the end of this post, we can get to the bottom of this.
Origins of Lawler/Striker Feud
The groundwork for this feud was laid late in 2009 at the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs pay per view.
The WWE was in full-on "who gives a crap" mode as it pertained to ECW. Talented former ECW color commentator Matt Striker had been moved up to Smackdown.
Soon after, Matt Striker was put in the booth alongside the RAW announcing team of Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler.
The three started off fine.
With the recent departure of Hall of Famer Jim Ross, the dropoff in talent was noticeable, yet far from destructive.
Cole and Lawler continued to play the baby-faced commentators, whereas Matt Striker added some much needed color to the broadcast by interjecting his own heelish comments and characteristics.
Then things started to get weird.
By the time the Elimination Chamber event came along, the three man announcing experiment had begun to go astray.
Suspect announcing was punctuated by constant verbal sparring between Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker.
It has been said that perhaps the most difficult thing to ignore in life is tension.
The budding tension between Lawler and Striker was definitely there, and it wasn't going away.
Petty disputes would eventually become the rule as opposed to the exception. What was initially intended to be artistic disagreement would soon deteriorate into mean spirited quarrelling.
The two would go back and forth all the way to Wrestlemania, and things would only get worse heading into Extreme Rules. The feud peaked the very next night on RAW.
When Striker, Lawler, and Cole were put together on back-to-back nights for a special WWE Draft edition of RAW, the Lawler vs. Striker feud took to a national stage.
Now everyone would get to witness this rivalry in all its ridiculous glory.
Lawler: "Matt Striker knows what being a superstar is all about."
Striker: "Hey, King, maybe you'll get drafted by the Mid South Coliseum."
Lawler, frustrated: "Maybe you'll get...uh...drafted...uh...by SpongeBob SquarePants!"
The two went at it periodically until the show mercifully went off the air.
The selfish spats even began to rub off on the already mediocre Michael Cole, who to this day has been known to go after Matt Striker by irritably telling him to "shut up."
Took the words right out of my mouth. And that goes for all three of the stooges.
Honestly, what is with these guys?
Theories on Lawler/Striker Feud
There seems to be two theories in play as it pertains to Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker's failure to communicate.
This feud could come down to the simple fact that Jerry Lawler misses Jim Ross.
After years of announcing together, and even being inducted into the WWE Hall of Politics and Employees Fame together, it's no secret that Lawler and Ross grew close.
Perhaps Lawler was frustrated upon learning he would likely never call another match with his good friend again.
Unable to take out his frustration on Michael Cole (who he does get along with), perhaps Lawler saw Matt Striker and his antics as the perfect target.
Jerry Lawler does little to nothing to prepare for each broadcast and has been known to play it by ear. This facilitates Lawler "going with his gut" and telling Matt Striker exactly how he feels whether lines are being fed to him or not.
Another, more reasonable, theory speaks more to the spirit of this post.
Maybe Matt Striker does too good a job of being a heel.
Striker exudes many unlikeable characteristics, most notably using big words designed to put the common man (i.e. Jerry Lawler) on the defense.
Matt Striker has a tremendous vocabulary at his disposal during each broadcast.
As the only other color commentator in the booth, it would be understandable if Jerry Lawler were insecure about his own vocabulary after hearing words like "proximity" and "conducive."
This behavior was put on display at the most recent pay per view, WWE Over the Limit. Striker didn't exactly help his Q rating with Lawler when, following his use of such flowery vernacular, he sarcastically quipped "right, Lawler?"
Matt Striker is already fine tuned for Lawler and Cole to combat in kayfabe. But he is so good at being an annoying heel (this is not a good thing) that the kayfabe combat often turns into aggravated verbal assault.
So where do we go from here?
Solutions to Lawler/Striker Feud
Should these two be separated, recent trends in the WWE favor Matt Striker.
There is a youth movement in the WWE.
Vince McMahon, Finlay, Jim Ross, Shawn Michaels, and Stephanie McMahon (among others) have all been taken off television in one way or another in favor of younger talent.
Jerry Lawler isn't getting any younger, and Matt Striker is sure to continue to climb the proverbial ladder.
If, and when, it gets to the point where these two can't stand the sight of one another and need to be separated, it's almost a lock that Vince McMahon will turn this mini feud into a storyline that he can pop a rating from.
Perhaps the two become embroiled in a worked-shoot style argument that turns into a fight.
I'd be cautious of this approach as this could indeed degenerate into a shoot brawl.
In a (somewhat) perfect world, this feud will continue well into Wrestlemania season if both Striker and Lawler can keep their hands to themselves.
The feud could slowly escalate until both men have had it and decide the only way to end their dispute would be in a wrestling ring at Wrestlemania 27, in a loser-leaves-town match.
Jerry Lawler would finally get his elusive Wrestlemania match, and he would also have an avenue to end his career on the biggest stage in wrestling, much like Shawn Michaels, JBL, and Ric Flair (or so we thought) from the previous three Wrestlemania's.
What do you think that would do for Striker's heel heat?
Isn't that the point of a feud in the first place?