Top 5: Jerry Lawler's Pro Wrestling Career
As we all wait for continuing updates concerning the health of Jerry “The King” Lawler, let's take a look at five of the best parts of his career.
He has held 168 championships throughout his 42+ year active wrestling career, and even in 2012—at 62 years old—Lawler revealed to me in an interview four months ago that he still wrestles on average twice a week. Before RAW on Monday in Montreal, he was performing in Aruba.
Let's take a look at The King's Top 5 parts of his career in pro wrestling.
I say “parts” because he has been involved in so many ways, such as a booker, wrestler and commentator, that it would be more complete to include different aspects of his career instead of just matches.
No. 5: Lawler vs Bret Hart in WWE in 1993
Jerry Lawler joined the WWE in 1993, the same year the “King of the Ring” became a yearly event on the WWE calendar.
Bret Hart won the tournament and was anointed “King of the Ring." Jerry “The King” Lawler took offense, and through a simple story, a great feud was born.
The feud was carried by Lawler's verbal insults towards the Hart family, as well as Bret's integrity and finally, the fact that he couldn't stand to take the insults anymore and not defend his family's honor.
The pair feuded through the summer and sporadically re-ignited throughout the years, even at the 1995 King of the Ring in a “Kiss my Foot” match.
This was a great rivalry that carried much interest during the lean years of WWE.
No. 4: Lawler on Commentary in the Early-Mid 90s
Most will remember Jerry Lawler on commentary both for his longevity (with some hiatus, being on commentary for WWE since 1993) and his catchphrases during the Attitude Era (“Puppies!!” being one of his more famous ones).
I will look fondly on his villainous commentary in the early 90s, where he seemed to fill Bobby Heenan's shoes very well.
If you look at that span, from 1993-1996, there are some Lawler gems that are often overlooked because of his overall body of work.
No. 3: Defeating Curt Hennig for the AWA Title
Out of Lawler's 168 championships, including an AWA/WCCW title unification with Kerry Von Erich, this one is the sweetest to me.
It's not like Lawler never won a championship before this, let alone in Memphis. It's not even the first time he had a spat with the AWA championship (remembering his controversy in 1982 with defeating AWA champ Nick Bockwinkel).
It's just something about this match that really stands out for me—perhaps the combination of sympathy Lawler is getting from his hometown crowd, the young Hennig and how much he contributes to the match before leaving for WWE, with Jackie Fargo as guest referee.
It just feels like a perfect storm. It might not be your favorite Jerry Lawler championship match, but it absolutely belongs in the conversation of the best.
No. 2: 1981 Empty Arena Match vs. Terry Funk
Once upon a time, before his decades of retirement, Terry Funk was arguably the most feared and unpredictable man in pro wrestling.
Unpredictable is a perfect way to describe this match from 1981, not only because of its unique circumstance but also because of the buildup. You didn't know what Terry Funk and Jerry Lawler were going to do next, and looking back on it, this is a great example of a rivalry that blurred the lines of entertainment and reality.
The match itself was unique, which also produced one of the most famous moments in pro wrestling history, with Funk yelling to commentator Lance Russell in pain, “Lance, my eye!”
No. 1: Andy Kaufman
Really nothing else needs to be said. The "slap heard around the world" will live in infamy.
The entire feud was terrific, and any aspiring heel can learn a lot from watching Andy Kaufman. Due to his work in this feud and how much of a draw it was, I believe there is a strong case to be made that Andy Kaufman could be inducted in any pro wrestling Hall of Fame and the WWE Hall of Fame, as a performer rather than a celebrity.
Yes, he was a celebrity outside of pro wrestling and joined pro wrestling after achieving fame, but his body of work is so strong—even for a relatively short period of time—that the conversation would not seem out of place.
What are your favorite Jerry Lawler match moments?
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