Jerry Lawler (born November 29, 1949) is an American musician, film actor, politician, professional wrestler and wrestling commentator, known throughout the wrestling world as Jerry "The King" Lawler. He is currently signed to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), working and wrestling on its Raw brand as the color commentator. He also wrestles and occasionally commentates for the Memphis Wrestling promotion.
Lawler has won a total of 129 titles in his career, including one reign as American Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Champion and 30 reigns as American Wrestling Association Southern Heavyweight Champion. Lawler held the latter championship another 13 times when the National Wrestling Alliance controlled it. He is also a 3 time World Class Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Champion (United States Wrestling Association Unified World Heavyweight Champion in the third case). He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007.
In 1982, Lawler had a notorious feud with comedian Andy Kaufman. At the time, Kaufman wrestled women as part of his skits and had declared himself the Intergender Heavyweight Champion. On April 5, Lawler, who had taken exception to the skits, wrestled Kaufman in Memphis. During the course of the match, Lawler delivered two piledrivers to his opponent, sending him to the hospital. On July 29, Lawler slapped Kauffman in the face on an episode Late Night with David Letterman. Kaufman responded by throwing his coffee on Lawler. (Years later, Lawler appeared as himself in the Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon; and according to the movie, Lawler's feud with Kaufman was kayfabe.)
On March 7, 1983, Lawler won the AWA International Championship by defeating Austin Idol. He also defeated Ken Patera on July 25 to begin his second reign as the International Champion. Lawler became the NWA Mid America Champion on April 12 1984 when he was booked to defeat Randy Savage for the title. In 1985, Lawler traveled to Japan, where he won the Polynesian Pacific title on January 25 1986. He later returned to the United States, where he defeated Bill Dundee on July 29 1986 to begin a new reign as the AWA International Champion. Lawler feuded with Tommy Rich, Austin Idol and Paul E. Dangerously throughout early 1987. The animosity began after controversy over an AWA World Championship title shot involving Nick Bockwinkel. During the feud, the trio defeated Lawler in a steel cage match and cut his hair, which caused a riot in the Mid-South Coliseum.
Lawler won the AWA World Heavyweight Championship from Curt Hennig. During his reign, Lawler feuded with World Class Championship Wrestling's Champion Kerry Von Erich. He defeated Von Erich on December 15 1988 at Superclash III to unify the two titles. Soon after, Lawler's issues with Verne Gagne led to his arrival from the AWA. In 1991 and 1992, while working in the United States Wrestling Association (USWA), Lawler teamed with Jeff Jarrett in a against The Moondogs over the USWA Tag Team Championship.
Simultaneously, in a form of cross-promotion, Lawler engaged in a bitter feud with Vince McMahon (who at the time was never acknowledged as the actual owner of the World Wrestling Federation) back in the USWA where Lawler played the babyface to his hometown Memphis audience, whereas McMahon (who had always played face in the WWF) was being portrayed as a smug heel intent on dethroning Lawler as the king of professional wrestling. As part of the cross-promotion, McMahon, Bret and Owen Hart, Giant Gonzalez, Tatanka, and "Macho Man" Randy Savage would begin appearing on USWA television to further the feud. While the program continued in the USWA, the feud between Lawler and McMahon would not be acknowledged on WWF television.
The Hart Family (Bret, Owen, Bruce and Keith) were scheduled to face Lawler and three other wrestlers in an elimination match at Survivor Series 1993, but Shawn Michaels had to take Lawler's place because Lawler was facing legal troubles. As a result, the feud between Lawler and Vince McMahon back in the USWA was also abruptly discontinued. Lawler did not face Bret Hart at another pay-per-view until the first In Your House show, when he beat Hart after Hakushi and his manager Shinja interfered. This set up a "Kiss My Foot" match at King of the Ring 1995, which Bret won. As a result, Lawler was forced to kiss Bret's feet. The feud took one final turn when Lawler introduced his "dentist" Isaac Yankem, D.D.S.. After Hart defeated Yankem by disqualification, however, the feud quickly disappeared.
Following the end of his legal troubles which kept him out of Survivor Series 1993, Lawler eventually returned to the WWF at WrestleMania X, which was also the first WWF pay-per-view he ever commentated at. During the main event of the night, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper served as special guest referee for the second WWF championship match, during the course of which, Lawler began making disparaging remarks about him. Lawler would continue to berate Piper on later episodes of Monday Night Raw, including bringing a skinny kid into the ring dressed as Piper and forcing him to kiss his feet. This ultimately led to a match between the two at King of the Ring 1994 which Lawler lost.
In the fall of 1994, Lawler initiated a feud with Doink the Clown. Lawler popped the balloons carried by Doink's midget sidekick, Dink. After Doink and Dink retaliated, Lawler introduced a midget sidekick of his own, who he named Queasy. In the following weeks, Doink added two more sidekicks, Wink and Pink, while Lawler introduced Sleazy and Cheesy. This led to an elimination match at Survivor Series 1994, which Lawler's team won. After the match, however, Lawler's team turned on him, joining with Doink's team to attack Lawler.
In late 1994 and early 1995, Lawler wrestled briefly in Smoky Mountain Wrestling while still continuing to commentate sporadically for the WWF. During his absences, Shawn Michaels filled in for him as color commentator on Monday Night Raw. He defeated Tony Anthony for the promotion's top title in January 1995. By 1996, Lawler wrestled occasionally on WWF Superstars where he would take on jobbers while holding a microphone in the ring to, essentially, "do the commentary on (his) very own matches" while occasionally serving as the official cornerman for Isaac Yankem D.D.S. After a brief feud with The Ultimate Warrior, Lawler began feuding with Jake Roberts in summer 1996 after making fun of Roberts' drug and alcohol problems. The two met in a match at SummerSlam 1996, which Lawler won. After the match, Lawler poured Jim Beam whiskey down Roberts' throat.
In 1997, Lawler became heavily involved in the working relationship between the WWF and Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). In interviews and commentary, he referred to the promotion as "Extremely Crappy Wrestling." His frequent insults toward ECW eventually led to the promotion "invading" Monday Night Raw in February 1997 and ultimately to a match with ECW wrestler Tommy Dreamer at ECW Hardcore Heaven 1997, which Dreamer won.
In mid-1997, Lawler entered the King of the Ring tournament for the first time and advanced to the semi-final round where he was defeated by Mankind. By the fall, the WWF introduced a new "light-heavyweight division" to compete with World Championship Wrestling's "cruiserweight division." Lawler's son, Brian Christopher, was one of the major light-heavyweight superstars in the division, although, the WWF played up an angle where both Lawler and Christopher would deny their family relationship, even though the two would aide each other in matches and so on.
By 1998, Lawler rarely wrestled in the WWF and focused on commentary. Despite their feud in the USWA in 1993, by 1998, Vince McMahon had turned heel in the WWF for the first time and left the announce position, to which Lawler began praising McMahon's name on commentary as part of his own heel persona, much to the chagrin of Jim Ross. It was McMahon's departure from the commentary team which led to the strong on-screen chemistry between Lawler and Ross in subsequent years. At SummerSlam 2000, The King wrestled Tazz in defense of Ross. With the creation of the XFL in 2001, Lawler was given the job as an announcer for the new football league. Lawler claims that he never wanted to announce for the XFL, but that he agreed to it after Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn asked him.
Lawler has stated several theories as to why he was allowed to leave. His first involves the ascent of Carter's career alongside the downfall of Chyna's. In his contention, Chyna was jealous of his wife's push inside the company, in part due to the Right to Censor storyline, and in part because of his wife's offer to pose for Playboy magazine. Until that time, Chyna had been the second major wrestling star from the World Wrestling Federation to have done a piece in Playboy (after Sable); during Chyna's debut on the adult magazine, she had suddenly broken her friendship with Carter.
In interviews, he has also stated that there may have been an alternate reason, namely, that the company wanted to fire him. He also criticizes McMahon for the cavalier attitude he had given him on the day he quit. In his recollection, Jim Ross was fired by McMahon with the exact same demeanor while struck with a bout of Bell's palsy in 1994, a time when Ross's "usefulness" had run out. Lawler felt that Carter's release was an attempt to remove him as well, stating that the company was well-aware that he would walk-out alongside his wife. Lawler's replacement with Paul Heyman launched a theory in which Heyman was promoted at Lawler's expense. Internet rumors circulated that the company was in better terms with Heyman than Lawler, and used remarks Lawler had made in criticism of ECW to launch a theory whereby Heyman wanted Lawler out. Lawler has stated repeatedly that he has no resentment towards Paul Heyman, accusing the media and internet theorists of spreading false information.
During this time, Lawler made appearances on the independent circuit in both Australia and North America, as well as joining the fledgling World Wrestling All-Stars promotion as a color commentator. After Carter divorced Lawler in November, he returned to the WWF that same year.
In November 2001, Jerry Lawler returned as color commentator for Raw and PPV events, working alongside Jim Ross. He had briefly worked on SmackDown! with Michael Cole until the brands were separated. On Lawler's debut, Heyman was angrily forced out, representing the end of both him and the entire Alliance angle. Upon Jerry Lawler's return, ratings rose, in due part to his entertainment style complementing Ross's informational approach. Lawler stated that his well-worked chemistry with Jim Ross has been a result of their different styles; according to Lawler, Jim Ross is a fine storyteller and keeps fans well-versed with current storylines, whereas he provides reaction and emotion to liven the commentary.
In addition, he has had sporadic matches with up-and-coming Raw superstars, especially Randy Orton. In 2003, Raw's announce team of Lawler and Jim Ross feuded with Sunday Night Heat's team of Jonathan Coachman and Al Snow. At Unforgiven 2003, Lawler and Ross lost a match against Coachman and Snow, thus losing their right to do commentary on Raw. In a rematch, however, Ross defeated Coachman, winning Lawler and Ross their position back. In June 2006, ECW invaded WWE again. ECW and WWE went head to head for several weeks on Raw, which included the SmackDown! superstars. This created tension between the Raw and Smackdown announce teams. Tazz insulted and criticized Jim Ross until Lawler came to Ross' defense. The feud concluded when Tazz and Lawler faced each other in a match at One Night Stand 2006, which Tazz won in only 30 seconds by making Lawler pass out to the Tazzmission.
In July 2006, Randy Orton began a feud with Hulk Hogan. Lawler attacked Orton in defense of Hogan, which set up a match between them on Raw Entertainment. Orton defeated Lawler after a low-blow and an RKO. On March 31, 2007, Lawler was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by William Shatner, whom Lawler had a memorable altercation with on a January 1995 episode of Monday Night Raw. In August, King Booker claimed to be the only one entitled to be known as "King". After being beaten by Booker in the ring, Lawler was supposed to be forced to crown his opponent at an August 13 show in Madison Square Garden. During the ceremony, however, Lawler announced Triple H as a new opponent for Booker, leading to a worked brawl between Lawler and Booker.
In 1998, Lawler began filming the movie Man on the Moon, starring Jim Carrey. The two men allegedly did not get on along on set, which led to an altercation that left Carrey with a neck injury similar to the one suffered by Kaufman.
In 1999, Jerry Lawler ran for mayor of Memphis, Tennessee. His platform focused on making the streets safer for residents, beautifying the city and improving the quality of education. In addition, he vowed to attract businesses to Memphis, improve the flow of traffic, create more parks, and decrease property taxes. Lawler ended up with 11.7% of ballots, beating twelve of the fifteen candidates. Ultimately, however, Mayor Willie Herenton was easily reelected.
In 2000, Lawler made a very brief cameo appearance in the music video of "I Can't Lie To Me" By Clay Davidson.
He met his third wife, Stacy "The Kat" Carter, at a charity softball game in Memphis, Tennessee on July 23 1989. They married in September 2000. In mid-February 2001, Carter (who was a valet and has also made in-ring appearances) was released by the World Wrestling Federation. Lawler then left the company in protest. Carter decided to leave Lawler in July 2001, and they separated not long after. He rejoined WWE in November 2001.
In 1993, Lawler was indicted for raping and sodomizing a 15 year old girl, who later admitted she had lied about the incident. Lawler was arrested on March 16 1999 after throwing a ticket at a police officer and running over the officer's foot.
Though he has spent most of his life in Memphis, Lawler did spend a part of his childhood in Ohio after his dad was transferred to a job in the state. Though his stay in the Buckeye State was brief, it would have an influence on Lawler through this day. He often cites Cleveland, Ohio as his second-favorite city behind only Memphis and is a die-hard fan of both the Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Browns. When the WWE comes to Cleveland, Lawler will usually wear a Browns jersey or Indians jersey, and during baseball season, he will throw out the first pitch at an Indians game.
1These title changes took place during an AWA hosted card as part of an interpromotional relationship between the American Wrestling Association, World Class Wrestling Association, and Continental Wrestling Association. Lawler also won the championship during a CWA hosted card.
2Lawler won the championship while wrestling on a CWA card in Memphis, Tennessee during the time when the AWA and CWA had a working partnership. It was the same situation during both of Lawler and Dundee's AWA World Tag Team Championship reigns.