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Hail the King
By TJ MADIGAN -- Calgary Sun


TORONTO -- Jerry (The King) Lawler is reminiscing about the time he visited Calgary for a wrestling show during the 1997 Stampede: \"I had very little to do in terms of preparation for the event so I was walking around before the show,\" he recalls. \"Some rodeo guy sold me this huge, ridiculous-looking cowboy hat. Vince McMahon thought it was the funniest thing and had me wear it on TV. I still have the hat to this day.\"

The King is talking to the Sun as he breezes around Toronto on a media blitz to promote his autobiography, It\'s Good To Be The King ... Sometimes.

\"I think what differentiates my book from a lot of other wrestling books is I tell everything fans want to know,\" says the voice of Monday Night Raw. \"I still love this business. I think that\'s why the audience can relate to me and I can relate to them.\"

His memoirs may have come along late in the game but Lawler\'s offering is one of the strongest wrestling books to hit the shelves since Mick Foley\'s masterpiece started the ball rolling for the genre. Maybe it\'s because Lawler, like Foley, is still a genuine fan of the business. His enthusiasm for wrestling is real and he makes it clear, both in writing and conversation, he hasn\'t been jaded by his 30 years in the ring.

If anything, Lawler is a little too hard on himself, almost downplaying his success to ensure he doesn\'t come off as an arrogant ring veteran. \"Hopefully, that\'s just my personality coming through,\" he laughs, noting he tried to avoid using the book as an outlet to settle scores or to self-promote.

Of course, that doesn\'t mean he holds back when it comes to spilling the beans. The stories are all there, from the time he ignited a media frenzy by decking Andy Kaufman on the David Letterman show, to the time he published the e-mail addresses of WWE officials so fans could demand his reinstatement.

For a man who gets dropped on his head for a living, The King\'s memory is remarkably accurate, too. With the exception of a few minor chronological errors, Lawler\'s accounts are honest (unlike Hulk Hogan\'s book), interesting (unlike Chyna\'s), humble (unlike The Rock\'s), and funny (unlike just about everyone other wrestler who ever put pen to paper).

Lawler has led a remarkable life and his book is a fascinating look at the man behind the character we see on TV every week. Then again, as I listen to him flirt with the WWE PR lady after the interview, I wonder if even he knows where the real Jerry Lawler ends and The King character begins.

BETWEEN THE ROPES The Rock is scheduled to defeat Hulk Hogan in his return to the ring next month but he\'ll do it with the help of Vince McMahon. That\'s the plan for the People\'s Champ at the No Way Out pay-per-view, which will set him up for a heel run against Goldberg at Wrestlemania. Goldberg met with Rocky on the set of his latest movie (now officially titled Helldorado) to discuss the idea. In case that plan doesn\'t work out, Stone Cold Steve Austin is also in line to be the Brahma Bull\'s Wrestlemania foe.

It looks like Rhyno will be the final member of the new Four Horsemen stable, along with Triple H, Batista and Randy Orton. WWE execs are still opposed to using the Horsemen name, even though they own the rights to that particular gimmick, and are tossing around alternative labels for the foursome. The heel group will be led by Ric Flair, reprising the JJ Dillon role.

Matt Hardy was walking with an obvious limp on Smackdown this week because of a leg injury he suffered during an untelevised match with Nathan Jones. Hardy still managed to work a few spots and should be close to 100% at Tuesday\'s tapings. As for Jones, his wrestling career has caused a stir in his native Australia because his WWE promo ads feature legitimate Aussie news reports about his conviction for armed robbery. According to the Queensland Courier News, Jones was jailed for eight years in 1989, and quickly gained notoriety for snapping handcuffs apart and tearing cell doors off their hinges.