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Mat Matters: When will it be enough for Jerry Lawler?
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


Jerry Lawler heads to ringside to do commentary at WWE Monday Night Raw in Montreal at the Bell Centre on September 10, 2012 -- the night of his heart attack. Photo by Minas Panagiotakis, www.photography514.com.

Being a wrestling journalist comes with a lot of email from promotions. Indie groups, PR peeps and radio hosts will routinely send me updates. Among these is Dory Funk (or at least his representation) talking about the upcoming card at the Funkin' Conservatory.

Normally I flip through these emails, more out of personal curiosity than anything else, and the names Funk has been able to bring out is actually fairly impressive; but the name that was in the subject line when I opened up the latest email irritated, nay struck anger in my eyes.

Jerry "The King" Lawler.

I knew instantly this wasn't a special appearance. This was Lawler, who had all too recently suffered a heart attack on Monday Night Raw, getting back in the ring.

"According to !Bang TV! organizers, WWE Hall of Famer Jerry The King Lawler will make his first official match appearance since his heart attack when he teams with fellow WWE Hall of Famer Dory Funk Jr. on Saturday, May 25 at the !Bang! TV studio in (Central Florida) Ocala," touted the email, quoting an article from the Miami Herald.


I was instantly infuriated at both parties involved.

First to Jerry Lawler.

Now I'll steadfastly admit to never being much of a Jerry Lawler fan, but I respect what he has done in the business and for the business (leaving aside women's wrestling). That he was still able to compete in the ring at a reasonable level of competitiveness at his age was incredible.

The night that Lawler had the heart attack was damn scary. I don't think I slept much that night as I kept refreshing Twitter on my smartphone for any updates. The relief as he made his recovery was incredible.

Now though, that respect has sunk like a stone. By going back in the ring, Lawler is testing a ticking timebomb. Sure, his doctors will say he's in the clear, but that doesn't mean he should wrestle again. What happens if he has a second attack? Is appearing for Funk worth it?

In Lawler's eyes, he's probably seeing this as an opportunity to show that he has recovered and he can still go; but at a certain point a man has to set his pride aside and face reality. What's better -- to know that your time has passed and go out to a chorus of cheers, or to scare the bejesus out of your friends, family and fans? What will be the reaction when Lawler takes a bump in the match, especially one that hits a bit harder? Will fans applaud or will they cower in fear, reaching for their phones just in case an emergency situation arises?

The other party that I was mad at was Funk's crew.

As I said above, I admired what they have done in the past in creating a card that local fans can latch onto and probably draw enough interest for Bang TV to put them at the upper echelon of regional indie shows.

Again, respect lost.

It's one thing for a wrestler to want to come back; it's a whole other thing for a promoter to give said wrestler the opportunity to do so. Giving Lawler the outlet to go out and potentially hurt himself after a major scare like this is not worth whatever gate one gets or what rating one pops.

Much like Lawler above, I see the promoter's side of providing a place for Lawler to have his redemption, but again, is it worth the risk? What happens if Lawler does suffer another attack. The liability, whether officially or not, would lie on the shoulders of Bang TV, and that's not something worth risking.

I sincerely hope that sense rules and that this match will not take place, but I fear that the show will indeed still go on. For all involved though, I make this one final question -- is it worth the risk?

The answer is no.

RELATED LINKS

  • Jerry "The King" Lawler bio and story archive
  • Official Home Page of Dory Funk Jr. and the Funking Conservatory Wrestling School
  • Previous Mat Matters Editorial columns

    Jon welcomes feedback from all fans to his email.