Jerry Lawler has been sitting behind a WWE commentary desk for the better part of the last 20 years. He debuted for the company in 1992, but wrestled nearly his entire life, truly earning his status as the King of Memphis Wrestling. For his wrestling and his commentary, Lawler has been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. He has gone on record to say “it’s good to be the King—sometimes,” and unfortunately for him those “sometimes” are just as well known as the times it’s been good, despite Vince McMahon and WWE’s efforts to hide those facts.
As with any wrestler, Jerry Lawler is just human and his actions don’t reflect professional wrestling as a whole. Although Lawler has been accused of worse crimes than most other wrestlers, he is still a human and the worst accusations against him have never been proven. It isn’t all bad, either—there are plenty of great moments throughout his storied career that, for whatever reason, WWE has never mentioned on camera, and we highly doubt they ever will. Things about Lawler like the fact…
12. He’s Won World Titles
Despite being recognized as a legend and a WWE Hall of Famer, Jerry Lawler has never won any titles while wrestling for WWE. He has, however, won over 100 titles elsewhere, including a variety of major companies’ world titles. Lawler has held the AWA, WCWA, USWA, SMW, CWA, MCW and JAPW World titles, the first several of which were still pretty big deal when he won them. Lawler has actually won so many titles, WWE recognizes him as the most decorated wrestler currently on their roster. Even with that recognition, they never really let on how big of an accomplishment that is, and have ran multiple angles about how embarrassed and ashamed Lawler is to have never won the gold in his long time home.
11. He’s Made Homophobic Comments On Air
Professional wrestling has a long and obvious history of macho-ism, and we aren’t just talking about Randy Savage. Any sport or activity consider particularly masculine is bound to have sexual undertones to it that many of the men participating in said activities are for some reason bothered by, leading to a quiet but consistent guarded homophobia in the industry. Although Lawler probably loves the idea of two women making love, he has publicly voiced his disgust at the idea of men doing so at least twice. When feuding with Goldust in late 1996 through 1997, Lawler first flat-out asked Goldust, “you’re queer, aren’t you?” Although Goldust answered in the negative, a few months later Lawler would also call him “a flaming fag.” Granted, Lawler is hardly the only current WWE superstar to use such offensive language.
10. He’s Insulted the Extremely Recently Deceased
In the history of Raw, there have been plenty of segments fans didn’t exactly enjoy. In July of 1993, ‘60’s pop musician Tiny Tim appeared as a guest on Lawler’s interview segment, The King’s Court. Tim was a novelty act who hadn’t been famous in years, and at no point in the interview was wrestling even mentioned. It gained a certain level of notoriety for featuring Tim inventing the “Dairy Queen” chant fans would lobby against the King in his early WWE career. Three years later, Tiny Tim passed away due to a heart attack. Two days after his death, live on Raw, Lawler brought up the real life event, his only intention being to insult Tiny Tim, calling him a weird loser. Vince McMahon himself sat next to Lawler at the commentary booth, quietly chuckling at the jokes. WWE would exploit their own wrestler’s deaths as well, but we consider this especially cruel, considering how irrelevant it was to wrestling.
9. He’s Been Arrested Multiple Times
Jerry Lawler has been accused of a variety of major crimes, which we’ll get into shortly, but for now we’re focusing on the fact he’s also been convicted of several minor but important crimes. In March of 1999, Lawler received some sort of traffic ticket from a police officer, and decided to respond to the ticket by running over the officer’s foot with his car. Lawler was tried and charged with reckless endangerment for the incident. It was never brought up on camera and to the best of our knowledge Lawler never even missed a day of work in relation to the crime. Earlier in his career, he did miss work for a much bigger crime…
8. He Missed Survivor Series 1993 For “Legal Reasons”
We’ll get into the specifics later on in the list, but for now we’ll just say that in the early ‘90’s, the King was undergoing some personal legal troubles. If you’re into foreshadowing, he was briefly kept off camera for reasons extremely similar to the reasons Art Barr was fired from WCW. In 1993, only one year after signing his contract, Lawler was forced into a hiatus away from WWE pending investigation into legal troubles he was facing. He eventually came back in 1994, never mentioning the incident. The only acknowledgement on television Lawler was even gone can be found at the 1993 Survivor Series, when Shawn Michaels teamed up with a group of “Knights” clearly intended to have teamed with Lawler until the accusations arose. What were those legal reasons?
7. He Was Accused of Statutory Rape
We were vague earlier talking about why Lawler was fired in the early ‘90’s, and we wouldn’t do that unless it was a sensitive subject. No subject is more sensitive than rape, and in 1993 a 14-year-old girl accused Lawler of just that. WWE never mentioned the story on camera, quietly removing Lawler as we mentioned above. The charges, which were accompanied by a sodomy charge, were later dropped after Lawler plead guilty to the much lesser crime of “harassing a witness.” Regardless of the fact the charges were dropped and Lawler was innocent of any major crimes, WWE still would never bring any of the rumors surrounding Lawler’s sexual activities up on camera. Unless, of course, you consider the fact he regularly ogles women up to 1/3 of his age as some kind of a sign, which would probably be pretty fair.
6. He Quit WWE
WWE is obviously a very forgiving and understanding company, looking the other way on the various accusations against Lawler given the fact nothing was ever proven. Despite the company treating him great, WWE didn’t treat one of his ex-wives with the same respect. In late 2000, Lawler married Stacy Carter, better known as The Kat. In 2001, The Kat was fired from WWE. In a move of spousal solidarity, Lawler quit the company in February of the same year, replaced on commentary by Paul Heyman. Most wives might appreciate a move like that, but for whatever reason, Carter and Lawler ended up divorced by the end of the year. Lawler returned to the company in November, continuing WWE’s streak of forgiving announcers who have problems with Vince.
5. He Had A Heart Attack On Air
Despite the incredible and dangerous things wrestlers put themselves through on a nightly basis, one of the most frightening moments in Jerry Lawler’s career, and indeed WWE history, was on September 10, 2012, when Lawler suffered a real heart attack live on Raw. In the middle of a match pitting CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler against the Prime Time Players, Lawler collapsed at ringside. Michael Cole alerted company officials through his headset, and Lawler quickly received medical attention that saved his life. It was reported Lawler briefly died, but was revived by doctors several minutes later. At the time, a great deal of attention was given to Lawler and his recovery efforts, but only a few years later the historic episode is virtually ignored. In a sense we understand, since people generally don’t wish to relive such harrowing moments, but it would probably be wise for Lawler to remember this if he ever thinks about stepping in a ring again. Speaking of which…
4. He Still Wrestles
Jerry Lawler is 66 years old, and yet, his most recent wrestling match took place less than two weeks prior to this article being written. Teaming with Rayo and The Bruiser, Lawler wrestled the Dixon Line Security in a 6-man tag match for MCW on March 6, 2016. Obviously, there’s no mandated law determining any age at which a wrestler has to retire. Terry Funk, Ric Flair, and plenty of others have kept fighting just as long as Lawler. However, just like the fans of those wrestlers, fans of Lawler are basically begging him to step out of the ring, especially given the inherent health risks he’s clearly putting himself through every time he ignores nature and wrestles another match. Lawler hasn’t wrestled for WWE since the heart attack, but he has long had a special contract allowing him to take independent bookings other wrestlers wouldn’t even be allowed to take, making it almost unfair for him to wrestle in the first place, let alone extremely unhealthy.
Since we mentioned Terry Funk…
3. He Feuded With Terry Funk For Decades
Terry Funk is a hardcore legend and WWE Hall of Famer, remembered today for his time in ECW and NWA. What most fans forget is that he also had one of the most violent and bloody feuds of the early 1980’s against Jerry Lawler. Funk and Lawler are obviously two of the most talented talkers in wrestling history, and the feud relied heavily on their oral skills, but earned its place in history through a series of Empty Arena matches, some of the earliest examples of true hardcore brawls seen in American wrestling. Especially given the fact both men are legends in wrestling, the feud and its influence on hardcore wrestling are virtually forgotten today. The feud is also legendary for its longevity—the two locked up in a match billed as “The Last Stand” in 2015.
2. His Son Is A Wrestler
There were plenty of jokes about the matter, but something that was never officially explained on television is the fact the wrestler best known as Grandmaster Sexay, Brian Christopher, is in fact Jerry Lawler’s son. Lawler made jokes about being a big fan of his son’s tag team, Too Much/Cool, and JR noted there was a family resemblance, but Lawler always denied it on air. The Lawler family tree would finally be acknowledged on air in 2011 when Lawler was feuding Michael Cole. Cole brought Christopher out to denounce his father. The segment was so poorly received WWE has more or less reverted to pretending Lawler doesn’t have children. The Lawlers have another unmentioned family relation in The Honky Tonk Man, who is Jerry’s maternal cousin.
1. His Greatest Feud Was Against An Actor
Professional wrestling is about a whole lot more than wrestling. Jerry Lawler is one of the sports’ most recognized legends, but he was never a particularly technical wrestler known for his five star classics. What Lawler was able to do was tell a story like few others, with both his words and his booking, and Lawler himself would probably agree with us when we say the best story he ever wrote was his feud with Andy Kaufman. People have repeatedly asked Lawler who he feels is the most deserving omission to the Hall of Fame, and each time he has immediately responded with Kaufman. Despite his plethora of personal problems, WWE clearly still sees Lawler as a highly respected legend, and it makes no sense they would continue to ignore a legend, blatantly telling them who he felt was most important in helping him cement his legendary status.