This Sunday's WWE Elimination Chamber pay-per-view could prove career-changing for one Jerry "The King" Lawler. It's hard to believe that anything further could be accomplished after an amazing 40-plus year career, but at the age of 61 Lawler now has the opportunity to reign as WWE Champion.
While I personally feel that they will not go in this direction, the world of wrestling has proven the quote "you just never know..." valid many times before. Certainly Lawler will end up getting what he has been quoted as saying is his last goal in the business, that being a match at WrestleMania.
In any case, a headlining role during the biggest annual season for WWE is a crowning (pun intended) achievement for The King. Despite largely hiding Lawler's long career earlier in his run with the company, WWE is now recognizing and rewarding the man who has been called one of the greatest psychologists in ring history.
To celebrate Lawler is to celebrate the culture and history of Memphis wrestling. Aside from his mentor Jackie Fargo, Lawler is the personification of the city's wrestling territory. Debuting in 1970, Lawler has not slowed down in 40 years. Alternating between beloved fan favorite and villainous heel has to be second nature for "The King" who at one point was the hated enemy of Bret Hart on nationwide WWF tv while remaining the local hero in Memphis.
Although Lawler will always be associated with Memphis, his current Betty White-like wave of senior fame is not Lawler's first national attention. While The King had an AWA World Heavyweight title reign in the late 1980's, it was actually his feud with late comedian Andy Kaufman that first thrust Lawler into the national spotlight. Their battles, both verbal and physical, may have originated in the Mid-South Coliseum but eventually made their way to late night with David Letterman in a moment that TV Guide has listed as being among television's most memorable. Their feud was immortalized in plastic by Jakks for their WWE Classic Superstars line nearly 30 years later.
Although The King did not receive an action figure until six years after signing with the WWF, many magazines and programs capture his earlier career in memorabilia form. A favorite of the Stanley Weston-published magazines such as The Wrestler and Pro Wrestling Illustrated, Lawler's image and Memphis antics were kept in the wrestling mainstream. When Lawler finally made his WWF debut on one of the final episodes of Prime Time Wrestling in 1992, the studious wrestling fan knew that one of the greatest had arrived in Connecticut.
Whether or not you agree with everything that WWE does, we should all appreciate that the company is giving us another chance to enjoy the multiple talents of a true legend. If it's adding yet another championship to his resume or that big match at "The Greatest Sports Entertainment Spectacular of All-Time," we can rest assured that Lawler will prove, yet again, that it is good to be The King.
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