Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reflections On The King...

Chances are that if pro wrestling crosses your mind this week, the name Jerry Lawler will come with it.  For many fans, that's always been the case.  The tragic events of this past Monday's edition of WWE Raw has ensured that he's not only in our minds, but hearts as well.

The King has long been a favorite of mine.  With all the coverage that he received in the magazines of my youth, I knew that he was someone special.  Aside from a sparse few matches that I had in my video collection at the time as well as USWA Texas reruns, Jerry's arrival to the WWF on Prime Time Wrestling in late 1992 would mark the first time that I saw him on a large stage.  I can still remember yelling around my house that Jerry "The King" Lawler was now in the WWF.  Since I was the only one in my (yankee) household that knew who he was, it didn't make much of an impact.

Although The King saw a lot of use in comedic matches and segments in the early portion of his WWF affiliation, he was still able to make an impact on the fans.  As he was feuding with Doink, Dink, Wink, and Pink, I can recall wondering just how many WWF fans knew what a legacy he already had in the business.  It was just ten years earlier that he'd been battling WWF icon Randy "Macho Man" Savage in the crude yet dangerous-looking cages of Memphis wrestling.  Around that same time he was wrestling nationally known stars like Hulk Hogan, Rick Rude, and The Road Warriors in situations where The King himself was the hero.

Maybe that's partially the beauty of Jerry Lawler's work.  That he can seamlessly go from being the most heroic of the heroes to the most cowardly villain you've ever seen.  I think that he's gone back and forth as many times as he's won championships, a record that will probably never truly be accurately tabulated.

It was just a week ago that I wrote about the first wrestler that I ever met.  Jerry Lawler was the first wrestler that I ever met via the independent wrestling scene and thus it was his name that drew me to my first independent wrestling show.  The King was advertised for what would be the first of many appearances for Norm Connors' IWC (International Wrestling Cartel) promotion just outside of Pittsburgh.  Though I'd heard that Tommy Dreamer was going to appear for their event one month earlier, it was Lawler's name that cemented my decision to finally go.

As with any appearance I've ever heard regarding Jerry Lawler, he was great with the fans and equally excellent in the ring.  Even in his early 50s at the time, Lawler did everything in the squared circle that one would've expected out of him twenty or thirty years earlier.  A few years later, also on an IWC show, I was able to witness an incredible brawl between Lawler and his old rival "The Ugandan Headhunter" Kamala.  It was the kind of match that makes fans remember why they love wrestling.

When you boil it down, Jerry Lawler is an artist.  We all know the story of how his artistic drawing talents got him into the business, but he's an artist on a different canvas as well, that being the wrestling mat.  Lawler is the kind of talent that can keep you engrossed in a match for fifteen minutes without even touching his opponent, then go on and have an action-packed physical confrontation.  "The Total Package" may have been a nickname better suited for Jerry Lawler.

We don't know if we'll ever see him in the ring again.  We just want to ensure that he's still with us to look back on the forty plus years of royal gifts that he's given us.  The King is in a battle right now.  It's time for him to ride in on the white horse, pull down the strap, use the fist drop, and finish it with a...excuse me...the piledriver.

Pulling and praying.  Long Live The King.

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