Interview: Jerry'The King'Lawler
by Pro Wrestling Ring Announcer Shannon Rose

A View from Ringside - 08/03/00
From world champion to color commentator, Jerry 'The King' Lawler has done it all in the sport of kings. An avid puppy lover, Jerry Lawler can best be remembered by his feud with the likes of Andy Kaufman, Bret Hart, and anyone who dared to step into the Memphis Territory. A months ago, at the First Annual Sgt. Slaughter Celebrity Golf  Tournament at the Doral in Miami, Florida, I had a chance to sit down with the living legend. Here’s what he had to say...

Shannon Rose: Hi, this is Shannon Rose, and I’m joined with Jerry 'The King' Lawler.Let me tell you Jerry I’ve been a big mark for your career. I would say your one of the funniest commentators. Along with Jim Ross, your the best combo on television today. Now what would you say takes to be a great heel commentator, and to be on a television show such as WWF RAW?

Jerry 'The King' Lawler: Well I don’t know if I could exactly describe what it would take for anybody else. I just know what I do. I try to basically have fun with the show. When I watch some of the other shows I see guys sort of tentative. It’s almost like they take it too seriously.It’s almost like they treat it like brain surgery or something like that.I think people are watching to be entertained.I think entertainment means enjoying yourself and having fun.To me that means laughing, having a laugh, and adding humor.If you got two guys out there that are saying the same thing, you don’t need one of them. I let Michael Cole or JR (Jim Ross) do the play-by-play, and handle the serious wrestling stuff, and I try to add a laugh or two here or there. I’ve had tons of people, males especially, tell me, 'You don’t know how much I appreciate your commentary, because my wife use to hate it when I watched wrestling, but now she’ll watch because she
enjoys listening to your jokes and things.' I think it helps bring in people that don’t necessarily want to be that intrigued with wrestling. They just want to be entertained and watch the show that way.

Rose: Now what is the status of Memphis Championship Wrestling (MCW)? It’s one of the farm systems for WWF, along with Jim Cornette’s promotion.A lot of guys are in there, like Reckless Youth, K-Krush, and a lot of other guys that are up and coming.Do you feel that it’s basically the promotion in Memphis? I know you also used to work with Randy Hale’s promotion in that area called Memphis Power Pro.Do you feel that you guys are on top still?

The King: Well the whole thing about these promotions like MCW and Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), it’s almost like your looking at a major league baseball farm system.There are literally hundreds of wrestlers that the WWF has under contract. There’s no way the WWF can have these guys booked to wrestle every single night or each and every week even. So instead of having these guys sit at home, and collect ring rust, we offer a place where these guys can stay in shape and work out, and actually continue to wrestle in front of a crowd.We have young guys that are coming up like K-Krush, Reckless Youth, and Bobcat. They are different individuals that haven’t yet made it to the WWF. We’ve also got some WWF stars that have already had a run, and are just waiting for another shot right now. We have Jim Neidhart (Editor's Note: He was at that time but has now moved back to Calgary) down there, Blue Meanie down there (Editor’s Note: Since this interview was conducted, Blue Meanie has been released from the WWF, and is seen on ECW). The Posse (Mean Street Posse) is with us right now.We have Curtis Hughes (Editor's Note: Also no longer with MCW). One of the guys that is doing really, really great is Steven Regal. These are guys that in a matter of months or weeks maybe will get a call from the WWF and will be pushed right back into the spotlight. It offers an opportunity for the WWF to have guys in reserve, and ready to pull right into the starting ranks if they need to be.

Rose: Now of course you can’t wrestle or be a commentator forever. You have sons in the business also, Kevin (MCW Referee) and Brian (GrandMaster Sexay).Do you feel that they are going to be the next King once you decide to step down?

The King: I don’t even worry about it.It’s one of those things where they basically do their own thing.I didn’t want to influence their decision on being involved in wrestling.I didn’t want them to feel like they had to follow in my footsteps. To some people this may sound funny, but I was divorced from their mother when they were very young, and so they didn’t really live with me growing up. It’s almost where we are like business associates or friends more than a father/son relationship. It’s not one of those things where I even ever give Brian advice or anything like that. He’s another guy out their in the business.

Rose: I’m sure your happy with his success in the WWF.

The King: Yeah I guess.

Rose: What are some of your career highlights? What is your single greatest moment actually in your career? You’ve wrestled everywhere from AWA to WWF.I mean you have held many title’s all over the world. What would be the single greatest moment?

The King: I don’t know if there is a defining moment, but I would have to think the whole Andy Kaufman scenario is probably one of the best things that ever happened to my career.Who would have thought that here 15 years later they’re still making a movie. I made $150,000 to go play myself in a movie about Andy Kaufman.That’s something you can’t really deny was a great thing.I also think that that was one of the things that helped create sports entertainment as its evolved into today. It’s one of the first times that anybody from Hollywood came into wrestling and was involved in a storyline so to speak.We all know what has happened since that time. I think the Andy Kaufman scenario was probably the thing that comes to my mind first when I think about my career.

Rose: Now in two words how would you describe Jerry 'The King' Lawler?

The King: In two words?

Rose: I stumped Jerry 'The King' Lawler. Oh my God!

The King: I don’t want to sound like an egotist or anything like that, but I think the two words, as far as this business, would be, 'A Natural.' Its just for me things always seem to come so natural without having to put much effort into it. The wrestling itself, the commentary, it’s almost like an extension of myself.I just go out there and do it.I don’t even realize that it’s that great, but all throughout my whole career it I have been received very well.Whatever I’ve done.

Rose: Now your from the days of Jackie Fargo.Your from the days of Jerry Jarrett.Do you feel the business has changed for the good, or for the bad?

The King: Oh definitely for the good.Without a doubt.How can it be for bad if it’s bigger now than its ever been? It’s more popular. Everybody in the world knows you. I’m here at a celebrity golf tournament with world renowned athletes, and singers, and television stars. I’m like the biggest celebrity here.You can’t argue that wrestling is enjoying its highest point ever in history.

Rose: I want to close on this note. I hear your a big fan of the Kat...

The King: Big fan of the Kat? Yeah, the Kat and I have been together almost 11 years now. She is another person who can say that the king got her into the business, and I think she’s made a contribution already. I’m real proud of what she’s done. That’s another thing.I was looking at some new wrestling memorabilia. A new wrestling book that’s on the market. One of the statements in there was 'Jerry 'The King' Lawler is responsible for 30% of the talent that’s in wrestling today.' That’s one of the things I thought of, that I have had a big influence on starting their careers or being in the business. One way or the other they just about all came through Memphis at one time or another.

Rose: You helped out Jeff Jarrett, and he’s the WCW World Heavyweight
Champion (Editor’s Note: At the time of the interview, Jeff Jarrett was indeed the WCW World Heavyweight Champion)

The King: I mean just about everybody. It’s hard pressed other than the guys who just started the last couple years, that haven’t come through Memphis and had an influence by Jerry Lawler at some point in their career.The Kat is another one that certainly has. {Laughs}

Rose: Thank you Jerry.

The King: Ok thank you.

Special Thanks to Kyle Niblett for transcribing the interview.