JERRY LAWLER TALKS
Shawn Stidham reporting
Jerry Lawler was a guest of "The Wrestling Guys" this past Wednesday. "The Wrestling Guys" is hosted by Shawn Stidham and Willie F and can be heard every Wednesday at 6pm in the Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio area on 910 WPFB-AM. For more information about the show, e-mail TheWrestlingGuys@aol.com.
Jerry is asked if he felt that a return to the WWF was never a question of if but when:
"To be honest with you it was a bit of a roller coaster ride and there were times I thought I would be back and then were other times I thought I would never be back there. I think where I felt really good about the situation was when (the WWF) did Smackdown in Memphis a while ago. They had been in Nashville for RAW the night before and when they all arrived (in Memphis) I got a call from JR at about 1 in the morning and he more or less invited me to the Pyramid in Memphis to see everybody and just hang out. He said everybody misses you and it made me feel really good. I had been thinking about going and people had asked if I was going but unless you are asked...a million times you see guys backstage who are just hanging around and you look at them and say to yourself that's kind of sad these guys are back here just hoping to get noticed or begging for a job so to speak. I didn't want to be perceived as that. I was not going to go until JR called me and asked me to come by and that was a good feeling. And once I was there I got to see everybody and it was like old home week. It was like I never left seeing all my old friends and finally I went into Vince's office and I was basically made to feel really welcome. He gave me a big hug and Vince said 'King, this is your home and whenever you get your personal problems straightened out we would love to have you back.' So at that point I felt really good about the situation but I still didn't know how long the divorce would take and I was in a situation and quite frankly I'm still in a situation where this divorce could drag on for a year or maybe longer than that. The surprising thing was last week I got a call that they wanted to do business and they weren't worried about (the divorce)."
Did his return feel as if it was just an extended vacation:
"After maybe the third segment (on RAW) we were in a commercial break and I looked over at JR and I said 'You know, it feels like we were just doing this last Monday night.' It was almost like I had never been anywhere. We didn't miss a beat. It was just so easy to get back in the saddle. Even backstage it was like I had never been gone."
On what his role in the WWF will be now:
"I don't want to speak out of school and I don't think I am but it was never a big secret as to what they wanted me to do. When I spoke to (the WWF) about coming back they were intending to have me do just RAW and reunite JR and I and more or less get that special chemistry going there and make RAW a special show and special combination. So the plan was to do just RAW and the PPVs. I guess though since RAW was so well received, Vince decided at the Smackdown tapings to have me go ahead and do Smackdown because he said my return felt like a breath of fresh air and he wanted to get that feeling going on all of the television programs for a few weeks at least. So the plan now is to do Smackdown for the next few weeks. I don't believe it's going to be permanent thing."
Jerry asks if he felt a sense of personal pride with the ratings being up this week:
"I can't take and don't want to take credit for that. I do feel good the ratings were up I would have felt horrible had they went down. But it was a great show. I can't remember any show that was that much fun. Even the last time I there. It was a well written show. Some people may not agree but the segment with Vince and William Regal may have been one of the funniest things I saw on any RAW show ever. I personally enjoy that. It was great TV as far as I'm concerned. It was a real edgy segment that could have come off as offensive but I think the way JR and I handled it made it fun. I thought the guys stepped it up a notch and it was just a great show."
On the differences between Paul Heyman and himself:
I'm not saying anything negative about Paul Heyman. He did a good job the entire time and he did was expected of him. But I think the chemistry was different because Paul is Paul and his character is one way. It's a strong heel, combative character. And that was the same way I was when I first started doing the broadcast. That was the old school way that I had always thought a heel commentator should be. It took over a period of nine years for me to evolve into the more fun, entertaining type role. Jim Ross is the best at telling the story and selling the story to the audience. Like telling all of the little details in the story and he does it throughout the entire show. What happened with JR and Paul is you had JR selling the product during the show and Paul doing the same thing but in a different way. When I go out there to do the show, I don't even know 90% of the time what the storyline is. I don't have to know what it is. JR can do all the selling that needs to be done because again he is the best at it. I'm just there to react to what I see and say what comes into my mind and have fun with it and try to be entertaining. JR is the informative guy and I'm the entertainment guy.
I heard from so many people that said (RAW) was just not fun to watch anymore. I think another thing that contributed to it is that after September 11 this entire country has witnessed so much sad and tragic television and negative TV that has been so down. People are looking for something lighthearted and entertaining and something that can put a smile on their face. I wish I could show you some of the e-mails I've gotten from people saying how RAW being fun again affected their lives. It's amazing it can be that powerful and have that kind of impact of people. But it does. Now people know they can watch the show and say to themselves 'Man, here's a couple of hours that I have some fun. I've worked hard all day and watched the war on TV and know I can have a little smile and laugh and see some puppies!'. To me that sells the product more than everything being a life or death situation. We started calling this sports entertainment a while back and it's not the real deal we tried to convince everybody it was. You can't put that genie back in the bottle so let's wink at the fans and have fun with it."
Jerry is asked about if he had any hesitation on finally letting the cat out of the bag in regards to his feud with Andy Kaufman in "Man On The Moon":
"Absolutely there was. But I wasn't the one that did it. Bob Zmuda, basically trying to make a buck or two for himself, let the cat out of the bag with his book and then he was the executive producer or head consultant on the movie. At that point I was going to have to do the movie and in that movie do the part showing that Andy and I really were friends. I wasn't crazy about exposing it because Andy was so great about keeping that a secret. That more than anything I think was his pride and joy. He loved that angle and he loved wrestling. That was his strong point because he wouldn't let anybody in on any of his tricks or scams or schemes and that's what made him so believable. For us to go on Letterman and not let Dave in on what we were going to do was a big deal. Andy risked a lot doing that but he did it because he cared about the wrestling. I also wasn't comfortable with exposing it because I don't think for a movie or anything would Andy have come out and said we were friends or it wasn't real because he was so proud of the reaction it received."
Jerry leaves and mentions fans can keep up with him also on his website, www.kinglawler.com.