I write this with the hopes that this doesn’t become a tribute article.
Tonight in Montreal, Quebec, Jerry “The King” Lawler collapsed at ringside during the live broadcast of WWE’s Monday Night Raw. This wasn’t part of a storyline as it normally would be as Lawler was taken to the back and given CPR. He is now at a local hospital where he is breathing on his own as of right now. Michael Cole has addressed the viewers at home and WWE has elected to stop commentary for the night.
King was in a tag team match with Randy Orton, CM Punk, and Dolph Ziggler earlier in the night. Unlike his brutal steel cage match with Punk a few weeks ago, tonight was a relatively easy contest for him, with Orton doing the heavy lifting. However, King still tours the independent circuit when he can despite his WWE obligations. At 62 years old, he takes a risk every time he steps in the ring but one would think his years of experience along with some conditioning would serve him well even in today’s wrestling matches.
Tonight, King proved the one thing that WWE or any wrestling organization/wrestler wants to admit: that they’re human. Wrestlers work ridiculous schedules with very few days off, even for announcers. Lawler is expected to call at least 5 shows a month in different cities around the world all year long; you can only imagine the added strain when WWE asks him to step into the ring.
Michael Cole just came on and said that King is responding to light and is awaiting a CAT scan. These are positive signs and I’m hoping King will pull through this ordeal. Again, I’m praying this doesn’t turn into a memorial article.
But this brings me to my next point: I take a ridiculous amount of shit for watching wrestling. Thomas touched upon this in one of his articles but it’s time for me to really defend my love of professional wrestling.
I know that wrestling is “fake” by most people’s standards. But the thing a lot of people don’t realize is that professional wrestling is an art form to me. Every match has a reasoning, every move is calculated, and at the end of the night the fans go home happy. The wrestlers put their bodies on the line, limp to their mode of transportation after every show, and then do it again the next day or a few days later, EVERY SINGLE WEEK. Just because that punch didn’t connect doesn’t mean that a superplex off the top ropes didn’t forever ruin a spine or a vital leg muscle that won’t work years from now.
These fakes put on a show for television every week. There are no seasons. No year breaks in between storylines (I’m looking at you Breaking Bad). We invite WWE and TNA and ROH into our homes for entertainment. And despite us bitching about storylines not going how we want, and TV-PG versus TV-14, and how shitty Brock Lesnar is, professional wrestling is there. No matter what.
In fact, I’m bitching about how this feud between John Cena and CM Punk going into Night Of Champions hasn’t mattered until the promo they’re in the ring cutting live right now. But it doesn’t matter what I think, it’s all apart of the show WWE is putting on for my entertainment.
Wrestling isn’t for everyone, I know that. But I love the feuds. I love the silly segments. I love watching CM Punk wrestle and/or talk on the microphone. I love watching a good 10 minute match with no title implications. I love hearing Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler on Raw every week no matter what foul shit may come across my Twitter feed. Going to WrestleMania XXVIII this year was a lifelong dream come true for me and it’s something I’ll never forget. Because I love professional wrestling.
When I realized what happened to King tonight, I panicked. My heart was beating out of my chest like one of my own family members had collapsed. But when you welcome someone into your life, even when you don’t actually know the person, you become attached. As the news spread of Jerry’s collapse, #PrayForLawler became a trending topic on Twitter. I obviously wasn’t the only one who felt this way.
@bhyphen I just tuned in because of your tweets, prayers up for The King.
— Jason Kenney (@jasonkenney) September 11, 2012
A lot of people gave up on WWE and professional wrestling years ago either during or after the Monday Night Wars. I did as well but I always took the time to check in to see what was happening.1 Ironically enough, it was Donald Trump’s 2007 feud with Mr. McMahon that brought me back. It was The Undertaker’s phenomenal performance in the Royal Rumble that same year. It was CM Punk cashing in his Money In The Bank contract on Edge on Raw in 2008. It was meeting Thomas as our mutual fandom of the past led to us watching again. It was buying the Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber, and WrestleMania PPVs two years in row.2 It was the announcement that The Rock would be returning to the ring to face John Cena in Miami.
I like to think that I was holding out for a better contract.
I’m not that guy to make people fans of professional wrestling. You either get it or you don’t. Anthony claims to this day he doesn’t understand wrestling, despite being exposed to it for at least 3 years at this point. People will still snicker and call it a male soap opera3. People will say it’s all fake and pre-planned and ask what the point is of it all.
I feel the same way about boxing and MMA though. I lose interest in those fights but I can watch a 25 minute pro wrestling match. While I appreciate the art of boxing and MMA, it will never compare to what happens in the wrestling ring for me.
And that’s okay.
After Night Of Champions this Sunday, Thomas and I will record another Slobberknocker and bitch about the results and the writing. I’ll tweet smart ass comments during next week’s Raw. I’m sure The Buzz-Saw and I will clash about everything next time we get together to talk wrestling.
But tonight, I’m scared I’m going to lose a member of my family. I’ve known King for at least 14 years now. I’m not ready to see him go.
Wrestling is a huge part of my 29 year old make-up. And as of now, reports are saying that Jerry Lawler has stabilized. Again, I’m hoping this article doesn’t turn into a tribute. I just want to see King ringside next to Cole again, healthy. And I don’t want to see him in a ring for a very long time. His beatdown by Punk may be his swan song unfortunately.
I’m a professional wrestling fan and I’m not afraid to let anyone know. And tonight, as I watched my Twitter feed and my phone blow up as news about Lawler spread, it reminded me of something I learned in Miami:
Professional wrestling has one of the most passionate and loyal fanbases that I’ve ever seen. And I’m honored to be apart of it. The way everyone rallied around Jerry getting better helped me feel a little better, as I didn’t feel like I was facing this crisis alone. And that’s all one can ask for in troubling times.
“Beat this thing.” Michael Cole couldn’t have chosen better words. And knowing The King, I believe he will.
So I end on this note: I’ll see you back at the announce table soon Jerry. Take care of yourself. And your family misses you.
And even scarier thought for me: I’m gonna be a wreck when Hulk Hogan dies.