Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow & Brian Damage
The WWE roster is filled with “superstars” at every level. There are the main roster guys who regularly appear on Raw and SmackDown, those who are used as glorified jobbers and those who are barely used at all. In this series of pieces, we will take an individual wrestler barely or poorly used and decide if they are worth keeping or should they be let go. Today we Book or Cook Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler.
Craig: The King has been with the WWE for around 13 years and that came after a legendary career that saw him become an icon in wrestling circles, particularly in his area of Memphis.
During the Attitude Era he and Jim Ross voiced some of the most iconic moments from that period and Lawler’s fondness for the female form added some comedic moments to wrestling at that time.
However, recent years have seen him fade from prominence and relegated from PPVs and Raw to announcing on Smackdown. Should Lawler have a more prominent role? Is he wasted only announcing on Smackdown? Or does he have something else to offer, perhaps a return of ‘King’s Court’?
It’s all up for discussion in the latest ‘Book or Cook‘.
Jamie: Question, has anyone missed him on Raw or PPVs? Honestly, I haven’t. Could he be re-introduced with a new talk show segment or just generally have new life breathed into him? Quite possibly. However, what would you rather see; Jerry Lawler being given a larger role or someone like Corey Graves introduced to the announce desk? Booker T is also hanging around, who I actually quite like on commentary. On the play-by-play side of things Todd Philips in NXT is pretty good, and Renee Young seems to have been forgotten as an announcer.
I get that King is a legend and brings that credibility to the table, but it’s been over 30 years since he was in his prime as a performer. In my opinion the best analyst/colour commentator guys in other sports are those that have not long retired. There’s a freshness and relevance to their input because they can more easily relate. At 66 Lawler is the age of most WWE fans’ grandparents. It’s hard not to sound ageist, but in 2016 guys like Byron Saxton are better announcers than Jerry Lawler.
Brian: I think the WWE in some ways feels the same way Jamie does. They give him his gig on Smackdown and the pay per view pre shows but it is obvious the company wants to start and phase Lawler out. I will admit, as a fan of Jerry Lawler as both a wrestler and as a color commentator…I also believe his shtick was getting very stale.
He was perfect as the horny middle aged man during the attitude era and he gelled perfectly with the straight laced Jim Ross. Ever since JR left the company…Lawler really hasn’t found the same chemistry with Michael Cole or even Mauro Renallo.
Does the King still have anything left in the tank as a commentator? I don’t know…I guess turning him heel is a start. Maybe put him on the Network with his own interview show or reality based show?
Craig: No, I’ve not missed Lawler on commentary at all. I think, as indicated, his act got stale quite quickly. He’s basically now at the stage that if next year’s WrestleMania has, say, a gimmick battle royal ala WrestleMania 17 then it’s probably going to be Lawler on commentary for it…
If the WWE were to start producing a series of shows on the old territory days for the Network then someone like Lawler would be perfect as a host. I wouldn’t be adverse to a ‘King’s Court’ type segment on Raw or Smackdown either. I think, as a skilled speaker, he has a role but as a full-time or more prominent announcer? It’s a no from me.
Brian: Yeah, I have to agree if we are talking about wrestling or commentating. As an in ring performer, he is too much of a risk considering he suffered a heart attack on a live Monday Night Raw. So wrestling once in a while is out. As a color commentator, it is hard to take him seriously anymore as a heel announcer because of his one liners and past history as a comedic foil to JR.
With all that said, I would never cook Lawler completely because of all his years of service. Like Craig said, maybe a job on the network as a host or as some sort of panelist. Maybe an occasional guest instructor down at NXT. He has a treasure trove of knowledge and ring psychology that should be tapped for the youngsters coming up. Other than that, I think you should cook him from wrestling and commentating.
Jamie: It’s a full house. I would never cook Lawler in the sense of firing him – which we were more than happy to do with other Book or Cook candidates. He’s Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler for goodness sake, that’s a guy you want in your company in some capacity. That said, in terms of wrestling and commentating then his time is up. Brian’s suggestion about him hosting Network shows is a superb idea though. He can no longer be JR’s comedic partner, but he is tailor made for shows looking back at wrestling’s past. I’d watch that in a heartbeat, and King would be a credible and knowledgeable host.
No idea if that counts as a book or a cook though. Let’s say I’d parboil him!
Bit of consensus here. We wouldn’t wouldn’t get rid of Lawler but we do think there’s a better way for the WWE to use him, whether it is an instructor at NXT, working on future WWE Network projects or even with a return of the ‘Kings Court’ talk show segment.
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
You can read all previous ‘Book or Cook?’ pieces here.