Jerry “The King” Lawler was the king of Memphis long before he was barking about puppies on WWE RAW. Lawler gave one of his more extensive interviews on the old territory offering a glimpse into what was arguably the greatest wrestling territory of all-time.
Lawler is out doing media for “It’s Good to be the King: The Jerry Lawler story,” and gave a real fun interview to CraveOnline.com. Lawler took a brief trip down memory lane and talked about a variety of subjects, most notably Memphis wrestling. Here are some of the highlights.
Lawler was asked about the craziest angle and somehow or another wound up using that question to take a little swipe at ECW.
[adinserter block=”1″]“That was one of the reasons, why in the early 90s when ECW came along and sort of invaded the WWE, and I made the comment that ECW stood for Extremely Crappy Wrestling.
To me, it was like these guys just came along and watched all of our old Memphis tapes and went out and did what we did and then called it extreme. We were doing extreme wrestling matches in the Memphis territory before most of these guys were even born — things like the Terry Funk empty arena match or the concession stand battle in Tupelo, Mississippi.
I got ran over in the parking lot by Eddie Gilbert, but back in that day, you were under the pressure of having to put on a live event and not only a live television show every Saturday morning but had to follow it up with a live event every single Monday night in Memphis so there was a lot of pressure to try and come up with something bigger and better every single week.
What we’ve experienced in the WWE, you put on a live television show every Monday night and then doing SmackDown every Thursday night and believe me, a ton of pressure but then you’re looking at a blow-off of a once a month PPV. Down there (Memphis) we had to try and come up with something bigger and better than we did last week and so that’s how all of these wild and crazy matches and stipulations and things happened.”
I wonder as I read this interview if the article is leaving something out by mistake because the ECW statement made very little sense in relation to the question. Regardless, I don’t think anyone would deny the Memphis influence in ECW. Especially when its two bookers were Eddie Gilbert and later Paul Heyman.
But what about the craziest angle King?
“As far as one of the craziest, I think back in those days the ultimate humiliation you could do to your opponent was shave his head and have the stipulation of hair vs. hair. Bill Dundee and I wrestled each other probably 500 times over the years but we had this big rivalry that started out over the championship. I won the championship and then the next week he would win it back from me and the next week I’d do something to win it back from him. So it went beyond the championship to where it got real personal.
He had won the championship, so in order to get another shot I had to put my car at stake — my Cadillac. If I didn’t win it back he was going to get my car. I remember one week after he had won that match, he shows up at the TV studio and drives my Cadillac right into the TV studio so I come out with a baseball bat and bust the windshield of my own car so I said “If I can’t drive it, I’m going to make sure this punk can’t drive it either.”
The following week I won my car back and had to go get my windshield fixed. So finally, we had built this rivalry up to where the blow-off was hair vs. hair.
So we have the big match, I somehow by hook or by crook win, Bill Dundee sits down in the middle of the ring and shaves his head, we have a sellout crowd, turn away people, 12,500 in the Mid-South Coliseum and after that we’re thinking “Man, that’s it. We’ve done it all. What can we do to follow this?” So what do you think we came up with? Bill Dundee’s wife comes out on TV and says “I’m so confident my husband can beat Jerry Lawler, if Jerry Lawler will put his hair at stake, I’ll put my hair at stake in this match.” It was my hair against Bill Dundee’s wife’s hair and we shaved her head [laughs].
We’ve done some crazy things down in Memphis. Of course after that, they’re no longer married anymore and Bill cites that as one of the primary reasons.”
The angle with Dundee putting up his wife’s hair still remains legendary. The brief reference to the feud and match on the DVD are just the tip of the iceberg when you talk about the legendary rivalry between these two.
Lawler was then asked about his legendary rivalry with Randy Savage.
”… One of my favorite memories of that is when Randy Savage knew that we were wrestling in Memphis and I would leave my home in Nashville like at noon and drive down to Memphis for the matches that night. One Monday, Randy Savage brought a camera crew down to my house in Nashville and he gets out of his car and they’re filming him and he says, “This is Jerry Lawler’s house. Lawler come out here” and he’s banging on my door and he says, “Look at this. This coward Lawler is afraid to come out and face me.” He’s cutting this big promo knowing that I’m not home, of course. Then they went back and showed it on their television show and made it look like he came down to my house and I was afraid to come out. Then he and Bill Dundee actually crossed paths at a truck stop and they came to blows and got in a fight.
[adinserter block=”2″]They had to be pulled apart or something there so it was a pretty heated rivalry but finally, because of financial reasons, Randy’s dad came to us and said “Look we can’t continue on so is there a possibility of us working together and having some matches together in co-promotions?” and that wound to me and Randy Savage having a match at Rupp Arena. We sold out Rupp Arena, 23,000 people which, at the time was unheard of, in a Loser Leaves Town match. Right after that was when Randy started in the WWE.”
I would encourage anyone that hasn’t seen a Lawler-Savage match or promo to search around YouTube. There are a ton of great clips and as good as the matches are, the promos are even better. The hint of realism that played into this feud really helped push it over the top.
Check out the entire interview with more Memphis stories on CraveOnline.com.