WWE Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler has been suspended indefinitely by WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) after being arrested, according to Memphis NBC affiliate WMC. Police responded to a 911 hangup call from the couple’s East Memphis home. Lawler and his girlfriend, Lauryn McBride, were both arrested on charges of domestic violence and booked into the Shelby County Jail in Memphis, Tennessee. According to an arrest affidavit, the couple got into an argument, which turned violent. Both parties identified the other as the aggressor. Since the officers could not determine the primary aggressor, both were arrested.
Confrontation That Turned Violent
The girlfriend alleges that Lawler punched her in the head, pushed her against a stove, and placed an unloaded pistol on the kitchen counter and told her to “go ahead and kill herself”. Lawler maintains that he was confronting her about where she had been after she had come home drunk. Lawler claims that she lied about where she had been and that the confrontation turned violent when his girlfriend scratched him in the face, threw a candle at him, and kicked him in the groin. Lawler told investigators that his girlfriend was threatening to commit suicide and that he was trying to stop her from leaving in the car because she was drunk.
Lawler was suspended indefinitely by WWE, who has a zero tolerance policy regarding domestic violence. Lawler is primarily a color commentator, but also occasionally wrestles for the company. It is difficult to say at this point how this incident will affect his future there. Lawler is well-off financially and has left the company in protest before. Even if WWE allows Lawler back, any adverse consequences from the incident, such as a reduction of duties or a probationary period, may lead to his resignation. Adam Rose, another WWE superstar, faced similar charges in May of 2016. While his charges were ultimately dropped, the incident led to him requesting and obtaining his release from WWE. In today’s political climate and its sensitivity with domestic violence, particularly as it relates to sports, it is not impossible that Lawler will be summarily fired by WWE.
Lawler has been with WWE for over 20 years. Sports betting sites have rated him high in the industry. Before that time, he was a mainstay of the Memphis wrestling promotion, holding its primary title in excess of 100 times. Lawler entered the wrestling business by sending in drawings to the local Memphis television station that aired the local promotion’s matches. After his ring debut in 1970, he established himself as one of Memphis’ biggest stars going into the 1980s. He obtained the “king” moniker by defeating his trainer and mentor, Jackie Fargo. He is perhaps most well-known nationally for his feud with comedian Andy Kaufman.
The television star sent in videos insulting Lawler and the South. Kaufmann was hospitalized after a match with Lawler. The two later appeared on Late Night with David Letterman, where Lawler would violently slap Kaufmann out of his chair. It was promoted at the time as a legitimate feud, but was revealed in the 1990s to be a complete performance. Lawler joined WWE as a wrestler in 1992. After the departure of Bobby Heenan, Lawler became a color commentator. Lawler was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2007.
If this is the end of Lawler’s career, he will be remembered as someone who transitioned successfully as the wrestling business moved away from the old regional territory-based system of wrestling to an entertainment industry dominated by WWE. Lawler is well-known for his clean lifestyle. He claims to have never smoked or drank alcohol. So his arrest on domestic violence charges is seen by some as somewhat ironic.