COMMENTARY | In the history of pro wrestling, there have been countless moments when scripted action became tragic reality. Sid Vicious broke his leg during a match. Droz was paralyzed on a botched powerbomb. And some wrestlers like Owen Hart paid the ultimate price and died in the ring. For a brief moment on the September 10, 2012 edition of WWE Raw, it looked like another wrestling tragedy was unfolding.
62-year-old WWE Hall of Famer Jerry 'The King' Lawler had just competed in a rare match and returned to his usual position next to Michael Cole at the WWE announce table. I was watching live and having seen virtually every episode of WWE Raw for 20 years, I immediately sensed that something was wrong. I tweeted, "What just happened on Raw? I think something happened to Lawler. He stopped talking and isn't at the table."
What happened was that Jerry Lawler suffered a massive heart attack and was actually clinically dead for several minutes. The fact that WWE doctors resuscitated Lawler and that he did not suffer brain damage is a true miracle. I still remember Michael Cole imploring WWE fans that Lawler's heart attack was not part of Raw's entertainment. After Eric Bischoff once infamously had Ric Flair fake a heart attack in the ring, you never know.
Over the years, countless pro wrestlers have failed to heed these wake up calls and foolishly returned to the ring after similar brushes with death. In most cases though, these wrestlers were not independently wealthy and without the qualifications to work other jobs, they had little choice if they wanted food on the table. But Jerry Lawler has a nice, well-paid job calling the action every week on WWE Raw and once a month at WWE pay-per-views.
That's why I was stunned when I heard the news that Lawler's doctors cleared him to return to the ring and that he intends to wrestle again. I fully understand that I have never wrestled in front of tens of thousands of people and I have never experienced what this adrenaline rush must feel like. But sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, even for a ring veteran like Lawler.
On May 25, Jerry Lawler, who is now 63, will team up with 72-year-old Dory Funk Jr. in a tag team match for the !Bang! wrestling promotion. Funk routinely wrestlers with the men he's training at his local school and promotion, so this is not as crazy as it sounds. And Funk is not coming off a heart attack and near death experience. I sincerely hope Funk does all the work in this match and Lawler simply gets tagged in to drop an elbow and get the pin.
As a wrestling fan for well over 30 years, I've basically seen it all in this business. Unfortunately, I've also seen a lot of things I wish I hadn't. In this case, I hope and pray that Jerry Lawler knows what he's doing and that he will be calling the action in the WWE for many years to come.
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of pro wrestling. Patrick's favorite wrestling promotion was Mid-South Wrestling back in the 1980s. Patrick's favorite wrestling angle of all-time was the NWO and his favorite wrestler is Roddy Piper. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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