Long live Jerry "The King" Lawler.
On May 25, the 63-year-old wrestling icon and WWE commentator will wrestle in his first match since suffering a near-fatal heart attack last September.
Lawler will team up with 72-year-old WWE Hall of Famer Dory Funk Jr. in a tag team match for the !Bang! wrestling promotion.
(Yes, Dory Funk Jr. is 72 and still wrestling.)
It's been quite the recovery for Lawler, who collapsed on-air during a live broadcast of WWE Raw in Montreal shortly after wrestling a tag team match with Randy Orton. Fortunately for Lawler, Dr. Michael J. Sampson, the WWE ringside doctor, was sitting feet away from the announcers table and sprung into action, using CPR which ultimately saved his life. Two months after that scary incident, Lawler was back at a WWE announcers table as his heart attack was mocked and re-enacted as part of a storyline segment with wrestler CM Punk.
Getting back in the ring has been on Lawler's mind since his heart attack. The man even cut back on eating fried chicken five (!!!) times a week in order to get cleared by his doctors. Lawler told WMC-TV in February that his ultimate goal was to eventually wrestle once again:
"The one thing I've not done since the heart attack is get back into the ring and wrestle," he explained. "And, Lauryn says that I've been, the one thing that's different about me since the heart attack, she says, 'You're depressed. You're going through depression.' Which I don't feel it. I don't think it. But, yeah, I certainly do miss the wrestling and I do want to go back and do it some more."
Lawler managed to get a practice body slam in last month during the Memphis Grizzlies-Los Angeles Clippers playoff series, tossing a fan wearing a Clips jersey to the floor during a timeout.
But delivering a body slam for a crowd is a far cry compared to wrestling in the ring again, a discussion I thought we would never have after I heard what I thought was Lawler's last breaths on national TV.
Wrestlers are wired differently than other athletes. It's the reason why you see someone like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson put his successful Hollywood acting career on hold to wrestler (and eventually be injured) in the main event of WrestleMania 29. It's the reason why Funk is still competing at the ripe old age of 72. And it's the reason why Lawler still has the itch to compete despite nearly losing his life doing the one thing he loves more than anything else in this world.
Wrestling an independent show is one thing, but could we ever see Lawler step inside a WWE ring again? Even WWE owner Vince McMahon wouldn't roll the dice again on having Lawler compete for his company, right?
We are talking about the same company that just three years ago featured a then 87-year-old Mae Young in a Falls Count Anywhere handicap match. If Lawler's match later this month goes well, it would be only a matter of time before he gets one last match on WWE Raw to close the chapter on his Hall of Fame career.
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