Last night, wrestling fans around the world were witness to one of the most surreal moments in the history of WWE when Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler suffered a heart attack live on Monday Night Raw. It was among the scariest moments I’ve experienced as a fan and one I hope never repeats itself for as long as I live. Last night’s edition of Raw emanated from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. Earlier in the evening Lawler had competed in a brief tag match with Randy Orton against the team of Dolph Ziggler and C.M. Punk.
After the match, he was back at ringside performing his usual announcing duties when he began to violently convulse before collapsing to the floor. Several live accounts from fans and reporters in attendance stated that Lawler appeared to have vomited, grabbed his chest and turned blue. Immediate medical attention was given to Lawler which no doubt saved his life.
His broadcast partner Michael Cole was visibly shaken for the remainder of the show. On three occasions, he provided the television audience with updates as to his medical progress. As Raw went off the air the last we heard was that Lawler had stabilized and was breathing on his own, yet still in serious condition. Out of respect for Lawler, there was no further announcing for the duration of the show, which made it one of the more notable episodes in Raw history.
More than any other event in recent memory, last night’s event was perhaps the closest approximation to the May 1999 death of Owen Hart. Owen fell to his death on a live WWE PPV show while being descended into the ring from the ceiling. On that evening, Lawler (who was announcing at ringside) was among the first people to rush in and administer aid to Owen. Many fans have noted the irony of Owen’s older brother Bret being in attendance last night (he was a heavy focal point of the entire show). The parallels in the commentary were also astounding. No fan will ever forget the moment when a somber Jim Ross looked into the camera to announce to the world that Owen had died. The fear among all watching was the Cole would announce those very same words about Lawler.
I’m not going to lie. I was absolutely terrified. In a business known for being fake, last night was a tragic reminder of how real things can get. On a personal note, Lawler is one of the last remaining links to an older era of WWE for many of my generation. The man has been with the WWE since 1992 and while others have come and gone, he’s been a cornerstone of the promotion for the better part of 20 years. In that sense he is just as vital to the promotion as mainstays like Undertaker and HHH. Lawler’s announcing is just as much of a staple in wrestling as ropes and turnbuckles. I think all of us were genuinely scared we were going to lose one of the greatest legends the sport has produced.
Lawler is expected to pull through. If anything, this may have been a signal that it’s time for him to hang up the boots for good. Though Lawler is 62 and has been primarily used as announcer during his tenure, he occasionally wrestles. He’s been embroiled in a feud with top WWE star C.M. Punk over the last several weeks and was involved in a hot feud against the Miz last year that resulted in a better than expected PPV match. He sparingly competes on small independent shows across the country.
Unlike most wrestlers his age, Lawler is in excellent physical shape and performs better than many guys who are 20 years younger. A large part of that could be attributed to the fact that in an industry notorious for its rock n roll lifestyle, Lawler never smoked, drank or used steroids. That distinction alone sets him apart from the vast majority of his peers.
In addition to the appearance of Bret, last night’s show was to originally feature a Pat Patterson appreciation night ceremony. The live audience was informed the ceremony would be postponed due to the circumstances.
Numerous news outlets including Fox Sports, ABC News and the Baltimore Sun covered the story and several of the biggest names in wrestling have expressed their support for Lawler.
I pray he makes a full and speedy recovery and in the words of Cole: “Jerry, beat this thing. Get ’em King.”
Update 9/12- Several current and former WWE personalities have taken to Twitter to offer their support for Lawler. The following tweets just go to show the level of respect he has in the industry:
“I’m shaken by the news of my friend Jerry Lawler’s medical emergency in Montreal. Hands shaking. Prayers for the King. I feel helpless.”
The Iron Sheik:
“God bless the Jerry Lawler I love him forever.”
“Stay Strong KING @JerryLawler my prayers are with you bro.”
“Best wishes and prayers to @JerryLawler one of my favorite people in the WWE. King has been a champion for 40 yrs and he’ll beat this too!”
“Thinking of Lawler. I’m sure he’d appreciate all of your well wishes. Stay strong, King.”
“My best wishes go out to Jerry Lawler and his family.”
“this is so sad, i cannot beleive Jerry Lawler had a heart attack during raw, pray for him…..”
“All my prayers & wishes go out my to my dear friend @JerryLawler & his loved ones tonight as he battles through this! Xoxo #PrayForLawler”
“man just heard about @JerryLawler.Hope your okay King.The wrestling world and beyond love you!”
The Blue Meanie:
“Waitin to hear about Jerry brings back bad memories of when we all waited & prayed for Owen to be ok. 1 of the worst nights for all involved”
“I’ve just heard about Jerry Lawler!! Time for prayer everybody!! We’re here for you King, God Bless!!”
“Going to bed I look fwd to tomorrow & hearing about how @JerryLawler pulled the strap down & blew an amazing comeback #PrayForLawler”
“Praying for Jerry Lawler tonight. He’s a true fighter and an awesome person.”
“Am so shocked to hear about Jerry Lawler having a heart attack on Raw. PLEASE everyone pray for him 2 have a speedy recovery.”
“Just got off the Raw Live Chat. Please continue 2 pray for Jerry Lawler. All of us are a family under circumstances like this #PrayForJerry”