If you only know Jerry “The King” Lawler as the funny, irreverent colour commentator on WWE Television you might wonder whether or not he deserves the full WWE bio treatment. Those of us who know of his long, varied career will more likely be wondering what took the WWE so long to bring us this long overdue look at the King’s career.

    The main feature is an 80 minute documentary.  If you are wondering whether or not 80 minutes is long enough to do justice to Lawler’s career the answer is probably not. Lawler had so many feuds in Memphis Wrestling, you could not possibly begin to even scratch the surface of what made him such a superstar if you had four hours to play with.  Still what we do get in an interesting and entertaining look at his life and career. 


    His early years growing up in Memphis and then Ohio are covered, with the facts of his relatively poor upbringing laid bare. Although his father was gainfully employed, life was far from easy for the Lawler’s.   It was Lawler’s talent for drawing that not only got him a paid scholarship at the University of Memphis, but was also what led to his introduction into the world of wrestling.  Sending legendary Memphis commentator Lance Russell caricatures of the wrestlers proved to be his big break as Russell showed them on air and invited Lawler to continue to contribute, with Lawler eventually getting his drawing’s printed in the weekly programs. A stint at a local radio station led to his first ever match, as Lawler could use the promise of promoting the shows on his broadcasts to secure a booking. 

    Lawler never looked back.


    His appreciation of Memphis legend Jackie Fargo is the main focus of his early days, with the tale of the passing of the torch that led Lawler to becoming the “King” of wrestling revisited.  There’s also more poignant moments as Lawler retells just how he got hold of his first cape and crown. Lawler breaks down the punishing travel on the Tennessee circuit, a fact attested to by his son Brian (who wrestled in the WWE as Brian Christopher) who says that he only saw his father on birthday’s, Christmas and Thanksgiving. The only real in-depth look at his Memphis career comes with a section on the infamous Andy Kaufman feud, complete with an admission from Vince McMahon that the WWF had turned down an approach from Kauffman and were then subsequently very jealous at the mainstream publicity that the feud generated.  Lawler says that they had to run the same venues every week on the Memphis circuit and that to keep attendances as high as they did week after week was quite the achievement. 


    From there we get to Jerry’s introduction to the WWE (thanks to a recommendation by Jerry Jarrett) and a look at his long announcing career with the company.  We are taken through Lawler’s attempt to become Mayor of Memphis before the controversial circumstances surrounding his 2001 departure from the WWE are tackled.  Only part of the full tale is really told, that the WWE fired Lawler’s then wife Stacey “The Kat” Carter forcing Lawler to walk with her, but Lawler, JR, McMahon and Carter herself all give some context to the story.

    From there, Lawler returns to the WWE, gets his Hall of Fame spot and also get his first WWE Title shot (in a memorable storyline with The Miz) and his one and only WrestleMania match against Michael Cole. We also get an eerie look at his heart attack, where he collapsed at ringside during a live Raw broadcast complete with disturbing backstage footage.  Things end on a happier note with his full recovery and return to TV (ignoring the terrible CM Punk angle that ruined the feel-good comeback angle).


    The extras include a plethora of matches and interviews.  We start with the infamous “Empty Arena Match” against Terry Funk from 1981 which should be seen at least once by every wrestling fan (if only to show that the Superbowl Half-Time Heat match between Mankind & The Rock was nothing new).   It seems clipped, but it’s certainly worth watching. Other Memphis matches against Andy Kauffman and Bill Dundee are followed by a look at his AWA career with matches against Eddie Gilbert, Curt Hennig and Kerry Von Erich before we get to his WWE years.  Interview segments with the likes of Giant Gonzales, Tiny Tim and William Shatner are mixed with matches against the likes of Roddy Piper, Bret Hart and The Undertaker. His angles with ECW are covered, including an incendiary match with Tommy Dreamer from Hardcore Heaven 1997 before more modern battles with The Miz and Michael Cole are highlighted as well as his Hall of Fame induction.

    The BluRay includes lots more extras and is well worth the “upgrade”.  A number of out-takes from the main documentary are interesting, including a tale about how he almost had a “match” with Elvis Presley, as well as more matches.  A match/angle with Ric Flair is a perfect look at the way the NWA territories worked, there’s another bout with Andy Kauffman and also a match from OVW in 2002 pitting Lawler and Nova against Sean O’Haire and The Prototype (who you might now know better as John Cena).


    As most of Lawler’s greatest successes IN the ring were in the Memphis territory (and there are licensing issues with a lot of that footage, as in the WWE don’t own it) this was never likely to be the in-depth look at Lawler’s entire career that some would have hoped for.  Still, within the limitations this is an entertaining look at just how big a “territorial” star Lawler was before he hit the WWE and what enabled him to get over in the “big time” to the extent that he is still on our screens two decades or more later.


    Thank you to our partners, WWEDVD.co.uk and Fetch.fm for providing our review copy of It’s Good to be The King – The Jerry Lawler Story. It’s Good to be The King – The Jerry Lawler Story is available on DVD & Blu-Ray from Monday, May 25th 2015. You can pre-order your copy from WWEDVD.co.uk now by clicking here.

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