By Goose Mahler, Associate Editor
Retire the King.
Nope, I’m not talking about Jimmy “The King” from Ready to Rumble. Not even talking about the king of X-Pac Heat dog food dump on King Corbin. I’m talking about Jerry “The King” Lawler.
Please don’t get me wrong here; I’m a big fan of all that Lawler has brought to the wrestling industry. From his mainstream media attention with Andy Kaufman to his great calls with Jim Ross in the WWE. Lately he doesn’t seem to be the same or sound the same at the announce table.
One thing all wrestling fans will tell you is just how important the announcers are to the wrestlers. A great call can make or break the talent in the ring. Case in point.
“Good God almighty! Good God almighty! That killed him! As God as my witness he is broken in half!” Jim Ross King of the Ring 1998, Undertaker vs Mankind
If you aren’t putting over the superstars or making them seem larger than life or evil as it gets, then as an announcer you just aren’t doing your job. You are failing the talent and company on many levels. Especially when the Internet takes notice it becomes a big ole negative for the WWE.
When the wrestling fans on social media are complaining, and their main focal point is how bad the announcing is, especially Lawler, and not what is happening in the ring you might have a problem. That gives the impression the product is suffering. Judging the WWE product right now it is not lighting it up according to their stock prices and weekly ratings.
It’s not all Lawler’s fault most of the time because it a bad secret that everyone knows Vince is feeding the announcers lines. Even though the King claims, Vince has never yelled at him, when you are trying to promote three brands as being separate and not under one roof and the announcers bury the talent it’s noticeable.
Case in point, Rhea Ripley, the NXT women’s champion, music hits on Raw and Lawler says, “Who is this?”
How in the hell does a man that was there announcing during the Survivor Series weekend NOT know who the hell Rhea Ripley is? How does he not know by her entrance music who she is?
Ripley has arguably been the hottest female on the roster since Survivor Series weekend and one of your A show announcer’s punks her out by a comment? To me that makes the product suffer because it almost tells you there is no investment in NXT even though the WWE is trying to make is an equal brand.
His voice is subtle, but the fact is, the Internet fans noticed it and started calling for the removal of Lawler from the booth. The bigger problem is since he returned to Raw, this isn’t the first time the fans have blasted him with comments either.
Lawler is adding nothing to show. At times you don’t know if he is a face, a heel, a tweener, is trying to be funny or real. These are not traits wrestling fans want to hear from the announcer or should be worried about because the investment should be the in-ring action and talent and not the guys calling the action. They should be drawing us into the emotion of a feud or match.
The WWE can’t even say they haven’t noticed issues because changes were made. Dio Madden was eliminated by Lesnar and is back in NXT training to be a wrestler. Vic Joseph’s immediate removal at the Royal Rumble is an admission of the three-man team not gelling. Samoa Joe was good, but the WWE needs him in the ring and not behind the mic.
The additions of Tom Phillips and Bryon Saxton have at least drowned out Lawler the past couple of weeks, and that was a refreshing. It didn’t stop the Internet hating on Lawler and his ability to belittle the talent and not showcase it. If you listen to the two shows since Joseph’s departure, Lawler tries like hell to talk over Saxton and Phillips, and that again is just another distraction over what is happening in the ring.
The King has always been a character that’s a little ‘over the top’. During the Attitude Era, where calling out puppies or having feuds with Bret Hart and ECW established Lawler as a horn dog or heel? Now, it’s not quite as obvious. It almost seems like Lawler is going into business for himself. I know that’s not what he is trying to do, but it sure as hell can come off that way to a casual fan.
His calls (at times) are just all over the place. One minute he is praising Rollins and his new Disciples, the next he is putting over a face. A couple minutes later he calls a wrestling a “Justin Bieber wannabe” and says he is cute. Cute? Seriously King?
Comments like this go right back to blurring the lines of a heel and face. A lot of fans are just down right confused with the Lawler’s antics. That’s not what the USA network or the WWE needs to try and lure the shrinking number of fans back into the fold. They need a heel announcer to strength the heel and faces.
Phillips and Saxton proved on Smackdown that they have chemistry. What they need is another Graves to poke the face bears a little. Someone that offsets their good. Right now that person is not the King.
The WWE needs a team of announcers putting over the Raw roster like Rollins, McIntyre, KO, The Man, Charlotte, and company for their abilities in the ring and to building feuds heading to WrestleMania. They do not need the Twitter Universe Trending with #FireLawler.
Lawler is a Hall of Famer, both in and out of the ring. His contributions to wrestling are amazing. But, when it comes to his latest stint as a commentator, it just makes me wish the WWE would retire the King so we can remember all the good he did… not all the harm he’s doing to the current crop of performers.
Until next week, Long live Retirement!