Friday, March 30, 2012

On the Road to WrestleMania 28 Miami with Jerry Lawler (Article From The Miami Herald)

No lions, tigers or bears, but there are cobras, silverbacks and pythons, making Jerry Lawler The King of WWE’s jungle.

Lawler, the longtime color commentator of WWE Raw, has worn many crowns during his pro wrestling/sports entertainment career that spans five decades. From referee to promoter to wrestler to Andy Kaufman, he’s just about done it all and done it all well.

“Honestly, I’m not trying to blow my own horn, because I feel lucky moreso than anything,” Lawler said, “but [WWE CEO/Chairman] Vince McMahon once told me, ‘I think you’re the most all-around talented guy I’d ever met in this industry.’ Then he explained, ‘You’ve done everything and done everything well. You’ve owned a wrestling company. You started out as a referee. You’ve wrestled. You’ve booked. You’ve done payrolls. You’ve done commentary. You still wrestle.’

“It’s just one of those things. It’s like that baseball movie ‘The Natural.’ Wrestling and anything involved with it has always come natural to me. I never took things too seriously, and I always had a great time and fun doing it.”

Dubbed The King, a well deserved title, Lawler, 62, is still having fun, whether he’s discussing the past times or the present with WWE and WrestleMania.

• Why did WrestleMania continue to make it where events like the AWA SuperClash and the NWA Great American Bash ended?

Lawler: “Well, yea, the reason, and he would not like me to blow his horn, but the reason WrestleMania made it, and the others didn’t simply was because of Vince McMahon. There’s nobody that’s more dedicated, and nobody who loves the WWE more than Vince McMahon. WrestleMania is the ultimate thing to him, and every year it’s grown bigger and bigger. I swear. I’ve been probably involved in 17 or 18 WrestleManias, and every single year, when WrestleMania is over, I honestly say to myself, ‘Well, no way they’ll ever top this,’ and somehow every single year they do.

“Last year [WrestleMania 27 in Atlanta] was the first one I got to compete on, and they were saying it was the greatest one in history. You had Stone Cold Steve Austin involved. You had The Rock back, involved with John Cena. You had Triple H and The Undertaker. At the end of that one, I said, ‘I don’t know how they’re going to top this,’ but somehow it just keeps getting bigger and bigger and better and better.

“There’s no question — when you look at the bottom line — the driving force that makes WrestleMania what it is … is Vince McMahon.”

• WrestleMania 28 in Miami means what to The King?

Lawler: “Oh my gosh. When you’ve been with the company as long as I have, you know WrestleMania is going to be great. You know it’s going to be big no matter where it is. So then you’re looking for the extra icing on the cake is the location. Good grief. Miami, what more could you ask for. There aren’t many cities that you’re going to be able to do. WWE superstars, we’re there for the entire week. It’s WrestleMania Week for us. There are a lot of appearances, and there are a lot of promotions and fan access, but then we also have some free time connected in the evening.
“So when you look for a place to enjoy yourself, what better place is there than Miami? So everybody’s excited that it’s going to be there — so much excitement, so many fun things to do there in the city, and the weather should be great. Like I said, the location is always the icing on the cake for WrestleMania, and being in Miami may be the best ever.”

• Favorite WrestleMania moments for The King?

Lawler: “Without a doubt, walking out in front of 71,000 fans and hearing 71,000 people chant your name and knowing for that one brief moment, you’re the center of attention [last year at WrestleMania 27 in Atlanta]. When you’re coming down that aisle, your entrance going to the ring at WrestleMania, theirs is absolutely no way to describe that. It sent chills up and down my back, tears in my eyes, hair on the back of my neck standing up, everything you could think of. I’m still amazed that my legs just didn’t go weak, and I didn’t pass out or stumble down that aisle. That’s how awesome that moment is, and then to go in the ring and have Stone Cold Steve Austin the special guest referee for my match, you can’t ask for anything more.

“My favorite moments for actually calling the action, there have been so many. One match that I really enjoyed calling was The Rock against Hulk Hogan [WrestleMania 18 in 2002 in Toronto]. That was a match you thought you’d never see. I’d put that like a match between Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. It was just something you thought would never happen, and it was a great match. As far as I’m concerned, of the matches I’ve seen, it was probably Hulk Hogan’s best match ever, and The Rock was fabulous in it. So I thought that match was great.

“Also, I enjoyed the confrontations between my buddy Pete Rose [Major League Baseball’s Hit King] and Kane. How do you top seeing Pete Rose getting pile driven on the top of his head? What in the world. It’s classic. That was great.

“My other favorite was sitting next to Donald Trump and having him as a broadcast partner for some of the shows, leading up to the [hair vs. hair] match, and watching Donald Trump [via Bobby Lashley] be victorious [over Umaga] and seeing Vince McMahon get his head shaved.

“The WrestleMania DVD, ‘The History of WrestleMania,’ when you get that and look back, there are so many things that have happened at WrestleMania. It boggles the mind that you couldn’t remember them all. Then when you’re looking at them one-by-one, you say, ‘This is my favorite. No, no, this is my favorite. Oh no, this is better than that. So it’s hard to pick the best moment of WrestleMania.”

• WWE WrestleMania 28 is April 1 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.

Credit By Jim Varsallone

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