IT’S no wonder Jerry Lawler is called the King.
He’s won more wrestling titles than any grappler in history and has been the voice of WWE for the last decade.
And Jerry is a great interview too, as he lets us know what life working for Vince McMahon is really like.
In this exclusive chat, The King talks about everything from Vince’s view on the Chris Jericho incident to how he feels working without long-time commentary partner Jim Ross.
He also reveals that women keep him young, why some grapplers don’t like the movie The Wrestler and how you can take a cruise with him and JR.
Hi Jerry, it must be full speed ahead to WrestleMania for everyone in the WWE right now. All us wrestling fans are excited at this time of year, but what’s it like for you guys?
Well there’s certainly a level of excitement – everything gets heightened and we’re looking forward to the fact that it is the biggest event of the year.
But at the same time, everybody’s workload gets tripled.
There’s just so much more to do, so many more appearances to make, so much extra promotion.
It’s the situation where guys are excited about it but it’s pretty demanding and kind of tiring!
Arguably the best thing on the Road To WrestleMania so far was hearing you and Jim Ross commentating together again at the Royal Rumble. How was that for you?
It was fun – JR and I have a great rapport and a great relationship.
A lot of people say ‘I bet you really miss JR now he’s on Smackdown’, but the truth of the matter is we still get to see each other quite often. We also talk on the phone and we text.
But by the same token, I tell everyone I really enjoy working with Michael Cole as well.
Michael might be a little easier, maybe a little less demanding than JR.
JR is so passionate, and such a huge fan which is a great. It’s what makes JR one of the best in the business.
But because of that he’ll want us to go to production meetings and run through things.
Whereas Michael and I like to show up and go in and get the thing done and head out as quickly as possible.
And I know that may sound like we’re slackers, and taking the easy way out, but the truth of the matter is it works better for me in the way that I do my job.
I don’t want to go to production meetings and I don’t want to be too prepared.
I like to watch the matches like a fan. I like to be surprised by the things I see. I like to not know what’s going to happen next.
I feel like my commentary is more honest that way – it’s more sincere in the way that I’m as surprised as the fans are!
So if I put you on the spot and said you had to announce a match tomorrow, would you pick Michael to do it with or Jim to do it with?
I’d say that I’d like to do it with Michael and JR and maybe Tazz in there as well.
I really enjoy it when we have all the commentators together.
I know it might be a bit confusing for the fans, but it’s so different for us.
Mick Foley was very vocal when he left WWE, saying Vince McMahon was shouting in his headset and telling the announcers off too much. Is that true?
Let’s face it, Vince is the man who owns the company and he has definite ideas about how he wants things done.
And if you do something that he doesn’t approve of, then he’s going to let you know it.
I don’t know if I’m fortunate, or if Vince is just a big fan of my work, but he absolutely in the 15 years of me doing it has never ever yelled at me. Not even once.
I was surprised when I heard that from Mick.
But Vince has a direct line to every announcer.
If we’re doing a broadcast and Vince wants to say something to me, Michael Cole doesn’t hear it, and the same goes with Michael Cole.
So occasionally, after a show, Michael will say: “Oh man, Vince yelled at me when I screwed this up.”
But if you’re out there doing a good job, and saying what you’re supposed to say, he’s not going to yell at you!
You still wrestle occasionally for the WWE and regularly in Memphis – do you prefer that or announcing?
I certainly didn’t get into this business to be a commentator. I would much rather be wrestling.
A lot of people don’t realise that I still wrestle – maybe a couple of times a week – because I don’t think I would be happy if I was just doing the announcing.
And I always have the mindset when I’m out there that I’m not a commentator – I’m a wrestler sitting talking to a play-by-play man.
That’s the way I go into my broadcast and it has worked for everybody concerned so far.
Have you ever thought of going to Vince and saying I want to wrestle full time?
Oh absolutely and I could probably do that tomorrow!
But I think the full-time schedule is the key. I’ve been in the business for 37 years and I don’t think I could handle it now.
But if they have a live event for something, for instance in Nashville or Memphis that’s near my hometown, they’ll call me up and ask me if I want to wrestle.
To me that is a better situation then just saying: “Hey I want to go back on the road, full time.”
I wouldn’t really want to do that.
A lot of our readers, especially those based in the UK, would only know you from WWE, but you’re one of the most successful wrestlers in the history of the business. Could you give us a brief rundown of what you’ve won?
Well I was shocked not too long ago when WWE magazine had a big article saying I had won more championships than anybody in the history of wrestling.
I didn’t even realise it, but I guess there haven’t been many guys who have had a 37-year career in wrestling.
Apparently in that time span I have won something like 156 championships.
Wow! A WWE world championship has eluded you though. Is that something you could win one day or would not having a full time schedule get in the way?
I certainly don’t think that will ever happen.
Now if I were to win the WWE or world heavyweight championship then I’d say: ‘You know, I’ll gut it out and I’ll take on this full-time schedule.”
Did you see that Chris Jericho clip on our website or YouTube? What did you think of it?
I have not seen it but I heard them talking about it last week at the show – Vince was kinda chuckling about it.
Vince and I were talking and Jericho walked by and he said: “Watch out! Jericho will hit you! He’ll knock you right down!”
Then he adds: “Especially if you’re a girl!”
Everybody is having a joke about it and to me it’s not a big deal, because that used to be very prevalent in the past.
We used to be able to get the fans so riled up that they literally wanted to physically attack you after the matches.
That hasn’t happened in a long time, so it’s almost like hats off to Chris Jericho – for doing his job.
He’s being the best bad guy that he can be.
And it’s working as he’s making the people so mad at him that they want to get physical with him themselves.
As probably the only person in wrestling who currently works in both a big and small promotion in the US – what are your views on the movie The Wrestler?
I haven’t seen that yet either, but I plan to.
There have been mixed reactions to it.
From what I hear it doesn’t show wrestling in the greatest light.
I think that a lot of the guys think the sad scenario they are portraying will give the fans the impression that’s the way all wrestlers will wind up – which is certainly not the case!
I’m probably older than the Mickey Rourke character in the movie and I’m still wrestling and just paid cash for a $1.2 million seven bedroom house that I’m living in and two brand new Cadillacs in my garage that I’m looking at right now.
There are a lot of guys who have saved their money over the years and have not taken the path that the character takes in the movie.
Wrestling is like any other profession – It’s up to the individual to be successful and not get involved in bad habits.
Like Mickey Rourke’s character, you were a big star in the 1980s. How did you avoid the drink, drugs and steroids that ruined so many lives?
I just didn’t do it!
I’ve never had a taste of alcohol, never done any kind of drug and never smoked a cigarette.
Some people will think that’s not true, but I’ve honestly never tasted one sip of beer, wine or whiskey.
And I think that’s been a long part of my longevity in the business.
I’m not saying it's given me a youthful appearance but it’s certainly helped me not look any older.
And it’s not something that years ago I thought about, I simply just didn’t do it.
There was a choice out there, and I always felt it was the wrong choice. That was the way I was raised. I was told those things were bad for me.
You always seem to have a very glamorous woman on your arm. That must keep you young?!!
Well that’s exactly what I attribute my youthfulness to!
I tell everybody, I still feel exactly how I felt when I was 20-years-old.
I’ve been really fortunate in the fact that I haven’t had any major injuries over the years that would make me less active and I honesty believe that being with younger females has helped me. I think it helps keep you young.
It must keep you fit as well?
It keeps you tired!
I’m not surprised you’re tired – as well as all the stuff we’ve spoken about I hear you’re also launching Jerry Lawler’s cruise events?
Yes, I have a Caribbean cruise project I’m working on. It’s going to go on July 30.
It’s going to be an opportunity to go on a four-day cruise and I’m working right now on getting my buddy JR to go along. It’s just going to be a fun thing.
People can take a relaxing four-day cruise and JR and I will be part of the entertainment, and having dinner and showing wrestling videos and all that kind of stuff.
It’s basically a great time cruising the Caribbean with some wrestling fans.
People can find out more information from www.kinglawlercruise.com
Finally when you do get time to relax, how do you spend it?
One of the things I’ve enjoyed throughout my life is outdoor sports.
I play softball about two or three nights a week and have two separate teams.
One of the best things about being a celebrity in Memphis is that some of the best athletes and best softball players want to be on your team.
I’m also a big Cleveland NFL Football fan and a huge Cleveland Baseball fan, so during the summer, every opportunity I get, I go to the Indians games or Browns games.
Being a wrestler has opened doors in terms of me getting to know players, and people in the front office – I’ve been down on the field for the Browns game so that’s one of the things I enjoy doing.
And another thing I enjoy doing is painting and drawing.
A lot of people don’t realise but if you go on my website www.kinglawler.com you can see some of my artwork.
I’m a pretty decent artist!