So its no secret to a few on here that I hold Jerry Lawler on a very high mantle when it comes to workers. The man may not have been the most nimble of athletes, and the vast majority of his matches feature very little apart from big bumps, the greatest punches ever seen inside a pro wrestling ring, a red hot crowd and in some cases plenty of Heel Lawler schtick. Ever since more of his footage from the Memphis era has been circulated online his reputation as being one of the best to ever step inside the squared circle (as well as being an all time great promo man, having bundles of charisma and being a well documented great draw) has sky-rocketed to the point where many consider him amongst the elite group of US wrestlers from this era, such as Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Stan Hansen, Terry Funk, Bob Backlund, Sgt Slaughter, Tully Blanchard, Dick Murdoch, Barry Windham and Bill Dundee.
Anyways, here's a collection of reviews from some of his more documented matches that I assembled in the old WWE Match/Show Discussion thread. I'm barely active in this forum anymore but I may try and watch more Lawler and add to this thread if it proves popular and I don't become overwhelmed with job hunting now that I've completed university. They're spoilered for length purposes (I like to ramble), but if you can wade your way through some of them I'm sure we can generate some good discussion about Lawler as well as the Memphis territory as a whole, which produced some infamous feuds, angles and matchs over the course of the 1980s.
1. Jerry Lawler v Harley Race, NWA Championship, CWA Memphis 12/10/1977
2. Jerry Lawler vs Bill Dundee, Southern Heavyweight Championship, No DQ, Loser Leaves Town, Memphis 30/12/1985
(my candidate for best US match of all time, let alone the 1980s).
Spoiler for SPOILER:
Seen this match been pimped by the folks at DVDVR and other forums which have done a ballot/reviewed the Memphis set as an 80s MOTDC and something deserving to be praised alongsider Funk vs Flair, Flair vs Kerry Hawaii, Flair vs Windham, Flair (like seriously him again??) vs Steamboat, Murdoch vs Windham, Slaughter vs Sheik, Lawler vs Dundee 6/6/83, Slaughter & Kernodle vs Steamboat & Youngblood and you know what.....this match freaking comes as close as a match can to rivalling Flair vs Steamboat COTC and Flair vs Windham BOTB II as my 80s MOTD.
The pacing is perfect, the character clash between smug and cocky Bill 'Superstar' Dundee and hometown idol Jerry Lawler with only one good eye due to a prior sneak attack, the Mid South Coliseum is rocking, Dundee's wife is at ringside telling Lawler to fuck off and faces and heels are at ringside supporting their man. Its Clash of the freaking Titans and I'm still not doing the environment and setting justice.
Right from the get go Dundee puts in an incredible heel performance. Lawler does a sterling job pointing out to even the most retarded Memphis resident in the building sucking on moonshine that even Good Ol' King has his work cut out trying to win with ONE FUCKING EYE. Dundee throws some incredible punches, he corners Jerry and then casually strolls away like the biggest freaking prick in the universe and mockingly taunts Lawler to come to him. He ducks in and out, circles Lawler, strays away so he's out of Lawler's eyesight, he leans in offering his chin on a plate to Lawler and then ducks making Jerry look like a fool. Then he does it again and then has the cheek to punch Jerry whilst he's mocking him. FUCK BILL DUNDEE.
His assault is relentless. He punches Lawler repeatedly in his bandaged eye, tries to rip apart the bandages to gouge the eye and then boots Lawler square in the face after they tease Lawler making a comeback. The heat is incredible and Lawler is pulling out a Rocky esque performance. Even the WWE section would be cheering for the guy for christ sake. All of this heat control segment builds and builds with the occasional gorgeous headbutt thrown by Dundee which Lawler bumps for in oh so epic fashion before Lawler lands a right hand!!! Dundee spirals backwards and the crowd goes insane, the pacing has been delicious in building to that one shot from Lawler...but in an instant Dundee charges at Lawler and headbutts him with such force Dundee spirals out of the ring still selling the punch from Lawler. NOW I LOVE BILL DUNDEE.
Dundee girates to his wife that he has this in the bag, Lawler is scraping and trying to mount a comeback however possible and this crowd is demanding Dundee's ass be served on a platter. Eventually Dundee grows frustrated with Lawler's resilience and a commercial break sees them fighting on the outside and eventually into the stands. I lost my shit when Lawler follows Dundee who insists on leaving the arena and Lawler comes within striking distance of punching the bitch, 'he really wouldn't hit a woman would he? Even Memphis has its limits'....and sadly they do as Lawler ignores Dundee's wife and follows him instead (BOOOOOOOO). They fight into the stands and trade brutal punches before Dundee rocks Lawler with a combo and Lawler goes over the barrier to the concrete fall in one of the best bumps I have ever witnessed. Its fucking insane and probably inspired Foley to say 'you think that shit's cool I'll make an entire career making that look ordinary...GOD BLESS YOU MICK FOLEY).
Anyways Dundee drags the ref back to the ring determined to win by countout seeing as Lawler just fell 15 feet to friggin concrete. But then we get an insane moment as the camera pans back to the stands and LAWLER IS WALKING BACK!!!. Obvious 'lol wrestling logic' aside Lawler looks like freaking Godzilla about to crush Tokyo. His eye is bleeding profousely and HE IS PISSED. He gets back in the ring and all hell breaks loose. Punches and headbutts galore from both men, Lawler rocks Dundee with 4 insane punches and Dundee is bumping like Arn Anderson and Ric Flair combined, he's doing a 360 spin before collaping on his ass and its like even better than Lawler doing his Godzilla impression 30 seconds ago. Lawler also takes the time to eat a sickening ring post shot, it was disgusting even for this match but he will not be denied. He takes revenge on Dundee using Lawler's own fist drop from the second rope move and beats on Dundee unmercifully and rocks him with a few rights. Dundee retailiates and Lawler begs for more, the reaction is insane as Lawler looks deranged and wants more. Dundee gives it his all but Lawler pulls down the straps and BUSINESS IS ABOUT TO PICK UP.
More insane punches from Lawler as Dundee now looks to be moments from defeat, his confidence and swagger has diminished as a deranged man with an unhealty libido runs amok in a surprisingly clean Memphis ring, you get the feeling Lawler is that insane he'd defile Mrs Dundee in the ring post match. The crowd is itching for the piledriver......WHEN SOMEONE HANDS DUNDEE A FOREIGN OBJECT AND HE CLOCKS LAWLER OVER THE HEAD!!!!!
1........2.............................3!!!! Fucking Dundee has sent Lawler out of Memphis, the crowd is as silent as The Bukodan or the room after Mason Ryan someone passes another wellness test. Dundee celebrates with the belt like the biggest piece of shit ever. Its like if Apollo knocked Rocky out and then violated him with his own boxing glove. Dundee's just a grade A piece of horse shit and Lawler has been run out of town.
The match is sadly clipped by a few minutes and in the highlights we find out they clipped possibly the best piledriver Lawler has ever hit. I legit thought Dundee had died on impact. Jesus.
Yeah this was awesome, I'm tired so I'll just put you out of your wait:
3. Jerry Lawler vs Dutch Mantell, Southern Heavyweight Championship,Memphis, NO DQ, 22/03/1982
Spoiler for SPOILER:
Just a brilliant brilliant hate filled brawl between two all time great workers with great punches, epic bumping and marvellous pacing and subtle touches into their work. This match also features bar none the greatest transition spot in professional wrestling history.
Early goings on here is incredibly great. Lawler starts off like a house on fire exploding with punches and getting the better of Dutch, particularly in one awesome spot where Dutch ducks for a backdrop coming off of the ropes (aka the spot every wrestling fan hates for its stupidity) only for Lawler to jump back and boot Dutch square in the face. There's also a delicious exchange where Dutch goes to shake the hand of Lawler (this spot makes me believe there's a problem in the match order listing of their feud but enough of that for now) and Jerry just slaps the piss out of Dutch's mouth. Dutch is really great at the memphis bumping of Lawler's terrific punches and the whole opening has a real chaotic feeling of a bar fight where anything can happen.Dutch catching Lawler's boot only for Jerry to carefully regain his balance BEFORE hitting a freaking awesome enziguri was another nice spot that caught me completely off guard. Dutch also doing his best to try to avoid getting into it with Lawler because he's being dumped on his ass everytime was also a cool little running theme early on.
Now comes the greatest transition spot in history: Lawler throws a steel chair to Dutch's shoulder from the ring to the floor. Dutch picks up the chair, circles the ring before getting on the apron and lauching the chair across the freaking ring right into Lawler's left leg and knee. It looked freaking amazing for deadpoint accuracy and Lawler sold having his legs whipped from under him in an awesome manner. Dutch now senses blood and goes to town on Lawler with nice leg work and cheapshot punches and stomps to the body. He gives Jerry an amazing beating including numerous throws into the ring post (think it was the third one furthest away from the camera which Lawler seemed to fly into at an extremely dangerous pace), some beautiful punches to the face as well as a bodyslame on concrete, repeatedly smashing Lawler's face into the apron as well as my second favourite spot where Mantel just casually goes to the outside and brings in another chair and just straight up bounces it off of Jerry's skull
and Lawler does this insanely great KO sell where his body hits the mat at a terrific pace and the impact is tremendous. Dutch taking the time to playfully slap Lawler in the side of the head on the floor as revenge for his slapping earlier was freaking immense and exactly the sort of 'subtle touch' I referred to earlier.
Lawler's manager next to Lance Russell is also terrific at giving this match a 'Rocky' vibe with him occasionally shouting words of encouragement to Lawler: "I've learned never to give up on Jerry Lawler", "come on Jerry, suck it up and FIGHT" which ties in beautifully to Lawler's bloody eyed comeback which includes some gorgeous punches even by Jerry Lawler's terrificly high standards and a lovely revenge spot with Dutch hitting the ring post (always love how Lawler employs the rule of threes spot in a lot of his matches).
The finishing run is also brilliant. Dutch grows incredibly frustrated at his inability to beat Lawler and hits a couple of beautiful top rope kneedrops (cliche by know but Lawler's almost deadweight sell on impact was a joy to watch) and a lovely splash which surprised me given the length of the ring Lawler was from Mantell. The finish itself though is an all time great finish in its significance and the execution and pacing to get to this finish was also a glorious touch by one participant:
Dutch runs into Lawler and Lawler's greater weight sends Dutch spiralling to the floor. As he gets to the apron Lawler nails him with a few punches and takes the time to soak up the audience reaction before each one and on the third punch Dutch boots Lawler and hits a flawless sunset flip over the ropes and pins Lawler to win the belt clean as a whistle. A freaking incredible and amazing finish not only in its execution and planning but also given its Jerry Lawler FFS
Can't wait to watch their next 2 matches including the famed Barbed Wire match. And Lawler continues to improve his standing as the potential GOAT US Worker and potentially GOAT worldwide.
4. Jerry Lawler vs Dutch Mantell, Southern Heavyweight Championship, Loser Leaves Town, Memphis, 27/3/1982
(All time great bait and switch, Dutch's mid match promo is outstanding).
5. Jerry Lawler vs Dutch Mantell, Southern Heavyweight Title, Memphis, Barbed Wire Match, 29/03/1982
Spoiler for SPOILER:
Saw -Mystery- pimp this match as essential viewing and I couldn't agree more with him. On first watch I'd place this just ahead of their No DQ 22/3 match and the peak of the Lawler vs Mantell feud. The whole match feels like a Wrestlemania fight with both men laying in everything they have, in many ways the match isn't a case of beating your opponent but simply surviving whatever he throws at you.
They tease the barbed wire early on with both men jocking for position and hesitantly backing away from the ropes after a lock up. Lawler hits a nice takedown and slowly drags Mantell to the barbed wire with Dutch screaming frantically and kicking away at Lawler to escape for now. Dutch then attempts to inflict some revenge on Lawler but eventually settles into working over the legs and wearing Jerry down instead. Already I'm liking how they're putting over the damage the barbed wire can cause but not making it the most important factor in the match, instead of simply being a match full of 20 holy shit moments involving the wire they're keeping the crowd in suspense and teasing each spot where the barbed wire comes into play and as such each moment feels that much bigger and more of a game changer.
Dutch eventually utilises the barbed wire to open a nasty cut over Lawler's right eye which he works like a champ with some gorgeous punches and numerous other spots where he drives the wire into the exposed cut. Lawler's bumping during this spell is tremendous in collapsing full force into the mat as well as drunkenly staggering around whilst trying to not fall into the ropes. Eventually he catches Mantell with a sick boot to the nose and looks to be starting a famed Lawler comeback before Dutch lowblows him and then removes his strap as the ultimate insult to Lawler
and the crowd suitably boos ferociously.
Dutch can't keep control for long though and a mixture of intense and gritty Lawler punches and eating the barbed wire has Dutch bleeding as well. The pacing and structure of the match is perfect for the environment they're in, its not a case of whoring out the barbed wire to create a standard gimmick match but more a trapped environment where both men are locked in 1 final battle with no escape. Lawler gradually begins to sell the wear and tear of the match not just in his bumping with some terrific 'gassed' flops to the mat after each punch but also by making his punches seem weaker and lacking in energy. Mantell himself takes the time to bump emphatically for some of Lawler's punches and combo's, including a lovely Flair esque flop after Lawler hits 3 gorgeous dancing left handed punches. All this builds to one tremendous spot where Lawler hits a gamechanging right hand which Dutch sells terrificly as a biable KO only for Lawler post impact to almost stagger to his right and collapse in a heap on the match. This match is an all out war, both participants are selling the wear and effect of the environment like absolute champs and not even a 3 minute clipping can take away from the drama.
The finish whilst horrifying in its simplicity to some is the perfect feud ender here. The entire match has built to both men bleeding and stumbling around with no breath and fight left in them and you get the feeling 1 move will be enough to score the decisive fall. There's a terrific failed bodyslam attempt which Lawler turns into a crossbody pin for an extremely close near fall before the finish. Both men can barely stand and as Dutch whips Lawler into the ropes with all his remaining strength, Lawler hits him mid air and collapses on top of a KO'd Dutch for the pin. Terrific in its simplicity and selling the match as a testament to Lawler's endurance. He hasn't won the match as much as he's survived the war and managed to keep Dutch down for those 3 crucial seconds.
6. Jerry Lawler vs Rick Martell, Memphis 12/10/1985
Spoiler for SPOILER:
Really great match here which tied in to one of the most consistent running angles in Memphis, that being Lawler's quest to win a major world title. Lawler starts the match like a house on fire with multiple pin attempts and Martell despite being a face shows more of a heel persona right from the go by beating the mat after each pin and Lance Russell on commentary points out Martell may just be annoyed that a scrub like Lawler is toying with him like this. Obviously when you're a touring world champ facing Jerry Lawler in Memphis you can expect to be a de facto heel but I dug how Martell slowly grew into a more vicious heel we weren't conditioned to expect from his character, him using a closed fist punch to stop Lawler escaping from a leg submission was sold tremendously by Russell as something unheard of when describing Martell.
They do a spot I always love with a touring champ vs local where Lawler bests Martell in the punch exchanges and dumps him on his ass. When you tie in this brief exchange as well as Lawler dominating the rest of the opening minutes it really gets the crowd hot seeing the champ on the backfoot in each exchange, Flair was a big fan of that spot and Martell sold the frustration of losing out on the exchange yet again tremendously. He then gets annoyed with the 'Go Jerry Go' chants and I'm really digging his character work: he's playing a very Cena esque role from ONS 2006 and it translates well into his control segment.
He hacks the leg of Lawler and goes to town on it with nice kicks, stomps, leg locks and figure fours and really cranks in a lot of the holds. Its not as engaging as someone like Flair doing it but you can see he's trying to get as strong a reaction as he can and its not just being done to kill some time. Lawler sells the workover extremely well: punching the mat to get the crowd further behind him, trying to reach his leg to check there's still some feeling left in his muscle tissue etc. And then when he manages to make a brief comeback he's hopping on one leg and doing his best to work with an obvious limitation and I dug how Martell immediately seized brief control again because Lawler was handicapped to the point where he couldn't do much at all.
Lawler finally pulls down the straps and makes his massive comeback and whilst he certainly sells the leg less than before (which did disappoint me because Lawler is about as consistent a seller as I can recall) I do think some people may have oversold how much he ignored it. I mean most of his punches were in the corner where he moved very little and he still used the rope at times to hold his balance before walking around the ring to follow Martell, and before the first fistdrop you see him tweaking and feeling his knee. I'd love to make some Lawler bias and say because it was part of the Lawler World Title quest they were going for some angle where he fights through the pain to win, sadly though the match doesn't last long between his comeback and the finish. I really think that had it gone 10 minutes longer we may have seen Lawler sell the leg more and work a nice story of him trying to overcome the injury. Perhaps because of the finish they just decided to get as much offence in as they could before the match ended, but I definitely felt the lack of time between Lawler's comeback and the finish was a more obvious detraction from the potential of this match than some apparent lack of selling by Lawler.
Shenanigans in Lawler title matches are to be expected and tbf as dusty finishes go I enjoyed this one. Martell goes for the figure four again and gets kicked off by Lawler who loses his boot in the process whilst the ref is down, Martell still pissed from Jerry's refusal to quit uses the boot against Lawler but can't get a pin because the ref is down. As he comes round Lawler gives Martell a boot shot in return and the ref calls for the bell and DQ's Lawler. I thought it brought about the story of Martell becoming a more sneaky and apparent heel tremendously and worked as continuing the arc of Lawler still being eluded from World Title Glory.
Plenty of good shit here and with a longer period between Lawler's comeback and the finish I think the match would have benefitted tremendously, Lawler still sold the leg for me well enough to show he wasn't very mobile but I do think 5-10 more minutes could have seen him sell the leg more and work a better story of Martell's leg workover being too much for him and ensuring he would lose a Title match again. As it was despite there being some great Lawler selling and Martell workover as well as a nice pace and structure, the leg workover never really benefitted from a more drawn out finishing stretch which sadly lessened its impact.
7. Jerry Lawler vs Koko Ware, Memphis Studio, 08/12/1979
8. Jerry Lawler vs Terry Funk, NO DQ, Memphis 21/03/1981
(His #2 match of all time IMO)
Spoiler for SPOILER:
Due to the extreme nature and coarse language this review should not be viewed by anyone. MOTHERFUCKING hell what an insane match, jesus christ are the punches fucking brutal, Terry Funk is batshit insane to the point where you wonder if his moma's pussy was doing cocaine pre birth. No man should be this fucking insane. Lawler wears white and whilst he lost all right to wear white when he fucked some girl behind a dingy back alley joint aged 9 he lets you know to expect some serious blood will be spilled over the next 13 minutes. Well shit son its pissing Lawler vs Funk, you expecting Tamura vs Volk Han or some shit like that???????
Jimmy Hart is a delight at ringside ladies and gentleman. He's freaking leaping in the air like a bloody gymnast, scurrying under the fucking ring when Lawler comes within spitting and pissing distance of him and even swings a fucking cane to break up a pinfall. He's crazy and animated and he's still not even a blip on the radar of whatever you use to measure Funk's level of insanity in this match (Matt Hardy + Charlie Sheen + Kerry Katona + Andre the Giant after 100 pissing bottles of beer doesn't even measure up for christ sake). Within the first 30 seconds he's already being chased by Lawler, ends up hanging himself in the ropes, hits the floor and swings so hard he falls into the rope on the floor and is swinging at what can only be an imaginary midget only people as coked up and living life to the fullest like Terry Funk can see. He stumbles back in the ring and trips over the freaking rope and tumbles to the mat and hits the outside again. Funk is CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZY.
Lawler then bloodies Funk and oh my goodness is the selling to die for. He's punching him square in the face and Funk is jerking his body like he's gone cold turkey after being taken off whatever pissing meds he OD'd on to get in a state of insanity he's in here. Lawler's punches and Funk's stooging and drunken selling is a recipe that could cure any problem watching wrestling gives you, its glorious 100mph car crash nonsense and we haven't even clocked in at 4 mins for fuck sake. Funk rocks Lawler with a sick headbutt before biting at Lawler's eye, cutting him open in the first place before unloading with a barrage of insane punches and one motherfucking rediculous double axe handle slam right on the exposed cut. Lance Russell is telling the people in the back to put down the moonshine and observe this crazy Texan having a breakdown before our very eyes and meanwhile Funk is biting and spitting Lawler's blood out his mouth while Jimmy Hart bounces like TNA's cheques to undercard talent.
BUT WAIT!!! Lawler starts to work into a comeback, he's been bumping and selling the beating like a King (PUN FUCKING INTENDED) and is doing his darndest to cause this already hot and molten crowd of hillbillies to riot like its Woodstock. He starts to shake off them cobwebs and OH MY GOD the reaction when he pulls down the straps isn't even describable as a pop, its bloody magnificent and Lawler punches Funk with disgusting haymakers and Terry's throwing a whiffed punch at every opportunity, before stumbling forwards then backwards and doing a 360 turn around right down to the mat. CRAZY. This crowd is dieing right now and there's an awesome visual of some skanky middle aged Woman telling Lawler his punches suck and imitating how to do a better punch (its Lawler ya dumb bitch have a bit of class). How do you stop a loony Texan who lost his marbles, found another pair and then robbed them from a young kid after beating the shit out of him and then throwing them away because your're Terry Funk and you have no marbels??? Land square on his head from 6 feet is the correct answer and fuck did it look brutal.
Somewhere later Jimmy Hart gets his weasely ass back in the ring and eats a stiff as hell punch from Lawler and Funk senses the opportunity and drives the angled steel chair into the leg Lawler broke 1 year ago. FUCKING CONTINUITY AND CALLBACK SPOTS FTMFW. He works over the leg like a loony man with some form of reason and Lawler sells his ass off and if he gives up now this crowd will probably invade that ring before I swear again. FUCK no need, Lawler punches Terry square in the cheek and Terry wanders back to his corner and just deadweights on the ropes, bloody hell is he amazing here. Seriously this is what you point to when people scoff at these two being talked about as legit Greatest Of All Time workers.
Lawler turns the tables and beats the shit out of Terry with the chair, whilst still hobbling in the process (BECAUSE HE'S JERRY LAWLER AND SELLING IS SERIOUS BUSINESS) and looks to break Funk's leg with the chair. He beats the piss out of the leg and finally strolls back to the ring cool as ice whilst sporting a disgusting cut and the ref counts to 10 and this one is OVER.
Beautiful way to set up a rematch, the stooging, bumping and selling from both men is incredible. The crowd is as hot as any in history, the pacing is immaculate and perfect and Funk's drunken selling off of Lawler's haymakers is my new favourite spot in wrestling folklore. AND IT WAS ONLY 13 MINUTES!!!!!
9. Jerry Lawler vs Dory Funk Jr 30/03/1981, Memphis
Spoiler for SPOILER:
Okay, so Dory Funk may be one of my least favourite wrestlers ever. He's not necessarily as bad as someone like Davey or Angle who annoy me with selling, pacing, structure and general match layouts but he's mind numbingly boring and dull in matches and makes it incredibly hard for me to sit through his matches. I say this as someone who can happily sit through 60 minute matches from the 80s with the most memorable spot being a hip toss, he probably defines 'not what he does but how he does it'. Lawler on the other hand is someone who can do the bare minimum in terms of bumping and selling but do it in such a way that it gets over his opponent and engages the crowd, and when he dials it up and puts in his best performances you get a bonafide classic. So essentially I'm about to watch the clash between a guy who bores me to tears and a man who's made a life's work out of working standard matches but using intelligent touches and quirks to make the match much more engaging than it has any right to be.
This is 1 week after the EPIC NO DQ match vs Terry Funk and is a lead in to the Empty Arena match a week later. It's essentially worked like Lawler has faced some of the best of what Funk has to offer, but can he do the same with a different opponent in Dory who will stick to grappling (mind numbingly boring grappling to be exact) and won't be as willing to brawl with Lawler. Jimmy Hart is also suspended above the wing via wiring (reminiscent of HBK's Wrestlemania 12 entrance) and it makes for quite the visual.
Have to say I really did love this match, Dory is just full on methodical mode and trying to beat Lawler his way and not get caught up in Lawler's brawling. He hits a couple of lovely delayed headlock drops to the mat which looked really manly and wrenched in tightly on the neck of Lawler and I really dug Lawler despite not being schooled by Funk but certainly not as comfortable as he would be in a straight up fight clenching his fist to be the difference maker. Dory throws some gorgeous European Uppercuts in this which Lawler was selling like death by dropping to his knees and really wrenching his head back off of each shot, if Dory just did this every match I might not think he's utter shit. Funk also shows signs of being a killer like his brother albeit more calculated, he throws Lawler to the floor and Lawler's bump is pretty frightening considering he's hitting unprotected concrete. Dory smashes Lawler's head off of the table and once he gets back in the ring Lawler makes it his mission to turn this away from a wrestling match into a slugfest. Dory wisely gets out of the ring though everytime it appears Lawler is getting away from him and Lawler picking some form of timber and following Dory into the crowd was quite the impressive visual.
Dory though shows he can quite the prick whilst being more clever and subtle in bending the rules. Lawler starts punching him in the corner and just as the ref pulls Lawler away, Dory zooms in like a shark and knees Lawler in the ribs and Lawler hist the mat hard. They do the same spot again shortly thereafter and its really building a nice story of Dory's intelligence and methodical nature being a lot more than Lawler can handle as opposed to maniacal Terry who played right into Lawler's hands. The crowd gets noticeably pissed at Dory from here on out and after a rare mistake from Dory he starts to lose control and Lawler beats the shit out of him. Terrific spot where Lawler pulls down the straps to signal business is going to pick up and then just boots Dory in the bollocks,
. Jimmy Hart then manages to interfere by throwing a chain to Dory which I dug in continuing this story of Lawler being out thought by 2 clever men who could best him through their brains and not their fists. They work a nice nearfall spot off of the chain shot before Lawler clocks Dory with his own chain (crowd reaction for this is something incredibly special) and from there they do a DQ finish after Dory punches the ref and we get a post match brawl between the two which I enjoyed in continuing this Lawler feud with the Funk brothers.
Really smartly worked match here with Lawler managing to make a typical Dory match more engaging and Dory himself was really great at selling Lawler's punches like his legs have lost all feeling and throwing some lovely uppercuts whilst also putting himself over as an intelligent Funk who could out manouevre Lawler whilst also being just as prickish as Terry. Lawler bumped and sold as well as he normally does and really nailed down the transition from 'wrestling' to brawling tremendously by demonstrating he was outmatched by Dory. The continuous theme of Dory and Jimmy being a lot more than Lawler could handle was also a running theme and the DQ finish despite lacking in execution was good in furthering Lawler's hate for the Funk family and setting up the Empty Arena match, especially with Dory being DQ'd for a punch to the referee but Lawler not being DQ'd for throwing Calhoun to the floor (Terry in the Empty Arena match is covinced Memphis is biased against him and Dory).
10. Jerry Lawler vs Terry Funk,Memphis, Empty Arena Match, 06/04/1981
(One of the best angles of all time)
Spoiler for SPOILER:
Oh sweet merciful Jesus was this incredible, I mean utterly incredible. I think Terry somehow heard my love for Lawler as a potential GOAT and made it his life's mission to make me love him more than Lawler...and freaking hell he really did as good a job as anyone could have to get me onto his bandwagon as the GOAT. Lance Russell and Funk make this, Lawler is brilliant himself but he plays second fiddle as the background to Funk's insanity.
Russell smoking and then immediately putting it out 'because we better start this' had me rolling already. They really put this over as not only something incredibly scary and dangerous, but also believable. Russell saying the 'match' is scheduled to start at 1pm and its only 12.50pm so we're shutting off the camera until they get here is something so subtle but convincing it makes you forget how goofy this whole thing could have come across as had TNA attempted it. 'If they arrive you'll see this....and if they don't no-one will ever see this', man alive is Russell amazing.
Funk then arrives into the arena AND OH MY GOODNESS HIS CHEMISTRY WITH RUSSELL IS EQUAL TO HIS CHEMISTRY WITH LAWLER. He's out of his mind talking about conspiracies and Lawler not having the refs on his jockstrap or the rats in the crowd cussing him. Russell is great in that JR role when he's doing an interview of carefully choosing his words because he senses Funk may just make him his bitch and bite his cock off if Lawler doesn't get here soon enough. Funk's checking under the ring to assure everyone Jimmy Hart ain't here and later to see if Lawler is hiding like a coward
. He's off his fucking rocker. He then gets incredibly pissed that 1pm has passed and Lawler is nowhere to be seen, Russell stands up for Lawler and Memphis and comes across as this devoted man to the promotion trying to tell this Texan to have faith because Lawler runs from no-one. Funk then asks if Russell wants to throw down and get in the ring
and Lance later telling him he's just the goddman guy Terry wanted to commentate this thing and will not get involved any other way is just hilarious. Funk saying 'he's nowhere to be found and now I guess I look like an idiot' was just delivered so precisely it makes me think Funk is the greatest talker in the history of our sport, just utterly engaging and believable as this deranged and psycotic loony.
Lawler arrives complete with Crown and Cape and Terry mocking him is just amazing, and I mean AMAZING...."Do you know how riiiidiculous you look, there's nobody here youuuuuuu jackass"
. The trash talking from both is great with Funk asking if Lawler brought a gun in his crown and Jerry casually replying 'I don't need a gun for you Funk'. They're really putting this thing over as 2 men who you know will give it their all and right off the bat you sense someone is going to get seriously injured. Funk taunting Lawler as they circle each other before spitting at him to draw a lock up was terrific in building the tension whilst having some great comedy. You could just see this match being on some series finale of a popular show between the 2 main characters, Funk really could have been an actor for how amazing he is and believable he is as this man who just snaps into insanity.
He gets punched square in the jaw and shrieks at Lawler 'you son of a bitch' is just terrific and from there his voice his unspeakably high like his balls have been cut off (and I wouldn't put it past these 2). He piledrives Lawler on the concrete who sells it like death by constantly holding his neck and struggling to get to the floor and then bashes his head off of the table and Jerry looks dead. Funk screams hysterically for Russell to come over here and 'AAAAASSSSSSSSK HIIIIIIIIIIIM' if Lawler wants to quit and I was legit disturbed at just how great Terry was at conveying this intense hatred and contempt for another human being. He then breaks off a piece of exposed wood and turns it into a spike and sets about ripping Lawler's eye out and Lance's pleas for Terry to stop puts this over as maybe the end of the line for Jerry. The tension is just unspeakable and Lawler finally turns the tables by elbowing Funk who sells it like death before kicking Funk's elbow and driving the spike into Terry's eye AND MY GOD THE SHRIEK. Terry is absolutely screaming in agony and crying over his eye, 'MY GODDAMN EYE, LANCE I CAN'T SEE OUT OF IT'. I was honestly reminded of the infamous scene from Deliverance (you all know the one) with just how piercing and scary Terry's screams of agony where, if I was 10 I'd have legit thought he had lost his eye and the blood is disgusting in convincing you he really is blind.
Lawler's look of disgust in what he had to do to put this man down also really adds to what we just witnessed, I get that really this is more of an angle taking place in the ring but the sheer hatred and contempt both men have for the other as well as Lance being on commentary for it and adding to the drama makes me think its worthy of adding a star rating to it. This truly is up there in how to do a bloody end to a dramatic and iconic feud and Terry's selling of the eye after Lawler is out of the building by calling him out again when 30 seconds earlier he was begging for a doctor and crying for it to end really was just the icing on the cake. The pre match and post match stuff is just an incredible beginning and conclusion to this angle and the in ring stuff was fine for what we got, and made sense with it being treated as a fight and nothing more. This is the all time great performance IMO from Funk, no-one else could have done what he did in these 15 minutes, a true genius and talent.
11. Jerry Lawler vs Randy Savage, AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship, Steel Cage, Memphis, 12/12/1983
12.Jerry Lawler vs Randy Savage, Kentucky, 09/04/1984
Spoiler for SPOILER:
Yeah this was more like it and a better match than cage IMO. Savage rules it terrificly as the deranged loony who's convinced Lawler, the cameramen, the crowd and Lance Russell are all in some great conspiracy against him and its a much more impressive heel job by Savage that felt more along his niche than trying to work like a Dundee or Mantell heel in the Cage match. Right off the bat they do a rule of threes spot that I've come to adore in Jerry Lawler matches, here Savage yanks his hair twice in the corner and Lawler is absolutely disgusted that the ref isn't doing his job and on the third attempt yanks Savage's hair who promptly flips out at all this injustice and Jimmy Hart at ringside is terrific at belitting the ref for favouritism. They do a cool little spot where Savage after circling the ring and acting further demented has his hand grabbed by the ref and ends up eating a punch from Lawler and again he and Hart are going insane at the supposed shenanigans whilst Lance is trying not to lose his shit with Jimmy in particular. Savage's control segment is also terrific, he really beats the shit out of Jerry with headbutts, kicks and plenty of double axe handles and ring post shots. It also serves as a nice bit of desperation from Savage after losing the wrestling exchange with Lawler as well as the strike exchange: loved the headscissor spot where Lawler spikes Savage on his head and Jimmy Hart screams he used the hair. Lawler is also just insanely awesome selling wise throughout this: he's grasping his hand every time he misses a fist drop and feeling the fingers, he bumps like a madman including an insane flat back bump onto the concrete and there's a great 30 second stretch where his legs go wobbly as he eats some gorgeous punches from Savage and an elbow which he sells beautifully by limply shaking his leg.
The Lawler comeback is as great as always, he leaves it a lot later in the match and it comes off much more dramatic with him throwing literally everything he has left, it'll be said a 1000 times by me but the Jerry Lawler comeback will never be bettered by anyone, he just lands some incredible 'fuck you' haymakers and here he does another awesome trait of his by selling his exhaustion by making his last couple of punches noticebaly weaker and Lance picks up that he may have punched himself out. Saw a few people say the finish killed their enjoyment but I didn't have a problem with it on Lawler's end as much as I did the referee. Lawler eats a piledriver from Savage behind the ref's back but Savage spots his cornermen getting into it with the ref and turns his back on Lawler who crawls over and rolls him up but the refs are too slow in getting around to the pin and it comes off quite bad in the piledriver being blown off. Its not like Jerry gets up and flies over to Savage because he does sell it well by crawling over like its his last hope of winning, but had the refs been more alert it could have worked better as a flash roll up instead of an awkward 7 second pause before the 3 count. Still this had great character work from Savage and Hart, Lawler bumping and selling superbly and a better double KO spot than in the Cage. Great match all round.
13. Jerry Lawler vs Randy Savage, Memphis, NO DQ, Loser Leaves Town 03/06/1985
14.Jerry Lawler & Randy Savage vs King Kong Bundy & Rick Rude 10/09/1984
15. Jerry Lawler & Randy Savage vs King Kong Bundy & Rick Rude, NO DQ, 17/09/1984
16. Jerry Lawler vs Jimmy Hart, NO DQ LumberJack match, Memphis, 29/06/1981
(The match he should have had with Michael Cole at Wrestlemania 27)
17. Jerry Lawler vs Ric Flair, NWA Title, Memphis 14/08/1982
(Whole angle including interviews in on Youtube, watch it to appreciate the true greatness of professional wrestling in its day).
18. Jerry Lawler vs Bam Bam Bigelow, Texas Death Match, Memphis, 07/09/1986
19. Jerry Lawler & Dutch Mantell vs Bill Dundee & Buddy Landell, Memphis 10/03/1986
20. Jerry Lawler & Bam Bam Bigelow vs Austin Idol & Tommy Rich, Double Jeopardy Match, Memphis 16/03/1987
21. Jerry Lawler & Bam Bam Bigelow vs Austin Idol & Tommy Rich, Texas Death Match, Memphis 23/03/1987
22. Jerry Lawler vs Austin Idol, Southern Heavyweight Championship, Steel Cage Hair vs Hair Match, Memphis, 27/04/1987
And that's all for now, there's a bunch of stuff I eventually plan to add to this but this should do for now.
As a treat I'll post the entire link to the Lawler/Flair studio match now: