Re: Jerry Lawler: Best Wrestler of the 1980s
Here is where I disagree.
You have mentioned Lawler's lack of quality opponents several times. Saying Lawler did not face the top guys? Well I am certain you did not see a lot of wrestling back then now. (No offense meant) But Lawler did face a who's who....so what he faced them in Memphis? He did face them. Just because a guy wreslted in different territories makes little difference, they were just as "protected" as Lawler. He faced Race, Flair, had long runs with; Bockwinkle, Brisco, Funk etc....Lawler probably wreslted more of the top guys than those guys because he was not restricted to keeping within the old AWA, NWA lines that most of those guys statyed in during long spans of their careers. He wreslted The biggest names of the day; Hogan, Brody, JYD, Snuka, Wrestling 2, Andre, Iron Shiek, One Man Gang, Ventura, Savage, Rude, Bundy, Patera, The Road Warriors, you name them Lawler wreslted them. Sure his signature fueds were with Dundee, LeDuc, Valient, Mantell, and Gilbert....but he had great fueds with Savage, Funk, and Bockwinkle. Heck who were Dusty's greatest fueds in that era? Sullivan, Flair, Blanchard,Mark Lewin, and Pak Song.....Pak who? They all had resumes which included fueds with stars not on their level. Remember the Flair v Ronnie Garvin epic fued or the Koko Ware vs Harley Race tussles?
Those guys faced a higher level of competition? You and I both know wrestling is a work. So saying that just because Flair fueded with Wahoo McDaniel and Barry Whidham does not mean that Lawler's fued with Joe Leduc or Adrian Street was not just as competitive. Maybe in the minds of fans, but once again that is the "false reality" of the wrestling world. I can tell you guys like Dundee, Street, Savage all Lawler foes had work rates on par with the guys the "superstars" collided with.
Just because Lawler wreslted in Memphis maybe is a negative to some, maybe he did not prove himself outside of Memphis, but it should not discredit him as much as it is a credit to a guys longevity. Being able to sell out cards in multiple cities for 30 years? That is something to be proud of. Few guys sold out more buildings than Lawler in those days. Flair could, the NWA title he was given ensured that. But without the belt few of those guys really dominated an area like Lawler did. Just because he was the owner, well he still had to be over with the fans. Ask Verne, Mike Graham, and others who put themselves on top how hard it was to sell out a building every night for 30 years? Heck most guys could only shine for a year or two before fans tired of them.
In perspective I can only think of one guy who stayed on top for as long as Lawler and that was Flair.
Lets look at the total package of your top five. To me I cannot argue Lawler over Flair but if you take work rate, mic skill, and charisma. Who had the total package over Lawler? Would you really rank Funk or Race over Lawler on the mic? Hogan, and Rhodes were great but Lawler was their equal. Lawler was a better worker than Hogan and Rhodes, I admit Race and Funk have him there although if you ask Dusty and Al Snow, who was asked this question they both gave the nod to Lawler as the most under-rated worker of the era. Charisma...maybe Hogan and Dusty have him there but not Race or even Funk. Funk was not a great face until the 90's. Lawler could work both sides well.
Another point no one has mentioned is creativity. Lawler gave us The Rock N Roll Express, Kimala, The Fabulous Ones, and many others. How many shows were Flair and Race writing every week?
In summary it is all a matter of opinion. I would take Lawler in the top 5 over Funk and Race, and even Rhodes by a hair, and really if you are just talking the territorial era...Hogan was not really around for much of it, and when he was he was a novelty act. 1. Flair 2. Lawler 3. Rhodes 4. Funk 5. Race.....just my opinion, good debate bro.
Last edited by Greenlawler; 07-13-2012 at 02:00 AM.