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411’s Broken Skull Sessions Report: Jerry Lawler on Working with Andy Kaufman, Facing Michael Cole at WrestleMania, More

September 7, 2020 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
Broken Skull Sessions Jerry Lawler Steve Austin

411’s WWE Broken Skull Sessions Report: Jerry Lawler

-Sorry for the delay with this one, but I was at a family Labor Day gathering (socially distanced). The Broken Skull Sessions returns and I am pumped for this one as Jerry “The King” Lawler is the guest. I think we forget sometimes that Lawler is one of the greatest ever and hopefully this will give insight to newer fans who only know of him as the guy that say next to JR. Let’s get to it!

-Air Date: 09.06.20
-Run Time: 1:17:00

-Steve Austin welcomes us to the Broken Skull Sessions as his guest today is one of his all time favorites, Jerry “The King” Lawler.

-Jerry jokes that he wondered how long it would take Austin to ask him to be on the show. Lawler is celebrating 50 years in the business and they mention that this year has been different. Austin asks Lawler if he can imagine being in the shoes of the current stars dealing with no crowd. Lawler can only compare it to doing voice over commentary to some of the early RAWs when they would just be in a studio. Lawler takes his hat off to the guys and girls because wrestling without a crowd is likely 5 times harder. Lawler and Austin both laugh about wrestling in front of nearly empty houses when they started.

-Austin switches to Funk vs Lawler and their famous empty arena match. Lawler talks about the set-up with Funk complaining that he couldn’t get a fair shake in Memphis because everyone loved Lawler including the fans, police and even the ref. They show clips from the match as Lawler and Austin watch and mark out over it. Fantastic stuff! Lawler puts over Funk and doesn’t remember if they talked about anything before the match or if it was just improvised. We get the finish with Funk getting a piece of wood kicked back in his face and the fantastic sell of him losing his eye. They discuss how Funk was a little different and you just had to watch out for what he would do. Lawler mentions it was unusual and gave him a weird feeling having no fans. Austin jokes that you won’t get rich working a bunch of empty arena matches. They did draw a ton of money in Florida off the match as it was shown down there by Dory.

-Next they discuss bleeding and Lawler brings up they had the same mat in Memphis forever and it never dawned on them to clean it. Lawler saw people bleeding and he wanted to try it and it became a staple in Memphis. He admits he never liked it and never felt comfortable. He also wasn’t much of a bleeder so it just didn’t work well for him.

-Next they touch on Lawler being an artist and we see a picture he drew of Superman. He wanted to be an artist for DC as he liked to draw Batman and Superman. His dad was a wrestling fan and Jerry became one as well so he started drawing the wrestlers. Someone convinced him to send the drawings in and sure enough they ended up on air. Jerry then got a call from Lance Russell who asked him to do some more art. Soon they asked him to be on the show and Jackie Fargo had a night club and wanted some art as well. He became friends with Jackie Fargo and that’s how he got a foot in the business.

-Lawler moved to Ohio when he was 7 and stayed there until he was 15. That was when he first watched wrestling. He moved back to Memphis and he had a bunch of kids the same age on his street and they all were wrestling fans. Lawler got his start by running into a guy who was looking for Fargo at the night club.

-Before that Lawler was on the radio as a DJ and that helped him get his first match. There was a small promotion that ran shows in an old movie theater. Lawler lied about wrestling in Florida and he was then asked what promoter and that’s when the guy knew he was full of crap. He was about to walk away, but Jerry reminded him that he had a Saturday Night radio show and he could plug their show for free. That was like gold and the guy put Lawler in a tag match in the Main Event. Lawler ran a spot he created for the show every night on the radio. Fargo wanted him to stop promoting that renegade promotion and said he would send him to a good place to learn if he would stop and Lawler agreed.

-Austin brings up Jackie Fargo and how he had a swagger and aggressive nature about him. His stuff looked good and he had the showmanship with The Strut. Lawler puts over Fargo’s punches and that’s where he learned how to throw one. He puts over Fargo’s ability to sell and how the fans would feel his pain. Lawler tells a story of Fargo pulling his straps down and then his tights to fire up the crowd. He admits he stole pulling the strap down from that and Austin asks why he didn’t pull it down sooner to get the match over. Lawler laughs and says he gets asked that a lot. He tells a story of being sued by a female fan that was at ringside. She was riding him so Lawler got tossed out in front of her and when Dutch punched him spit flew out of his mouth and landed on her. He had to go to court and his lawyer asked why she had issues with Lawler and she said because the match is over when he pulls his strap down. The jury then laughed her case out of court basically.

-Jackie Fargo was The King of Memphis and soon it was passed to Jerry. Lawler says it was a story of a hometown kid making good. Memphis didn’t have pro sports at the time. He happened along The King nickname by accident. He had a feud with Fargo and cut a promo about him being The King of Memphis for too long. He won the match and a kid yelled that Lawler was The King now. The next show Lawler ran into Bobby Shane who had a crown and robe. Lawler wanted to borrow it and show up on Memphis TV to get more heat. Shane was on the way to Australia and didn’t want to take all of it with him, so he let Lawler borrow it. When Shane came back to get the crown and robe he passed away in a plane crash. Damn!

-Austin wants to know about throwing fire. Lawler says he got it from The Original Sheik. When Lawler started he was told to introduce himself to The Sheik and talk to him. They talked for 15 minutes before Sheik realized they were working against each other. The Sheik threw the fire that night but missed Jerry and hit the ref. He talks about the flash paper and how it was like seeing a magician do his trick.

-Austin asks about the worst incident with the fire. Lawler tells of working with The Iron Sheik and like Lawler, he was nervous about the fire. He was to set the fire and hit Sheik in the chest. Unfortunately the paper didn’t light and Sheik sold being hit by a ball of paper. Fantastic! Next a story about working with Randy Savage and how Jerry had a scepter that would have flash paper in it. He jammed paper in it and accidentally set it off in his own face. It singed his nose hair, eye brows, and beard. It obviously scared him away from doing the fire for a bit after that incident.

-Austin throws out some names for Lawler to comment on. Curt Hennig: Lawler calls him awesome and discusses their match where Lawler won the AWA Title in 1988. We see the finish of the match with Curt taking an over the top bump into the ring post. Lawler says it was fun to watch Curt in the ring while working with him and puts over the bumps and selling.

Randy Savage: Lawler worked with him before he got into the WWE. He worked in a company with his brother and dad that was seen as an outlaw territory. Soon they joined Lawler’s promotion. They had a loser leaves town match at Rupp Arena and sold it out with 18,000 fans. He calls Savage awesome to work with.

Bill Dundee: They had great chemistry together and Lawler says it’s because they never really liked each other. Lawler had a broken leg so Jerry brought in Bill and pushed him to the top of the card. Lawler came back to reclaim his spot and it annoyed Bill. They tried to figure it out and believe they worked against each other over 500 times. One of the best ways to blow off a feud was a hair vs hair match as it was the worst thing to happen to a guy. He gets in a joke that now most people in wrestling are bald. Lawler beat Bill who got his head shaved. The next week Bill puts his wife’s hair against Lawler’s and everyone figured Lawler was toast but Bill’s wife ended up getting her head shaved. Awesome!

-Andy Kaufamn: Lawler mentions that Taxi was the highest rated show on TV and he got a call that Andy wanted to come to Memphis to be a wrestler. Andy’s entire gimmick in Hollywood came from watching wrestling as a kid. He told Lawler he recalled Buddy Rodgers trying to get people to hate him but he liked him and enjoyed what he was trying to do. Andy hated being called a comedian and hated doing the sitcom. He just wanted to get on stage and make people hate him. He then just wanted to do what he saw heel wrestlers do and started working with women because he didn’t want to face any men. The idea didn’t get over with comedy clubs so he pitched the idea to wrestling companies. Vince Sr shot it down as he felt his fans would resent them using an actor. So Andy was pushed to Memphis and Lawler jumped all over it. We see a Kaufman promo as he teaches Memphis fans about soap! Genius! After 3 weeks Lawler saw the money train and wanted to get the rub. He pitched working with Andy and promised him he wouldn’t get hurt. Lawler tells us how he pieced the match together and everything he went over with Kaufman. They show clips from the match and man, do I miss crowds being at shows. Lawler destroys Kaufman with multiple piledrivers and Andy wants an ambulance. Lawler said to tell him no as it cost over $300. Kaufman said he would pay for it and Lawler gave the okay. It was Kaufman who put himself in traction and never took off the neck brace.

-The Letterman Show came next as that was Kaufman’s idea and Lawler was all over it. He says that every bit of it was done on the fly. They were told to be a little heated with each other and then in the second segment they would apologize to each other and then Andy would sing to end the segment. Lawler agrees and then Andy called him in his room and Lawler told him once they made up on TV they couldn’t wrestle in Memphis anymore. Andy agreed and wondered what would happen if Lawler slugged him. Lawler was worried they wouldn’t show it and that he would get arrested. They went out on stage thinking they were going with the original plan. Everything went the way it should until Andy didn’t apologize. They segment started running long and Letterman realized things were going off the tracks. He was ready to pitch to another break, so Lawler just hauled off and slapped Andy in the face, knocking him out of his chair. Watching it back Lawler says it still feels like he is watching someone else in that spot. That slap was epic! Andy said he wasn’t going to come back, but was back and started cursing. Everyone in the studio was in shock including Dave. It seems Letterman said that was the one time he ever felt like he lost control of his show. Kaufman’s curse filled tirade is fantastic and then he apologizes for it and then goes back into cursing like a mad man. Just amazing and awesome!

-Austin brings up filming ‘Man on a Moon’ and Lawler’s issues with Jim Carrey. Lawler says the problem with the movie was Jim Carrey. Lawler asked the director if Carrey knew that he and Kaufman were really great friends. The director just said Carrey was the 800lb gorilla he was stuck with. Lawler thinks Jim just got so into character with method acting. Lawler was in awe being in Hollywood and seeing the sets. As he was looking around aglass jar of juice came flying at him as Carrey was screaming at him. The director tried to explain that he was just method acting. Their first scene together, Jim blew him off and then Jerry made the mistake of feeding Carrey a line. It caused Jim to start screaming and it confused Lawler. Jim came back and told Lawler he was right that he forgot his line, but he wanted the scene shot because he didn’t feel comfortable sitting next to this man. They just didn’t gel and Jerry thinks Jim just didn’t get it.

-Jerry gets the call in 1993 to join the WWF. Lawler brings up that Vince was in the middle of his trial. Jerry mentions that every wrestler thinks at one time they are the best in the business. They all came through Memphis and when Jerry got to the WWF a lot of guys had animosity towards him. There was an infamous incident where someone took a dump in his crown. He went to Vince and said he understood it, but he could go back to Memphis if needed. Vince told him it would never happen again and sure enough, he never had another problem.

-They discuss being an announcer and Lawler says he never thought of doing it as he only wanted to be a wrestler. He then tells the story of being at RAW and Vince looking for Randy Savage as this was during The Monday Night Wars. Vince was told to turn on the TV and there was Randy on WCW TV. I think the King is getting things confused there as Randy jumped ship at the end of 1994 which was 9 months before Nitro existed. Lawler says Randy jumped ship without giving notice and Vince just asked Lawler to do commentary and that’s how it started. They show it was Nov 7, 1994 and that lines up with when Savage left, but it had to have been Saturday Night where they saw Savage show up on WCW TV.

-Lawler talks about Vince’s personality and how he wanted the fans to buy that he was wearing a toupee so Lawler always had jokes ready for that. Lawler asks if he learned anything from Lance and Dave in Memphis. The allure of them to Lawler was that they seemed like best friends that were sitting on the couch talking about wrestling. That was his philosophy when he did it with Vince but definitely when he started working with JR. Lawler was one who didn’t prepare much while JR was the opposite and would sit in on production meetings. Lawler mentions Cole was the same way and that helped him. He didn’t want to know anything that was happening. He just wanted to react to it as he was seeing it for the first time. Their preparation made it so easy for him.

-Austin appreciated having Lawler on commentary during his rise because he wasn’t the traditional babyface. Austin puts over that Lawler is part of the soundtrack for a lot of guy’s careers. He brings up Vince being on headset and Lawler mentions that Vince rarely talked to him as he liked his style. Meanwhile JR was getting worn out with Vince in his ear. Jerry thinks that them both being stars before being commentators helped and he thinks that is missing now. He thinks being a star only helps those in the ring because if Lawler, JR, Savage, etc are putting you over then it means something. Man has a point!

-Lawler mentions that he always hears fans tell him he is the voice of their childhood. We get the Beer Bath and Lawler’s great commentary. Steve wants to know where the high pitched voice comes from as he never hears it when they talk. Lawler says part of it was that when JR was that enthused he had to match him. A major influence from where he got that voice was Curly from The Three Stooges.

-Clips of Lawler being a perv talking about puppies and checking out Sable’s Playboy. Lawler doing the Cabbage Patch while Jackie dances is great. Lawler admits that the “puppies” term came from Road Dogg who asked fans to show them. He picked it up from there and it became his thing.

-Austin asks what it was like for Lawler to finally work at WrestleMania. It was Mania XXVII and I was there for that show. Sucks it had to be against Michael Cole of all people, but at least the man finally got to walk the aisle at Mania. The match was atrocious and really should have been the best of Memphis wrestling with Cole getting murdered with piledrivers and fireballs. Lawler says it was great but he doesn’t know why it didn’t happen sooner. Lawler won’t argue with those who say it was the worst match in Mania history. He knows it could have been better and should have been shorter. He knows they could have done more because Austin and Swagger were also involved.

-They discuss Vince McMahon and Lawler admires the dedication as nobody works harder. He knows he must love it because of how much he sacrifices to keep doing it. It if was Lawler he would buy an island somewhere and show up once a year at Mania.

-Austin asks how Lawler feels following the heart attack. Lawler said he feels great and has had over a 1000 matches since that night.

-Hall of Fame: Lawler got the call from Vince and said he didn’t want to do it because he thought it meant his career was over. Vince had to explain to him that it didn’t mean he was retiring. It was pitched to him that they wanted him and JR going in the same year. William Shatner got to induct him and asked Lawler how far the teleprompter would be from where he was standing. Lawler had to break it to him that they don’t do that in the WWE. Shatner then basically read his speech off paper and the fans started a “you don’t know him” chant.

-Next we learn Lawler is taking over for Mean Gene as the host of WWE Storytime. He calls it an honor to pick up where Gene finished. Earlier today he actually got to see what he would look like animated and it’s kind of sweet as they have Lawler set a photo of Gene on the fire mantle to keep his legacy going.

-Next for Lawler is a 50th Anniversary show in an outdoor park in Sept to commemorate his first match in Memphis. Slaughter, Luger, Scott Steiner, Dory Funk, and others will be there. He doesn’t know who he will wrestle yet as it has been narrowed down to 10 guys. He makes sure people know it’s not a sendoff though.

-Austin puts over Lawler as he says he doesn’t give himself credit. Lawler thanks Austin for all he did as it helped him and JR become more famous. Austin wrap things up by saying they both got the rub from it.

-This was great and I want more. Lawler is fantastic to listen to and with a 50 year career they could have talked for hour and still barely touched on things. The Kaufman/Carey stories were the high points here. I also agree with Austin that Lawler doesn’t give himself enough credit and I hope this makes younger fans take notice that Lawler is a hell of a lot more than just the commentary guy that would scream about puppies. This is a must watch like every other episode of this series. I am always a sucker for guys just sitting and talking about the business. Thanks for reading!