Michael Cole tried talking sense into Jerry Lawler. The initial reaction was “Sit back down, King,” urging him to just let Miz enjoy his Championship celebration. But Lawler could not shake off Miz’s rants on how he’s better than guys like Roddy Piper, and Ricky Steamboat because he’s WWE Champion. King knew that those guys weren’t WWE Champions because they never had a title shot.
Back then, there were no opportunistic means like Money in the Bank to score a World championship. During those years, Hulkamania ruled the wrestling world, which meant that for four years no one held the WWE championship except for Hulk Hogan. It was easy for Miz to run his mouth, but how would he fare against Jerry Lawler in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match for the WWE Championship?
Second reaction, “King is going to die live on Monday Night Raw.” How could the Anonymous General Manger issue a TLC match with a sixty-one-year-old challenger? Sure, Raw just happened to fall on The King’s birthday, and he had never had a WWE Championship opportunity, but was a suicide match the answer?
Usually when Lawler finds himself in a wrestling match, it tends to be last-minute. Zero preparation, keeping to a strict impromptu scenario. But this match was different. At the start of the program, after being granted the championship match, King left the broadcast table to prepare for his match. With two and a half hours, tension started to build for this match.
Reaction, “Cannot wait to see this match.” Even Arn Anderson stopped by to warn Lawler of the extraordinary dangers of TLC matches, especially at their age. But when mortality stares you in the face, knowing that you have never had an opportunity to become WWE Champion, you cannot leave this world with regrets.
The video package shown before the match was top-notch. Seeing clips of Lawler as AWA champion, on Late Night with David Letterman slapping Andy Kaufman, being inducted to the Hall of Fame really shined a new perspective on the wrestling career of Jerry Lawler as opposed to his fixture as a WWE announcer.
The TLC Championship match told a really solid story. This was Lawler’s first WWE Championship opportunity, as well as his first TLC. So seeing Lawler in this high risk environment with the energy from the fans chanting “Jerry!” were ingredients for a great match. Lawler even took several chair shots to the back, as Alex Riley handed Miz more instruments. But Lawler managed to get the better of the two by throwing them through separate tables.
With Miz and Riley both laid out, the ladder was clear for Lawler to climb. Now, WWE will never crown a sixty-one-year-old World champion, but in those seconds anything seemed possible. And when it comes to TLC, nothing is left outside the realm of possibility. Jerry “The King” Lawler could indeed become the WWE Champion on his birthday and then lose it the following week. Everyone wanted to see it happen, so why not just let it? Anything is possible.
Then it happened. Michael Cole stopped Jerry Lawler from climbing the ladder, thus costing him the match.
Final Thoughts: What in the world was Cole thinking. What business did a play-by-play commentator have in interfering with a Championship match? Jerry Lawler was finger tips away from becoming the WWE Champion. That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity squandered thanks to the Bromance Cole has for The Miz.
It would have been great to see Jim Ross backstage passing his friend some words of encouragement, and possibly a bottle of J.R.’s BBQ sauce – available on jrsbarbq.com.
Michael Cole should make his visits to Smackdown permanent, because Jerry Lawler will never forgive Cole.