No. 1 at 61: Jerry Lawler named top contender, will challenge Miz for WWE title at Elimination Chamber PPV
More than 35 years after his first World heavyweight title match, Jerry “the King” Lawler won Monday’s RAW Rumble mini-battle royal to earn a WWE championship bout with the Miz at the upcoming Elimination Chamber PPV. Monday’s show also seemed to set up a possible WrestleMania match between Lawler and Ted DiBiase Jr., possibly with a shot at heel announcer Michael Cole hanging in the balance.
Lawler, 61, has said many times he’s accomplished everything he’s set out to do in the business, with the exception of working a match on wrestling’s biggest stage. Vince McMahon promised him a ‘Mania bout years ago, but thus far has failed to follow through. This looks to be the year the King gets his ‘Mania match. A Lawler vs. Miz bout for the title on the Nov. 29 RAW captured the imagination of the fans, and the issue has been festering between the King and the young champion ever since.
Monday night, a scaled-down version of the Royal Rumble was called for by the still-unknown RAW General Manager with the winner getting a crack at the WWE title, with the participants being Randy Orton, CM Punk, Sheamus, R Truth, John Morrison, John Cena…and Lawler. Really, out of all those options, Lawler does make the most sense. Cena vs. Miz is a lock for WrestleMania, Orton has had too many cracks at the title of late and is headed into a feud with Punk, and I think the reasons are fairly obvious for the rest. In addition to the World title chamber showdown, I’m guessing the second chamber match will determine who faces the WWE champion at WrestleMania since Rumble winner Alberto Del Rio (who was great in an angle to start the show) announced he’s going for Edge’s title. Looks like Cena wins the Chamber, while DiBiase screws Lawler out of the belt to set up their WrestleMania match.
The RAW Rumble was great action from start to finish, with Morrison pulling off some nifty moves once again to stay alive–though none as spectacular as his Spider-Man save on Sunday night. Lawler was easily the crowd favorite with chants of “Jerry, Jerry, Jerry” quite audible. As on Nov. 29, Lawler was trending on Twitter last night, with many old-school fans nationwide rooting for the last great territorial legend still active in WWE to have his moment. With Cena on the apron on the verge of elimination, Sheamus shoved Lawler into the former Champ, knocking the jorts-wearing superstar out of the match. As Lawler apologized to Cena, Sheamus went for the bicycle kick. But the King ducked and Cena pulled down the top rope, eliminating the first Irish-born WWE champ…leaving Lawler alone as the winner. And the King didn’t even have to pull down his strap, the traditional start of his Superman comeback when rallying to victory. The only thing missing was Jim Ross calling the match. There was a nice on-camera moment afterward with Cena congratulating Lawler, who will be wrestling in likely his last World title match ever at the Elimination Chamber PPV in three weeks.
This will be Lawler’s fourth crack at the Former Fed’s title. Bret Hart defeated Lawler in a cage match for the WWF title on consecutive nights in 1996 at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville on Feb. 16 and at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis on Feb. 17 in front of 7,500 fans. Lawler also wrestled Shawn Michaels when HBK was champion on an episode of RAW in 1996; however, that was a non-title affair. His last shot was the TLC match vs. the Miz on Nov. 29 of last year, when he literally had the title in his grasp before being knocked to the canvas off the ladder, enabling the champion to retain in a riveting bout.
Shortly after the beginning of 1974, Memphis promoter Jerry Jarrett started the Quest for the Title program, designed to get his young star Lawler over as a legit World title contender in the fans’ eyes, with the King beating NWA’s top contenders. Although Lawler had several feuds over the years with the likes of “Handsome” Jimmy Valiant, Terry Funk, the Mongolian Stomper, Joe LeDuc, Austin Idol, Eddie Gilbert, Dutch Mantell and Tommy Rich, the promotion always eventually went back to the storyline of the King’s chase for the World heavyweight championship.
In 2011, the quest continues for the immortal King of Wrestling.