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Archive for January, 2011

No. 1 at 61: Jerry Lawler named top contender, will challenge Miz for WWE title at Elimination Chamber PPV

January 31st, 2011 7 comments

The King...is...here! Cena crowns Lawler the winner.

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 ValiantTerry Funk, the Mongolian Stomper, Joe LeDucAustin 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.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin has fond memories of Memphis wrestling

January 31st, 2011 2 comments

On his Twitter page, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin recently posted a picture of a payoff sheet from his days working the Memphis USWA territory. No wonder Austin carried around a bag of potatoes and wore the same set of clothes every time I saw him backstage in 1991. Lean times, indeed.

Most of you know the story behind Austin’s heat with Jeff Jarrett: After receiving a Jarrett Promotions check that was less than he expected, a stunned Steve sat there looking at it grimly when promoter Jerry Jarrett’s oldest son walked by, smacked Austin on the back and crowed in front of the other boys, “Staring at it won’t make it any bigger!” Austin never forgot the slight.

Just how bad were those payoffs? Take a look:

Stone cold's cash--or lack thereof--circa 1991.

Royal rumblings

January 30th, 2011 2 comments

Return of the King?

Tonight’s WWE PPV promises to be interesting if anything else, with a few notable surprise Royal Rumble entrants already revealed at the Wrestling Observer. (None of the unexpected entrants have a chance of winning, but it’ll be cool to see both back. Though I wonder if the biggest one can make it to the ring without blowing out his knee.)

It’s been expected that Triple H will make his return tonight, as they’ve obviously been building to a King of Kings vs. King Sheamus showdown at WrestleMania. In recent years, WWE has booked returning superstars coming back from injuries to win event, but I think perhaps Trips eliminates Sheamus and then eliminates himself to inflict further damage on his nemesis as they brawl to the back.

John Cena has to be considered a favorite, with him challenging Miz for the title at ‘Mania. Yep, I think somehow Miz escapes with the title against Orton tonight, perhaps serving as a catalyst for Orton’s heel turn–as he’s been vowing “no more Mr. Nice Guy” of late. If the company is as committed to creating new young stars as they claim, Miz needs the credibility of heading into the biggest show of the year as WWE champion.

Undertaker has been considered 50/50 of healing from his own injuries in time for ‘Mania, supposedly slotted against Wade Barrett for the Atlanta show, but the prognosis has been more promising of late. While I don’t think he’s ready for tonight, WWE loves springing surprises at the Rumble, so maybe the Dead Man will be resurrected tonight.

Nexus leader CM Punk could use the Rumble rub as they’ve made him the biggest heel on RAW of late. Wouldn’t surprise me either to see Chris Jericho back, but I haven’t heard anything definite on that and the timing wouldn’t be right for him to win as I doubt he’s ready to commit to a full-time schedule again.

Cena is the obvious choice–which makes me think they’ll go for the swerve. I’ll say Punk wins tonight with the help of his stable, with Cena ending up with the title shot in the end through some kind of stipulation at the next PPV. Or perhaps fearing that Miz isn’t quite on that superstar level, the company will make it a three-way-dance with the Awesome one defending against both Cena and Punk at ‘Mania. The promos among those three would be memorable. If it’s not Punk, I’ll say HHH.

Darkhorse might be Orton. Maybe after losing his title shot earlier in the evening, he slithers his way into the event and screws Cena out of the win, switching him back heel. They’ve been teasing an Rated-RKO reunion, but maybe it’s swerve with Orton challenging Edge for the belt at ‘Mania.

Or maybe Awesome Kong debuts in the Rumble, kicks everyone’s ass, and challenges Miz not only for the WWE title but to determine who’s the most AWESOME superstar in the business. (Nah, never happen. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Kong gets involved in the Divas match.)

Personally, I’ll be rooting for Lawler, who could play the aging challenger role who’s never appeared in the ring at ‘Mania as he takes on the young cocky champion. Hey, it could happen.

Any thoughts? What do you say, marks?