Hair-raising reunion: Jerry Lawler, Austin Idol and Tommy Rich meet again
During Jerry Lawler’s appearance at this year’s NWA Legends Fan Fest in Atlanta, he took time for an impromptu photo-op with two of his most bitter rivals in Memphis wrestling, Tommy Rich and Austin Idol.
The battles pitting the King vs. the Universal Heartthrob and Wildfire was the territory’s best-drawing program of 1987 and is widely considered the last great Memphis feud. (For my first-hand memories of being in the audience that night, click here.)
The Lawler vs. Idol hair match on April 27, 1987, had to be one of the most heated bouts of the era, culminating with the King’s royal locks being shaved in the middle of the ring as irate fans literally were climbing the (cage) walls to get to the dastardly duo and evil manager Paul E. Dangerly (aka “Dangerously” aka Heyman). Only a fully encircled police escort out of the ring and back to the safety of the dressing room 30 minutes after the finish saved the three heels from being lynched that hot Monday night.
Ironically, in this photo, Lawler’s close-cropped cut practically much matches the “head shaving” he received that night at the manicured hands of his own personal hairstylist, Ted Cortese. That was the only downside to the evening–Lawler didn’t come out looking like a cue ball a la Bill and Bev Dundee, Jean Louie, etc. (In fact, one argue Lawler’s perms in 1978 and 1985 were much worse.)
Incidentally, it’s amazing that then-21-year-old Paul E. was even in that spot as the manager of Idol, who was one of the best promo guys in the business. As Paul E. remembers it, he had a rocky start in Memphis, according to this video below. (It didn’t end so well either when Lawler deliberately broke Paul E.’s jaw in Evansville, Indiana, after the manager refused to scale the scaffold during the feud’s blowoff match the night before in Louisville.)