Still good to be the King: Jerry Lawler delivers exciting match but comes up short in bid to become WWE champion
The logical side of me realized that 61-year-old Jerry Lawler had no business last night defeating the Miz, one of the hottest young WWE stars in recent memory, as the champion heads into WrestleMania. But I’ll be damned if the fan in me didn’t hope for a title change–and at times during World Wrestling Entertainment’s Elimination PPV title bout, I actually believed that Lawler might upset the champion and take the belt.
Lawler’s pre-match promo discussing the death of his mother a week ago to the day was from the heart and one of those moments when reality and fantasy blend together to make pro wrestling (or sports entertainment) a wonderfully unique art form.
Last year, when speaking of Jack Brisco, the first champion whom the young King faced over 34 years ago, Lawler praised the recently deceased former NWA titleholder, saying that he made it appear “as if a young local kid like me could beat the World champion.”
Sunday night, the Miz did everything in his power to make it appear the 61-year-old Lawler was still capable of beating the champion. Lawler looked good, too, with the exception of an awkward superplex, but made up for it with his usual excellent psychology, great-looking right hands, and a wonderful spot when he tossed Miz into the champ’s biggest fan, Michael Cole, for a huge pop from the Oakland crowd.
When the King pulled the strap and delivered his fistdrop from the middle rope–his finisher from his Memphis heyday–my friends and I watching on PPV popped. We were thinking title change…but the Miz stopped the count by placing his leg on the rope just in time to stop the referee’s count a la Nick Bockwinkel so many times in the ’80s.
In the end, I suppose the right business decision was made. Miz defeated Lawler clean in the middle with his finisher. No controversy.
The young cocky punk hangs on to the title heading for a showdown with RAW Chamber winner John Cena. Hard to argue with the result, really. But I can’t help but think WWE missed out on creating a moment that fans would have talked about for years–the day a wily veteran rallied against the odds to become champion at 61.
Still, in another way, after following the King’s career since 1977 and seeing him come up heartbreakingly short in World title matches over the years, perhaps this was fitting.
Initially, I felt really disappointed over last night’s finish. Then I realized that, if only for a night, I once again got to feel like a kid who believed in the sport of professional wrestling. And for that, I thank Lawler, Miz and Vince McMahon.