Every young man who watched Memphis wrestling throughout the ’80s most likely had a crush on Mrs. Paula Lawler, the King’s Queen.
The former Paula Carruth, who met Jerry Lawler at the Mid-South Fair in the late ’70s, wasn’t a wrestling fan when the monarch of Memphis mayhem began flirting with her during a personal appearance. (Fans were lined up at the Fairgrounds to pose with Lawler for a picture, which could be turned into a poster for a few bucks; Paula was one of the pretty girls hired to work the booth.) They were married on Valentine’s Day evening 1982; earlier that afternoon, Lawler dropped the AWA Southern title to Dutch Mantell. (The Dirty Dutchman discusses that bout and his memorable feud with Lawler here.)
Paula went on to become a fixture on “The Jerry Lawler Show” (the King’s Sunday morning talk show) during the fall for “Paula’s Picks,” a segment in which she supposedly selected the winners of that afternoon’s NFL games. (Like a woman could do that.) Paula and Jerry had a great chemistry together and played off each other very well.
Perhaps most memorable for pubescent boys was Paula’s appearance wearing a bikini in the video for “Wimpbuster,” Lawler’s parody of the popular “Ghostbusters” theme song by Ray Parker Jr. (And you thought listening to “Weird” Al Yankovic could be brutal.) If you look closely, in the video, you can see his young sons Kevin and Brian Lawler.
Although as a young mark I briefly wondered how Jimmy Hart happened to be at the same beach (Maywood?) as Paula was catching some sun just in time for the TV cameras to capture the moment for the video, my young mind quickly wandered off that subject as Mrs. Lawler stormed off–nice um…bikini.
Because of my friendship with Lawler’s son Kevin, by 1990 I began hanging around the dressing rooms and even frequently visiting the King’s castle, his Coca-Cola-memorabilia-filled home on Walnut Grove Road in Memphis. And it seemed like every time we dropped by, Paula was cooking fried chicken, the food of heavyweight wrestling champions everywhere. (I suppose the inspiration for Kentucky Fried Rasslin’ was hatched right there in Lawler’s kitchen.)
She was always really sweet. Shortly after I became a referee, Paula asked me, “Scott, why are you involved in such a crazy business?” I recall not really having a clear answer for her other than it had always been a childhood dream.
Fans weren’t the only ones smitten with Mrs. Lawler. Supposedly, Antonio Inoki sunset-flipped for her when Lawler brought Paula along on a tour of Japan in the early ’80s. Inoki treated the Lawlers like royalty the entire trip, taking them to expensive dinners and showing them the sights.
Paula and Jerry divorced in the early ’90s; both of their subsequent marriages didn’t turn out so well. Through it all, they’ve remained good friends over the years.
I’m happy to say that Paula is as pretty as ever–and still looks great in a bikini–as evidenced by the recent picture above. She’ll always be rasslin’ royalty in my eyes.