Archive for April, 2011

There’s a reason Jerry Lawler isn’t coaching basketball

April 25th, 2011 1 comment

This man is no Dana Kirk.

Jerry Lawler made an appearance before the Memphis Grizzlies’ home playoff game at FedEx Forum yesterday, urging the team to pull the strap down and “piledrive San Antonio.” Just one problem with that strategy: The piledriver is still on the books as being banned in the state of Tennessee, so use of the potentially lethal hold on the basketball court yesterday would have resulted in an automatic disqualification and most likely a fine from Commissioner Stern.

The Grizzlies won the game but not without some controversy. Zack Randolph hit a 3-pointer over the outstretched hands of the Spurs’ Tim Duncan with 41.9 seconds remaining to give the franchise its first home playoff win. However, Duncan has supposedly filed a protest with the league claiming that Lawler threw a fireball in his eyes while the referees’ backs were turned, giving  Randolph his opening. The NBA championship committee is reviewing the film and should make a ruling this afternoon.


There are no small roles-especially for Giant actors

April 21st, 2011 4 comments

For the record, even Steve Austin could not body slam Andre the Giant, brother.

As a kid, I loved it when my worlds collided-like Darth Vader, Kojak, Spider-Man and Frankenstein wrestling in Memphis, “Handsome” Jimmy Valiant recording a rock song, the group Kiss getting their own Marvel Comic Book, and The Fonz showing up on the season finale of “Laverne & Shirley.”

In today’s terms, think of The Onion meets Kentucky Fried Rasslin’-like last week’s fictional story on Donald Trump and Jerry Lawler buying the Mid-South Coliseum, a joke that fooled a lot of people. Channel 13 in Memphis actually called the King for a quote on “the story.” I apologize for any confusion; however, I did graduate from the Bill Apter School of Wrestling Journalism.

Doctor Who Sale - Buy 1, Get 2nd 40% Off at Entert

So, anyway, I was thrilled when wrestler Andre the Giant appeared as “The Sasquatch Beast” (Bionic Bigfoot) in a two-part episode of “The Six-Million Dollar Man,” my favorite TV show in 1976.  (As a chubby kid, I longed to be better, stronger, faster.) It was the ultimate dream match to a little boy, in the same vein as Andre vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III. And really, the fight-scene clip posted from YouTube below has wayyyy better action-look at Andre move! Then again, Hogan and Andre didn’t have the benefit of those awesomely cool bionic sound effects and dramatic slow-motion shots. If you have to question how much of a bad ass the Six-Million Dollar Man is, look at how he rips apart the Giant with a mere armdrag.

It would be the greatest size challenge Steve Austin would face…until Stone Cold wrestled the Big Show on WWE Monday Night RAW in 1999. The best part of casting Andre is that not only did he have the perfect size for the role, but little makeup was required as well.

Usually, when you think of Andre in Hollywood, you think of “Princess Bride,” especially if you’re Terry Funk, who claims to have watched it dozens of times at the big man’s request when the two were traveling together.

I hadn’t thought about Andre’s prime-time network TV debut with Lee Majors in years, until I stumbled across this gem of an ad below over at Plaid Stallions. (Hmmm…I’ll bet the Giant didn’t see a dime of royalties.)

Still, Andre must’ve done something right, as he also appeared as pro wrestler “Killer Typhoon,” on Majors’ “The Fall Guy” in 1982. (I love how the episode sort of protects the business when they say “the championship matches” aren’t fixed. )

Knowing how Memphis loved pop-culture gimmicks, I’d bet that Bionic Bigfoot vs. Lawler might have been a bigger draw than Andre the Giant in the late ’70s.

That appears dangerously close to a low blow. Then again, when you're up against Bionic Bigfoot, it's no DQ.

Jerry Lawler, Donald Trump propose to buy Mid-South Coliseum, turn historic arena into innovative timeshare resort

April 13th, 2011 3 comments

A royal deal: Trump and Lawler reveal their plans to the media at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.

WMC-TV is reporting that Jerry Lawler and Donald Trump held a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis to announce plans to buy the Mid-South Coliseum and turn the historic arena into an innovative timeshare tourist attraction.

Although not yet approved by the city council, Lawler and Trump’s proposal calls for the former 11,365-seat Coliseum to be renovated to include a Memphis wrestling museum, a championship miniature golf course and the city’s largest deli, in which multiple parties would hold rights to use the property under a contracted alloted amount of time.

The Coliseum, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has made headlines recently, with the city council proposing to demolish the long-empty venue as part of a continued redevelopment of the Memphis Fairgrounds and adjacent Liberty Bowl.

Trump and Lawler have stepped up not only to save the former “Entertainment Capital of the Mid-South” but also to turn the landmark into a moneymaking venture that would appeal to both townspeople and tourists alike.

According to Trump, this unique timeshare restaurant/resort concept lowers the risk of investment while potentially maximizing huge profits.

“As long are you’re going to be thinking-think big,” said Trump, speaking in front of the Memphis media for the first time since the USFL expansion days of the city’s Showboats franchise. “When Jerry approached me with this proposal backstage at a recent WWE event in Las Vegas, I immediately understood the concept and its potential. I’m still the number-one developer in New York. I’m the biggest in Atlantic City. And maybe now Memphis. Already, Vince McMahon is interested in housing an actual WWE Hall of Fame facility on the grounds as well.”

FansEdge - The Ultimate Store for the Ultimate Fan

Lawler revealed that he abandoned plans to open Jerry “the King” Lawler’s Deli last fall with hopes of opening the proposed eatery in the same arena in which he served up mayhem to thousands of fans every Monday night for nearly 30 years.

“The Coliseum has so many memories for me that I’d like to give back to the city to provide a form of entertainment that has true value for the people of Memphis,” said Lawler, a two-time mayoral candidate. “Dollar for dollar, you won’t find a better entertainment deal, and best of all, there will be plenty of seating.”

In the opposing corner is Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, who wants to clear the Coliseum and rebuild Maywood Beach, an outdoor water park that was popular for decades after opening in nearby Olive Branch, Miss., in 1931. Like the original concept, Mayor Wharton proposes to build an enormous swimming pool lined at the bottom with several hundred tons of white sand imported from Destin, Fla.

“We have to question whether there is a higher and better use for that piece of land,” Mayor Wharton said. “I have my opinion. I think there is. Namely, a beach within reach for the people of Memphis.”

Once serving as center stage for everyone from the Beatles to the Rolling Stones to Elvis Presley, the Coliseum has seen better days. A non-compete clause at FedEx Forum ended concerts at the venue, and millions would need to be spent to correct code issues, including accessibility for the disabled.

“I don’t make deals for the money,” Trump explained. “I’ve got enough, much more than I’ll ever need. I do it to do it. I have made the tough decisions, always with an eye toward the bottom line. Perhaps it’s time Memphis was run like a business.”