Recently, WWE Hall of Famer Jerry "The King" Lawler was interviewed by Boomer Esiason & Craig Carton for CBS New York and opened up in regards to some very interesting topics. Conversation included; his heart attack from late last year, his angle with Andy Kaufman, nearly wrestling Elvis Presley and more. Here are some of the highlights:
On having his heart attack on live television back in September: "Fortunately, I think fortunately, I really have no memory of that. We were doing a live broadcast, Monday Night Right, world-wide television. I had a match, a tag team match with myself and Randy Orton wrestling Dolph Ziggler and our WWE champion C.M. Punk. We went in and had a match that lasted about ten minutes long.
"Then, from the match, I came over and we went to commercial break and we started doing commentary. Literally, the next time I opened my eyes, I'm in the hospital with a ventilator down my throat and all these I.V.s in me and wires going everywhere.
"...That was the real deal. Apparently, I had a cardian arrest and my heart just stopped beating for twenty minutes. ... They did CPR for 20 minutes and they shocked me seven or eight times and got me back."
On whether or not he was faking his heart attack like Andy Kaufman claimed he wanted to fake his death: "That was on the one thing that Andy said would be his ultimate prank or hoax. That's what Andy was, he was a great performance artist. He hated to be called a comedian, he said, 'I've never told a joke in my life.'
"The thing that he was fascinated about wrestling was because as a kid, he watched wrestling and 'Nature Boy' Buddy Rodgers was his favorite. He said, 'It fascinated me that someone could go on television and intentionally try to make people dislike him or hate him but still be so popular.
"Once Andy became a performer, that's really what he wanted to do. If you watched any of his shows, he really tried to make people dislike him."
On slapping Andy Kaufman across the face during an interview with Dave Letterman: "Actually, when we got there that day to be on Letterman's show, Andy would not be seen with me. He wouldn't go anywhere with me. So, seperately, they brought us back with the segment coordinator and the guy said, 'Here's what we want to do. You guys are going to be on for two segments. Dave is going to have you try to be a little antagonistic.'
"I said, 'How antagonistic?' He said, 'Just a little bit during the first segment. During the second segment, Andy will apologize for making fun of wrestling and doing whgat he did and then you apologize to Andy for giving him the piledriver. Then, Andy is going to sing 'What The World Needs Now Is Love, Sweet Love.'
"That was what was supposed to happen. That was early in the day because we taped at 5:30 in the afternoon and Andy called me at about noon and he said, 'You met with the segment coordinators?' I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'What do you think?' I was just happy to be on network television. I said, 'All that's going to do though, Andy, is end our feud forever once we apologize on network television.'
"He said, 'Yeah...I wonder what would happen if you just hauled off and slugged me?' And I said, 'Well, first of all Andy, they probably wouldn't show it. Second of all, I'll probably get arrested. So, I don't know if we should do that or not.' He said, 'Yeah, you're probably right.' And literally, that's the way it was left. I didn't see or talk to Andy until we went on the air."
On whether or not he knew the Andy Kaufman angle would become as big as it did: "Oh, no. Absolutely not. Honestly, Andy first approached Vince McMahon, Sr. in Long Island, New York, which was where Andy was from, with the idea of wrestling women. Which was what Andy was in to at the time. He was calling himself the 'Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion of the World.'
"So, he was wrestling women and he wanted to do it in front of a wrestling audience. So, he approached Mr. McMahon at one of his shows and at that time so many years ago, I guess Mr. McMahon said, 'You know, Andy, I'm just really hesitant to involve a Hollywood actor in our wrestling. Our fans are skeptical anyway. I just don't want to do it, but thank you for your interest.'
"Fortunately, a buddy of mine named Bill Apter, who wrote for wrestling magazines, overheard the conversation and he told Andy, 'Yeah, I have a friend Jerry Lawler who has a wrestling company down in Memphis. He would probably be interested in this.' He called up and, literally, the whole idea was for him to come down and wrestle women."
"...And [the Letterman appearance] changed wrestling. I honestly believe to this day that my involvement with Andy and getting that network and world-wide publicity there for wrestling, it started the ball rolling...I mean, now, wrestling is Hollywood."
His thoughts on Hulk Hogan's impact in the sport: "You know, a lot of people are not in Hulk's corner anymore and maybe the WWE isn't. But, and this is just my personal opinion, Hulk Hogan and Hulkamania was probably the most important thing that took place in wrestling. (He's asked who gets credit for it.] You want my opinion? McMahon and the WWE. I won't say they could have done the exact same thing with anybody but they gave him the platform.
On the movie The Wrestler and whether it reminded him of situations in wrestling he's seen: "Oh, yes. I can think of one single individual I've seen that that was his life when you watch it. It's probably no secret: Jake 'The Snake' Roberts. I think that he lived that movie. I understand that he is still trying to make a comeback and get his life back together.
"I thought it was pretty accurate, but my only problem with that movie was that I think a lot of fans or people that saw that movie didn't really know a lot about wrestling and it gave them the wrong impression that almost all wrestlers end up like that. That's certainly not the case.
"You could make that same movie about any form of entertainment. Any sports figure, any athlete, any entertainer. It's choices that people make in life and we've certainly had our share of guys that make mistakes."
On trying to work a wrestling angle with Elvis Presley: "Believe it or not, right before Elvis died, I spoke to his father Vernon and approached him with the idea of Elvis and I having an actual match. Elvis was a big wrestling fan, he used to actually go to the matches there in Memphis on occasion. He got really big into martial arts and karate and everything.
"...[H]e ran it by Elvis and he said, 'He loves the idea.' Then, I'll never forget, but he said, 'I'll be honest with you, Elvis is not in the greatest of shape but he's losing weight and he's starting to work out to get ready for this upcoming tour. Soon as we get back, we'll call you and we'll work something out.' He passed away before the tour."
To check out the entire interview, click here.
Lyle contributed to this article. Got a news tip or correction? Send it to us by clicking here.