Jim Ross Recalls The King Jerry Lawler's On-Air Heart Attack In WWE

The theatric world of pro wrestling can often get too real even with the cameras rolling, and one such unscripted event occurred on the September 10, 2012 episode of "WWE Raw" when Jerry Lawler suffered a heart attack and collapsed at the commentary booth. At the time, Jim Ross had assumed the role of an advisor and was coaching announcers at the WWE Performance Center, which meant he was not next to his long-time broadcast colleague when the unthinkable occurred on live television. On "Grilling Jr," Ross recalled the misery he felt watching the show from home — just like any other fan — and not knowing if his dear friend had breathed his last.

"I was scared to death," Ross recalled his reaction. "I remember so vividly Jan, my late wife, was just beside herself — she was trying to figure out if it was TV angle. I said, 'I don't think so, honey. I think this is the real deal.' And it was the real deal, unfortunately. But fortunately, Jerry survived."

Barely hours after Lawler was hospitalized to recover from his cardiac event, Ross received a phone call from WWE Executive Kevin Dunn asking him to fill in as a substitute announcer for WWE's flagship show. Reflecting on the call, Ross felt it was "so strange" and "came out of nowhere" at a time when he was praying for the life of his dear friend. Yet, he felt honored to keep his friend's seat warm during his time away from WWE. 

"Just for me to be able to sit in his chair ringside was really special," Ross recalled. "I think it was a good call, and I appreciated Kevin Dunn's confidence in me. I was just excited that A, Jerry was still alive, and B, they were giving me the opportunity to sit in his spot."