WWE Hall Of Famer Jerry 'The King' Lawler was a guest on The Steve Austin Show. Among many other things, Lawler discussed his return to RAW's commentary team. Specifically, Lawler addressed how the new deal came together, working with Vic Joseph and Dio Madden, and what the biggest challenges have been since his return.
Lawler, who signed a new WWE deal in November 2019, divulged on the podcast how his return to commentary took place. Lawler indicated that WWE producer Kevin Dunn called up 'The King' in November 2019 or so about a return to the broadcast booth. As FOX's big money deal for SmackDown positioned the blue brand as WWE's new A-show, the marquee commentary duo of Michael Cole and Corey Graves would move to Friday nights, leaving vacancies on the RAW announce team.
"I think I started back in November  or something like that or maybe October. Yeah, I just got a call. I had been off the air for a long time and I just got a call from Kevin Dunn one day. Well, what precipitated it or what helped me out a little bit was when they did the deal with FOX, and FOX decided that they would go on Friday nights with [SmackDown], and everybody knew, I mean, it's a billion-dollar contract. I mean, can you imagine that, Steve? A billion dollars? A billion dollars in the [pro] wrestling business that they paid for five years of the rights to SmackDown? So that immediately, in the minds of everybody, [SmackDown] was going to become the #1 show of WWE."
Lawler continued, "so [SmackDown], they considered that their #1 show and so they decided that they were going to put Michael Cole and Corey Graves over on… they were going to make the trip over to SmackDown… they were the #1 team on RAW and they were going to switch them over to SmackDown, since that's going to be the most watched show, and they just said… I think we mentioned the fact that Paul Heyman, they sort of put Paul Heyman in charge of RAW, and he had an announce team in mind that he wanted to use for RAW, and it didn't include me. It was basically three people that kind of had not had much experience. They may have been on NXT, or Main Event, or something like that, and I think the decision was made that, 'man, you've got to have one person that [has] had some experience. You can't just throw three rookies, so to speak, out on the #1 show. Still RAW is the #1 show because it has been for so many years and it still is even with SmackDown there [on FOX]. And they came to the decision that they can't throw three rookies out there without some [experience]. Kevin Dunn said, 'what we needed was a star.' He was trying to put me over. Anyway, he said, 'we need somebody to anchor that broadcast for the younger people,' so they called me up and that's how it got going again."
On the subject to Lawler's return to RAW, 'The King' said that a lot of the behind-the-scene staff are the same from his prior run with the company and it is only talent that is new.
"The one thing that was sort of the constant was almost everybody with the backstage crew was still there. Those people haven't changed. So many of those people are there." Lawler acknowledged, "going out and kind of getting acquainted with the new talent has changed a little bit."
Apparently when Lawler returned to RAW, he only met his RAW announce teammates Vic Joseph and Dio Madden one hour before their first broadcast together.
"I was put on the air with Vic Joseph who I had never met. It's funny, I showed up to do RAW one night. The first night that I was back on there, I'd never even met Vic Joseph. I met him the first time one hour before we went on the air to do the live show." Lawler added, "and another kid, Dio Madden, that was… I think he was a [pro] wrestler in NXT and they were trying him out as another color guy, so we had this three-man booth all-of-a-sudden, and we went on the air and we hadn't… I hadn't even met those other two before in my life."
Interestingly, Lawler admitted that he came back to RAW when NXT was 'invading' the big red show and he did not know any of the NXT Superstars causing chaos in the squared circle.
"One of the first couple of weeks I was back on the air, they had the NXT invasion where all the NXT [pro] wrestlers started coming up and jumping in the ring on the guys. And I'll never forget, as soon as they jumped in the ring, of course, our mics were open, so I couldn't really say anything, so I punched Vic next to me and I looked at him and he looked over at me, and I mouthed it, I said, 'don't ask me anything about these guys' because I didn't know any of them!" Lawler noted, "[Joseph] picked up the ball for me there because that could have been very embarrassing."
According to Lawler, he does not watch pro wrestling when he is not working, so getting to know WWE's new talent has been the biggest challenge in his return to commentating RAW.
"That's the biggest thing is not really knowing a lot of the new guys," Lawler said. "I mean, I'll be honest with [Austin]. I've been in the [pro wrestling] business 50 years. I don't watch a lot of [pro] wrestling. When I'm not on the air, I'm not going to sit around and watch NXT and Main Event and stuff like that all the time. I'm like [Austin]. I'll go back and watch stuff on YouTube or on the WWE Network, some of the old stuff, but so that's the thing that has been kind of tough on me, was keeping up with the new talent and getting acquainted with the new talent."
Listen to the show here. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit The Steve Austin Show with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.