Starting in 1972, under the leadership of local legend Sam Bass the legacy of the future "King" would begin to take shape. Jerry Lawler would see his stock rise in 1974 with a feud against another legend Jackie Fargo. Lawler would win the feud against his former trainer and mentor from winning the feud Lawler would not only become the NWA Southern Champion he would also become the "King of Wrestling." For the next forty years Lawler would be the one true "King" in the wild world of wrestling.
Breaking down the career of Jerry Lawler maybe opening doors that are unneeded to open, but at one point Memphis was able to turn even misfortune into gold with Lawler's broken leg in 1979 setting up a face turn for the top star and Jimmy Hart's First Family becoming the most hated presence in the promotion. In the past a lot has been made about his historic rivalry against Andy Kaufman who again had Lawler's earliest rival by his side Jimmy Hart. On a list of the top ten names from the territory era Jerry Lawler would be near the top five. I would even say of the talent outside WWE at the time Lawler was behind only Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes as the hottest draws during the entire era. Feuds with Dutch Mantel, Eddie Gillbert, Austin Idol, and various others would leave the Mid South Coliseum rocking for decades.
Lawler and Jarrett had an uncanny ability to start a new talent in the territory get them over just by feuding with Lawler and every time it would lead to a sell out. Fast forward to end of his time in Memphis and his legendary feud with Bret Hart focusing on the chemistry these men had with each other was incredible. We haven't spoken about Lawler's time on commentary and him forming the greatest commentary pairing in wrestling history alongside Jim Ross.
In my opinion, "The King" doesn't get the credit he deserves as most are unaware of the legacy he leaves behind in the wrestling business. As someone who has been in wrestling for 52 years at this point it would be impossible to put into words the impact he has had on the sport. One thing is for certain though Jerry Lawler will always be "King" and a legend of Memphis wrestling. It is my honor and privilege to induct Jerry Lawler into the Wrestling Express Hall of Fame Class of 2022.
Back during the territory era, various territories had their leaders with announcers Lance Russell, Gordon Solie, and various others setting the bar as the announcers to teach the future. Soon after Bill Watts took control of the Mid South territory he would replace long time announcer Boyd Pierce with a fresh youngster named Jim Ross. Watts wanted a new look for his product when he brought the Oklahoma territory from Leroy McGuirk which prompted Watts to decide to change perception and allow Ross to become the lead announcer. Mind you this was the early 1980's and he is still going strong to this day in the business. I did a lot of talking about JR's career when I awarded him the lifetime achievement award. click here!
Jim Ross has done it all in this wrestling business and continues to prove that he can still lead the charge being the voice we here every week on television. Ross has been in creative, talent relations, and has done more to help announcers of the future then pretty much anyone else in the wrestling business. In my opinion, the shock of seeing Jim Ross make the move to AEW was surprising, but at the same time added legitimacy to the product from the very start.
I don't feel like there is a need to a say much about JR, because there isn't much that most wrestling aren't aware of. But from his time with Bill Watts in Mid South, to WCW/NWA, to WWE, and now with AEW JR has been a constant presence in the world of wrestling for over forty years. It is my honor and privilege to induct Jim Ross into the Wrestling Express Hall of Fame Class of 2022.