It's not hard to imagine that Jerry 'The King' Lawler originally started as a radio personality. His ability to colorfully promote the local wrestling action prompted an agreement to train him in the fine art of kayfabe. Lawyer was a quick study and within a year he was already a tag champion. Lawyer had a real knack for acquiring titles. In fact, his 168 total is more than any other current WWE superstar (beat THAT Cena). Although none of those are actual WWE titles, it's still an astronomical number.
Lawler is most noted for his work in the southern territories, particularly in Memphis, where he was a mainstay as a competitor and promoter. Before the internet and even cable television, Lawler smartly made friends with Bill Apter, the Wrestling Magazine kingpin at the time and got his mug plastered all over those publications. This was the best way to get national exposure back then and now those magazines are still seen at yard sales across the country.
Lawler embarked on the next phase of his career with the WWE in 1992. As a broadcast personality and sometimes wrestler, he set the stage for the next two decades of his career. The WWE lacked mid-card talent at the time and he was (too) frequently called in to feud with stars like Bret Hart and Jake Roberts.
Lawler's over the top heel character was a welcome addition on commentary alongside Vince McMahon's circus promotion. Listening back and knowing who was signing the checks, it's surprising to hear Lawler continually call the boss an idiot. It was all part of the show of course, but outside of CM Punk's pipe bomb, it's unheard of now.
Through it all, the only thing louder than Lawler's puppy-love was his fashion sense. The guy has been continually on the cutting edge of tacky trends since day one. From his eagle's-claw beard, to his penchant for anything shiny, he continues to dress like wrestling never left the circus tent.
In researching this article, there were a few surprises along the way that might shock and offend you. Those with a weak stomach or fashion sense are warned now. Jerry Lawler might defend these fashion choices by saying, "it takes a king to pull this off!" Proceed at your own risk of blindness and/or unstoppable laughter.
Let's take a look.
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10 Those shirts
Here's my theory. Lawler knew that he needed to modernize his look by losing the goofy crown and frilly jacket but he wanted to retain the spirit of his royal image. These shirts were the solution. The shiny bling and royal-esque symbols were perfect for the modern poser King.
How you feel about a 65-year-old rocking these? Well that's another story. What's the solution folks? Should The King keep wearing these shirts or would you love to see the crown and robe come back?
9 The Road Warriors on Broadway
Yeh give him something real tough. Black leather, red trim, some metal studs, and design it into a gigantic V to really accentuate the shoulders. It'll be like the Road Warriors with a flashy red cape! I don't know how Hawk and Animal missed out on this one.
Actually out of all his getups, this is the one I most want to see again. With the release of the new Mad Max film, I feel this look is primed for a comeback. At least he could give it to the Ascension to further their rip-off appropriately.
What's worse is King wore this outfit for his only WrestleMania match, but at least the outfit wasn't as regrettable as the match with Michael Cole.
8 Did he or didn't he
Many sites reported long ago that the King had an update to his face and perhaps he admitted it himself. I'm not the one to toss around accusations, so judge for yourself.
I'm not a fan of plastic surgery for vanity sake, and I especially don't like the increasingly shallow direction of reality tv and other zero-talent celebrities who offer nothing but their own ego on display. Lawler is most definitely NOT in this category as he is an incredibly important figure and builder of a sport I love very much. And in the end, humans can do what they want with their own body.
All that being said, I would say he certainly looks younger than 65, his nose is obviously different, and his face seems....wider? The updated look and his bland 'babyface' (no pun intended) broadcast personality seems so far away from the zany heel Lawler we all loved.
7 That slick 70s style
The 60s had slick fashion. Everything was stylized yet modest and slick. The 70s however was all about the flash and sizzle. Hair got bigger, colors were louder, and The Rolling Stones played disco. That is where this shirt was born.
Have you ever seen a collar that size? It's almost as big as his crown! How could any man have a large enough neck to compete with it?
Of course the shirt is a beautiful shiny orange and doesn't use any buttons above the nipple. That's for squares man!
6 Super King!
Looks like Lawler was trying to spruce up his gimmick with this look.
Adding a much more flamboyant cape, heroic armbands and a new super-pose was an idea only a champion could pull off (although with everything going on you barely notice the Gold belt around his waist). How he looks so serious while dressed like this is beyond me.
The matching red background shows that someone (probably him) put some money into this photo shoot. Money well spent obviously.
5 Reduce, Re-use, Recycle
The King has always believed in recycling. So when his favorite Chinese Buffet went out of business he saved all of their staff uniforms and drapes to make this beauty.
If you have eyes, you may have noticed there is quite a bit of detail on this top. In fact, there's enough going on here to fully show the entire history of China, dating back to 1200 B.C. Which is thousands of years before people pretending to fight wore crap like this on tv.
4 Trying something different
What are these, elegant pajamas?
For when you want the classiness only a tuxedo can bring but still want the comfort of sitting around in your underwear, try this.
I don't understand how this gets made. What situation arose that prompted the creation of a such a clothing hybrid? And could he not have gotten the matching undershirt? All of that effort wasted by the ONE time he decided to put a shirt on underneath. His wrestle-tan would have matched much better.
3 The rat-tail King
For a guy who spent his entire life in show business you think he would have perfected a winning camera smile. Maybe it's hard to smile when you're realizing that this fashion moment is being captured by a camera forever.
Here we have classic 90s Lawler. The crown and royal jacket accented with no shirt is a must for battles with Bret Hart. Can't let the Excellence of Execution think you're a pansy who wears a shirt.
The early 90s also brought us plenty of mullets and rat-tails as wrestlers updated their rockstar hair in the worst way possible. From the front, Lawler's hair lets you know that he's a professional who takes care of himself, but if he turns around and flashes the tail you know that there's still a wild man underneath it all.
2 Whatever this is
If they had tried to make film versions of Lord of the Rings back in the 70s and this is what the costumes would have looked like, aren't you glad they waited?
The tin-foil shiny top is adorned with the finest fake gold stitching a small wrestling promotion could buy or steal. You have to give credit to the design choice of keeping the lower half streamlined. The ballet-tight leotards and Flash Gordon space boots are definitely the only option here.
I'm guessing from the backdrop and flooring this picture was taken at the local strip mall.
1 An unflattering angle
This is the pinnacle moment as we get almost all of his Lawlerisms combined with a rarely seen BONUS garment. Hairy chest, one-shoulder singlet, cheeky bangs, rat-tail, and the crown all wrapped up in some kind of crazy-ass purple mumu covered in an alien language.
To top it off, the angle he chooses and mumu add about 200 pounds visually. I had to do a double take as at first I thought this was a fat fan's Halloween costume. But no, that's Jerry, he's purple and proud.
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