Raw airs in the early hours of the morning in the UK, so when I was asked the next day ”Did you see what happened on Raw?!” I shut myself off from Twitter/FaceBook/etc. so I wouldn’t be spoilt by what I assumed would be an exciting angle or interview.
When both commentators stopped talking during the Bryan/Kane vs. Prime Time Players and saw all the crowd stood up and staring at something off-camera, I thought ”ah, this must be it.” and then after a few minutes ”Wow, they’re going for the worked shoot when Bret Hart is there? Shit, he must be thrilled.”
Wrestling companies over the years have indulged in the practice of Worked Shoots (an angle that is supposed to look real and not be part of the show…but is) that when something legitimate happens like this, all I think is ”Oh they’re doing a good job of making this look real.” It didn’t help that Lawler has been feuding with CM Punk and given WWE’s insistence on making Punk a heel by completely changing his character around, it wasn’t out of the realms of possibility that Punk would come out and gloat as a stretchered Lawler was whisked away to the nearest ‘medical facility.’
Checking online and realising that this was in fact real was jarring to say the least. Although Lawler has been on auto-pilot since 2002 (although he became the default best commentator on TV last year when everybody else was Cole, Taz, Tenay, whoever-commentates-on-NXT-and-Superstars and Booker T), he was truly The King on the mic as a regular wrestler from 1993-1995 and a stunningly entertaining commentator from 1995-2001(ish). Wherever he was burning people with quick quips like ”Is that your face or did you neck throw up?” or getting behind Vince McMahon and Triple H in the funniest ways possible during the Attitude Era, Lawler’s been producing cherished memories for decades and I hope younger fans don’t think that the man creating background noise you hear on TV is a legend in his own mind.
Some people have asked me if they should have stopped the show or not. I would have thought the best way to deal with the situation would be to show repeats of classic matches (involving Lawler and Bret, seeing as he was at the show) and stopped. That way, they produce something for the TV audience without coming across as monsters. Sadly by the looks of things, WWE really has no back-up plan for situations like this other than ‘hope it doesn’t happen.’ I’m not going to criticize WWE or the wrestlers or whoever for continuing, but you’d think by now they’d have SOME plan.
God knows what this is going to do for Linda’s campaign. ”Why are you having 62 year old men who doesn’t get annual health check-ups wrestle on a regular basis?”
Anyway that’s my take on things. Best of luck Lawler.
Edit: A better view of the third guy hitting Punk.
Better view of it here, embedding is disabled so you have to watch it on YouTube.
Punk runs into the crowd to stare angrily at Vince McMahon in the ring. One fan