Jerry Lawler has discussed his heated rivalry with Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart and revealed how Bret’s parents Stu and Helen really felt about The King’s on-screen barbs at their expense.
Lawler set his sights on Hart not long after joining the World Wrestling Federation, attacking The Hitman after Hart had won the 1993 King Of The Ring tournament. On and off for the next few years, Hart had to fend off Lawler and his different associates as he also dominated the WWF Championship scene at that time.
Speaking exclusively to Inside The Ropes’ own Findlay Martin for issue 2 of the Inside The Ropes magazine, Jerry Lawler discussed his feud with Hart that spread further than just The Hitman and at one point included the whole Hart clan. Lawler frequently made jokes at Hart’s parents Stu and Helen on television, only finding out years after the fact that they were thrilled to be mentioned.
“Well, that’s true. I didn’t really know it at the time, but, yeah. Bret told me later on—years later. He said: ‘To be honest with you, I was upset about the things you were saying because I felt like it was hurting the feelings of my parents.’ And he said: ‘It wasn’t until later on that my mom told me, ‘Oh, my gosh. No. We love Jerry Lawler. We loved it when he talked about us because it made us part of the show. If it wasn’t for him, we would probably never have gotten on the show.’”
Lawler then discussed the fact that Bret Hart had spoken to him about his jokes that frequently made fun of his parents’ age. For Lawler, the jokes were all about creating a personal issue between himself and Hart that the fans could buy into.
“Yeah. He told me at the time he thought that I was pushing the envelope a little too far and making it a little too personal. But, you know, I had come from the Tennessee territory. Jerry Jarrett and I used to have a sign that hung on the wall in our office that said, ‘Personal issues draw money.’ And we always, in everything we did, tried to make it more than just being about a championship or a match in general. We tried to get the people invested in personal issues between the wrestlers.”
“We thought that could always transcend . . . Because, let’s face it, a lot of people figure out that somebody decides who the champion’s going to be, but nobody decides when two guys really, legitimately get mad at each other, and that’s what we always strived for. Who couldn’t put themselves in Bret Hart’s place, especially if you had older parents? So, that’s why it was so easily relatable and [fans] could identify with why [Bret] would want to kick the crap out of me.”