Jerry Lawler has recalled the incredible story which saw him plan, and very nearly take part in, a match with ‘The King of Rock n’ Roll’ Elvis Presley.
The crazy world of professional wrestling is tailor made for “what if’s?” It’s an industry built on an illusion, mastered by the theatrically gifted and is thus riddled with ludicrous stories of what might have been.
While fans have debated for years what might have happened if WCW never went out of business, or if Sting would have been the ‘third man’ at Bash at the Beach 1996, Jerry Lawler may have revealed a story that grabs the brass ring.
Elvis Presley might be most well known for rocking in jailhouses, wondering if you’re lonesome tonight with a suspicious mind, but he came unfathomably close to turning his hand to professional wrestling.
Appearing on Stories with Briscoe and Bradshaw, Jerry Lawler recalled jokingly suggesting that a match with Elvis would be a really cool thing to do. This unbelievably got back to Elvis (Who was heavily into karate at the time) and his father who not only liked the idea, but agreed to the bout. However, the ‘King of Rock n’ Roll’ passed away before the match could take place.
“We’re driving to Louisville and an Elvis Presley song came on. And I said ‘You know what would be cool?’ Because the news was out then that Elvis was doing this martial arts stuff, with Kang Rhee who was a famous karate instructor down in Memphis. So I said to Mickey Poole [Lawler’s driver] ‘It would be cool if we could somehow get hold of Elvis Presley, and do a wrestler vs. karate match.’ They’d already done Muhammed Ali and Inoki match.
Just crazily out of the blue he said ‘Well I’ll tell my brother to ask him if he wants do that.’ He said ‘Yeah my brother is the president of the International Elvis Fan Club and has been for seven years. He hangs out at Graceland.'”
Lawler went on to explain that he didn’t believe that his driver was telling the truth, but was told a few days later that Elvis and his father Vernon were receptive to the idea and they were going to call him. In the days that followed Lawler missed calls from a ‘Vernon Presley’ on two occasions before finally getting to speak with him in person.
It was during this conversation that the elder Presley confirmed that Elvis “loved the idea” and would do the match after he’d got back in shape and done his next tour. However, Elvis didn’t make it on tour, passing away on August 16th 1977.
“Phone rings, I pick it up, ‘Jerry this is Elvis’ father Vernon Presley… They got to us with the idea of you and Elvis doing something at the Mid-South Coliseum, and he loves the idea. Elvis loves it. But I’ll be honest with you Jerry, Elvis is not in too good shape right now but he’s fixing to start working out and he’s got this tour coming up next month. He’s going to work out for that and as soon as we get back from the tour, we’ll get in touch with you and put this thing together.’
Then of course he died before he even did the tour. That would have been before Andy Kaufman. If I’d have had that I don’t know if I’d have got to do the Andy Kaufman match later on.”
In 1982 Jerry Lawler famously feuded with comedian Andy Kaufman. The story is one of the most infamous wrestling angles of all-time, and included Lawler punching Kaufman in the face on Late Night with David Letterman.
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