Lawler, an accomplished wrestler with a quick wit, made a smooth transition to the announce table while still wrestling. During the Monday Night Wars, Macho Man Randy Savage played an integral part in Lawler’s announcing role.
“When the Monday Night Wars really got started, I was already there basically as a wrestler,” Lawler said. “Macho Man Randy Savage was doing the color commentating with Vince McMahon, and I was doing the wrestling on Raw.
“In the midst of the Monday Night Wars, several guys jumped ship and left WWE without notice and showed up down in Atlanta for WCW, and Macho Man Randy Savage was one of them.
“I’ll never forget we were about an hour away from going on the air live, and at that time WCW went on the air an hour before us. I remember Vince was looking around, ‘We need to find Randy. We’re going to go over what we’re going to have on the show.’ Suddenly somebody came in and said, ‘Vince, you need to turn on your TV,’ and he looked, and there was Macho Man Randy Savage, walking onto WCW. He left, jumped ship, without telling anyone.
“So Vince came to me and said, ‘King, can you help me out and do color commentary tonight, and by next week I’ll find somebody else to do it full time.’ So I agreed, and I’ve been there ever since.”
The Monday Night Wars produced an interesting time in the business. WCW beat WWE in the ratings, but then WWE turned things around, not only winning the battle but also the war, eventually ending WCW.
How pressure filled was it during the Monday Night Wars?
“There was a lot of pressure, but to me, and I think to everybody in the WWE, that made it even more fun,” Lawler said. “The rivalry that we had. We not only had the rivalry in ring in our own company, but then there was that extra pressure of real-life rivalry going on between two companies. There was a lot of professional pride involved. Every week you wanted to do your best to try to beat them in the ratings. It was touch and go there for a while, but when DX arrived on the scene, we finally got the upper hand and never looked back.”
• The King’s favorite Raw moment.
“Oh gosh. When you’re talking about almost 1,000 Raw episodes, that is tough,” Lawler said. “There was a time I had been out of WWE. I had quit in a little dispute I had with Vince McMahon, and I was gone for several months.
“During the time I was gone, they hired Paul Heyman to take my place to work with good ole JR at the announce table, and he was such an obnoxious jerk and still is to this day.
“When we finally reached an agreement for me to come back, the night I made my triumphant return to Monday Night Raw, they actually had to drag Paul Heyman away kicking and screaming from the announce table.
“As I passed him, it was like passing the torch reluctantly. [Lawler chuckled] So as I passed him going down to the announce table to resume my duties of commentating on Monday Night Raw and as they dragged him to the back and out of the building, that was, to me personally, probably my all-time favorite Raw moment.”
WWF Monday Night Raw debuted as a one-hour show on Jan. 11, 1993 on the USA Network.
Raw broke new ground in televised professional wrestling. Traditionally, wrestling shows were taped on soundstages with small audiences or at large arena shows.