Reviewed: It’s Good To Be the King…Sometimes by Jerry “The King” Lawler with Doug Asheville Jerry “The King”

Lawler is THE legend as far as I am concerned. His twenty-five year reign over Memphis hearts cemented him in my pantheon of heroes. So, when I picked up his book, I expected a good set of stories about the King and his adventures, but what I go was much more, though some of the extra wasn’t quite golden. It’s Good To Be The King…Sometimes is more important than most of the recent wrestling books, and it will likely be the only mass-market record of Memphis wrestling in its 1970s/80s glory. Honest, funny, and better constructed than all but the first Foley book, Lawler and Doug Asheville have come up with a strong telling of The King’s story that engages and entertains while waxing on graps, but that becomes backheavy when dealing with Lawler’s personal life and especially his fondness for the ladies. The opening, with JR and Lawler traveling through time to call Lawler’s first match, introduces the King’s voice in a brassy manner. I was laughing hard at the fact that Lawler was snapping hard on himself, almost as if to make penance for the guys he’s unleashed his savage wit on over the years. This choice easily topped the hundred other ways they could have covered that match, and gives an important note: Jerry Lawler’s real life started in the ring that night. I was not quite so impressed with the details of his early years, but once he starts talking about the wrestling, it had me wrapped. The affect of Jackie Fargo, the death of Sam Bass, the early years and the feud with Terry Funk and the famous Empty Arena match are all highlights, covered with great sincerity. There is far more honesty in this book than any other since the Foley books. My favorite character, other than Lawler himself, is the Mid-South Coliseum. Lawler puts over the old battleground as a Mecca, which it certainly was for many years. Seldomly does a book about a person pay so high a tribute to the place that built them. As always, there are things that are glanced over in favor of the stuff that draws. The page detailing the famous Eddie Gilbert car angle was far too short for the event and the impact it had. The Bret Hart feud isn’t covered in detail enough for me, nor was the Austin Idol/Tommy Rich feud that turned the Coliseum into a riot zone. Once Lawler starts detailing his years in the WWF/E, you can tell he pulls things in a little, not straying too far from company lines, but still being very open. The chapters that deal with the Andy Kaufman feud were gold. I’ve seen everything on the subject; watched and rewatched I’m From Hollywood, read Bob Zmuda’s book, and even heard Bill Apter talk about it in person once. Lawler’s view is the only one I buy completely, though you can tell he paints the fence with an extra coat or two, just like Andy would have wanted. The details of the set-up and the matches themselves make this the best resource on the feud, and I think it goes a long way towards explaining Andy to today’s wrestling fans. I always felt that feud deserved more respect than it got, and in the book, it’s put over big. As with many of the WWE books, the design is very good, with a slick color photo section of some of the greats. The interspersed drawings done by Lawler himself are my favorites. Everyone knows he’s a talented artist, but these are great. I’d love to

see him use that talent more for WWE projects. The drawing of the Monday Night Memories program is great, and shows the respect Lawler had for the hallowed hall. My major criticism has to be the end portion. Everything from his marriage to Kat through to the end is weak, except when he goes into his firing and rehiring from RAW. The further he strays from the wrestling, the less interested I am. After Stacey leaves him, he goes on a search for the next Mrs. Lawler, and this section drags. While there is still wrestling in the mix, his Hunt for Miss October weighs it down. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the pictures of the lovely and talenteds, but the section does little but help the image of Lawler as creepy old letch. I am also not surprised that the he didn’t take up the subject of his early 1990s legal problems that got him released briefly from the WWF. All in all, this is a book that is a must for folks who want to learn what wrestling was before the McMahonopoly, or those who remember the good old days when giants like Plowboy Frazier and Nick Bockwinkle roamed the Earth. There are sections that are weaker than others, but the gems you find in the heart of the mine always pay out. Highly recommended.