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Lawler says less is more in the booth
RAW now officially has a three-man broadcast team, and apparently longtime color commentator Jerry Lawler was the last to know. WWE.com caught up with "The King" via cell phone in Memphis, Tenn., to get his take on the change of format:
WWE.com: In an interview conducted with Coach earlier in the week, your new partner said, "They wanted the broadcast team to get a little younger and a little better looking."
Jerry "The King" Lawler: I would say that he's probably right in the respect of wanting the broadcasting team to get a little younger. You can't blame anybody for that. It may be a good idea. But if Coach thinks that he's better looking, well, beauty and contact lenses are in the eye of the beholder. He's full of himself. He thinks he's the hot guy with all the girls since doing the Diva Search, but I know for a fact that Coach is really a bust-out with the broads. He couldn't get a hickey from a leech. You can tell Coach that if he's so much better looking, then why aren't we getting any more face-time during RAW?
WWE.com: He also said that he has been taking crap from you and J.R. for six years, but now you two realize that he's here to stay.
King: Well, I would just tell Coach that he can just look around at what happened with WWE within the last month, and he probably should realize that nobody's here to stay. I would suggest that he just enjoy it while he's there.
WWE.com: Coach also said about the three-man booth that "we're making each other better every week." Is Coach making you better in the booth?
King: Well, that's one of those things. He needs to speak for himself on that. I think certainly he should be improving every week, but I don't know if he's making J.R. and I any better. I would have my doubts about that.
WWE.com: J.R. said, "There tends to be a higher value placed on looks and youth rather than talent and experience." Do you share that view?
King: You know who told me something very similar? Jim Carrey, when we were doing the movie (about comedian Andy Kaufman called, "Man on the Moon"). We were sitting around one time and Jim Carrey said, "The thing about Hollywood is that they value youth over talent and ability." We are in sports-entertainment. That's a fact of life. Vince McMahon told me one time, "Youth must be served." So, that's just part of (management's) way of thinking, and I have no problem with that.
WWE.com: When did you learn that Coach was joining in the announce booth?
King: Well, to be honest with you, I don't think anybody even actually came to us and officially told us that it was going to be a three-man booth. I think I heard from Coach. He just said, "Hey, I'm going to be out there with you guys tonight." And I didn't think anything of it at the time because from time to time Coach has been out there, but not on a permanent basis. So, I just thought that it was a one-time thing. I had no problem with it; I didn't really think about it. But nobody really ever came and said, "This is the way it's going to be from now on."
WWE.com: Does that bother you that no one took the time to talk to you about the situation?
King: Not really. J.R. and I don't run the show. We're just working there, so they're going to do whatever they want to do.
WWE.com: J.R. is still doing play-by-play, but you and Coach both do variants of color commentary. Was it tough at first to find a rhythm in that new format?
King: It certainly is a little more difficult than doing it with J.R. because J.R. and I have good chemistry and we've been together for so long that it's second-nature. But with an extra guy added to the mix, I have to concentrate a little more on allowing all three of us to have a chance to talk. So, that means that I would be talking a third less than I was before.
I'll tell you, one of the things that I'm not crazy about is it seems that it's non-stop talk. In other words, somebody's saying something all the time. Sometimes I like to let the action to the talking. Honestly, I love working with Michael Cole. I have all the respect in the world for him and Tazz, but my only criticism of the job they do is that (SmackDown!) is like a machine gun. When I watch SmackDown!, it's almost like I get the feeling sometimes that they're doing the broadcast for radio, not television. In other words, people can see with their own eyes what's going on. You don't have to bombard them, and now that's sort of what I feel like is happening here on RAW.
WWE.com: Is there anything you can do about that, or is that the nature of a three-man booth?
King: I think that J.R. and Coach and I probably need to sit down and talk about that particular issue, but that's really my only concern. Just because there's three of us out there, that doesn't mean that we have to add more talk. I think it gives J.R. and I the opportunity to not have the pressure of talking so much, which can be a good thing. You get a little bit of a break, rather than trying to come up with something to say all of the time.
The other thing is, you've got J.R. who's just the consummate professional play-by-play guy who tries to call it right down the middle, but he still sides with the fan-favorite as opposed to how I sometimes play the devil's advocate, but I still have fun with it. Coach, however, seems to just be totally opposite J.R. all of the time.
WWE.com: It sounds like you're making an adjustment because of the way Coach is approaching his job.
King: Not really because it gives me an opportunity to do more than what I was able to do with J.R. because J.R. leans toward the fan-favorites, and I wanted to play devil's advocate to that a lot of the time. I think you need conflict to a certain degree. Now, with Coach doing that, it frees me to take either side of an issue at any time. When it comes to someone like "The Masterpiece" Chris Masters, then Coach and I are going to agree. But then at the same time, Coach was also ribbing me, saying now that he's doing the Diva Search, I won't be able to get women, or something like that. So, of course in a case like that, I'm going to fire back at Coach. I'm also clearly not going to agree with J.R. all the time, either.
WWE.com: How do you feel about Coach being the one chosen for the three-man booth? Do you like the guy? Do you think he was a good pick, or is there someone else you would have rather seen in that spot?
King: Oh, no. I like Coach. I really do. That's the one thing, when you look around the WWE, there's not a lot of other people who have Coach's level of broadcast experience. I get along real well with Coach, and I think he does a good job. But it's still hard to stick a third guy in there with two guys who have been doing this as long as me and J.R.