Jerry Lawler will be interviewed on tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw for the first time since suffering a life-threatening heart attack on air exactly two weeks ago.
I have no problem with the interview itself. After all, there’s nothing wrong with Lawler, a beloved and respected WWE Hall of Famer, updating wrestling fans across the world about his health if he chooses to do so.
But the interview is where the WWE should draw the line.
While I’m sure that Lawler’s heart attack will make its way into a storyline somehow (likely through CM Punk) at some point, it’s not going to look good for the WWE if that happens.
The company has already come across as extremely exploitative for filming Jerry Lawler’s return home to Memphis in what looked to be a very choreographed scene. Should the company get him involved in a storyline just two weeks after he nearly died, it’s going to look even more exploitative than it already has.
Lawler didn’t suffer a storyline heart attack. He was mere minutes away from legitimately dying.
I realize that the WWE turns real-life situations into angles all the time, but this isn’t the place or time to do that. The WWE should not take what was a very serious situation and essentially make light of it by playing it up in Lawler’s storyline with Punk.
That storyline should be over and done for good.
It’s bad enough that the WWE has already produced a “Long Live the King” t-shirt in Lawler’s “honor.” You can say that it’s the WWE’s way to honor the man all you want, but in reality, we all know what it truly is: A way for the WWE to make more money.
The WWE is using Lawler’s near-death experience to add to its bank account, and it’s insulting for anyone in the WWE to think that we don’t know that. We are well aware that the WWE is a business, and that its main goal is to turn a major profit.
But basically exploiting Lawler’s tragic health scare by selling a t-shirt at $25-30 a pop is already making the WWE look like an unsympathetic, money-hungry corporation. Trying to make even more money by bringing Lawler back into the storyline mix is only going to exacerbate the problem.
Maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal for the WWE to do this at a different point in time, but as Linda McMahon makes another run at a U.S. senate seat, capitalizing on Lawler’s hear attack is something that the WWE will almost certainly want to avoid.
The company has already removed (and is still in the process of removing) a number of WWE videos from the Internet that may hurt Linda’s campaign image, so can you imagine what her political opponents might say if the company continues to exploit Lawler’s heart attack?
It would be a big blow to the WWE’s image if Lawler is interviewed on Raw this week, ridiculed by Punk, brought back into Punk’s storyline with Cena and then attacked down the road.
After all, the WWE is already looking pretty bad for allowing a 62-year-old man to compete in matches, despite major problems in the past when similar things have happened.
Like, for instance, when Mae Young was powerbombed through a table or perhaps when Ricky Steamboat suffered a brain aneurysm just two days after being attacked by the Nexus on a 2010 episode of Raw.
They say that three is a trend, and if that saying is true, then the WWE’s trend is that it consistently jeopardizes the health of its older employees. Then, instead of doing the right thing and admitting that they made a mistake, the WWE brass just continues on with the storyline.
How anyone within the company can think that’s good for its image is beyond me, especially as Linda’s senate race heats up and the WWE gets even deeper into the PG Era.
The WWE prides itself on being a family-friendly organization that does plenty of noble things, like working with the Make-A-Wish Foundation or Be a STAR.
But there’s absolutely nothing noble about capitalizing on Lawler’s unfortunate incident by working it into an angle.
As an anti-Nike ad might say: Just don’t do it, WWE.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!