Professional wrestling legend Jerry “The King” Lawler is showing signs of marked improvement just days after suffering a near-fatal heart attack during WWE’s Monday Night Raw telecast.
WREG-TV in the wrestler’s hometown of Memphis reported Wednesday that Lawler should be returning home “soon” to begin recovering from the heart attack scare in Montreal.
“It’s believed no further surgery will be needed and Lawler will be sent back to Memphis soon,” the station said.
“I will be bringing the King back home before you know it,” Lauryn McBride, Lawler’s girlfriend, posted on her Facebook account.
“I’m not sure what the next step is or when he can go home, but this is such awesome news,” said Stacy Carter, an ex-wife of Lawler’s.
WWE released an official statement late Wednesday updating Lawler’s condition.
“Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler remains in a cardiac care unit in Montreal. His vital signs continue to be stable. He is awake, recognizes family members and is communicating with them. We continue to wish Jerry all the best for a full recovery.”
McBride also noted Lawler’s progress. He has been given breathing exercises to help his lungs after two days of being on ventilation.
“He no longer has a breathing tube nor any sedation,” she said. “He is coming around, but is very, very weak and sore. I have been working with him on breathing treatment exercises every hour to help his lungs. At this point he is getting a lot of rest. He can talk, but doctors have asked him to rest his vocal cords for the time being and relax as much as possible.”
Results from multiple CT scans revealed no brain irregularities, and Lawler was responsive and talking to friends and family members on Wednesday.
Brain damage had been considered a possibility because of the length of time the 62-year-old Lawler was in cardiac arrest. His heart had stopped beating for what was believed to have been nearly 15 minutes.
Ringside medical personnel performed CPR for more than 10 minutes while attempting to revive Lawler. He reportedly received seven shocks at the hospital before doctors were able to get his heart back to a regular beat.
Responders at the event Monday night at the Montreal Bell Centre have been hailed as heroes for saving the WWE Hall of Famer’s life.
“It’s a real testament to the first responders at the arena on Monday night,” Dr. Kevin Campbell, a cardiologist at Wake Heart and Vascular in Raleigh, N.C., said Wednesday. “They saved the man’s life.”
“Jerry would be dead right now if it did not happen where it happened,” echoed Carter.
Other likely scenarios could have produced a very different result, she says.
“Jerry normally grabs something — some food — on the way back to the hotel … fast food or if the bar is open, and he eats, then he’s there by himself. But this could have happened just two or three hours later and nobody would have been there with him and he wouldn’t be here right now. Or he could have been driving to the arena or flying to Montreal. If it had to happen, I’m very thankful that it did there.”
“I (shudder) to think what the outcome would have been if Jerry had been wrestling on one of the indy shows that he was often booked,” Lawler’s longtime announce partner, Jim Ross, wrote on his blog at www.jrsbarbq.com. “Heck, even driving to the arena or sitting in a restaurant might have proven fatal based on the hand that The King was dealt in Montreal Monday evening.”
Lawler’s current broadcast partner, Michael Cole, also has received high praise for the professionalism he displayed under fire. Cole signaled to the ringside doctor when Lawler collapsed from his announce chair, but was able to continue with the broadcast and keep everyone calm while Lawler, who had participated in a tag-team match earlier in the evening. was being worked on next to him.
An emotional Cole informed viewers soon afterward that the incident was not part of Monday’s sports entertainment show.
Cole told Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” program Wednesday that WWE made the decision not to continue with the commentary after the incident “out of respect for Jerry.”
‘I was looking at my monitor; Jerry was looking at his monitor. And, all of a sudden, I heard snoring on the air,” said Cole. “For a split moment, I thought it was part of the entertainment. I thought that he was out — like, sleeping. Then, I looked over and I realized that his head was on the table and his arms started to shake. I knew at that point that there was an issue.”
While Lawler remains in the cardiac care unit, there are signs to indicate that he is on the road to recovery.
He is breathing on his own after being removed from a ventilator, and no further surgery is expected. He had a stent placed in his heart Tuesday and underwent an angioplasty to widen obstructed vessels and arteries.
“Once off of the ventilator, most patients are moved out of the CCU and over to a step down floor,” said Campbell. “On the step down unit he will be monitored carefully and educated about his medications, his heart disease and the lifestyle changes he may have to make going forward. If he has any neurologic impairment, both occupational therapy and physical therapy will work with him to help him regain function.”
Lawler earlier had communicated with family members and friends by jotting down notes on a pad.
“Not just brief notes, but detailed stores which show he knows where he is and what is going on,” son Kevin Lawler told TMZ.com.
“The fact that he is able to communicate indicates that he has regained higher brain functions,” said Campbell. “All of this is quite encouraging.”
Lawler, whose “feud” with late comedian Andy Kaufman in 1982 garnered national attention, began his wrestling career in 1970 in the Memphis area. He has wrestled and announced for WWE since 1992.
“It’s a very physical business,” Lawler told the Ocala (Fla.) Star-Banner in a 2011 interview. “It hurts. We’ve had guys with broken necks and every kind of injury you can imagine. People don’t really hear about that, because they go home and recuperate, and they’re off TV, and another person takes their place.”
Reach Mike Mooneyham at 843-937-5517 or email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at @ByMikeMooneyham and on Facebook at Facebook.com/MikeMooneyham.