Over the past few days, there has been some confusion over whether or not Jerry "The King" Lawler was a part of WWE's Talent Wellness Program, which includes extensive cardiovascular monitoring and testing every six months, due to his status as an announcer who only wrestles for WWE on a very sporadic basis.
Dave Meltzer, in his latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter cleared this confusion up by confirming that Lawler was indeed covered by their Wellness policy:
According to those close to him, Lawler was not someone who got regular check-ups and he avoided doctors. However, he was part of the WWE Wellness program according to company officials, which does include heart monitoring.... While Lawler didn't get checked out by a doctor on his own, he did get heart tests by WWE. Often, even with the best testing, partially clogged arteries are not discovered ahead of time until it is too late.
I'm glad that WWE had its bases covered in this regard, which hasn't always been the case in the past; like the time when manager Bob Orton, Jr. was allowed to blade in a Hell In A Cell match where his son Randy and his opponent, The Undertaker, both also juiced. Especially since company officials, like John Laurinaitis, knew he had Hepatitis C.
Although, maybe Lawler's heart attack is also a lesson that the oldest performers on the roster should undergo more regular and stringent testing before being allowed to work matches. Especially, as this is the second near fatality in just over two years, with Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat being hospitalised for weeks after suffering bleeding on the brain in the summer of 2010.
It's also a sign that WWE performers need to be much more vigilant about chest pain, as Lawler had complained to friends about such pain a few days before his heart attack. In the light of this near tragedy, WWE management should compel their wrestlers to notify a company doctor immediately if they suffer from any chest pains. They also shouldn't be allowed to wrestle at all until the cause of these pains has been determined and the problem has been fixed.
Personally, just to be on the safe side, I think it would be wise if Lawler never wrestled a proper match for WWE ever again, even though his doctors think he'll eventually be healthy enough to return to the ring and other wrestlers have returned to the ring after heart attacks, most notably "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers. On the indy scene, a slower, safer style of match is acceptable, but in WWE Lawler may feel too much pressure to work at a fast pace to keep up with the stars of today. What do you think, Cagesiders?