Photo by David Seto.
Although Jerry Lawler suffering a massive heart attack during a live episode of WWE Monday Night Raw was a horrifying ordeal, there has been some good to come of it, namely the inadvertent babyface turn of play-by-play announcer Michael Cole.
Because of the situation being what it was, Cole was forced into the position of being the bearer of bad news in a terribly uncomfortable scenario that saw him witness a good friend suffer a heart attack right next to him while he was forced to continue commentating a match. After, he was left out at ringside to announce what happened to millions of viewers at home, all while choking back tears and trying to remove himself personally to deliver the news like a true broadcast journalist.
Cole did incredibly well, too, all things considered, revealing himself to be a true professional in the face of a real life crisis. His behavior served to immediately turn him from the smarmy heel WWE head Vince McMahon so wanted him to be to an instant babyface fans suddenly felt more connected to after he helped lead them through an extremely trying time.
When JBL and Jim Ross helped fill in for Lawler on commentary at Night of Champions and Monday Night Raw this past week, JBL played the heel while Cole was the straight-laced babyface and Ross simply called the action as he saw it. Going forward, the plan seems to be that Cole will remain in this role and will not revert back to his old character, perhaps even after "The King" returns, although nothing is for certain.
As for who will take Lawler's spot until he's able to return to television, that remains up in the air. The obvious choice would be Ross, seeing as JBL is about to embark on another mountain climbing expedition, and no one is more suited for the job. But in a recent blog post, he seemed to reject the notion.
"I'm not sure who will sit in for 'King' next week with Michael Cole," he said. "It's a great opportunity for WWE to utilize some names from the past and/or to place some prospective new talent at the announce table."
Lawler's return date is up in the air but dates to look out for are Oct. 15 and 16. Monday Night Raw on Oct. 15 will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, and the SmackDown tapings on Oct. 16 will be held in Memphis, TN. Don't be surprised if he doesn't show up in person for one or even both of those shows.