Worth It: The Night Karl Anderson Didn’t Wrestle Jerry Lawler

Columns, Top Story

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Anderson about to be pinned before getting to lock up with The King

The anticipation of working with a legend like Jerry Lawler is palpable, especially if you are a young athlete looking to get noticed and hopefully make a career out of professional wrestling.  So when Karl Anderson, had the opportunity to lock up with The King – even in a six man tag team match – he was excited.

Karl began his training in Cincinnati and got a concussion early on.  I was there the day he signed up and I was there the day he got kicked in the head by Derrick Neikirk, a former Major League Baseball player and later an ECW competitor.  That concussion put him on the shelf for over a year.  He still hung out with other trainees like TNA’s Braxton Sutter, Chet the Jet Jablonski, Race Steele, and Ash Parker but was unable to train because of the dizziness.

Eventually, Anderson and Parker reached out to me. I’d left that organization and started working with the Northern Wrestling Federation.  Head trainer Roger Ruffen, a former WWF referee and journeyman wrestler in the Midwest, had a school called BoneKrushers.  Both of these talented rookies were interested in making a switch; Anderson especially still had the itch despite being on the shelf for awhile.

Fast forward to a couple of years later.  It was an exciting time as Chad Too Badd was gaining some local fame and was in demand as a talent on various Indy shows.  I was his heel manager sometimes and helped him hustle for bookings outside the Northern Wrestling Federation on nights when we didn’t already have a show.

It was February 8, 2003, and he was to be in the six man tag team main event in a promotion way east of Cincinnati.  The ring was set up in a beautiful venue in a small community college.  And the room was way too big for the crowd in attendance.

But the small crowd was no matter for Anderson.  He was pumped up because he had a big spot with Jerry Lawler planned.  The spot would highlight his ability to entertain while making The King look like royalty.  It was gonna be great!

I had just come to watch; there were plenty of other heel managers on the show and that was fine by me.  I was excited to see my friend hook it up with a WWE superstar.  Unfortunately, not everyone else in the match was as talented Karl.

Things were set, the match went to the ring, and after some not-so-great catfighting at the start between the two valets, things got going.  But as the match went on the other wrestlers got lost; as a result Karl’s big opportunity to lock horns with a legend was missed out on because he was eliminated from the match sooner than expected.

It was an accident, truly, but it fired the youngster up.  He remained professional – he was always a professional – but he did have some questions in the locker room when the match was over.  There weren’t really any good answers.

Back then, it was a huge disappointment.  But now – after traveling around the world, wrestling in Madison Square Garden a couple of weeks ago, and beating up John Cena – it’s just a blip on the radar of the career of this international superstar.

Kirk Sheppard has been involved in professional wrestling since 2000. He has worked behind the scenes in multiple capacities as well as ring announcing, managing, refereeing, and having the occasional match. He can be seen every weekend appearing on live events for the Northern Wrestling Federation in the Greater Cincinnati area. Kirk is also a playwright, amateur magician, theme park enthusiast, musician, photographer, teacher, trainer, mentor, and counselor. His first full-length play was workshopped and produced last August in Newport, KY. Tweet him at @kirksheppard