Monday, September 13, 2010

Jerry Lawler's Memphis wrestling show is kaput, a casualty of Joe Cooper's Downtown deli, he says

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Jerry "The King" Lawler's Memphis wrestling show is kaput, and, at least temporarily, so is a Downtown deli that Lawler walked away from.

Lawler announced on "Jerry Lawler's Memphis Wrestling" Saturday that the show was shutting down after four months on PAX-TV Channel 50.

The show was losing money and unable to attract enough advertising dollars to pay its way, Lawler said Monday.

He said his advertising salesman, Joe Cooper, may have gotten too wrapped up in opening a deli on Main Street.

"I don't know where you heard that, but that's not correct," Cooper said. "The first three months, it was sold out. A lot of people are hurting in this economy."

Cooper originally planned to open King Jerry Lawler's as a wrestling-themed eatery. Lawler is a host of World Wrestling Entertainment's WWE Raw programs.

But it wound up opening as Joe Cooper's Deli at 109 N. Main after Lawler withdrew permission for the deli to use his name and likeness.

Cooper blamed the economy for stopping key advertisers from renewing contracts for the wrestling program.

Lawler conceded it's hard for local commercial programming to compete against paid programming and the infomercial.

"The situation where you had TV stations wanting a wrestling show that a lot of people would watch, that just kind of faded away," Lawler said.

"The stations realize, 'I've got people standing in line who will bring me a DVD and a check. That's why you look at the Saturday morning TV schedule and see all the paid programming."

Cooper, who served prison time for money laundering, said his deli's financial backing didn't pan out, and it's closed while he recruits other investors.

"I got it ready to open, but the financing I thought I had to properly operate fell through," Cooper said. "Hopefully we'll get it straight and we'll get it reopened."