Jerry Lawler says that financial concerns were the basis for WWE removing him from its pre-show coverage last week.
Appearing on Cerrito Live (Sports56 in Memphis), Lawler spoke publicly for the first time since he and Lita were removed from the pre-show lineup on the WWE Network. Lawler said that Kevin Dunn, the WWE Executive Vice President of Television Production, called him last week to discuss the changes.
"Dunn said that due to WWE being a public traded company, it comes down to dollars and cents." He said, "That having his salary being absorbed on the pre-show after he was taken off of Smackdown made it a very expensive to produce, so they decided to get rid of the pre-game show. Vince McMahon called the next day and said I'm definitely not done with WWE and reiterated that the pre-show was dropped due to cost reasons."
The pre-show format has been changed altogether, with host Scott Stanford also being removed. This past week on the network, the Raw and Smackdown pre-shows were cut down from their usual 30 minutes to 10, with Charly Caruso as the new host alongside Booker T, the only holdover from the previous pre-show format.
Lawler also told Cerrito Live that his current contract with WWE ran into January and that the two sides "will talk about a new deal then."
Lawler gradually has been de-emphasized as a commentator in recent years. In January of 2015, he was moved from Raw commentary to Smackdown. He was suspended by WWE this summer following an arrest on domestic violence charges, which were later dropped, but lasted only a few weeks back on Smackdown before transitioning to pre-show coverage for Raw, Smackdown, and pay-per-views.
Lawler said he also aspires to remain the emcee for WWE's Hall of Fame ceremony each year.