TV Guide lists Jerry "The King" Lawler slapping Andy Kaufman as historic television moment


TV Guide lists Jerry "The King" Lawler slapping Andy Kaufman as historic television moment -
20th August 2013

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TV Guide listed Jerry "The King" Lawler slapping Andy Kaufman on Late Show with David Letterman in 1982 as "1 of 60 Most Riveting Moments in TV History."

From Hollywood to Memphis, Tennessee, to Sydney, Australia and beyond, you have probably heard of the classic Lawler - Kaufman feud. It was Hollywood VS Pro wrestling. This psydo angle have nothing to do with Vince McMahon's then named World Wrestling Federation, but came out of the USWA territory. One ponders if Mr McMahon might try to recreate something extremly similar to this for today's sports entertainment audience. McMahon did the Mickey Rourke angle with Roddy Piper, Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair, with WWE Superstar Chris Jericho in the mix, but that was far from a carbon copy of the classic Lawler VS Kaufman angle. You can watch the classic Letterman show segment here.


Jerry Lawler...

It’s good to be the king. Just ask Jerry Lawler.

Reigning over sports-entertainment since the 1970s, Jerry “The King” Lawler has thrilled in the ring as the fighting pride of Memphis, Tenn. and entertained from the announce table as Raw’s most irrepressible broadcaster. Effective as both a hero and villain, The King enraged WWE fans when he offended Bret Hart’s mother during a personal rivalry with The Hit Man and then inspired them when he stepped in the ring to challenge The Miz for the WWE Title at 61 years of age. This aptitude for every aspect of sports-entertainment has earned Lawler countless titles, legions of fans and entry into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Before all that, though, The King made his name in the Tennessee area prior to gaining national attention for his rivalry with comedian Andy Kaufman. Claiming to be the "Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion of the World,” Kaufman made the mistake of insulting The King in front of his hometown crowd in the Mid-South Coliseum in 1982. Lawler responded by blasting the “Taxi” actor with two piledrivers, which led to an incendiary showdown on “Late Night with David Letterman.” During a tense interview on the program, Kaufman once again offended The King, leading Lawler to slap the comic right out of his chair in front of a shocked studio audience. Fifteen years later, the WWE Hall of Famer recreated this legendary TV moment with Jim Carrey on the set of the Andy Kaufman biopic, “Man on the Moon.”

After dispatching of Kaufman, The King ruled over promotions like Minnesota’s AWA and Tennessee’s USWA before finally arriving in WWE in 1992. Caustic from the get go, Lawler used his sharp wit to rile up rivals like Bret “Hit Man” Hart and Doink the Clown before taking a seat at the announce booth to commentate alongside Jim Ross. Together, the duo formed one of sports-entertainment’s most entertaining broadcast teams as they deftly called the action of WWE’s booming “Attitude Era.”

Lawler’s voice has remained a staple of WWE programming ever since, but that hasn’t stopped him from getting in the ring. Often noted as one of the greatest Superstars to never hold the WWE Championship, The King nearly beat The Miz for the coveted title at Elimination Chamber in 2011 and took on his sniveling broadcast partner, Michael Cole, at WrestleMania XXVII. Competing in his fifth decade as a wrestler, Lawler proved that his piledriver — just like his wit — was still as devastating as ever.


Andy Kaufman...

Andrew Geoffrey "Andy" Kaufman (January 17, 1949 – May 16, 1984) was an American entertainer, actor and performance artist. While often referred to as a comedian, Kaufman did not consider himself to be one. He disdained telling jokes and engaging in comedy as it was traditionally understood, referring to himself instead as a "song-and-dance man." Elaborate ruses and pranks were major elements of his career. His body of work maintains a cult following and he continues to be respected for his original material, performance style, and unflinching commitment to character.

Professional wrestling
Kaufman grew up admiring the world of professional wrestling. Inspired by the theatricality of kayfabe, the staged nature of the sport, and his own tendency to form elaborate hoaxes, Kaufman began wrestling women during his act and was the self-proclaimed "Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion of the World", taking on an aggressive and ridiculous personality based upon the characters invented by professional wrestlers. He offered a $1,000 prize to any woman who could pin him. He employed performance artist Laurie Anderson, a friend of his, as a stooge in this act for a while.

Kaufman initially approached the head of the World Wrestling Federation, Vince McMahon Sr. about bringing his act to the New York wrestling territory. McMahon dismissed Kaufman's idea as the elder McMahon was not about to bring "show business" into his Pro Wrestling society.

Kaufman had by then developed a friendship with Wrestling magazine reporter/photographer Bill Apter. After many discussions about Andy wanting to be in the Pro Wrestling business, Apter called Memphis' iconic Jerry "The King" Lawler and introduced him to Kaufman by telephone from Apter's apartment in Queens, New York. The battles between Kaufman and Lawler became legend and was really the first "sports entertainment" angle that became known worldwide and is being seen even today on TV stations such as Comedy Central.

Later, after a challenge from professional wrestler Jerry "The King" Lawler, Kaufman would step into the ring (in the Memphis wrestling circuit) with a man—Lawler himself. Kaufman taunted the whole city of Memphis, sending "videos showing residents how to use soap" and proclaiming it to be "the nation's redneck capital." Their ongoing feud, often featuring Jimmy Hart and other heels in Kaufman's corner, included a broken neck for Kaufman as a result of Lawler's piledriver and a famous on-air fight on a 1982 episode of Late Night with David Letterman. For some time after that, Kaufman appeared wearing a neck brace, insisting that his injuries were worse than they were. Kaufman would continue to defend the Inter-Gender Championship in the Mid-South Coliseum and offered an extra prize, other than the $1,000: that if he were pinned, the woman who pinned him would get to marry him and that Kaufman would also shave his head.

Kaufman and Lawler's famous feud and wrestling matches were later revealed to have been staged, or a "work", as the two were actually friends. The truth about it being a "work" was not disclosed until more than 10 years after Kaufman's death, when the Emmy-nominated documentary, A Comedy Salute to Andy Kaufman, aired on NBC in 1995. Coincidentally, Jim Carrey, the one who revealed the secret, later went on to play Kaufman in the 1999 film Man on the Moon. In a 1997 interview with the Memphis Flyer, Lawler claimed he had improvised during their first match and the Letterman incident. Although officials at St. Francis Hospital stated that Kaufman's neck injuries were real, in his 2002 biography It's Good to Be the King...Sometimes, Lawler detailed how they came up with the angle and kept it quiet. Even though Kaufman's injury was legitimate, the pair pretended that the injury was more severe than it was. He also said that Kaufman's explosion on Letterman was Kaufman's own idea, including when Lawler slapped Kaufman out of his chair. Promoter Jerry Jarrett would later recall that for two years, he would mail pay checks to Kaufman, with payments comparable to what other main event wrestlers were getting at the time, but Kaufman never cashed any of them.

Kaufman also appeared in the 1983 film My Breakfast with Blassie with professional wrestling personality "Classy" Freddie Blassie, a parody of the art film My Dinner With Andre. The film was directed by Johnny Legend, who employed his sister Lynne Margulies as one of the women who appears in the film. Margulies met Kaufman for the first time on camera, and they later became a couple, living together until Kaufman's death.

In 2002 Kaufman became an unlockable character in the video game Legends of Wrestling II and a standard character in 2004's Showdown: Legends of Wrestling. (Wikipedia)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Kaufman

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Jerry Lawler Discusses His Feud With Andy Kaufman On Its 30th Anniversary - 28th July 2012 (Credit: WWE)

To recognize the 30th anniversary of the famous incident on The David Letterman Show, Jerry Lawler discussed his legendary feud with Taxi star Andy Kaufman in an interview with the official WWE website. Lawler went in-depth on his relationship with Kaufman, how Kaufman got involved in the wrestling business, how unscripted the Letterman incident was, and more.

In the following excerpt, Lawler explains what has made the rivalry so legendary, as well as Kaufman’s impact on the industry, which leads to him saying that Kaufman should be in the WWE Hall of Fame:

WWE CLASSICS: Out of all the great rivalries in wrestling and all the great pop culture moments, what is it about this one incident that 30 years later people are still so fascinated by?

LAWLER: It was the first time something like that had happened. I don’t know if I should tell this or not, but one night I was flying back on the plane with Vince McMahon. And he said, “You know, King, I’ve never told you this before, but I was so jealous when you got Andy Kaufman and did all that stuff with him down there in Memphis. Because he was from New York, and I thought we could have done all that stuff up here.” But he also said, “But I’ll be honest with you. There’s no way on Earth we could have done it as well as you guys did it.”

WWE CLASSICS: Wow. It would have been a totally different dynamic.

LAWLER: Yes, but it would have been a first. Vince loves firsts. To this day, you hear on Monday Night Raw that you’re going to see something for the first time ever. That’s big. And this was the first time any big deal Hollywood star was involved to that extent in wrestling. Vince realized, everybody realized, because it got so much national exposure. Everything back then was still regionalized. Cable TV hadn’t hit yet. The country was divided up into wrestling territories because of TV coverage. Once Vince saw you could use a Hollywood star to get that nationwide exposure, here comes Cyndi Lauper with Captain Lou and Wendi Richter, and then Mr. T gets brought in. The ball got rolling, and it hasn’t stopped to this day. Just in the past year, Hugh Jackman was in there punching Dolph Ziggler.

WWE CLASSICS: Yeah, you really could argue that Andy Kaufman is responsible for all of that.
LAWLER: I really feel, in my heart of hearts, that he was responsible for that. I certainly believe that Andy Kaufman deserves a spot in the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame. Without a doubt, we would not be where we are today without his involvement. I really feel that way. Even at Raw 1,000, we had Charlie Sheen challenging Daniel Bryan to a match. It’s Andy Kaufman revisited as recently as last night...

WWE CLASSICS: How soon did you know it was going to become a huge deal in the media?

LAWLER: As soon as it aired, my phone started blowing up. The New York Times, all the New York papers, everybody was calling. It just went ballistic.

WWE CLASSICS: This has become an iconic, not just wrestling moment, but a pop culture moment. After this gained legendary status, did you ever hear what Dave’s reaction was?

LAWLER: I heard that he was furious because it was so different than what was planned with his producers. I don’t think he was ever happy with it, but I also heard that his production staff referred to it for years as “The Famous Show.” That episode got so much attention and so much coverage, that they had to realize that this was one of the things that made Dave’s show famous.

WWE CLASSICS: It really went viral before there was an Internet.

LAWLER: Exactly. It is consistently listed as one of the top moments in the history of television. Thirty years later, I’m still doing interviews about it. We were talking to media just the other day for Raw 1,000, and every single one of them asked me about Andy Kaufman.

WWE CLASSICS: Out of all the great rivalries in wrestling and all the great pop culture moments, what is it about this one incident that 30 years later people are still so fascinated by?

LAWLER: It was the first time something like that had happened. I don’t know if I should tell this or not, but one night I was flying back on the plane with Vince McMahon. And he said, “You know, King, I’ve never told you this before, but I was so jealous when you got Andy Kaufman and did all that stuff with him down there in Memphis. Because he was from New York, and I thought we could have done all that stuff up here.” But he also said, “But I’ll be honest with you. There’s no way on Earth we could have done it as well as you guys did it.”

WWE CLASSICS: Wow. It would have been a totally different dynamic.

LAWLER: Yes, but it would have been a first. Vince loves firsts. To this day, you hear on Monday Night Raw that you’re going to see something for the first time ever. That’s big. And this was the first time any big deal Hollywood star was involved to that extent in wrestling. Vince realized, everybody realized, because it got so much national exposure. Everything back then was still regionalized. Cable TV hadn’t hit yet. The country was divided up into wrestling territories because of TV coverage. Once Vince saw you could use a Hollywood star to get that nationwide exposure, here comes Cyndi Lauper with Captain Lou and Wendi Richter, and then Mr. T gets brought in. The ball got rolling, and it hasn’t stopped to this day. Just in the past year, Hugh Jackman was in there punching Dolph Ziggler.

WWE CLASSICS: Yeah, you really could argue that Andy Kaufman is responsible for all of that.

LAWLER: I really feel, in my heart of hearts, that he was responsible for that. I certainly believe that Andy Kaufman deserves a spot in the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame. Without a doubt, we would not be where we are today without his involvement. I really feel that way. Even at Raw 1,000, we had Charlie Sheen challenging Daniel Bryan to a match. It’s Andy Kaufman revisited as recently as last night.

WWE CLASSICS: Where does Andy rank in the pantheon of great villains in wrestling? He was right up there.

LAWLER: He really was. To be a great villain, you’ve gotta get personal. And that’s what Andy did. He got personal with the people of Memphis by insulting their hygiene, and it went beyond just being about wrestling. He made things personal by insulting the fans themselves rather than just me. If he had ever gotten to do that on a national level, he just would have gotten better and better. He was a natural at it. He even created that sleazy lounge singer character named Tony Clifton just so he could play the bad guy. He wanted that reaction. Andy was a heel at heart.
(Credit: WWE) http://www.wwe.com/classics/kaufman-and-the-king-30-years-later-26040571

Websites

Jerry Lawler - WWE
www.wwe.com/superstars/jerrylawler

Late Show With David Letterman
www.cbs.com/shows/late_show/

Media Man - Jerry Lawler
www.mediaman.com.au/profiles/lawler.html

Media Man Int - Television
www.mediamanint.com/profiles/television.html

Media Man Int - Comedy
www.mediamanint.com/profiles/comedy.html

Media Man Int - Wrestling
www.mediamanint.com/profiles/wrestling.html

Media Man Int - WWE
www.mediamanint.com/profiles/wwe.html

Multimedia (Andy Kaufman I'm from Hollywood movie)

 

 


Multimedia The Kaufman Lawler Feud: Chapter 1 - Andy Fights Women