In the latest episode of Jerry Lawler’s podcast “Dinner With The King” they discussed the first part of what will eventually be a multi-part series about Andy Kaufman.
We have already discussed Andy Kaufman’s excellent program in Memphis Wrestling before. He really does need to be in the WWE Hall Of Fame. While in Memphis, Andy Kaufman also had a lot to do with giving Jimmy Hart his famous nickname. But that’s a story for another time.
Jerry Lawler opened up about Andy Kaufman and told the story about how Andy was traveling the county working comedy clubs and talk shows while wrestling women. Andy was getting away with a lot back then. But it was a different time and place in those days.
Andy Kaufman was a hardcore wrestling fan growing up in New York watching the WWWF. He told Jerry Lawler that he idolized The Nature Boy Buddy Rogers. Lawler said Andy was entranced as a boy by the fact that heel wrestlers went out there to make people angry on purpose.
Andy Kaufman said he wanted to try out his Intergender Wrestling Champion routine in front of a real wrestling audience. So Kaufman called Vince McMahon Sr and offered his services, but McMahon told the Taxi star no.
But Kaufman still wanted to live out the fantasy of being a bad guy wrestler. Therefore, Bill Apter told Andy that he should call Jerry Lawler in Memphis.
Lawler said he was thrilled to get a call from Andy and the initial deal was for a one time only appearance. They didn’t have any idea for Andy Kaufman to return to Memphis and do a series of shows at all. Andy simply showed up and sold the house out.
Andy cut a promo degrading women and saying they were only good at making meals and taking care of babies. Lawler told Andy he had a ton of heat and Kaufman didn’t know what that meant so Jerry had to explain it to him. Kaufman said that’s exactly what he wanted.
Jerry said they were so excited to have a sell out crowd they pitched for Andy Kaufman to come back and Kaufman was elated they wanted him to come back. There was no plan for Kaufman to eventually wrestle Lawler or even for The King to get involved. Andy was just going to wrestle women.
However, upon Andy’s second venture to Memphis he tangled with a woman named Foxy who almost beat him. That is when Jerry Lawler saw money and told Andy to come back the next week and wrestle her again. Lawler went on television saying he would be training Foxy to take Kaufman on and finally beat him.
However, Lawler said Foxy actually did worse the second time she wrestled Kaufman. After all, these were shoot wrestling matches. After the match, Andy Kaufman started rubbing Foxy’s face in the mat and giving her a real smug heel beatdown. The crowd started chanting “Jerry” and The King found himself standing at ringside having inserted himself in this program with nothing to do. So Jerry took improvised action.
Lawler says he went in the ring, pulled Andy off the woman, and threw him to the mat. This was completely unscripted and nobody had anything planned except for the initial intergender shoot wrestling match. Andy got on his feet and he was furious. Lawler said he thought Kaufman was serious too.
Andy Kaufman took the microphone and yelled about how he was going to sue Lawler and carried on for some time in the ring cutting a scathing heel promo. Lawler said he went back and told Jerry Jarrett, “I think we’re going to get sued.”
However when Andy Kaufman went back to the locker room his intense and angry expression melted away to a childlike grin and Andy said, “how was that?”
Andy Kaufman told Jerry Lawler he loved wrestling so much that he would quit Hollywood to become a full-time wrestler if he could. He obviously had a knack for getting heat.
Jerry Lawler said Vince McMahon Jr later told him he was jealous of Memphis during that time because they had Andy Kaufman. Vince later built WrestleMania into a sports-entertainment extravaganza and Kaufman would have been the perfect fit. Unfortunately Andy Kaufman died the year before WrestleMania I so fans never got to see Andy in a WWF ring.
But in all reality, they were lucky they got as much of Andy Kaufman as they did because he was initially originally booked for one night only.