The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

grudge match
The Andy Kaufman-Jerry Lawler feud is an event that's reached legendary proportions. Many diehard fans of both men (but especially Kaufman) are convinced that the whole thing was real, and as a result one of the greatest wrestling rivalries ever.

But according to Lawler, the surviving half of this duo, the whole thing was a big staged hoax. This includes the highlight of the whole thing, their seemingly "real" confrontation on the old Dave Letterman show some 20 years ago. (I cannot wait to see the first monologue jokes Dave makes about this; I think he's on vacation for at least the rest of this week. Maybe he'll even book Lawler on the show to plug this!)

Actually, this news is really not new; it's just an official confirmation of what's been going around for a while now. It's been rumored that Lawler and Kaufman were good friends all along, which is typical of most pro wrestling events.

This story, and all the elements that go with it, hold quite a bit of entertainment for me, especially looking back. This was the early-to-mid 80s, and a lot of things/people involved here were different:

-Andy Kaufman was one of the bigger and more recognizable TV stars around.
-Jerry Lawler was one of the bigger wrestlers around.
-Pro wrestling was not nearly the phenomenon it is now. It was really more on a level with minor-league hockey and roller derby; there certainly wasn't prime-time national TV or any of the other spectacle that now goes with it. It was, of course, still staged. :)
-Dave Letterman was on at 12:30, and his show was much more of an oddball invention. There was practically no polish to it, of the kind that you see in his current show, or even that you see on the present 12:30 shows (Conan O'Brien and Craig Kilborn). As a result, it made viewing Dave much more of a guilty pleasure.