Posted by Kyle Schimanksi
“I’m from Hollywood!”
Andy Kaufman was a comedian, actor, self described “song and dance” man and wrestler. His debut comedy album “Andy and His Grandmother” was released this year, nearly thirty years after his death and it got me reminiscing and revisiting Andy’s body of work. I could only come to one conclusion -
It’s a farce Andy Kaufman hasn’t been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
The WWE Hall of Fame has a “celebrity wing” with the likes of Donald Trump and Drew Carey inducted, it does seem slightly ridiculous to not have the greatest wrestling celebrity crossover ever.
Andy loved Professional Wrestling, he loved kayfabe, the theatrical performance and outrageous gimmicks. Wrestling was a fraud, just like Andy. Kaufman incorporated wrestling woman into his comedy act, proclaiming himself as the “Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion of the World”. His gimmick was of an obnoxious, misogynistic celebrity heel, inspired by the colourful heel gimmicks of wrestlers of the time. The act consisted of offering $1000 for any woman that could pin him, he often employed friends to act as his stooge during the show, such as artist Laurie Anderson. Kaufman racked up a near 400 match undefeated streak defending his belt, not a bad statistic for the Hall of Fame!
Andy Kaufman wanted to bring the act to a larger audience and approached then-head of WWF Vince McMahon Sr about working together. In an ironic twist of fate, the elder McMahon flat out refused, refusing to bring “show business” into his wrestling product. There was no way of knowing at the time that McMahon Jnr would eventually turn the company into primarily that, a show business, a sports entertainment. Kaufman was well ahead of his time and one man knew it – Jerry Lawler.
Kaufman and Lawler became acquainted through Wrestling photographer Bill Apter and the two quickly went about creating history. With Kaufman flooding the King with homemade heel promos, not unlike the vast majority of promos we get to this day from wrestlers outside WWE/TNA.
The pair’s legendary feud culminated in a few matches, the most famous being when Lawler piledrived Kaufman for the victory, only to piledrive him again after the bell. Kaufman sustained real neck injuries from the match but greatly exaggerated them, wearing a neck brace and overplaying the injury. When the two appeared on Late Night with David Letterman and descended into a fist fight, they catapulted the feud into the imagination of the masses. Andy understood kayfabe so well, he and Lawler had millions genuinely believe the rivalry to be legitimate. But of course the two were both close friends, both in on the act together.
Even 30 years after his death, Andy’s influence in wrestling is huge. He was a pioneer of sports entertainment, a great talker on the mic and all round fantastic heel. He was the epitome of how a celebrity should be involved in wrestling, imagine if it was Kaufman and not Arquette in WCW? Even today, wrestlers such as Joey Ryan still pay tribute Andy with homages.
With Jerry Lawler’s recent health scares, there is no better time for him to induct his old friend where he rightfully belongs, the WWE Hall of Fame.
Vote to Keep Andy.
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