Today Joe Otterson at Variety posted Andy Kaufman to Be Inducted Into WWE Hall of Fame. Good for Andy and good for the WWE. I say that without any hint of sarcasm. While I was never a fan of Kaufman’s comedy, nor a pro wrestling fan when Kaufman’s career led him to the squared circle, I do believe he should be in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Andy Kaufman’s humor was always a bit too bizarre for me. I hadn’t watched professional wrestling since I was a kid in Indiana. Yet, when there was an Andy Kaufman / Pro Wrestling crossover, something special happened. Remember this was a time when everyone involved in professional ‘rasslin’ went to great lengths to make sure fans believed all that happened inside and outside the ring was real.
Andy Kaufman began showing up at professional wrestling arenas where he would declare himself the Women’s Champion of the World. While one would normally think that was stupid-funny (and it was), what it did was enrage fans. Kaufman began getting matches against women and of course he beat them, which only made people more upset.
Then Kaufman appeared on David Letterman’s show with Jerry “The King” Lawler. Lawler was a babyface, aka a favorite of professional wrestling fans. Kaufman and Lawler got into an argument. Lawler ending up slapping Kaufman out of his chair. Letterman appeared to be shocked as Lawler stormed off set and Kaufman needed medical assistance. The encounter blew up and was reported everywhere. Kaufman actually checked himself into a hospital and stayed there for several days! Of course this led to a series of sold out arenas where Kaufman and Lawler would battle. Behind the scenes the two were buddies and raking in bank.
If you talk to professional wrestling fans, probably 99% know about the Andy Kaufman/Jerry Lawler/David Letterman incident. What’s even crazier is the high percentage of non-wrestling fans who know about it over 40 years later. So yeah, I say, Andy Kaufman deserves to be in the Wrestling Hall of Fame. Hats off to the WWE for making it happen.