Who was it that first said Memphis is a city of kings? Elvis, Martin Luther King, BB King and, lest we forget, Jerry “the King” Lawler — 1999 mayoral candidate, pro wrestler and commentator, homegrown celebrity.
Whatever your opinions on Lawler as politician or talking head, it’s hard to deny the brilliance of his face-off with late comedian Andy Kaufman when, in 1982, Kaufman declared himself the “Intergender Heavyweight Champion” of wrestling. Lawler took issue with Kaufman’s claim that he could fight and win against any woman wrestler, and challenged the comedian to a match in Memphis. Several body slams later, Kaufman was in the hospital (supposedly) and Lawler could say he rightly defended women wrestlers everywhere. Or something.
The best result of the whole kerfuffle was Lawler and Kaufman’s post-fight appearance on David Letterman. Kaufman is in a neck brace, demurely offended, while Lawler appears mildly amused. Skip to around 8:10 for a supercut of Kaufman’s pre-fight grandstanding, plus his campy impression of the Memphis accent.
The two men later admitted that the whole thing was fake and that they were actually very good friends. But this Monday, when WWE Raw takes place at the FedExForum, let us pay homage to probably the best fake fight ever to take place in River City, between a King and the Man on the Moon.