When Will Smith took a swing and made contact with Chris Rock’s face at the 2022 Oscars, people in the wrestling world immediately associated the shocking incident with WWE Hall of Fame Jerry “King” Lawler Beat eccentric entertainer Andy Kaufman, make him roll over in a chair and fall sideways to the floor The David Letterman Show 1982.
I saw it happen firsthand. I was just a few feet away, behind a TV camera, taking a photo with Pro Wrestling Illustrated editor Craig Peters. We never know what happens during the recording of a TV show.
Letterman and his entire crew were also in complete darkness, shocked by Lawler’s actions and his hatred of Andy. Similar to what Kaufman did, dropping f-bombs multiple times, this was just one of Smith’s very uncomfortable and angry live audiences and millions watching on TV.
For Kaufman, viewers and TV viewers alike laughed at his tirade, cursing and wishing Lawler an end to Andy’s so-called wrestling career.
that’s me, Bill Apterthey put Jerry and Andy together shortly before their feud (for the full story, read my book titled “Wrestling fixed? I didn’t know it was broken!” sold on Amazon).
Yes, I introduced them to each other, and from their in-ring feud to the Letterman affair, their combination is nothing short of magic and genius. It made television history and is listed in many history books on television history as one of the medium’s most memorable moments.
Back then, there was no internet. The next day, people learned of what happened to Letterman as it was covered in major newspapers around the world. It was the photo Craig and I took that illustrated it and went viral when everyone was talking about it. If there was internet back then, it would have exploded! That’s how hot it was at the time.
Hours after the Letterman incident, Craig and I discovered that it was partially pre-planned. We went back to Jerry’s hotel room and Andy was with him. With Craig, I insist that we know this is going to happen. Lawler did confide in us that what happened did not happen as planned.
“They wanted us to hug and do a song and make friends at the end of the show. We didn’t want to do that, so we improvised, which surprised everyone and made television history. People in the wrestling industry have “we’ve been in Tried to replicate what we did, but it never worked. What we do comes naturally to both of us. We just made it happen! ‘ said Lawler.
The difference here is huge. Aside from Lawler’s slap, the Will Smith-Chris Rock incident seems real to me – the shooting. The two have a history of unpleasant social media barbs, and Smith’s wife has been a topic of conversation at times. It is said that Smith got tired of all the jokes over the years and finally made a big splash at the Oscars.
Will Smith is wrong. Accepting the top prize for best actor in a movie and cursing Chris Rock in front of millions in the aftermath of the slap incident wasn’t well-planned.
Unfortunately, it could be on some of the most memorable TV moments lists, like Lawler and Kaufman.However, I would stick to listing it in the top most category “The most shameful moment in television history.”