Tonight, Andy Kaufman’s arrival takes centre stage. This week’s episode features the same roundtable as last week’s premiere: Jerry Lawler, Jeff and Jerry Jarrett, Dutch Mantell, and Jimmy Hart — which makes sense, because it really is an extension of last week’s look into Memphis wrestling history.

Lawler relates what he had been told by Kaufman: that as a young boy, Andy would watch TV endlessly and he was fascinated by the performances of Buddy Rogers and how he seemed to be purposefully trying to be hated. Kaufman took this concept and put his own spin on it by striving to make audience members uncomfortable during his comedy acts rather than making them love him.

He began marrying his peculiar take on stand-up comedy with his fondness for wrestling by presenting himself as the Intergender Champion and wrestling shoot matches with women from the audience. He approached Vince McMahon, Sr. with the idea doing this act in front of wrestling fans and not comedy audiences, but McMahon wasn’t interested. Lawler reveals how Bill Apter overheard the conversation between Kaufman and McMahon, and set Andy off to get in touch with Jerry Jarrett.

Kaufman and Lawler start promoting his arrival with videotaped promos knocking Memphis and its fans, and when he finally arrives he’s already hated. “A natural heel,” Lawler calls him.

Jeff Jarrett is fascinated by what Lawler says was the legit random choosing of women from the audience to wrestle Kaufman in a real match, and after that first night Lawler reveals that Kaufman was satisfied and ready to leave it at that.

Jarrett and Lawler, though, convince him to continue the appearances, and he fends off more women until he’s almost beaten by a fan named Foxy, then beats her again in a hyped up rematch.

It’s interesting to hear Lawler speak of how shy and humble Kaufman was in the dressing room, and how appreciative he was of what he was able to do in Memphis. After the rematch with Foxy, Lawler pushes Kaufman to the mat a couple of times, sparking an actual sit-down between them to work out the rest of their angle towards a match together.

When the match finally happens, Kaufman dodges Lawler around the ring, pointing to his head in a manner emulating Buddy Rogers, before Lawler finally gets him with a suplex and piledriver, ending the match and awarding the victory to Kaufman as the piledriver was an illegal move.

Lawler gives him a second piledriver, after which Kaufman is lying in the ring selling a devastating injury, and an amusing conversation between the two combatants, brought back and forth between them by referee Jerry Calhoun, has Lawler and Kaufman haggling over the 300 dollars that it would cost to get an ambulance for Andy.  Once Kaufman said he’d pay for it, the ambulance was called in and his stay in the hospital received widespread coverage.

This led to the famous confrontation between Kaufman and Lawler on Late Night with David Letterman, and this episode provides an opportunity for Lawler to narrate with a running commentary as hazy, recreated footage is interspersed with clips from the show. For most wrestling fans, it’s a well-known story, but having Lawler walk us through it beat by beat makes for a very entertaining segment.

The next part of the show examines how Kaufman kept coming back on his own volition because as Lawler and Jerry Jarrett explain: Andy loved wrestling, and loved the wrestling business. He worked with Jerry Hart, The Assassins, and kept coming back after Lawler.

Kaufman also loved Elvis, of course, and Hart (who hasn’t had much to say all episode, yet still more than Mantell) recalls bringing Andy to Elvis Presley’s house on a weekly basis, where Andy would meditate and pay his respects.

Concluding the show, the roundtable participants heap praise on Kaufman for how much he held up the kayfabe on his end, how hard he worked to bring attention to wrestling, and how he did it all for his love of the business — because he never cashed any of the cheques that Jerry Jarrett had given him. As they witnessed Kaufman’s health deteriorating and learning that he had passed away from lung cancer, they themselves held up the kayfabe in a sort of tribute to Andy’s commitment.

This was a singularly-focused episode, and it worked better this way than the random storytelling as presented in the premiere. Obviously this was Lawler’s story to tell, and it was interesting and entertaining to hear him walk us through the entire rivalry from start to finish. Whether you know the story of Kaufman’s wrestling career or not, this episode is well worth the watch.

Tales from the Territories is available through Vice TV (and Crave TV in Canada).