AICN ON THE MAT: The Writing Rambler takes on 5 time WCW Champion & 2013 Hall of Fame inductee Booker T!
@’s by Booker T!!!
WRITING RAMBLER (WR): Hey Booker, How are you? Thanks for speaking with us today.
BOOKER T (BT): How’s it going ? No Problem. All in a day’s work.
WR: So a few weeks ago, word came out that you would be a member of this year’s Hall of Fame class. I think people were really happy to hear your name being included. I can imagine the past few weeks have been a whirlwind. How has it all been getting word that you were being inducted?
BT: Definitely overwhelming, totally unexpected. Something I hadn’t thought about at all at this stage of my life as far as my career goes. But I’m telling you it’s just a great feeling. I’m going to accept it, take my place in the hall of fame, step into immortality and you know, be happy with it (laughter). But yeah, definitely a shocker.
WR: I was speaking with Trish recently as well and we were talking about how not only are people excited about the group of inductees this year but also that the Hall of Fame itself is taking place at Madison Square Garden. There is just something special about the Garden. Do you feel that extra level of excitement this year?
BT: Definitely, you know it’s kind of ironic. My brother and I started out as Harlem Heat and here I am finishing it up being inducted in the Garden. It’s going to be a special, special night. It’s always been a special event but performing at the Garden has always been the most exciting wrestling city to perform in front of. They have always been die hard true wrestling fans. Even back before Bruno Sanmartino but definitely during and after his days. So I get a chance to feel that and to see him walk into the hall of fame, walking into immortality, a place that is long overdue for him I think. It’s going to be a great night for the City of New York.
WR: Yeah I think a lot of people are excited about seeing Bruno finally being inducted and definitely a great night for the city overall. Now you mentioned when you started out with your brother. I recently had a chance to read your book about your early days leading up to wrestling. I have to say, What a story! It’s a real redemption story about what you went through and struggled with to get where you are. In working on the book, was it difficult to go through that process, opening up old wounds to be able to share that story?
BT: You know I tell people all of the time, writing the book was something that wasn’t that hard at all. I think it was something that I needed to do. But reading the book for me is hard. Having to go back and change stuff, to go back and make sure it’s right. That part right there got a little touchy, I got a little choked up at some points of it, but I think that it was something that I needed to do. You know, we don’t live forever and I wanted to be able to contribute in a positive way while I’m here. Hopefully I can help someone who reads the book if they find themself in the same position that I was in once upon a time and they need that extra little pat on the back to keep moving forward, I think that’s the reason why I wrote the book.
WR: I think one of the really unique things about the book was that it was really just about your life up until WCW. I thought that was great to see an in depth look at what it took to get you there. Now I read recently you are working on a sequel to the book, could you tell us a little about that?
BT: Definitely. Everytime I go to a book signing people ask me when I am going to write another wrestling book. People still want to see that side, as far as from my perspective what it was like coming up through WCW at that time and even before WCW what it was like and then making it to the WWE, making it through that and then as far as making it up to this point. People want to hear that part of the story, so I think its only right that I give it to them. You know I always ask the question to myself “Why me?” so to be able to explain the story to people and maybe they can understand it, maybe a little more than even I can.
WR: Now this whole time of year with WrestleMania here and the whole buildup to it can be really exciting as a fan and I can only imagine how much more so being a performer. With that, plus the added excitement of the Hall of fame this year is it really just overwhelming at this point or is it something that you have become accustomed to?
BT: Well for me, I said it once when this first happened. I’m kind of at a loss for words as far as where my career is at. From the beginning all the way up until this WrestleMania and the hall of fame, man my career has just been a roller coaster. It’s like a snowball going downhill just getting bigger and bigger and I always wondered when it was going to melt out but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to do that. You know I feel like I was put here for a reason and I think now with the culmination of going into the Hall of Fame it’s something very, very special for me and no doubt in every perspective it is going to be something very special forever more. But I think there’s just so much more work for Booker T to get done. I just ask the man upstairs to let me get that work done before he calls me home.
WR: In your time over all these years, you’ve really had so many different experiences in wrestling, different characters and even now as you’ve stepped into this role as a GM. It seems like you’re always progressing, stepping up, doing something different and you always give100% in whatever you’re doing. Is there one moment, one gimmick, one thing that you’ve done that stands out as a high point for you?
BT: Oh Man, that’s a really hard question right there. I’m serious, that’s really hard because I’ve never wrestled for the memories for myself. That may sound stupid but I’ve always wrestled for the memories for the fans to have and to think back on what I gave to them. It’s never really been about me in my 22 year career. It’s just been about going out there and making the fans happy. The moments that they remember, those are the special moments. For me it’s been such a great ride. A ride that I never expected to be on in my life and then I ended up in the world of professional wrestling and it’s been such a great time. I always tell people I stopped working when I was 25 years old. I just have so many great moments in the business and still more to come.
WR: Now one of those moments for me as a fan was remembering when WCW had closed down and it was just the beginning of the Invasion angle that was started in the WWE. There was that first night when you came in and attacked Stone Cold Steve Austin. I think for a lot of people their minds were blown to see you appear on WWE programming. I know I’ve heard you in the past speak about the nerves involved with that night and moment. It must have been an extremely volatile time and very crazy in the industry as a whole. What was it like to go through that and to make it past that to where you are at now?
BT: You know man, starting from that day to here now, being that first guy to really step over from WCW into the WWE. Stepping into that shark tank and to make it to this point now, just stepping out that night like you said with Stone Cold Steve Austin then to go from that stage and then working with Goldust, to then working with Test as tag team champions and then with RVD. So many great times and it was just all about the work. And then getting to this point right here, I always tell people, you know my twitter account is blowing up with people saying “Man you really deserve this” and I think I deserve this as well but there was so many people along the way that helped me get to this point. So, So many people are a part of me being where I am today. I am just one blessed individual and I always question and ask, “why have I been so blessed in my life coming from where I was?” It just sums it up, coming from the halls of justice and now going into the Hall of Fame, who would have thunk it?
WR: There really is a theme in your life that you want to give back. You want to show people how you came from one area of life but you overcame things and you moved on. I see you doing that now as well with your own promotion “Reality of Wrestling” (ROW). Tell us a little about that, because I know your helping younger guys come up now and that’s an important thing as well.
BT: Yeah that’s very important. I’ve had my school now going on 9 years. We were Pro Wrestling Alliance for the longest and now were Reality of Wrestling. We’ve just changed the whole theme due to Vince McMahon really opening the door and letting people know this is entertainment. I want to let young people out there know about the wrestling world, professional wrestling, the entertainment of it, how long you can do this, how lucrative it is. That there is a place for people like myself who thought they were outcasts and there’s so many of us out there, so many artists out there in the world that are looking for something to do and wrestling may be that one outlet for them. So I’m just trying to give them the platform to be able to do it. So we have our YouTube show that comes on every week. My kids there do all of the work, which is very important for that self-esteem, for that respect issue in this business to keep that first. So these guys, they come and they set up the rings, they set up the light they set up the dress, they film it, they edit it, they do all the work, so they’re participating and they are part of something and that right there is the most important thing. You know whether they make it to the big time or not, that’s another story, but becoming young men and women in society and being a part of something and not looking back and saying “Man I wish I had done that when I had the chance”. That’s what I’m here for. I’m just trying my best to take that broom and clean up all of that mess I made when I was a kid.
WR: That’s definitely something a lot of people need nowadays, that guidance from someone who has come up and moved on from a lot of things in their own past. With all of the excitement of WrestleMania and the Hall of Fame, and the real positive outpouring people have been giving towards you right now of course people want to know when we will see you in the ring again. Now If you had one more match, and I don’t doubt that you will, is there anyone now or even someone from the past that you would have liked to step into the ring with or would still like to step into the ring with?
BT: I always wanted to say goodbye to the fans from an in ring perspective and give them that last match, that historical great match and if that happens, I’m gonna accept it. Just like every time something happens with me, preparation is the only luck you are ever going to have in life so I’m always prepared for whatever happens but it would have to be one of the young guys. Shawn Michaels is the only fish that got away in my career but I would want to pass it on to one of the young guys as far as give them the experience of actually being able to go in there and mix it up with Booker T. You know this era versus the era of the past, one of those things. Old lion against young lion, that’s the way to go out really. To pass it on, for me, is very, very important. You know my series with Cody Rhodes was really, really cool because his dad was a big supporter of mine when I was coming up and was so instrumental in my career. I remember I wrestled one time. It was the first match on the card and I went out and wrestled and I came back through the curtain and Dusty Rhodes was right there and he goes “they won’t put you on first no more”. So working with Cody, his son, and to be able to pass it on to him was great and I’ll be looking forward to doing it again.
WR: Now one of the things about you and your in ring ability is you’ve always had this ring consciousness that people have recognized. I know in your book when you were younger you were always into dance and being a drum major in the band. Do you think that timing and ability has helped with your ability to perform in the ring?
BT: Art has been very instrumental in so many different perspectives. You know from being in the band, being a drum major performing on the football field at halftime, marching in the parades downtown, being a dancer, being in all of the talent shows and watching so many karate movies and wanting to be in the production it all helped. Also, being a big fan of Muhammad Ali and boxing played a huge part in my career, so I’ve had so many different things to play off of to create my characters, who I am. You know there’s no character, none of the personas that you’ve seen in the ring that’s ever been the real Booker T, I’ve always been somebody else and that’s what has enabled me to keep moving forward. To keep being like a chameleon and changing my spots and my colors so I can just keep staying up with the times.
WR: With everything in perspective, your career and what you’ve done so far, is there one thing, and I’m sure it’s got to be hard, but one thing, one moment, one match that you would want to be remembered for?
BT: It’s not going to be a match I could tell you that for sure. Like I said that’s for the fans. A lot of people see the ring that I wear on TV and I’ve been wearing it for years now. A great man by the name of Paul Boesch wore that ring and a lot of wrestlers worked for him. A lot of people have been around him and there’s not one bad thing you’d ever hear about Paul Boesch. It’s always been good and it’s always positive and that’s the way I want my legacy to be. I’m living in Paul Boesch’s shadow right now and hopefully I can be half the man that he was once upon a time.
WR: Well Booker, I just want to say thanks again for taking some time and speaking with us today. Best of Luck with the Hall of Fame and well definitely be cheering for you. It is well deserved.
BT: I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
You can follow The Writing Rambler on his blog here and follow on Twitter @Writing_Rambler !
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