Booker T talks 2001 Invasion, Triple H at Mania 19, King Booker, TNA, and more
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On this week’s Main Event Radio, Ryan Rider and Tony Stabile were joined by wrestling royalty, a WWE Hall of Famer and winner of 35 championship titles within WWE, WCW, and TNA including being a 5x, 5x, 5x, 5x, 5x WCW Champion, Booker T. Booker discussed his career, the transition from the ring to commentary, Sting working for McMahon, Samoa Joe possibly joining WWE, and his new book – My Rise to Wrestling Royalty, which is available now.
Audio available for download here: http://www.maineventradio.com/audio/MER-03-22-15.mp3
The 2001 Invasion of the WWE: So many different components play out in a situation like that. A lot of guys were under contracts, a lot of guys were making money; a lot of guys had families. It was a difficult time for most. A lot of guys sat it out and got that pay check before they decided to come over. It was only a few of us that decided to stray away – I walked away from a lot of money, six figures, to keep my momentum going. I thought I was in a position where I could make the money back and keep my legacy going. That’s why the invasion angle didn’t work – it was the timing, it just wasn’t right. I had experienced life, overcame life. I was prepared for WCW folding and then having to go to another company and having to rebuild myself. I always knew nothing would last forever and there were turns in the road, life goes in seasons. I knew when that time came I knew it was time to move on.
Was he disappointed in his lost against HHH at Wrestlemania 19: Honestly, even with my 35 championships it’s never really been about titles for me. The fans were disappointed but I didn’t go back to my room upset that I didn’t win. For me it’s always been about performing. People really wanted me to win – and it was a great match, we left everything in the ring. I can always respect HHH, that he was able to take it just as much as he could dish it out. Me not winning, I would not take that as a black mark on my career or anything like that. A lot of people were disappointed, a lot of office people came up to me and said you should have won. But it just wasn’t meant for me that night and we move on.
Memories of his time as “King Booker”: Being able to create and show people that it’s all about the entertainment factor and making people feel a certain way when they saw it. People remember King Booker because they felt a certain way. It was acting at its finest form. I always feel like I will be the greatest King of the Ring champion there will ever be. 100 years from now they will have to pull up footage of King Booker when they look back at all the great wrestling kings.
Retirement: I’m one of the lucky ones who made it to the other side and are able to enjoy the fruits of the labor. I’m finished. I’m never going to put my boots on again. I’m like a war veteran. I’m done. I’m going to sell all my stuff on EBay. I’m getting rid of everything. [Laughs] Seriously though, I’ve gone through that stage of my life, I’m over it. I don’t get that itch to get out there and do it. I train with my students every week at my wrestling school but to get in there again there is no reason too. I’ve done it all, I’ve won all the titles, and I’ve been all over the world. I like to watch the young guys do their thing.
Some of the talents that you enjoyed working with in your TNA run: Working with AJ [Styles] was cool. Working with Bobby Roode was even cooler. That kid had really really good talents. He could perform at a grand stage. Working with Samoa Joe in Houston, Texas where he bloodied me up in front of all my students to show was performance really is. I had a great time working with certain guys there. I really wanted to do more and I felt my talent was misused. I felt that I could have helped the young guys get to the next level of performance. My run there wasn’t as sweet as I wanted it to be but I had fun. It was a great time.
What changes does he think TNA Impact Wrestling needs to make in order to get to the next level: Focus and direction which is something in 2006/2007/2008 they had direction with the 6-sided ring, the knockouts, and the X division. It got clouded, going back to the four-sided ring and it had to be readjusted, re-geared, re-branded. And now they’re rebranding again with a new network. Staying the course first and foremost is what they need to do. Their young guys were their course, because those guys built it. It is a young person’s generation.
Samoa Joe is currently a free agent. Is he a guy that you would like to see in WWE: He can make some waves with WWE: He can make some big waves with the WWE roster; he can come onto the NXT roster and make waves there. WWE is a proving ground. You don’t just come into WWE and say put me on the main roster because I’m Samoa Joe. You gotta take your knocks. I’m no different than anybody else. When I came to WWE I was a 4x Heavyweight Champion, 6x Television champion, U.S. Champion, 10x tag team champion but I started at the bottom all over again to make my rise. These young guys out there coming into WWE won’t have to go through anything that I haven’t gone through myself.
Thoughts on Sting finally making his WWE in-ring debut at Wrestlemania next week: I think it’s great. It definitely solidifies his career. It wouldn’t have been poetic justice if Sting left wrestling, left this earth without having one Wrestlemania match in front of 70,000 people. He needs to get that experience at least one time. He’s done so much for this business; he’s been a great ambassador. I remember watching Sting when I first got in the industry, he had a big impact on me. He’s had an impact on so many people’s lives in so many different ways. Seeing Sting in a WWE ring, it’s great. Sting said a couple of words about me – that he didn’t come to WWE back in the day because of my first outing with the Rock. Now he sees what it’s like now 15 years later. And I’m just glad to see him here in the WWE and hopefully we’ll get a chance to do some work together.