June 16, 2010
Booker T enjoying life away from the spotlightWorking when he wants and fatherhood focus for world champion
By JASON CLEVETT - SLAM! Wrestling
Edmonton based Prairie Wrestling Alliance (PWA) shocked its fans at the Century Casino at the Hysteria event April 10th at the Century Casino when Booker T defeated “T-Bone” Jack Sloan to win the PWA championship. It is unusual for a wrestler coming in to walk out of a promotion as champion. In order to get the title match, Booker had to agree to return to defend the belt, which he does this Saturday night June 19th at the Acadia Recreation Complex in Calgary for PWA's Night of Champions VIII
“There is always drama with Booker T. No one expects a title change at a independent event, especially the champion fighting a guy coming in. My fans have supported me from day one here and abroad. Canada has always been one of my favorite places to work. Canadian wrestlers actually have been some of my greatest opponents. It was good just to be there,” Booker told SLAM!Wrestling over the phone from his home outside of Houston, Texas. What made the victory even more unusual was his being there in the first place, as he rarely makes independent wrestling appearances.
“I wouldn't say I don't do independents I just don't do a lot of them. Lance Storm, who is a good friend of mine, called me and asked me to come over to help out with a couple of things as far as wrestling and entertainment. It was good to see Lance too. To pick up the PWA championship was just another bonus. Titles is just something that comes along with Booker T, everywhere I go I always seem to capture a title by hook or by crook. That has always been my MO. I am having a good time relaxing and doing it when I want to and where I want to.”
It was a huge opportunity for Sloan as well. A graduate of Lance Storm's wrestling academy, he wrestled Tyler Reks on an ECW broadcast in 2009 but hadn't yet faced a multi-time champion like Booker T. The opportunity to work with the future of the business is one he relishes.
“I have a school, PWA Houston as well. I always give my students an opportunity to go out there and mix it up with Booker T. It's not an opportunity that you get anywhere else, to get in the ring with a multi-time world champion. It is a great experience for those guys. It is really about passing the torch and giving the rub to let these young guys take the wrestling business into the future. The wrestling business has been around a long time and it has all been due to the youth of the wrestlers. It is a good thing that those kids get the chance to work with somebody like Booker T.”
He left an impression on the PWA fans, many of whom took advantage of the opportunity to meet him, and spoke highly of the experience after. The chance to get up close and personal with fans is important to Booker as well.
“That is the best part of it. When I first joined TNA we went to Dallas and a lot of fans were there from the Global Wrestling Federation. It had been many years since I they had the chance to see me up close and personal like that. I signed a lot of autographs and people actually had photos from 12, 14 years earlier when I was in Dallas. It was amazing to see those fans again up close and personal and thank them. If it wasn't for the fans there would be no Booker T. The fans really put me in all those title situations by cheering for me and raising the roof in WCW, then along for the ride in WWE and TNA. Even now my fan popularity is at an all time high. It is due to those fans that come out to these shows wanting to get an autograph and shake a hand. I feel like a doctor, on call 24/7 with my fans. It is the least I can do to shake a hand and smile and say thankyou. My Mom always taught me that it costs you nothing and goes a long way with people.”
His name was on the lips of many fans after a TNA event May 21st in Lake Charles, Louisiana when he made a surprise appearance to challenge Rob Van Dam for the TNA championship.
“It was really cool to get out there and mix it up with Rob Van Dam. We are really good friends but it was all about the title. A.J. Styles had flight problems and couldn't make it in and they didn't want to dissapoint the fans. It was 2 hours from where I live. I still got good relations with TNA. The TNA family actually treated me very well, I was just going through a lot of personal things when I left. I am still close to Dixie Carter who is a nice lady doing a lot of great things for the wrestling business and the wrestlers. Terry Taylor, one of my favorite people, called me and asked me if I would fill in. I am a team player and I said 'heck yeah man.' It was a great night not just for the fans but for myself to go out there and see if I still got it, the itch to be out there and doing it. The fans were going crazy which was totally unexpected. Rob and I went out and I gave him a black eye, he almost broke my jaw when he kicked me in the side of the head. All is fair in love and war when you are out there in the ring trying to deliver for the fans. That is what it was about. Man it was a great night”
The appearance led to speculation that Booker was going to return to the promotion. It was a one time appearance, as Booker has a pair of new priorities on the horizon.
“I don't want to do a whole lot right now. My wife is about one and a half months from delivering our twins and we are really excited about that more then anything. We are going into a different phase of life with the King and Queen raising the Prince and Princess. It is going to be a totally different chapter. Right now that is what I am focusing on, August 20th is her delivery date. It is an exciting time. Wrestling has been great to me and I love it but I have to focus on first things first. We have been working on this for quite some time and the man upstairs finally blessed us. Not with just one but two, a boy and a girl, which is wild.”
It is a second chance for Booker, who has a son from a previous relationship. Being a wrestler took its toll on his relationship with his son, and now Booker plans to do things right.
“It is like getting a second chance. I made a lot of mistakes my first time around and I've really got to focus on doing this right, not just now but for the future as well. You can't predict the future you can only try. Being a young single parent before, raising a son was really topsy-turvy at time. It could have been structured a whole lot better. I want to make sure I try to do my best this time around.”
When Booker and Sharmell left TNA after Bound for Glory 2009, there were negotiations to return to WWE and was in fact offered a contract.
“There is a lot of truth to those rumors. I was really close to going back to WWE. Things did not work out due to a lot of things. I can't work 6 months out of the year, 160 days. That would be really hard on me. We got pregnant at the same time that negotiations were being talked about. It was a lot of different things which lead to the breakdown. I've still got really good relationships with WWE as well. I have never burned any bridges with anybody I worked with I don't think. It may be a possibility for me to go back there someday maybe in a different position. I always wanted to be an agent, a writer, work with guys from a backstage perspective. Wrestling is not something I foresee myself being able to do for the rest of my life.”
It may be a fairly different WWE if he does return, the new PG WWE which fires talent like Bryan Danielson for choking someone with a tie. As the three year anniversary of the Benoit tragedy comes up, Booker admits he hasn't seen a lot of change personally in the aftermath.
“Wow that is news to me. I didn't know about the tie thing. That is really a weird thing to fire someone for. I have seen a lot of things a lot worse then choking someone with a tie. As far as the changes in the business... Chris Benoit was a good friend of mine who I had classic matches with. I don't see a real change as far as wrestling goes other then the steroid policy being more in play and wrestlers being looked at more closely. Which personally I agree with the wrestlers being scrutinized and it being tougher. You look at the wrestling era before me, it was a tragic era and we lost a lot of wrestlers. The era before that, the older guys like Crusher, they are still living they were just beer drinkers. THey didn't do a lot of things to harm themselves like the era before me and my era which has included a lot of prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs, alcohol. It played a lot of roles in losing a lot of teachers, scholars in the wrestling game that could have passed a lot of knowledge on to the kids in the wrestling business.”
One of those teachers should have been Sherri Martel, one of the greatest females to ever be in the industry. She died June 15, 2007. Martel and Booker were close – he gave her away at her wedding, and her management of Harlem Heat really put Booker and brother Stevie Ray on the map.
“Sherri was just raw, totally one of a kind as far as females go. She was herself really but she was the sweetest person in the world. One night we were having a tag team match with Hacksaw Jim Duggan and someone. We had Hacksaw against the ropes so she could get a good shot in over the second rope. She hit Jim Duggan so hard he just lay on the ground looking at us like 'why did she have to do that?' We didn't know what to do, we were kicking him and he wasn't moving. It was crazy. She almost caused a riot one day when she slapped a fan who almost came over the rail. That was what was good about Sheri and Harlem Heat. Being in WCW as two black guys with a white woman working towns in the south. They hated her for liking us! It was a one of a kind tag team tandem with my brother and I and Sheri, there were good times that I will take to my grave.”
At 45 Booker T still has the spark and ability to wrestle. While he may not be as in direct of a spotlight, he isnt hanging up the boots yet.
“Being done as a wrestler, I've got to let my body determine that. One thing we have to think about as human beings, we were all born to die it is a part of life. When I hang up the boots and not do it anymore. I won't be 70 and in a wrestling ring. When I hang them up I want to know it is the last time I am able to wrestle in my mind and in my body. The show ain't over till its over with but I don't want to be one of those old wrestlers with my body not looking good, my hair falling out, fading away, I don't want to be like that.”
If he loses the belt it may be awhile before Alberta wrestling fans get to see Booker T live and in person. The show also includes Lance Storm teaming with Jerry Lynn, against Super Wild and the top PWA stars, as well as the induction of the Hart Family into the PWA Hall of Fame. Booker T promises a memorable night.
“The same as usual. Booker T always comes out to do the show to the highest degree like only I can. By the end of it I am going to show this kid that Booker T is here to stay. More importantly it is about coming out there and giving the fans the Booker T experience. I have been around 20 years, I am in the twilight of my career. Even though I can still go out there and mix it up and do it as good as the young guys, it is about passing the torch. I am going to go out there Saturday night. do it like its supposed to be done, make him bow down and say 'daddy I don't want none I've had enough' like Booker T always does it. Make sure you show up it is going to be off the hook. It will be a great night, spinaroonis for everybody.”
Jason Clevett is a 3-time, 3-time, 3-time... interviewer of Booker T. Check out his past interiews in our Booker T story archive.