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Booker T

Booker T

REAL NAME: Booker Huffman
6' 3", 250 pounds
BORN: May 1, 1965 in Houston, Texas
NICKNAMES: G.I. Bro

Booker T didn't have an easy time of it growing up. That much has been documented. He was one of eight children of a single, working mother. While working at a Wendy's, he was arrested and convicted for the armed robbery of several restaurants in the chain and served 19 months in prison.

A drum major in high school, Booker was working for a storage company with a young son of his own when the wrestling world came calling. His brother Stevie Ray suggested that he and Booker check out a new wrestling school being opened, run by former WWE star Ivan Putski, in conjunction with his Western Wrestling Alliance organization.

His boss from the storage company loaned him the $3,000 to pay for the wrestling lessons and Booker began training under another former wrestling star Scott Casey, who helped to turn Booker's background in drama and dance into "sports entertainment", teaching the ring newbie psychology and ring generalship.

Eight weeks later, Booker debuted as "G.I. Bro" on Putski's Western Wrestling Alliance Live! program. The character, a tie-in to the raging Gulf War and the WWE's Sgt. Slaughter angle, would return in years to come when Booker traveled to WCW. Even though the WWA would meet its demise some time later, Booker continued to wrestle on the Texas indy circuit, often with his brother Stevie Ray. During one such show, they were spotted by Skandor Akbar who hired them to work for the Global Wrestling Federation, which he and Eddie Gilbert were involved in. Gilbert, soon to be fired from the GWF, did one thing before he left: he teamed Stevie Ray and Booker T together as the Ebony Experience.

In 1992, the Ebony Experience would hold the GWF Tag Team titles three times, despite Booker taking time off to recover from a knee injury. A year later, they were en route to WCW, thanks to Sid Vicious who was impressed by what he saw of Stevie Ray and Booker T and convinced WCW to hire the team. The Ebony Experience repackaged as Kane and Kole, otherwise known as Harlem Heat. The Kane and Kole monickers would not last long and soon they were back to being called Stevie Ray and Booker T. By the end of 1994, they were already Tag Team Champions, having defeated Stars and Stripes (The Patriot and Marcus Bagwell) in December, en route to a five-month title reign, their first of 10 such championship runs.

Over the next two years, Harlem Heat would continue to be at the top of the WCW Tag Team scene, defeating the Nasty Boys, Bunkhouse Buck and Dick Slater, Public Enemy, Sting and Lex Luger, the Steiner Brothers and the American Males (Scotty Riggs & Bagwell) to begin one tag team title reign after another.

After the loss of their seventh WCW World Tag Team Championship, to the Outsiders (Kevin Nash & Scott Hall) on October 27, 1996, Stevie Ray was put out of action with an ankle injury, and Booker T began a singles career in WCW. By the end of 1997, Booker had worked his way into a position where he was given the WCW Television title, defeating Disco Inferno in December 1997. He would drop the title to Rick Martel only to regain it days later.

In the spring of 1998, Booker crossed paths with Chris Benoit. The two began a series against each other out of mutual respect for one another. However, as the months progressed and the TV title switched hands, tempers flared. Benoit cost Booker the title during a match against Fit Finlay. As spring became summer, it was decided that Booker and Benoit would engage in a best-of-seven series, with the winner meeting Finlay for the title. After seven great matches and interference from Bret Hart and a returning Stevie Ray, Booker T won the series and, on June 14th, would go on to regain the Television Championship.

During a match with Hart, Booker injured his knee and missed several months. When he returned, he quickly regained the TV title from Scott Steiner, who would, in turn, defeat Booker in the finals of the United States title tournament. By the end of 1999, Booker had convinced his brother, Stevie Ray, to leave the NWO and the reunited Harlem Heat won three more WCW Tag Team Championships.

However, the team didn't last and eventually Harlem Heat split up and began to feud, with Stevie Ray bringing in the former Ahmed Johnston (Tony Norris) who he called Big T. Stevie Ray and Big T would dub themselves Harlem Heat 2000

When Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff formed "the New Blood", Booker joined them but soon left to join the "Misfits In Action" and became "G.I. Bro", reprising his gimmick from his days in the WWA. However, G.I. Bro was short-lived and soon Booker was once again Booker T.

At Bash at the Beach 2000, Booker was defeated by Kanyon but by the end of the night was WCW World Championship, having defeated Jeff Jarrett in an unscheduled match. His first reign as World Champion ended a month later, at the hands of Scott Steiner.

After taking some time off due to injuries, Booker T returned and defeated Rick Steiner to win the United States Championship. With the demise of WCW, Booker T took on Scott Steiner to unify the U.S. and WCW World Heavyweight Championships and on the final episode of Monday Nitro, Booker T defeated Steiner to once again become WCW World Champion.

With the coming "Invasion" of WCW, Booker T led the way into WWE. At the 2001 King of the Ring, Booker attacked "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and the next night on Raw, took on Buff Bagwell in the first-ever WCW bout on Raw. Booker would also defend the title against Diamond Dallas Page on Smackdown. However, while fans may have sided with Booker at first, his allegiance to the WCW/ECW Alliance, following a WCW World title defence against Kurt Angle on July 9th, cost him most, if not all, of those fans.

Things weren't so great for Booker once he joined the Alliance. On July 26th, he lost both of his WCW titles, giving the U.S. belt to Kanyon and then losing the WCW World title to Kurt Angle. Four days later, however, he would rebound to regain the WCW title.

Having been compared to The Rock, it was only fitting that Booker T eventually feud with The Rock, leading to a meeting at Summer Slam 2001 when the Rock defeated Booker to become the new WCW Champion. Switching from singles to tag action, Booker teamed with Test to win his 11th WCW tag championship. Even after the end of the Alliance and the Invasion angle, Booker and Test continued to team, but were never able to recapture the tag titles.

Booker would instead cross paths with Edge, leading to a feud over Booker's jealousy that Edge got a Japanese shampoo endorsement. Strange storylines aside, the pair had a solid match at Wrestlemania X-8 but it was Edge getting the victory.

With the NWO now operating in WWE, Booker T decided to try and join the faction. However, he didn't last too long, getting kicked out of the group via a superkick from Shawn Michaels. He would find an unusual partnership with Goldust and the pair would team to battle the NWO and then later, the Un-Americans.

Finally, at the end of 2002, Booker T and Goldust (Dustin Rhodes) would win a Tag Team Elimination match at Armageddon to win the WWE Tag Team Championships, defeating Christian/Chris Jericho, Lance Storm/William Regal and the Dudley Boyz. 2003 would be less than a week old when Storm and Regal would upend Booker T and Goldust to win the titles. The loss of the titles would lead to the breakup of the Goldust/Booker T team, as the two partners agreed to go their separate ways.

Booker T targeted Evolution after Batista and Randy Orton attacked Booker's former partner, Goldust. Booker would take aim at Evolution's leader, Triple H and battle for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania XIX, with Triple H retaining the title.

After teaming with Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash against Triple H and Ric Flair and even Chris Jericho, Booker decided to set his sights on the Intercontinental Championship, even after losing a battle royale for the I-C title at Judgment Day. Booker would feud with Christian, the winner and new champ, until finally, in July, Booker won the title.

About a month later, Booker was diagnosed with a bulging disc in his back and lost the Intercontinental title to Christian at a house show. Booker, meanwhile, was out of action until September. When Booker returned, he battled Mark Henry and Test for much of the latter part of 2003.

As 2004 began, Booker T began teaming with Rob Van Dam and the pair even won the WWE Tag Team Championship. They would hold the belts until the night of the Draft Lottery, when they lost to Evolution. Ironically, both men were drafted to Smackdown. (Booker left as part of a trade to bring Triple H back to Raw.)

Booker wasn't happy to have left Raw and turned heel, feuding with Van Dam and later, the Undertaker, who defeated Booker T at Judgment Day '04. Despite the loss, Booker became involved in a feud with John Cena, the United States Champion. Booker became a part of a four-way feud (also involving RVD and Rene Dupre) over the U.S. title. Booker eventually won the vacant U.S. title on Smackdown on July 29th but lost the belt as a result of a "Best of Five" series that culminated at No Mercy in October.

Shortly after the loss, Booker was back in the fans' good graces, as a result of a misunderstanding with World Champion JBL. Booker tangled with JBL at the Survivor Series and, as part of a Fatal Fourway match also involving the Undertaker and Eddie Guerrero, at Armageddon.

2005 didn't start off to be the most successful year of Booker's career. He teamed with Eddie Guerrero for short time before getting shunted into a feud with Heidenreich. He appeared at Wrestlemania XXI but only in a battle royale that was a dark match.

However there were successes. Outside the ring, Booker and Stevie Ray opened the Booker T and Stevie Ray Wrestling Academy in Houston, Texas. Back on Smackdown, Booker was part of the tournament to name a new number one contender and made it to the Final Four. After Kurt Angle eliminated Booker, he returned the favour, costing Angle the match against JBL.

While JBL headed towards a rematch with John Cena, Booker and Angle continued to clash. Angle made it personal, going after Booker's new wife, Sharmell but Booker got his revenge with a victory at Judgment Day. With Angle dealt with, Booker T began teaming with Chris Benoit, with an eye towards the U.S. Championship. Meanwhile, things were not going smoothly between Booker and his wife, Sharmell. After a bout pitting Booker and Sharmell against Melina and Joey Mercury, Sharmell gave Booker a dressing down when Jillian Hall attacked her.

In Booker's quest for the U.S. title, Sharmell began interfering in his matches (against Christian, Orlando Jordan, and Rey Mysterio) but Booker didn't seem to notice. However, after Sharmell's interference gave Booker the U.S. Championship at the expense of Chris Benoit, Benoit called Booker on it. It seemed as if Booker was going to have Sharmell apologize but instead it was Booker who turned on former friend Benoit.

An enraged Benoit took full aim at regaining the U.S. Championship. A double pin in one rematch led to Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long setting up a Best-of-Seven series between Benoit and Booker for the U.S. title.

Booker T defeated Benoit to take a 1-0 lead at the Survivor Series and then jumped out to a commanding 3-0 lead.

But a quick victory in the series was not to be for Booker T. Not only did Benoit win the fourth match in the series at Armageddon, but Booker T suffered an ankle injury at a live event match against Matt Hardy.

Long allowed Booker to use substitute Randy Orton in the final three matches. Not only did Orton lose the first two matches as a substitute, but Orlando Jordan became upset that Booker turned his offer to serve as a substitute.

Although Benoit would force a seventh and deciding match, Orton would win that match and Booker T would be awarded the U.S. title. Booker's reign as U.S. Champion would end at No Way Out when Benoit defeated him.

Booker then crossed paths with the Boogeyman and became so freaked out that he took drastic measures (even feigning injury) to escape a one-on-one match with Boogeyman. After losing a handicap match (partnered with Sharmell) to Boogeyman, Booker had a restraining order put on his nemesis.

After avenging a shocking loss to Gunner Scott, Booker T focused on the King of the Ring tournament, which he won by defeating Bobby Lashley at Judgment Day.

From that moment on Booker T was transformed into King Booker. His loyal Queen Sharmell would always be by his side and proclaim to the masses, "All hail King Booker!" -- much to the chagrin of Smackdown fans.

The Booker King's career then skyrocketed to main event status once again, and on July 23, 2006 he would claim his sixth world championship by defeating Rey Mysterio.

Shortly after his title victory Booker would assemble "The King's Court" consisting of newly-knighted Sir William Regal, and Sir Finlay. This royal team quickly turned into the most dominant stable on Smackdown and more often than not assisted their leader to retain his championship.

After running through a slew of Superstars, King Booker hit the wall known as "The Animal" Batista. Although the champ was able to avoid the big man temporarily it was only a matter of time before Batista reclaimed the title belt on November 26, 2006 at Survivor Series.

Following several unsuccessful rematches to regain his crown, King Booker's Court gradually disbanded. King Booker did not, however, ever give up his crown. He had a short feud with Kane, was in the Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania 23, but chose to save his wife from a Matt Hardy Twist of Fate instead of grabbing the guaranteed title shot in the briefcase. Not too long afterwards, Booker was "injured" at the hands of The Undertaker; in reality, he needed time off for chronic knee pain.

In June 2007, the draft brought King Booker to Raw, with Sharmell along for the ride. Declaring himself the only "king", he fought with Jerry "The King" Lawler and the self-proclaimed "King of Kings" Triple H, who was returning from injury. His last bout in WWE came on August 27th on Raw, when he lost by DQ to WWE champion John Cena in a non-title match when Randy Orton interfered.

Booker T, with a wrestling school in Houston and a fledgling indy promotion in the town, asked for his release from WWE.

"I had been unhappy for quite some time with the direction that the Company was going in," he wrote on his website, www.bookertonline.com, after the release was granted on October 16, 2007. "In fact, I asked for my release back in July for that very reason. However, after further contemplation, I decided to continue on with WWE because of my passion for this industry and my desire to entertain the fans. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that my unhappiness with my work environment was beginning to take a great toll on other aspects of my life."

---compiled by John M. Milner, Andy McNamara and Greg Oliver, with files from John Powell



BOOKER T STORIES

  • Jan. 25, 2013: Booker T ready for the Rumble -- but will he be in it?
  • Sep. 26, 2012: The book on Booker T ends too early
  • June 16, 2010: Booker T enjoying life away from the spotlight
  • June 13, 2008: Booker T relishes veteran role
  • June 5, 2008: Booker T wants to be king again
  • Dec. 11, 2007: WWE departure left Booker T feeling unwell
  • Nov. 29, 2007: Booker has long-term plans as "T" in TNA
  • Oct. 16, 2007: Booker and Sharmell released by WWE
  • Oct. 1, 2006: Booker's fit to be a king
  • July 28, 2006: King Booker prepares for life after reign
  • July 24, 2006: Booker reigns after the Bash
  • Aug. 14, 2005: Booker T looking at present, towards future
  • June 24, 2005: Booker T, Christian take Toronto for a spin
  • June 22, 2005: Booker T to play two more years
  • Aug. 16, 2003: Final chapter for Booker T?
  • Nov. 2, 2001: Booker T captures her heart
  • Nov. 1, 2001: Booker T looking beyond Alliance angle
  • Sep. 8, 2001: Booker-T overwhelmed by WWF success
  • June 18, 2000: Booker T: Wrestling's consummate performer on fatherhood, dressing well, Benoit and Johnson


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