Published: Saturday September 14, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Saturday September 14, 2013 MYT 8:03:08 AM

WWE's Booker T: Hail to the king

I’m the five-time WCW Champion , sucka: Semiretired WWE superstar Booker T doesn’t miss the gruelling schedule of wrestling regularly but misses performing in front of crowds.

I’m the five-time WCW Champion , sucka: Semiretired WWE superstar Booker T doesn’t miss the gruelling schedule of wrestling regularly but misses performing in front of crowds.

World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Booker T made the suckas dig it on his KL visit.

THE one thing that World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) stars have in common is presence. And Booker T (born Booker Tio Huffman, Jr) has oodles of it. He was nearly mobbed by the crowd of mostly young men and kids at Kuala Lumpur’s Lot 10 when he made his way to the stage for a meet-the-fans session last week. Naturally, shouts of his catch-phrase “Can you dig it, sucka!” rang out through the mall’s atrium.

Decked out in a stylish suit with purple tie and shirt, and with his unmistakable dreadlocks, Booker proudly showed off to journalists his Hall Of Fame ring which he wore on the middle finger of his right hand.

Asked what being inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame earlier this year meant to him, Booker replied: “More than anything, it’s getting my body of work acknowledged, starting back in WCW (World Championship Wrestling), and then that company got bought out. It affirms the fans, and all the work I’ve done for them over the years and they appreciate it more than anything.”

He is grateful to be “immortalised forever more. It’s a huge honour, it’s indescribable.”

Even though he is semi-retired now, Booker is still keeping himself busy, especially with his wrestling promotion Reality Of Wrestling; the wrestling school in Houston, Texas which he started with his brother, wrestler Lash “Stevie Ray” Huffman, in 2005; his second book on wrestling (his first was the autobiography Booker T: From Prison To Promise, detailing his transformation from a convicted armed robber to a wrestling superstar); and various projects including a graphic novel.

The most decorated wrestler in the history of the WCW and one of only four men to ever win both the WCW and WWE Triple Crown Championships (he also won the 2006 King Of The Ring tournament, adopting for a while the regal and British-accented ring persona “King Booker”), Booker said although he doesn’t miss wrestling, he does miss performing in front of crowds.

“I miss feeling that adrenaline rush,” he said. “For instance, I wrestled in Iraq in 2003 in front of soldiers. It was 40 degrees and I had my boots and tights on, and it felt like 80 degrees, because the adrenaline was pumping so hard.”

Booker T shared his reflections and outlook on the wrestling scene:

On the new young wrestlers:

You look at a guy like Daniel Bryan, someone who is totally not the face of WWE, but who went out and proved through hard work, that anybody has a chance. And him not being the biggest guy, only five nine and 200 pounds, he proved that you can go out and entertain without being a musclebound guy. You could be an average joe and go out there and make people believe in you. He gives hope. For those who wondered if there would ever be another Dusty Rhodes, a guy who came out and created his own style and character, as opposed to WWE creating that guy, Daniel Bryan is the future of the wrestling business.

Do they still call it a selfie if your wrestling idol is in the picture as well?
Would it still be a selfie if your wrestling idol is in the picture as well?

On making a comeback:

I wouldn’t call it a “comeback” like LL Cool J said (laughs). I’m semi-retired. To work that roster and that schedule that these superstars and young ladies go out and do, it’s rough. It’s a young man’s sport. I don’t want to be one of those wrestlers who try to hold on to the past. Royal Rumble, that’s cool. I can do it once a year. But to do it once a week or 365 days, it’s really, really rough. I give props to the young guys. It’s their time now.

On injuries:

I’ve had injuries that were career-threatening. I had a neck injury for two months. I had a back injury where I couldn’t walk for a month. I’ve had to have two epidurals. A couple knee injuries as well. Elbow. I don’t think any wrestler walks away unscathed. We know that it comes with the territory and we’re willing to accept it. Look at Mick Foley. He puts everything on the line. You have only one shot at this, so you got to go out and be the best that you can be.

On the resurgence of interest in WWE and the advent of mixed martial arts (MMA):

I don’t think MMA took the spotlight away from WWE. MMA kind of affected the talent pool of professional wrestlers. For years kids were growing up wanting to be wrestlers. But now you got kids wanting to be in MMA. It clouded things for a while. But now I think with the reality shows and Total Divas, people are giving a chance and coming to see what wrestling is really all about. The storylines have also gotten a lot better.

On guys such as Rampage Jackson joining the WWE:

Those guys are just coming in to get a paycheque. They’re not coming in to be in the main event at WrestleMania or to make the fans feel like they got the best form of entertainment. They’re not going to go out there and do Shakespeare and Romeo And Juliet, like we do. Most of those guys are in it for the paycheque. So more power to them (laughs).

On guys such as Ken Shamrock and Brock Lesnar going into MMA:

For Brock Lesnar, he has a background in wrestling. So MMA is a perfect fit for him. He tried to play football in the NFL but that wasn’t his environment. Ken Shamrock really is a tough guy. And he was in Pancrase (a mixed martial arts promotion founded in Japan in the 1990s). So he was doing professional wrestling and MMA at the same time. Those guys are true, bona fide tough guys and more props to them.

On being in movies:

I want to be a producer, a director (laughs). I want to work behind the scenes. I’ve been in front of the camera now for 21 years straight.

On the graphic novel:

It’s kind of like one of those old martial arts movies. You know those Shaw Bros productions? It’s something like that. It’s always the master teaches the student, and these guys get beat up, and the student has to go train so that he can go back and get revenge. It’s going to be that kind of a story. But no wrestling, none at all. I will be a character in the book, not as myself but somewhat like myself. I don’t want to make it about me. And that’s the thing about most of my projects.

On his school:

It has been in existence since 2005. I started it when I was still an active wrestler. I didn’t want to open a school after I retired, just to do something. I wanted to bring kids, as well as young men and women, in and mentor them from a wrestling perspective. Of those who make it in wrestling, it’s a very low percentage. But to create good young men and women, that percentage can be a little higher. It’s about the environment, it’s about team, unity. All my students have to set everything up, the barrier, the lights, the ring. And then they have to wrestle. Then they have to break it all down and take it back to the storage room. And they get 40 bucks to do this. So they can’t be doing it for the money. They have to really, really love it.

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment, Lifestyle, Booker T., WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment, professional wrestling

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