This month’s TNA/SpikeTV teleconference is with Booker T, who talks about Slammiversary, King of the Mountain, racism in wrestling, and lots more!
Steven Godfrey opened the teleconference reminding everyone that the Slammiversary PPV will be telecast this Sunday, June 8, at 8:00 p.m. eastern from The DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, Mississippi. Booker will face Samoa Joe, Robert Roode, Christian Cage, and Rhino in the King of the Mountain Match for the TNA World Heavyweight Title, with Kevin Nash as the Special Enforcer.
Kevin Nash was supposed to be the teleconference guest this month, but we were told there was confusion about the schedule, so Booker T took his place at the last minute.
Booker said that TNA is building up a fan base, and is a company that’s “here to stay.” He believes the recent lower ratings for tv wrestling are because they have a lot of competition, especially from UFC and WEC, and it’s up to wrestling to keep up and and change the marketing strategy to stay successful.
Booker doesn’t have anyone particular in mind to work with in the future; he’d like to give everyone a chance. He learned a lot from working with legends like Bret Hart, Ric Flair, and Ricky Steamboat, and now he wants to pass on what he knows to up and coming wrestlers. He thinks his next opponent will be Samoa Joe.
His character is unique, and not necessarily a bad guy, he explains: he’s just a guy who wants it all. He thinks the story fits his character at this stage of the game. He’s looking forward to King of the Mountain, which is a new kind of match for him. He revealed that his looks at this point in his career as “the beginning of the end of the beginning.”
He enjoyed being in a tag team with his brother Stevie Ray in Global and WCW, but he started his career as a single as GI Bro, and he always wanted to be a singles wrestler. He feels fortunate to have had the run he’s had.
Bobby Lashley did great when he came to Booker’s PWA promotion, but he doesn’t know what Lashley plans to do. He said that MMA and Japan are also looking at Bobby, who is in a good place right now.
Booker said that it’s hard to say if TNA has too many gimmick matches. He has never tried to get behind the scenes. He admitted that all the different stipulations may confuse people, and they need to look at that. TNA has to try different things to see what people like, and the ratings will tell them what works and what doesn’t.
Chris Adams didn’t train him, Scott Casey did, Booker stated. Regarding allegations of racism in wrestling, he explained that wrestling wasn’t something that African Americans looked at as a way out, they way they did other sports, and he looked at it differently from others. He said that racism will always be with us. He revealed that Ox Baker took him aside when he was starting out, and told him that he would have to face negativity from some people, but he could overcome it with the right mental attitude. He kept that in mind throughout his career, and tries to pass it on to others.
Booker said his store has been closed, but the PWA Wrestling School is growing and doing very well.
It is hard to keep a marriage going in this business, Booker admits, but he and Sharmell have a successful marriage because they work hard at it, and they both are familiar with the pitfalls of the entertainment business, not just wrestling. He said you and your spouse have to have a total connection and be in tune with each other. He explained that you have to know what business is about: being able to retire successfully. It’s not about playing around, drinking, or bagging girls; it’s a business, not a party.
Sid Vicious helped Booker and Stevie Ray get into WCW, he revealed, but he hasn’t talked to Sid in some time. He doesn’t know what Sid is doing, but if he would like to come to TNA, he hopes Sid will call him, because he’d like to return the favor.
He said Samoa Joe has skills and talent even if he doesn’t have the typical wrestler body. He would like to help Joe with learning to talk, and making things real in the ring.
Booker said his relationship with TNA is great so far, and hopefully it will work with his PWA school too.
The Ultimate Warrior is a character, and if he came to TNA, Booker said he wouldn’t not welcome him; it’s not his company. It would be up to Warrior how hard he wants to work. He has to be close to 50 now, and you lose some of your figure as you get older.
Booker said that the internet and YouTube are a double edged sword. It’s good for getting the word out, but not when people are putting locker room talk out there.
He said he doesn’t think he’s had his favorite match yet. He did have a lot of fun working with Jay Lethal in JAPW last Saturday, though.
At 43 years old, he doesn’t know how much longer he can go on; it depends on how long he feels good. At one time, he thought he’d retire at 40, but he can still perform well, so never say never. He’ll wait and see what happens.
The one person he has never wrestled but would like to is Shawn Michaels, but he doesn’t think it will ever happen now.
He thought Ric Flair’s retirement match was great, and well done. It was a memorable last match, and time for Flair to make the step to the next stage of his life.
Booker said the TNA road shows are fun. He enjoys going to places he hasn’t been in a long time and seeing photos people have had for years, waiting to get them signed.
Regarding Michael Hayes and racism in WWE, Booker said he doesn’t know what’s going on there. From what he knew of him, Hayes always though he was a black guy in a white body, so Booker never looked at him as a racist, because he knew there was no malice in the things he said. Those same things coming from someone else would have upset him, but since he knew Hayes so well, he didn’t take the things he said as racist. He doesn’t know what’s going on with anyone over there now though, and other people could view things differently; he doesn’t know what’s going on with anyone else.
On the Hogan jail tapes released on the internet, Booker said that’s the kind of world we live in now. Everyone has to watch what they say and do, and no one is above the law. You have to watch your own back. If you say things like that, you’re going to get burned, and if you are saying things like that, what kind of person are you?
He said he hasn’t seen his TNA trading card yet, but he’s looking forward to it.
Booker said Sting is one of the true greats of the business. Sting walked the straight line, never went to WWE, and stayed true to who he is. He’s in TNA now because of Sting and a couple other guys.
He said the locker room is great in TNA. When he first came in, he had a meeting with everyone so he could tell them that he’s not there to step on toes. It’s great to help and teach. “It’s not about me it’s about them,” Booker said, explaining that the younger guys are the future of wrestling.
The most important thing he wants to teach the younger guys is how to slow down, how to entertain. He said they need to realize it’s like Shakespeare. It’s not just about wrestling, it’s how to make it in the long run, create a fan base, following a financial plan.
Photos by Lee South for TNAWrestling.com
— Karen Belcher
Courtesy of ProWrestlingDigest.com