Booker T recently spoke to Raj Giri of WrestlingINC.com. Here are some highlights from the interview.
WrestlingINC: And there were a lot of stories about the night you won the World title at Bash At The Beach in 2000 when you beat Jeff Jarrett. How far in advance did you know you were going to be winning the World title that night? What was the backstage atmosphere like?
Booker T: “The backstage atmosphere was chaos pretty much. Not with myself, I really didn’t care. It wasn’t my ball, so to speak, I was just playing in the game. The beef was with Russo and Hogan and creative control Hogan had in his contract — I’m not sure exactly what that was. But, I knew that Hogan wanted to win the title that night.
“I’m not sure if he was trying to step on my grave or throw a monkey wrench into me winning the championship; it was just something that he felt was owed to him at that time. So, I let everything play out. I found out maybe 5, maybe 6 or 7 minutes before I went out that I was going to win the title and that I was going to be champ that night.”
WrestlingINC: How did you react when you were told?
Booker T: “Well, I found out that they were planning to do it. Then, when everything got thrown up into the air, I thought I wasn’t going to be winning it. Then, they told me to stick around because I was going to be winning it. Man, I just wanted to get it over with. They had their [questions] and I had my questions as well.
“My questions were: are the fans going to even want me to be the champion? [Laughs.] Those were my thoughts. I didn’t care what they were thinking. So, I just let everything play out and then when it was time to come out and win, all my questions were answered.
“Those fans went crazy, everybody raised the roof, everybody was happy that I won — even after the controversial night. Everybody was still partying at the end of the night and happy that Booker T had finally crashed the glass ceiling.
WrestlingINC: What were your thoughts on the final Nitro and finding out that WWF had bought WCW?
Booker T: “Man, I knew it was going to happen. I mean, we all knew it was coming. For me, it was just another day at work to be honest. I never really worried about my spot or anything. I never really worried about how talented I was or if I could get in or anything like that. A lot of guys were worried about what was next for them but I knew what was next for me.
“I knew that WWE was coming-a-calling and it was time to me to go and prove how good I really thought I was. So, I was willing to do that. I was willing to step right in, leave all my accolades behind and start all over from the bottom and prove that I belonged. So, it was just another day at the office for me.”
WrestlingINC: When they were doing the WCW revival, it didn’t seem planned out that well. How much did you know about what they planned to do with WCW when you signed?
Booker T: “No, not at all. I never delved into that part of the business. I never cared about what the company was going to be doing with who or what — storylines, angles, none of that stuff. I never got involved in that stuff when I was active because it just wasn’t important to me. The only thing that was important to be was what my role was that night and that was it. Then, I would go out at do that, make sure I concentrated on getting that done. The rest of it pretty much just fell into place.”
WrestlingINC: You also got the singles push and you challenged Triple H for the title at WrestleMania 19. It seemed like for a point there that you were going to win the belt until Kurt Angle was able to face Brock Lesnar. Did you hear anything about you going over and then those planned changed?
Booker T: “You know, I’m sure there was talk. You know, I have no control over that. I know a lot of people wanted me to go over, a lot of people thought I should have gone over because of the way the angle was being played out. As far as him saying that he was better than me and people like me shouldn’t be in that position.
“But, for me, it was a platform to talk about my background and put my real life out there. And to help some people out with my book and whatnot. That was just the beginning of it, winning was a state of mind. I thought I won because I was on the main stage in WrestleMania and I got paid a lot of money to do it. [Laughs.]
“So, a lot of people say I should have won. But, I think if I would have won, when I finally did win as King Booker, it wouldn’t have been the same. For me, I think everything has happened for a reason. And it always seemed to have happened at the right time.”
WrestlingINC: You were pretty much on top and having your best WWE run and then you went to TNA for a few years. How would you describe that run with TNA?
Booker T: “Eh, it was like a vacation, like a paid vacation. I didn’t do much there and I wasn’t in a lot of angles or anything there and they didn’t know what to do with me. I really wanted to help the AJ’s and the Bobby Roode’s and guys like that but they didn’t have any direction.
“So, for me, I just came to work, did my antics — I had an African accent there. [Laughs.] So, I’d come to work, do my deal and go home for two weeks. So, it was easy and I needed the detox, I needed a breather.
“And still be on television. I didn’t want to not be on television because, like I said, out of sight is out of mind. So, I just wanted to take a break but still be on television to keep people thinking about me. Even though the television exposure was not that relevant, I was still doing my thing. I was still in the mix and wrestling on a fairly regular basis. So, I was still in the game, I didn’t let the machine get all rusty.
“But, like I said, taking a break was something that I needed. I had been going strong for about 17 years straight without a break. Thank little bit of a break was something that I needed just to re-energize myself.”
WrestlingINC: Having worked there for Dixie Carter and having worked for Eric Bischoff and Vince McMahon, how would you compare the three and their styles?
Booker T: “Man, like night and day really. Dixie Carter, she’s a nice lady, a really nice lady. She’s got a good heart and she really wants to do the right thing for the guys. Does she have the right guys doing things? That might be another story. Is Eric Bischoff the right guy for the job? I don’t know, you’ve got to weigh your options as far as that right there. Look at the track record. [Laughs.]
“As far as working for Vince McMahon, it’s always been a business. It’s always been a working relationship, I tried not to become friends or anything like that with anybody that I’m working under. I always know that it’s about business, it’s not about friendship. That’s Vince, he’s always about business. It’s all about getting the job done, it’s all about going out and being number one every week no matter what.
“I adapted that concept myself into pretty much everything that I do. I just go out and work the hardest and be the best.”