WWE Royal Rumble 2013: Booker T Talks Shooting Straight Panels, WCW and More
Before WWE’s most powerful and resilient Superstars battle it out at Royal Rumble 2013 in Phoenix, Booker T will be a part of one of three panels that will allow fans to ask the tough questions they've been itching to ask.
The five-time WCW champ and current SmackDown General Manager will headline one of WWE's "Shooting Straight" panels that the Royal Rumble Fan Fest this weekend.
Booker T said he is "not going to hold anything back."
He, Big Show and Kevin Nash will talk openly about the Monday Night Wars and the WCW years.
In a conference call interview on Thursday, Booker T gave his views on this year’s Royal Rumble, his time with WCW, his autobiography and a number of other topics.
Shooting Straight Panels
WWE is going to tear down the fourth wall and allow fans to hear superstars speak unscripted on some compelling topics. These open discussion forums will be an intriguing part of Royal Rumble Fan Fest.
Along with matches and chances to meet WWE Divas and Superstars, this year's Fan Fest includes three "Shooting Straight" panels, the first of which begins on Saturday at 3 p.m.
Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels will take three hours worth of your questions on the Montreal Screwjob. A panel discussing anything DX-related goes from 6-9:30 p.m. that night. Triple H, X-Pac and the New Age Outlaws will all be there.
On Sunday, Kevin Nash, Big Show and Booker T open up about the Monday Night Wars and WCW from 9 a.m. to noon.
About the panel, Booker T says he expects to tackle "questions that fans have been wanting to ask for so many years."
He said he was looking forward to it and that he thought it would be a great time.
To fans attending the event he said, "Ask the questions you really want to ask. Don't hold anything back." He promised to be ready for them all, even the "crazy ones that will come up."
He's sure to be asked about his infamous n-word gaffe, about which he says, "I know that's going to come up. I'm prepared with an answer. And I got a pretty good answer."
The evening should prove insightful with Nash, Booker and Big Show each offering their thoughts. As Booker T puts it, there are "three different stories to tell from three different perspectives."
There was genuine excitement in Booker T's voice when he talked about Royal Rumble 2013.
The pay-per-view as he said is "one of the biggest times of the year."
There will certainly be some unforgettable moments, new rivalries created and a number of surprise entrants. Wondering whether Booker T will be among that group again this year?
He quickly shot down those thoughts. "I'm sorry I'm not going to be participating," he said, "I'm going to sit it out."
If we do buy that his denial is indeed true, then you can take Booker off the list for possible winners. Who then is going to win?
Booker T called the Rumble "an unpredictable match," one that "anybody can win."
Well not Yoshi Tatsu, right Booker?
Booker also talked about his return to WWE at the 2011 Royal Rumble.
He said, "I really didn't expect the ovation I got from the fans." He'd been away from WWE for over three years, working for TNA and wrestling in Puerto Rico and Mexico. His return caused the crowd to erupt with heartfelt passion.
About this moment Booker said, it "put that stamp on my career."
The appreciation from the fans would be something he remembered for the rest of his life.
When asked which dream surprise entrants he'd love to see at Royal Rumble 2013, Booker T singled out the late Junkyard Dog. He said it would be great if he "could see Junkyard Dog come back from the grave and be a part of the Rumble."
From Prison to Promise
Booker T published his autobiography, From Prison to Promise; Life Before the Squared Circle with Medallion Press in August 2012.
It details his struggles as a youngster in urban Houston, including the loss of his both father and mother.
Booker T said one of his goals with the book was to "help kids save their lives." He hopes they'll read it and think, "If Booker T can come out of these situations, then I can too."
His story is not sugarcoated and is instead presented as he put it, "from a raw perspective."
The narrative of the book ends with Booker getting the call from WCW to begin his career there. Since there is so much of his story left to tell, he said that he's “getting ready to start the second book."
He says, "I think the fans deserve to hear that part of the career."
As to whether or not he'd include the TNA years, he said he was more likely to avoid that time period, as he describes it as "bleak."
Like he'll likely do at the Fan Fest panels, Booker T looked back at his WCW days fondly.
He said both, "It's great to go back in time so to speak" and "It is the future, we can't continue to dwell on the past. Those days are over. They're never coming back."
Booker T discussed thinking he'd be with WCW forever, perhaps becoming a 16-time world champ like Ric Flair. Of course, WWE bought WCW out in 2001, changing wrestling's landscape forever.
While Booker was still a WCW star, WWE was not on his radar.
He laughed and explained that a big part of it was that WWE "went to all the cold places, all the cold countries and I don't like being cold."
When asked if he'd ever reunite with Stevie Ray and reform Harlem Heat, he sounded excited about the prospect.
He said, "people want to see it." A Harlem Heat reunion would give "the fans' one last look at a team that was so great."
Previewing the kind of frank discussion sure to be a part of the panels this weekend, Booker T talked about how WCW wrestlers got lazy after the success of the NWO.
"Guys were just partying," he said.
He called some of his peers soft and said they were slacking. He blames this attitude for why "the tide shifted back to WWE."
Being a part of WCW during its peak and its decline was a unique experience. Booker explained that it "was like being on a black stallion without a saddle."
Reality of Wrestling/The Future
Based in the Houston area, Booker T's Reality of Wrestling promotion puts on live shows and gives Booker T the opportunity to train new talent.
This is something he wants to focus on now that his in-ring career is over.
He said,"I've been in front of the camera for 20 years now." With WWE and Reality of Wrestling, he's now chosen to be a part of what goes on behind the scenes. He sounded like he is embracing his new role.
Booker said,"My job in this business after wrestling is to produce the young guys."
In terms of WWE talent, he mentioned trying to make guys like Sheamus, Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler better. For his guys and girls at Reality of Wrestling, his goal is to get "these kids ready for when that knock comes."
Of his protege, Ray Neico, Booker said that he's "been knocking on the door." Another wrestler with FCW and WWE potential is an Australian wrestler named Rob Barnes.
Booker joked that Barnes would be ready if he "could put 10 more pounds on."
Away from the ring himself, Booker is intent on helping these younger performers hone their craft and prepare them what he called "a rough business."
His new career is about "young guys creating their own destinies."
Booker T on The Rock
CM Punk defends his WWE title against The Rock in a match Booker T thinks is "going to be great."
Despite the backstage rumblings that some guys resent Rock's part-time presence, Booker T only had good things to say about The Great One.
Booker T said matter-of-factly, "The Rock means revenue, The Rock means ratings."
He also called him "a great ambassador" for the business. In Booker's eyes, The Rock can also be a teacher.
The younger Superstars in Booker's words "need to take their notepads out" and learn from Rock. He mentioned how they could all learn how to have fun in the ring while still entertaining the fans.
The Rock in Booker T's mind can show them how to work the crowd, how to "make them laugh, make them feel, make them have emotions."
Booker compared the sports entertainment business to theater.
He said that WWE and pro wrestling is "Romeo and Juliet, Phantom of the Opera and then go out there and hit somebody in the mouth."