Booker T Shoots On AEW's Backstage Brawl, CM Punk's Controversial Comments & More - Exclusive

Booker T is a six-time World Champion and two-time WWE Hall of Famer. With all of his accolades, you would think he could sit back and rest on his laurels, but that is just not the former G.I. Bro's style. When not making WWE appearances, Booker can be seen alongside his co-host Brad Gilmore weekly on his "Hall Of Fame" radio show talking all the top pro wrestling news.

In this exclusive interview, Booker swaps out Gilmore for Wrestling Inc. Senior News Editor Nick Hausman. The two dive deep into the recent AEW drama surrounding CM Punk's post-All Out scrum comments and the ensuing brawl that reportedly took place with The Elite. In the aftermath of the melee, several top AEW stars like The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega were suspended, throwing Tony Khan's post-All Out plans into disarray. Punk was also injured during his match at All Out and stripped of the AEW World Championship in the wake of the altercation. A new AEW World Champion will be crowned at "AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam" later this month at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The weird situation in AEW

Booker, thank you so much for taking the time today.

What's going on man? You've been in the news lately, bro.

Booker, I don't really ever get to be in the spotlight. You've lived your life in the spotlight. This is all new for me right now.

Hey bro. Just enjoy it, man. Bask in the glory, as Keith Lee would say.

We've known each other for many years now. What was going through your head when you saw CM Punk set his sights on me there and go after me and my improv career?

Man, it was just weird more than anything. It was just weird. Just taking this situation. Punk was coming off of a huge win. The confrontation from MJF, and then to go in on something totally outside of what we really need to be talking about. I think that's one of the biggest problems with the business today. Insider stuff that should stay inside. Certain problems that need to be worked out in private. I talk about the maturity and the leadership in this situation ... Lack of leadership in this situation, but yeah, man, seemed like you were caught off guard a little bit.

So you run a wrestling promotion, Reality of Wrestling down in Houston. We'll talk about one of your proteges here in a little while, but how would you handle this, Booker, if you saw this kind of energy stirring up in the locker room and you see it spilling out?

Well, I think somebody got to be the adult in the room. I think in the CM Punk situation, he's dealing with a lot of young guys. Young guys who have pretty much wrote their own ticket, did it their way, and sometimes you got to go down to their level in order for them to come up to your level. You got to explain what your [modus] operandi is. I went to TNA and I got a chance to work with guys like AJ, guys like Samoa Joe, guys like Roode, Jay Lethal, and I made it a point to let those guys know exactly why I was there, and I think if you wish to have an interview with any one of those guys, they'll tell you, "Yeah, man. Book was straight up OG as far as trying to make us better" ... Little things which makes them feel a certain way about you, and to bridge that, you got to be the one that actually opens that door. They're not going to do it. You got to do it.

Working With CM Punk

You worked with Punk shortly before he was at AEW. You guys did [WWE] Backstage together. What was your vibe on him then? Was he cool to work with? What was it like working with Punk in that environment?

Let me tell you. My wrestling company I own, Reality of Wrestling, I was one of the first guys to bring a no-name CM Punk into Reality of Wrestling, all right. Before he was ever a big shot and famous, I saw something in CM Punk as far as being a guy who pretty much tried to understand what the psychology of the business was. And he figured that out very, very well, because the best wrestlers aren't the guys that actually go out and perform the best and they really aren't. You know what I mean? The guys that make the most money aren't the greatest in ring performers, but they have some kind of connection with those fans.

And Punk has always had that. Even on Backstage, Punk always had an enigma about himself. He always knew how to make fans feel a certain way when they watch him, and that right there is a very, very unique quality. People think I got heat with CM Punk, but I've always got along with CM Punk, even though I have sometimes controversial statements, let's just say that. But I'm just speaking from the real. I'm never going to say something that I can't say in somebody's face, and it's normally going to be constructive more than personal 10 times out of 10 times.

So obviously, this big brawl broke out with Punk and everybody backstage. That doesn't seem to be in dispute anymore. And then everybody got suspended, they're not on TV anymore. Again, you're a wrestling promoter. Is that the action you would've taken here? Do you have any issues with the way that AEW seems to be trying to resolve the situation right now?

Not really, just because I feel like Tony Khan, he had to step up and do something, especially after that press conference. Press conference perhaps should have been shut down. Someone should have maybe intervened and said, "Hey, we're going to stop all questions right now," because you could see exactly where that thing was going. Maybe he was in a position where it couldn't have gotten shut down. Maybe other parties wouldn't have let him do that, but I do think Tony Khan has done the right thing as far as saying, "Hey, I run this and until we can actually sort this thing out, you go home, you go home and then if we can figure it out, we'll figure it out, but right now we got a show to do."

Wrestler's Court

I've been running this back in my head maybe too much here, but did you interpret it as Punk trying to take back control of the locker room? It felt to me like he was very much pushing back on some of the pressure and stigma in the locker room right now.

That could have been it, but one thing about the business ... I was talking on my show, "Hall of Fame," and it's something that we've always had the respect to do is the guy that was working in the main event, we would always go to that guy and we would say, "Hey man, really appreciate you for the house, bro. Thanks for the house, man." We would always do that out of respect, but the guy at the top, he never came to us and said, "Hey guys, you can thank me for the house."

That right there is a shot, throwing it in your face. We, out of respect ... And I think that's something that the business has gotten away from. I've heard certain guys like CM Punk talk about Wrestler's Court and how it was crap, how it was bull, but those are the ways we used to make sure our locker room stayed a certain way with certain guys. We policed that locker room, and we did it a certain way, and I think at the end of the day, some guys didn't like Wrestler's Court, but for me, I was all in, because it was something that we did to make sure that guys that came in that locker room, they knew the protocol. And that right there is I think something that's lost in the business.

And maybe Wrestler's Court would've prevented this huge melee from breaking out, I think is what you're saying here, right?

Exactly my point. I think this could have been handled if they believed in Wrestler's Court, but a lot of these young guys today think we're old, we're outdated, we really don't understand what they're trying to do, but for me personally, I have a wrestling school. I work with nothing but young kids, and I do understand that I got to go down to their level in order to bring them up to my level. I understand if you do not change with the business or just change with the times, the times will pass you by, so if I had the little mustache and the faded haircut, you and I wouldn't be having this conversation.

I was never a part of Wrestler's Court, but I've read a lot of stories about it. I always thought the Undertaker was this figure that was looming over it and people listened to him one way or another. The problem here is I feel like there's really maybe not an Undertaker character, and if there was ... CM Puck didn't seem to want to play ball with whoever that Undertaker character was going to be in this room. He seems to be wanting to be that character in the locker room. At least that's how I discerned this.

There again, I think that's where a lot of the problems going to come in at, where these guys don't go by the traditional code of the way the business was run for so many years, and I think it was run very, very well, especially the locker room from an attention perspective. But I don't think Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks, those guys, they're not off into the Wrestler's Court, and then to put CM Punk on trial, that's like putting Donald Trump on trial. We're going to have a lot of roadblocks in the way. And Punk, there again, is one of those guys who doesn't believe in Wrestler's Court as well, so I didn't see something like that working, but if they did have a system like that and was able to police themselves and talk amongst themselves and put each other on trial, I think it would be a much, much better place.

A Possible WWE Return For CM Punk

One thing nobody really seems to be talking about right now that I want to ask you about is, let's say this doesn't work out with Punk. Let's say that he doesn't return to AEW. Quietly retires, leaves, whatever it may be. Do you see WWE welcoming him back into the fold? Do you think a CM Punk return to WWE under Triple H would be a possibility?

One thing that I can say about WWE is they've always been able to let bygones be bygones. If The Warrior can go back, you would think anybody could go back. CM Punk has definitely been very polarizing as far as comments about WWE ever since he's left, so I think it would be hard. I think it would really be really hard for him just to swallow his pride and go back to that monster, that demon that created a lot of these problems that he thinks he has. So I think it would be hard on both sides.

You talk about how WWEs always been able to do business. That was all under Vince, right? Vince was the one who never minded burying a grudge in order to make a buck. It's a different ballgame now. Do you see Triple H in the same vein? Do you think that he's somebody that would be willing to do that like Vince McMahon was in the past?

I think in certain aspects and from certain perspectives, you have to be. You got to be able to let things go in order to do business, in order to make money, but sometimes that bridge is broken. Sometimes that bridge is destroyed, and this may be one of those bridges with CM Punk and the WWE.

I was really surprised he had [WWE] Backstage. I sat in the courtroom for him in Cabana versus Amman, the Dr. Amman trial, and so much was brought out in discovery there. And I know he was still signed to Fox, but to even be in the same bubble as WWE was very, very surprising to me.

Well, I think Fox really wanted him there. Fox really wanted, with the SmackDown show and Fox being a huge part of that, he really wanted to see Punk back in the WWE ... I'm not in the boardroom making any of those decisions or anything like that, but just knowing how Punk felt, even on the show, sometimes it got touchy and controversial a little bit, just because he wanted to say something. It's like, "Just hold it in brother. Just keep it quiet" ... I don't know if that's going to happen again.

Cody Rhodes' Elite Level WWE Success

I look at the success y'all have had with Cody Rhodes, man, and you could take that, and Punk jumping back would be ... I don't want to diminish Cody Rhodes at all, but I feel like it would maybe even have more of an impact for this guy to cross back the line and come back, and Lord knows, I'm sure that the incentive to have a live microphone and be able to say stuff about his former employees in the middle of a WWE ring is not something that is a non-incentive for CM Punk.

CM Punk, if he did come back to WWE, I wonder what would his positioning be? Because he's going to have to get in the ring, he's going to have to perform, and one thing that we've seen since Punk has come back to wrestling that it's not as easy as one would've thought it would've been for him from an injury perspective, going out there, being able to perform perspective, but when you get to that number 40, things just start to break. Things just start to fall off, and CM Punk is experiencing that right now ... As you get older, things just start to happen, so I wonder what CM Punk would look like in the WWE.

You've been obviously around WWE since Triple H took over creative ... How different is WWE's backstage area right now without Vince McMahon around? Is it different in any significant way?

You know what? I really feel like it is. I think you could see from the show perspective, it has a different feel. I don't know, but for me it seems like it has a totally different feel than it did just a couple months ago, and one thing about the Vince McMahon exit. Just think about it for a second. When Vince McMahon took over from Vince McMahon Senior back in the day, the business grew. It got bigger and faster and it got stronger ... And I don't know if you got kids or not, but when you do have a kid, he's going to come out of the womb or she's going to come out of the womb knowing how to operate that iPad and that cell phone, and they're going to know how to dial. They're going to know so much more than you do, and I just feel like Stephanie, along with Hunter, is in a much better place to be able to grow the WWE from a being able to connect with this generation perspective, just like Vince did when he took over. So I see the company expanding and getting bigger because of the exit of Vince McMahon.

The Empty WWE SmackDown Commentary Chair

We heard the news that Pat McAfee is going to be taking some time away to go do a new full-time gig. You got everybody all ramped up on social media putting out a gif of you behind the table the other day. Any chance we see you returning to the commentary desk in light of what's going on with Pat?

What I say with my job is I'm always available when I'm available. I never go looking for anything like that. Right now, I got so many projects with WWE as well as outside of WWE, but when they call me, I'm going to be ready to go. I'm going to be prepared. Preparation is the only luck you're ever going to have. So for me, I'm just waiting on the phone, but people don't realize being at that table, it's 52 weeks out of the year, you're in a different city, it's like being one of the boys. It's like being on the road. I'm happy. I'm so content with where I am in my life right now. I cannot be missing my golf outings on a weekly, so that's a hard job.

It's certainly an interesting time for the business right now, and one of your pupils is really taking off right now, Roxanne Perez down at WWE NXT 2.0. Let's look ahead here. Five years from now, what do you see Roxanne having done in her career in the not too distant future?

Roxanne — I still call her Roxy, of course — started with me as a kid, and now she's still pretty much a kid, and she's doing big things. I did Film Study last night, and who was on Film Study? Roxy. She's in the WWE, but she knows I'm doing Film Study and she wanted to get into my head, and she still wants to learn. She's still trying to perfect her craft, and I talked to the WWE about her when she first signed and I said, "This is one that we really got to protect. It's one that we really got to make sure we do the right things with, because she is ... 20 years from now going into the Hall of Fame. She is the one. She is special." And I just think with the right hands on her, with me in her ear, just trying to make sure she does the right things and for her to be such a student of the game, I see nothing but big things for Roxanne Perez, man. She's a diamond man. She really is.

AEW Vs. WCW 2000

You were there during the last days of WCW. A lot of people comparing AEW to 2000 WCW right now. Do you see those similarities between AEW and the last days of WCW?

Not at all.

No?

Totally different. Our last days at WCW, you could see the writing on the wall that the plug had been pulled. We were just waiting on the doctors to come tell everybody it's over. You know what I mean? Right now, Tony Khan still got a whole lot of money. He's invested, he's all in, no pun intended, with this company. And I think he's going to do everything he possibly can to make this thing work. I wouldn't even think Tony Khan is going to even start thinking about anything other than making this thing successful. If he gets to that five-year mark and things not working out, he might start thinking then.

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