WWE Hall of Famer Booker T took to his The Hall Of Fame podcast this week to address the ongoing saga of WWE NXT superstar Jordan Myles, who is claiming that WWE intentionally created a racially insensitive t-shirt design for his character. Booker thinks that there's more to the story than what was initially said because he remembers superstars always working with the team that creates the t-shirt designs.
"I'm going to say this first - I've been part of the WWE since 2002, and I've had several t-shirts. Every time I have had t-shirts made from the beginning of my career up until the Hall of Fame, they came to me and gave me several different designs and asked what I liked best," Booker said. "Even going back to WCW, every time I have had a t-shirt I was part of the process. Every time I knew exactly what it was going to look like so, therefore, I don't know how this t-shirt got out first and foremost.
"That being said, my name has been thrown out there asking where I have been. Even Mark Henry's name has been thrown out there asking where he has been as well," Booker continued. "First and foremost, it is not our job to step up and defend Jordan Myles over his t-shirt. One thing that I can say about the t-shirt, it is not a good looking t-shirt. It is an ugly shirt; I can say that. The t-shirt has a black background to it. Now, 90% of t-shirts that are made have a black background to it."
Booker believes that any similarities between the t-shirt's design and blackface makeup were completely by accident. He noted how ridiculous it would be for someone working with the company to intentionally make such an offensive design in 2019.
"Did it look like blackface? Maybe. Some people on social media had said that, but there is a lot of negative people on social media that is looking for anything that they can possibly find to make racial," Booker explained. "It happens all of the time. Therefore, is it a racially-driven concept of a t-shirt? For me personally, in 2019, I cannot think that the guys went into it thinking, 'Let's make a racial shirt about Jordan Myles.' A lot of people may think that but I just don't think the firestorm is worth going through it. It just isn't.
"Therefore, is it something that should have been discussed and talked about? Yes, but this going to social media crap is the worst thing that I have ever seen in my life," Booker continued. "You could be working at Jack in the Box and if something happened you want to go to social media and talk about it. Your business at your job is your business, alright? It's not for the world to come in. I don't know when the last time someone on social media signed my check, alright? Now you say, 'Oh, just because someone on social media doesn't sign your check they shouldn't know what you are doing?' You are damn right! That is why! They have no reason to be in my life from a business aspect."
Booker made it clear that there are more professional ways of going about dissatisfaction with the company you are working for that don't include social media. He went on to talk about his own experiences of addressing any issues regarding race as he came up through WWE.
"I'm venting a little bit right now because I am a little bit hot about it, because my name has been thrown into it," Booker said. "Something like this, if it is brought up, should be handled behind closed doors. I say that because I have had many racial issues that I have dealt with in this business. Not one time did I complain about it on social media. I have never complained about it on social media about any racial situation that I have been in. Anybody that knows me in the wrestling business knows Booker T, and they know what I have gone through and how I have handled the situation. There was never any racial issue that has ever gone over my head or that I swept under the rug. Anytime someone has said anything racial to me, I have handled it."
Booker finished the discussion by defending Jay Lethal for all of the hard work and sacrifice he's made over his two decades inside the squared circle. Booker wants performers to leave him out of their issues going forward because he thinks there are wiser ways to handle issues that don't drag others into the fold.
"To hear this 'Uncle Tom' crap - to call out Jay Lethal's name? I know Jay Lethal. Jay Lethal has put 20 years in this business so he's no Uncle Tom. I've heard people call me an Uncle Tom and when they do call me that, I wish they would call it me to my face. Don't do it behind those characters, don't do it behind social media, don't do it behind a cloak of anonymity, do it in my face, okay? I will show you what an Uncle Tom really looks like if you do it out in public. My thing is this and I'm going to leave it at that - social media and your business, they don't go together. That is just my opinion on that. Leave my name out of this crap. Stand with you? Stand behind you? I'm standing way in the back on this one, alright? I tell you, this could have been handled a whole lot different than it was handled. This is not a Colin Kaepernick moment, okay? Let's just get that straight. If anybody has something to say I am a very easy man to find."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit The Hall Of Fame with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.