Booker T was among an era of wrestlers who grew up idolizing “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. During the 1980s, Flair created a larger-than-life persona that resonated with many fans no matter your age, nationality, or where you lived.
Booker then went from being simply an admirer of Flair to a co-worker when the Harlem Heat made their WCW debut in 1993. There, Booker got to see first-hand that Flair didn’t just talk the talk – he also walked the walk. Everything he said in his promos was true, and Booker recalled those WCW days on BroBible’s Endless Hustle podcast.
“Everybody wanted to be Ric Flair, man – it’s no secret or anything. Ric Flair, he was the guy who was cutting promos in Atlanta, GA at Center Stage pretty much to tell the ladies to meet him at Rupert’s at the end of the night. I would make sure I showed up at Rupert’s as well? It was a great time with the parties. They were real, with him being in the bar with nothing but his robe on,” said Booker.
Booker T and Stevie Ray had moderate success in their early WCW days, but things really took off for them in the mid-90s. That coincided with Hulk Hogan’s arrival to the company, and Booker credits Hogan with getting them the extra push that enabled them to become a record 10-time WCW Tag Team Champions.
“Hulk said, ‘Those are your guys right there. You need to push those guys.’ Bang! Everything blows up for us. Greatest tag team in WCW’s history, in my opinion,” stated Booker, who also talked about infamously using the N-word during an interview referencing Hogan.
“I felt like I let so many of my people down when I said that because I always looked at myself as respected? Thank God we wasn’t living in the social media era at that time.”
For old school wrestlers like Booker, they may oppose athletes coming in from other sports and getting into a wrestling ring. For every Rock or Kurt Angle, there’s 10 athletes who don’t make it in the squared circle but that hasn’t been the case ? at least so far ? with former NFL punter Pat McAfee.
McAfee was impressive in his debut match against Adam Cole, and his performance won Booker over into thinking he could have a future in the ring.
“For instance, when Pat McAfee came in and did his deal with Adam Cole, at the beginning, I was like, ‘Man, I’ve never seen a kicker get into a fight. What does this guy know about going out and throwing hands?’ I watched him go out, and work, and perform, but then I watched the work that he put into it. And then I watched the respect and the love that comes from him inside. That’s not something that you can teach someone,” said Booker. “That’s not something that’s pretend, and then he went out and did a hell of a job, I’m like, ‘Wow, man.’ He won me over. But at the beginning, I didn’t feel that way about him. When it fits, when it works, go with it.”