In two months, it’ll be the 20th anniversary of when WCW ceased operations on March 26, 2001. For the WCW Triple Crown Champion, Booker T, and the other athletes in the company, they were stunned yet well prepared for WCW to take its final curtain call forever.
In his interview this week on WWE’s The Bump, Booker recalls that sorrowful day, and what lessons he learned while working for one of WWE’s most crucial competitors in North American history.
“You know, I knew it was inevitable; nothing lasts forever. That’s what I thought with WCW, the writing was on the all,” Booker T mentioned on the fall of WCW. “As far as that night goes, me walking away with both of the titles, you can’t write that; it’s something you couldn’t foresee. I just wanted to be the best guy in the locker room and the best wrestler on the card. Was I? That’s always going to be up for debate. For me, that’s a night that will be seared into my brain. I was the kid who started at the bottom and ending up at the top, who walked away as double champ. It will live in history forever.”
“It’s kind of crazy. I was a little intimidating because I was coming into his backyard,” he began. “I remember doing a press conference with him sometime, and out of sarcasm, The Rock comes to me and said, ‘Hey kid, if you need any help at this stage, just let me know.’ The thing is that this was my first press conference because, in WCW, we didn’t do that kind of stuff, you know so. I was like, ‘This son of a gun,’ you know what I mean. There was always a respect between myself when we got in the ring to perform at the next level. Him and I, I wouldn’t say we were the best of friends, but when it came to going out and doing the work we went out and did it.
“Also, I believe that I gave him a little bit more respect than I should have when I came in and worked with him. Just because, there again, he was the golden boy. I was coming in from the other side. The matches we had, they were really good matches, but I have to go back and watch them because I didn’t feel them. Matches I remember I felt because certain things were happening. In those matches with The Rock I was working so I had to keep my eye on everything going on. So, when he remembers them, he’ll say that the matches were awesome, but it was because I was there for the work.”
Looking back at everything Booker T has seen and been part of in and out of the WWE, he can admittingly say that he believes the wrestling industry will never be what it once was when he was still an in-ring competitor.
“I don’t think the wrestling business will ever be like that again,” he pondered. “We’d be off the air and we were still trying to get The Undertaker to do The Spinaroonie. I don’t think we’ll have days like that ever again. You know, Booker T and ‘Stone Cold’ in a grocery store, it’s still an iconic moment 20 years later.
“I don’t think we’ll ever have moments like that again just because back then, just say, for instance, the champion, was Hulk Hogan or whoever it was, the boys rallied around the champion better because it was all about the organization. It wasn’t about me, me, me, or anything like that. When we got our turn to shine, hopefully, everybody rallied around us. So, it was a lot different back then than it is now. Hopefully, we can get it back there somehow, and in some shape.”
Before he concluded his trip down memory lane, the panel brought up his partnership with one of the most powerful names in WWE, Shane McMahon. He mentioned from the first time they met in WCW, he knew the two would create some memorable moments together.
“You know, Shane liked me from the beginning,” he said. “When he first walked into the locker room in WCW, him and I clicked in WWE. I don’t know if I was his right-hand man, or he was mine, but we had much love for each other. He saw something in me. I don’t know. I didn’t come in with a chip on my shoulder. He just wanted to be part of this organization and to make it work someway. It’s never been about me, and I think Shane gravitated towards that. When we did it in the ring, our chemistry just boomed, it just clicked.”
You can watch Booker T’s full interview here. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE’s The Bump with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.