When Booker T joined WWE in 2001, one of the first feuds he had was with The Rock. The two sparred over having somewhat similar gimmicks and similar finishing moves and The Rock took great pleasure in dismissing Booker’s previous accomplishments in WCW.
Rock even went as far as to ask Booker “Who are you” while Booker had the WCW Championship draped over his shoulder. Booker was asked if he took offense to The Rock deriding him when he joined The Chris Van Vliet Show.
“No, I’ve never been offended by anything I’ve done in wrestling because it’s wrestling. It’s not real; it’s what we make it. We’re entertaining fans. That’s part of his character,” said Booker.
“The thing is I wish it would’ve been my shtick. I wish I stolen a lot of his lines! I’m serious because I’ve never been a hater.
“It’s like when Goldberg came in. Goldberg wasn’t a wrestler. He was a guy that was greener than anybody in the locker room. Then, all of a sudden, he had the best entrance. He was making the most money and you know what I said? ‘Man, I wish I was him.’
“I wish I would have slipped on a banana peel and got here like that! I can’t hate on the guy because he’s a huge star and he’s making money. I cannot do that! He and I, we’re the best of friends. We’re tight. So, that’s the way I am when I look at stuff like that and I always have.”
One of Booker’s finishing moves was the Book End which was virtually similar to The Rock’s Rock Bottom. The similarities of the moves was brought up during their feud and Booker was asked who had the finisher first.
“I had it first. I’m not going to sit here and try to go back and forth if it’s undisputed or not. I was the one who came up with the Book End. I didn’t call it the Book End. Then, I picked the name up,” stated Booker.
While still in WCW, Booker and Sharmell started dating and they would get married after Booker jumped to WWE. Shortly afterwards becoming Booker’s wife, Sharmell then also became his manager and an on-screen character.
Booker explained how that came about and admitted it had more to do with him not wanting to be split up from his new wife.
“I was going to quit WWE back in 2005-2006. I was leaving the business and because of Sharmell, I got married. I didn’t want to be on the road and Sharmell being at home,” revealed Booker. “I talked to [WWE] about it. They said, ‘Why don’t we hire Sharmell?’ I was like, ‘That will solve a whole lot.’ They hired Sharmell and she came on the road.
“It kind of manifested as far as the King Booker and Queen Sharmell thing just because I call Sharmell, Queen, all the time. That’s the way I represent her in the world around people. She was always wearing the gowns, former Miss Black America. It’s like, ‘Why don’t we do the King of the Ring thing and make you King.’ I became King. I think I won two matches and I was anointed King.
“They made me the King, but it was all I think it was driven and motivated around Sharmell and me being King kind of made sense. It’s one of those angles that could have been an asterisk at the end of my career. Me, Booker T, being a clown, acting stupid.”
Booker won the King of the Ring in 2006, and while winning that tournament becomes merely a footnote for many wrestlers, Booker transformed it into an entire gimmick. He became King Booker and had Queen Sharmell by his side and the popularity of this gimmick even allowed Booker to capture one last World Heavyweight Championship which made him a Grand Slam Champion.
“So, it was really up to me what I made King Booker to how my legacy was remembered, especially with everything else that I did because I knew people were going to remember me at the end with a crown and a cape on. It could have been something that was not really looked at kindly from a lot of my fans,” stated Booker.
“So, it was up to me to make King Booker something really special, that when people remember, they go, ‘King Booker was badass. Nobody was better than King Booker. He was the best king of all time.’ I really put in work to make King Booker the most memorable king of all the kings that ever wore a crown and sat on the throne.”
Perhaps the best part of the King Booker gimmick was Booker’s fake English accent. It allowed him to pronounce his name as “King Bookah” and he was asked where he picked up that accent from.
“I don’t know. I just thought a king should have a British accent. I love James Bond and the pinky finger was kind of like paying homage to Macho Man Randy Savage. So, I wanted to put the pinky finger up. I wanted to do the twirl like Macho Man,” said Booker.
“The King was such a real character because I did a lot of stupid stuff, but The King was the most dangerous person in the kingdom. When you got in the ring, he had to humble you. He really had to beat you up. At that point in time, I don’t think I was at my best as far as going out and really performing, in accenting, and executing everything to where you looked at it and go, ‘This dude’s badass. I had the right people to work with at the time. The Bobby Lashley’s, the Batista’s. Big guys that I can go out there and really enhance them and the way they worked as well.
“It was just a great time in my career to be able to go out and perform. Every time I did it, I was always thinking about Hollywood. ‘Some director looking at this and somebody is going to be calling me.’ It was so great for me to be able to explore and see how good I really was in making people believe.
“That character, I don’t think I paid for a meal straight. I don’t think I went for a drink. Anywhere I went, people actually treated me like I was a real king. It was the craziest time I ever had in this business.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Chris Van Vliet Show with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.