Thursday, February 9, 2012

Black History Month: Booker T

Harlem Heat, Booker T & Stevie Ray
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

Booker T is one of those guys I watch in the ring and even listen to on the announce team and think he is legitimately having a good time doing his thing.  This former five time, five time, five time, WCW World champion has had quite the career too.

I first remember reading about Booker T when he and his brother Stevie Ray were the Ebony Experience in Global Wrestling Federation back in the early 1990's.  The pair had a lot of success there and eventually signed on with WCW as Kane and Kole and were known collectively as Harlem Heat.  I don't know exactly when they dropped the those names in exchange for Booker T and Stevie Ray, but I think it was a good decision.

The duo feuded with the top teams of WCW, including the Nasty Boys, the Steiner Brothers, and members of the nWo.  Harlem Heat held the tag team titles an impressive ten times.  And I hate to say it but obviously in this team Booker T was the Shawn Michaels to Stevie Ray's Marty Jannetty.  The brothers split and Book went on to have a successful solo career.  Stevie did commentary briefly and then joined forces with  Ahmed Johnson.  Only now Ahmed was Big T.  Clever right?  This was in the dying days of the company, so don't judge too harshly.

Booker T & Chris Benoit (from WWE)
Anyway, Booker T had an awesome series of matches with Chris Benoit (yes, I said his name) for the WCW TV title.  The two would later have some great matches in WWE for the U.S. title as well.  Booker finally caught a big break in 2000 and won the WCW world title.  He became only the second black man to win the belt (Ron Simmons was the first).   Again this was during the last days of WCW and the title was hot shotted several times.

Book was one of the handful of stars who stayed with WWE after Vince McMahon bought WCW in March 2001.  In fact, he and Buff Bagwell were the first two WCW stars to wrestle on Raw.  And for Bagwell, it was his last match with the company.  Booker went on to enjoy success in those early days too.  He and Test (I don't know why) teamed up and won the tag team titles.  He held those titles with Goldust and Rob Van Dam as well.  Booker feuded with Edge over a shampoo commercial, won the Intercontinental, Hardcore, and U.S. titles, and held the world title on more than one occasion.  He was joined by his wife Sharmell and together the couple became royal as Booker T won the King of the Ring back in 2007.  I'm not sure if it was during his WWE time or while he was in WCW, but his signature Spinaroonee became quite popular with the fans.

His return against Cody Rhodes (from WWE)
Booker and Sharmell left the E and headed to TNA for a brief stint.  Book won the Legends title and the tag titles with Scott Steiner.  In 2011 he was a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble.  After that match though he did little to no wrestling and joined the announce team on SmackDown!  While his commentary sometimes leaves you saying "huh?" I do really find Booker T to be entertaining.  He's wrestled a few times, including a feud with Cody Rhodes, in which he helped put the rising star over.

Booker T is likely done with the full time wrestling, but he's still in great shape and had a great outing with Rhodes.  But I'm glad to see him passing the torch and still having fun while doing it.  Now can you dig that?  Sucka!

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