Pulse Wrestling’s Top 100 Wrestlers of the Modern Era: #32 – Booker T

Booker T is one of the best wrestlers of the 90’s and at the turn of the millennium he had more potential to rule the wrestling world than anyone else.

32. BOOKER T

Real NameBooker Huffman
HometownHouston, Texas
DebutedMarch 1, 1990
Titles HeldWCW World Champion (5x); WWE World Champion; WWE Intercontinental Champion; WWE United States Champion (3x); WWE World Tag Team Champion (3x – 1 with Rob Van Dam, 1 with Goldust, 1 with Test); WCW Tag Team Champion (10x – with Stevie Ray); WCW United States Champion; WCW Television Champion (6x); WWE Hardcore Champion (2x); GWF Tag Team (3x – with Stevie Ray)
Other Accomplishments2006 King of the Ring; WWE Triple Crown Winner; Appeared in Ready to Rumble

Ah, Booker T. We meet again, sir. This may seem to some of my more regular readers as a strange chain of events seeing as I have been perhaps one of the loudest Booker critics during the past few years. Indeed, I still receive up to at least three emails a week asking me if I have a problem with the master of the Spinaroonie. I want to make it very clear, under no circumstances do I hate Booker T or believe that he shouldn’t be on this list. Booker T is one of the best wrestlers of the 90’s and at the turn of the millennium he had more potential to rule the wrestling world than anyone else. I wanted to do Booker’s induction in order to cleanse myself and put an end to those emails I get every week. However, Mr Huffman should not expect an easy ride at my hands because I have a fair amount of criticism to lay at his feet.

Let’s face it, Booker T has been apart of some great matches and has carried much lesser workers to matches they would never dream of. His Best of Seven Series with Chris Benoit in WCW still stands up today as one of the finest collection of matches in history. Even if their reattempt wasn’t anywhere near as dramatic or exciting as the original, it still produced some excellent matches, and the inclusion of Randy Orton during the series led to him having a shockingly good run of matches. As part of Harlem Heat in WCW Booker found himself not just carrying his useless brother Stevie Ray but also stiffs like The Faces of Fear and The Nasty Boys to fine tag team matches. As a singles star, he also contested a number of brilliant matches with the likes of Rick Martel and Perry Saturn.

At the turn of the millennium Booker was legitimately, in my opinion, in the top 10 best wrestlers in the world. Living proof was the fact that he still had good matches despite being stuck in stupid feuds with Ahmed “Big T” Johnson and ludicrous gimmicks like “G.I Bro”. Indeed, Booker seemed to spend most of his WCW run being underutilised and riddled with lame opponents. Sadly, it would be a common theme in the mans career. Despite being one of the best performers in his profession, it took him an inordinate amount of time before he finally won the WCW Title in July 2000. In many ways, it was his crowning moment and one of the few times he was really presented as the star of the company. The saddest thing about Booker T was that he represented the young and hungry stars of WCW who should have been in main events in 1998. Sometimes I wonder if WCW would have still been around today if the guys like Booker, Raven and Jericho had been given their breaks when they were hot instead of playing second fiddle to the Hogan’s and Outsider’s. We’ll sadly never know.

As WCW Champion, Booker contested in some fine title bouts. Booker was the definition of a perfect World Champion. He had charisma, was popular and he could pretty much have a great match with anyone. Not only did he have good matches with the usual suspects of Jeff Jarrett and Scott Steiner but he also was able to carry worthless lumps like Kevin Nash and then performed a modern miracle, akin to Jesus turning water to wine, when he got a watchable spectacle out of Vince Russo. However, it didn’t matter how many good matches he had or how many great promos he cut, WCW was going to die, the damage was done and Vince McMahon snapped them up. Booker was one of the unfortunate few who got dragged along for the Invasion, probably the biggest flop I’ve ever seen in wrestling.

Booker entered the WWF in June 2001 when he pummelled both Steve Austin and Vince McMahon in successive nights. It was all downhill from there. Throughout his entire WWF/E run Booker was misused and badly booked seemingly more than anyone else. It didn’t matter what role he was put in, he excelled. Whether it was being the goofy guy in the nWo, he made it work. Whether it was tagging with Goldust, he made it work. Whether it was using some sort of evil voodoo dust to beat Undertaker, I’ll be fucked sideways he made it work. However, every time he was misused he seemed to die a little more inside and his drive just ebbed away. Once one of the best wrestlers in the world, he was now one of the laziest and the most boring.

You can’t really blame Booker. It didn’t seem to matter what he did, he was forever stuck in the mid card and every time he got a shot at breaking through that elusive glass ceiling he realised, hit it as hard as he might, he wasn’t going to break through. His matches got worse and worse and it got to the point where I was sick of watching him stinking up the ring on Smackdown every week. He just didn’t seem to care anymore, and the situation was made worse due to the fact that you knew he was capable of much better. You can chart the downfall of Booker T from his defeat to Triple H at Wrestlemania.

Booker’s run as a main eventer was cruelly and stupidly murdered that night in Seattle. The feud with HHH had been grossly racist and offensive but Booker would have rebounded if he’d just shut HHH up at the show. That didn’t happen. Booker suffered a humiliating and embarrassing defeat as HHH worked his leg for the whole match and pinned him after ten seconds of laying down following a Pedigree. Booker never recovered from this and he was soon stuck in the mid card, turning from face to heel and back seemingly every week. Indeed Booker turned about seven times in the space of four years in a feat that has to rival Bret Hart during his WCW run.

The lower Booker got, the lazier he got and even a renewed push and title reign in 2006 could not reinvigorate him. I was personally happy when King Booker was crowned champion of Smackdown because I felt that Booker would finally be motivated again and be like the Booker of old. I was wrong. King Booker went on to have some of the most disastrous title defences in years with Batista and was also part of the horrific “Champion of Champions” match at Cyber Sunday 2006. Booker, being the healthiest and most experienced man in the match, really should shoulder the blame for that debacle. Big Show was falling apart physically and John Cena was not capable of holding all that together. Booker, being the DEFENDING champion that evening, really should have stepped up like he used to do in WCW. He didn’t. he coasted and continued to do so until he was squashed at Summer Slam 2007 (by HHH amazingly enough) and he left WWE on a sour note.

However, there is still hope for Mr Huffman. Since he recently showed up in TNA he has been on a roll and his feud with Robert Roode is one of the few things worthwhile in that awful wretched wrestling company. Working as a face I think helps, also the fact that Booker seems motivated for the first time in nearly five years has made his TNA run so far an enjoyable one. Whether it will last I can’t say but I’m sure Booker will be TNA Champion at some point and I hope he takes this title run seriously.

So yeah, I have some criticism for Booker T but I feel it’s justified. I also have to say that he’s a wrestler who has been misused for years yet he still has a warm place in people’s hearts. He’s a perfect fit for the Top 100 Wrestlers of the Modern Era and I wish him luck for the future.

The entire Top 100 Wrestlers feature can be found here.