For season 2 of wrestling collectibles show WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures, Triple H sought the help of Booker T to help reclaim items from the sports entertainment juggernaut’s rich history. The decorated legend was honored to take on the assignment as “Head of Special Acquisitions” for the A&E series, which returns April 30.
Booker also enlisted the assistance of fellow Hall of Famers Lita (Amy Dumas) and Mick Foley, who hit the road to not only track down these priceless pieces of memorabilia but make a deal to secure them. And for diehard fans with deep connections to their collectibles, that can be easier said than done. Here, Booker chats about the series, broadcasting for NXT, and the Endeavor era ahead of the WWE draft.
How was it being called up by Triple H for this mission?
Booker T: It’s awesome to have this task because so many guys paved the way before me, and now I get to walk among those giants. That’s all I wanted when I got into the wrestling business. To be able to go on this mission has been a journey. I can’t even tell you how great it was to have Mick Foley and Lita as my right and my left out there in the field finding this memorabilia. Seeing some of this stuff just brings back so many memories.
The first episode centers on “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. You two are synonymous with the supermarket brawl. Are you surprised it’s still talked about today?
We went in thinking it was just another day on the job. When you get a character like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who was considered a badass like Booker T. Then you have us fighting in the grocery store, it becomes one of the most iconic moments in WWE’s history. We went into it doing the best we could. I tell young guys you have to be able to laugh at yourself in order to make it and make it to the next level. I was the ultimate example of that. Fans remember the moments and how they felt more than the matches themselves.
How was it being able to reconnect with Steve someone like Bret Hart through this show?
It’s crazy you mention the name, Bret. Bret got the call that he would be on Zoom for a bit for maybe an hour or two. When he found out it was me, he felt so comfortable because we do have that connection together. Although it was a brief moment in time when he came into WCW. We may only have had three matches together, but we say it was a great time. We wish we had done more because it felt like we went to the same wrestling school. To connect with Bret Hart when I first got in the ring, I had to pinch myself. It was a moment.
It’s great fans get to enjoy this memorabilia secured at a popup Superstore during WrestleMania or Royal Rumble weekend. But much like the Hall of Fame, there is really no place to go on a regular basis to relive this history.
I do think that memorabilia needs a home. A permanent home. A Cooperstown, so fans can actually come out and check it out when they are in town. There has to be something they have been thinking about. I don’t know if you’ve seen the new building WWE has now [in Stamford, Conneticut], but it’s a monster. If they can’t find a wing to house this memorabilia, we have a problem. I’m hoping over the next year to three years that we do have a physical WWE Hall of Fame.
Is there a piece of memorabilia you hope is found?
I wasn’t big on keeping a lot of stuff coming up. A lot of stuff that I do have is stuff I really cherish. I still have my first pair of boots…When it comes to things my wife is like, “Don’t get rid of that.” I go, “Baby, what am I going to do? At 70, am I going to put these trunks on and say, ‘Baby how do I look?’ Let’s get rid of them.”
Anything you refuse to part with?
The white boots I wore toward the end of my career. The highlight of my career. King Booker was a moment in time that will never be created again. Nobody can do that role again without people thinking about King Bookah! The greatest king. The most revered king of them all.
What are your thoughts on WWE merging with UFC under the Endeavor banner? You were part of WCW during the AOL-Time Warner merger and WWE acquiring WCW. Are you feeling similar vibes?
It didn’t make me think about WCW. Even when WCW folded, I wasn’t thinking about it at that point. I was thinking that it was time to move on…I think this merger is only going to make things bigger, stronger, and faster. I think you noticed it during WrestleMania weekend over those two days. Everything felt bigger. For me, it will be more of that and creating the biggest form of entertainment people can actually come out and be a part of. That’s what WWE has always been about. I think with this merger, it’s only going to get bigger.
Did you foresee in your lifetime a Vince McMahon or any McMahon not in full control of WWE?
It is surreal. I never thought it would happen to be honest with you. But never say never. One thing is everything is moving so fast these days. People are thinking about making money. It’s like what “Macho Man” Randy Savage said back in the day: Always expect the unexpected. That’s what happened.
How fun has it been for you to be part of the broadcast team for NXT as it continues this evolution? Were you planning to make this a long-term gig?
I’m dug in. I was only supposed to be there for three months, and now it has turned into a regular gig, full-time. I’m having fun and working with the young talent because they are looking for some guidance. For me as a young kid, all I wanted was a pat on the back. All I wanted to hear was, “You can do it.” I needed a blueprint. Someone to show me the way. For me to be in this position, I’m living my best life. I’m more content now than I have ever been in my 58 years on this earth. To see it on a regular basis and have a hand in them coming up and moving into that next level. I told Wade Barrett, who moved away to SmackDown, that he ain’t coming back as long as I’m here!
There was a moment in time I thought you were going to lace up the boots again against Grayson Waller for a match.
I don’t want to wrestle anymore. I’m here to give those guys a rub. If Grayson wants me to take a bump for him, I will. But it’s not about me right now. I try to tell everybody that. That they need to know when to step away from this game and let these young guys do it because it truly is a young man’s game. For me, watching from afar, I got the best seat in the house at the table.
You say that but many of your colleagues are still killing in their 50s and 60s. And like you, are in great shape.
It’s great for certain guys. Chris Jericho is getting paid big money to be on top at a company. He is in a great position. It’s good for him to stick around as far as his bank account goes. But for others, once you get past a certain number in this business and you don’t have an exit strategy, you may find yourself wondering where you go next. I started thinking about getting out of this business when I was 30 years old. I started strategizing. I didn’t have a college degree. I didn’t even have a high school diploma. But I started figuring out how I can exit this thing and still figure out a way to take care of my family when it’s all over. I started doing commentary for fun for the guys in the locker room back in the day. And you can say now I’m a broadcast journalist!
WWE has its draft starting on the April 28 episode of SmackDown. You’re always so good with your hot takes. Who from NXT could you see getting the call-up to the main roster?
It’s hard to say who will be drafted from one side to the other. I can tell you this for me when I was part of the draft in WWE I actually got traded from Raw to SmackDown, I took it personally. I felt shunned. I then thought I would take this show to another level. That is when it became Booker’s SmackDown kingdom. I can’t speak about what will happen, but if we’re talking about one person in NXT I can see going to the main rotor and making a splash. It’s Grayson Waller.
WWE’s Most Wanted Treasures season 2 premiere, April 30, 9/8c, A&E