Thursday, June 8, 2000
By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Wrestling
Perennial WCW worker, Booker T., has every
reason and more to feel confident about his upcoming match against Shawn Stasiak at this
Sunday's Great American Bash pay-per-view. Still seen as a rookie in the business,
Stasiak, though born and bred into a legendary wrestling family, is clearly out of his
league compared to the accomplishments of the former WCW United States Champion. The
Perfect One's actions in the short time he's been in World Championship Wrestling have
failed to make an impression on the calm, cool one.
"Just to go out and work with me, he (Stasiak) should feel honoured," joked the self-assured Booker T. on the phone from his home in the great state of Texas. "I am going to go out there and try to bring the best out of him as I possibly can. I am going to try and make him look as good as he possibly can look...before I beat him. It's going to be a great show. It's going to be another great outing for me. I am sure of that."
Once the playful posturing dies down, the soft-spoken Booker, a ten-time World Tag Team Champion as a member of the Harlem Heat tag team with his real-life brother Stevie Ray, put his comments in perspective. It was only ten or so years ago when he himself got his start under the tutelage of WWF great Ivan Putski and his Western Wrestling Alliance school in Texas. Booker knows from personal experience how intimidating it can be being somewhat of a rookie in a locker room full of seasoned pros.
"Stasiak's young. He's got a long way to go but I am quite sure a lot of people thought the same thing about me before. He's just got to go out there and prove himself," said Booker offering his best advice.
More likely than not, Booker will be entering the ring Sunday night in his G.I. Bro persona. Putting the Internet rumours to rest about his supposed dissatisfaction with the gimmick, Booker expressed nothing but enthusiasm about revisiting his roots. Bro was indeed the first character Booker played. Intended as an African-American patriot modeled after Sgt. Slaughter, Booker is still proud of what Bro represented to his young fans, both black and white, in his early days. The idea for G.I. Bro came about, as most things do in wrestling, by oddball, on-the-spot inspiration.
"Scott Casey came into the wrestling school one day and I had an army cap on. I had found it in one of the storage rooms that I had to clean out that day at work. I had it on when I came into the school and Casey said...'Man, that's it! From now on, you are G.I. Bro!'. I was like...'Man! What? G.I. Bro? That's crazy!' But, it was great to me because I went to high schools -- we were doing high schools back then -- and I got an amazing response from the kids. I couldn't go to an event where the crowd didn't mob me. They literally ran out of the stands to mob me. It was great experience," Booker recalled.
A private joke backstage for many years in WCW, G.I. Bro was seized upon by Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff as a means of injecting some fun into their shows while at the same time giving a shot in the arm to the mid-card populated Misfits In Action.
"Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff had heard about it and they started saying...'We gotta see some G.I. Bro, man!' And with things the way they are now as far as the way the television is going and me personally, I am just looking at it as expanding my character. I am broadening my horizons as far as what Booker T. can actually do and that is entertain people," he said.
Bringing back the G.I. Bro character has already made Booker quite thankful he took that leap of faith. At a recent WCW autograph signing in El Paso, Texas, a young fan was so happy and proud to meet G.I. Bro, he broke down and cried.
"A lot of adults won't get into the G.I. Bro gimmick, but the young crowd will. It's for them to have someone to look up to," Booker explained.
This Sunday's Great American Bash pay-per-view is available through Viewer's Choice and satellite television networks throughout Canada.