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Booker builds on first impression

Booker T arrived in the "new" WCW in dramatic fashion, to say the least. At June's King of the Ring, he attacked World Wrestling Federation Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin, shocking the crowd as much as Austin. However, when Booker T threw Austin through the Spanish announcers' table, the Rattlesnake suffered some very real-life injuries. It was probably not the initial impression that the "Bookerman" wanted to make.

Ironically, since Booker T "turned his back on the fans," his career in the "new" WCW has really taken off. He is now firmly established as one of the leaders of the WCW/ECW Alliance, and has a date at SummerSlam with The Rock -- a match that fans have been dreaming about for years. In this recent interview with, Booker comments on the "Stone Cold incident," his match with The Rock, his catchphrases, his future in acting and much more. How are you doing? What's the status of your injuries?
Booker: I'm doing good. I had a knee injury. I had a big match with Kurt Angle a few weeks ago. I hurt my knee and it developed fluid. I continued to work -- I had to work the Undertaker the next day -- and I went and beat the crap out of him. And then I went home and did a little therapy on it and burst a little sac, which holds fluid, in the back of my knee. It drained out into my calf, which swelled my calf area around my knee. It was pretty painful. I came to work and some of the doctors drained it for me and got me back on track. I feel much, much better right now. I'm still just a little bit shaky and waiting for the rest of the fluid to go away. But right now I'm feeling a hell of a lot better. I'd say I'm at about 80 percent. I just don't want to screw anything up before I beat the crap out of The Rock (at SummerSlam). So at SummerSlam you'll be ready to go?
Booker: Nothing can keep me away from doing that. It's going to be the biggest match of my career. I plan on it being the biggest win of my career. It's going to be a hell of a night, SummerSlam. It's going to be great. You must be looking forward to it, especially because it's your first SummerSlam.
Booker: Yeah, my first SummerSlam. My first big World Wrestling Federation Pay-Per-View with Booker T right there in the spotlight -- beating the crap out of The Rock. It's gong to be a spectacle. It's going to be great. Who is this guy you're wrestling at SummerSlam? Some up-and-coming guy?
Booker: Some up-and-coming kid. (laughs) He calls himself The Rock. He tries to be like Booker T a whole lot. It seems like he emulated his career after me. He does a lot of my moves. He does the Bookend -- I mean the Rock Bottom. (laughs) Did you enjoy those segments on RAW IS WAR last week, with you "auditioning" for the part in the movie?
Booker: Actually I got off into it. I was digging it. It was great for my next career. I got a chance to go out there and do something different, and let the fans see another side of Booker T. Actually, I got a lot of feedback from it -- as far as people asking me if I got the part, and when the movie comes out. (laughs) So stay tuned. You're interested in a career in acting, isn't that true?
Booker: Actually I'm very interested in it. That's why doing that for on RAW was so real -- it was so close to being on the set. It was great as far as having real actors to work with, and having lines and then being able to just roll with it and have a little fun with it. I feel like my acting career is soon to come. I think it might be closer than we think. It seems like you have a lot of new catchphrases that have popped up over the last few weeks. Where did they come from?
Booker: The staff and the people that they have here are really unbelievable. It's a Class A operation. They come up with so much different little things and so many catchphrases, it's unbelievable. They may just hear something -- I may just say something -- and they just run with it and go with it. The staff has been coming up with so much good stuff for Booker T it has been unbelievable. How did you come up with "I am the Bookerman"?
Booker: I kind of played around with it a little bit. I used to say that all the time back when I was in (the old) WCW. I was the Bookerman because I always wanted to book the show. For them to hear it and then to start going with it, and then for the fans to pick up on it so quick, it's unbelievable. What about, "He did not say that. Tell me he did not say that"?
Booker: That's another saying that I said one time and then we just kept rolling with it. And it's catching on. It's crazy. How about "sucka"?
Booker: That's an original Booker T line that's been with me forever. It's something I always have said for some reason. It's from "Shaft." Shaft used to say that all the time back in the day. "Shaft's Big Score!" was one of my favorite movies. We used to always call people "sucka" all the time. There were a lot of rumors when you first arrived here about tension backstage. Are things getting better? Do you feel more comfortable here?
Booker: Well, you know, it's kind of crazy. The business is crazy. A lot of things get said and then get taken out of context -- whether I did something. I know you're probably talking about the Stone Cold incident. But it wasn't something that was purposely done or anything like that. My adrenaline was flowing. I was just getting used to how things are done as far as settings, and as far as timing goes. But as far as the way I'm accepted around here, I think I'm being accepted very well because it's all about your merits here and how hard you go out and work. And I feel like I work hard -- about just as hard as anybody. Besides SummerSlam, what's next for Booker T?
Booker: Well, the main event at WrestleMania 2002. That's the only thing really I want to do that I feel like I have to accomplish in this business -- besides winning the World Wrestling Federation Title. And just going out and performing for my fans and giving them the ultimate extravaganza each and every night I'm out there. Other than that, I have nothing to prove. I try to give the fans what they want to see every night. That's my thing. That's what I'm all about -- stealing the show every night. That's about it. I know you've been doing this for years, but how did you come up with the spinnerooni?
Booker: I used to be a break-dancer back in the day. I used to dance, I never played sports or anything like that coming up. I used to be a street dancer -- break-dancing, pop-blocking, boogalooing, all the old stuff. (The spinnerooni) is just something that kind of stayed with me. I'm still doing it. And I always ask myself, "How long am I going to be able to do it?" But as long as I'm still doing it, the fans love it. When I first did it, it was kind of like, "I'm just going to try it to see, instead of getting up regular, I'm going to do the spinnerooni and get up." And then when I first did it, the people started getting on the bandwagon. I'll tell you, that one move got me noticed so much since I've been in this business. Unbelievable. That one move single-handedly kind of like carried my career. Has it always been called it the spinnerooni? I only remember hearing it called "what a maneuver."
Booker: No, what's-his-name started calling it the spinnerooni. (Former WCW announcer) Mark Madden was the first one to start calling it the spinnerooni, and he started saying it like it was the biggest thing in the world: "SPINNEROONI! SPINNEROONI! SPINNEROONI!" Then when he turned heel, he was like, "Oh, that spinnerooni!" So the people started catching on to it. And it's such a stupid little thing -- spinnerooni -- it catches on. Unbelievable how this business is. When you first came in, you were positioned as a good guy, but you've since transitioned to the "other side." How do you feel about your current role as a "heel"?
Booker: I'm comfortable playing that role because me and my brother were bad guys for like five years. When you're the bad guy everything is so smooth, and you've got the people right in the palm of your hand where they just hate you so much. You don't really have to do much for them to hate you but just look at them crazy. They want to hate you anyway -- you might as well just go with it. One thing I've learned about this business, going with the grain is always better. I feel like I could have made it here as a good guy. It would have been harder because you've got more guys (fan favorites) to compete with. But I think I would have made it. But it's perfect timing for me to be a heel. The people hate me right now. They hate me. (laughs) I don't know if it's the hair or what. They do not like me. That's good. The more I can get them to hate me right now, the better. But you're a different kind of "heel" than ones we've seen in the past. You get to be entertaining and still make people laugh, like you did in the "audition" scenes.
Booker: Well, I like being the bad guy but I still like to be able to go to and give them the flash, and still throw my good stuff in. The people are like, "Boo! Boo!" and then all of a sudden they go, "Ah man!" You have to catch them off guard. They want to hate you so bad, but then they see you do something, they say, "Ah man, that was sweet! You gotta give it up right there! But we still hate him!" That's what I like about right now, being able to be a heel. Being a babyface, I always had to come out, get my stuff in, shine, make myself look good, and then get beat up the whole match. (laughs) Now I don't have to get beat up the whole match. I can beat the guys up now. That's what's much cooler about this deal. I can go out and work, be comfortable. And then everything is kind of like a movie, playing in slow motion almost. Especially when you're a heel, because there's so many fans, everybody going crazy. You can kind of like visualize and see everything going on while it's happening. It's kind of crazy.