Booker T (wrestler)

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Booker T
Booker T.jpg
Booker T in 2008.
Birth name Booker Tio Huffman, Jr.[1]
Ring name(s) Booker T[2]
Booker[3]
King Booker[4]
G.I. Bro[3]
Kole[3]
Billed height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)[2][3]
Billed weight 262 lb (119 kg)[2][4]
Born (1965-03-01) March 1, 1965 (age 49)
Houston, Texas[2][5]
Billed from 110th Street in Harlem, New York
Houston, Texas[6]
Trained by Ivan Putski[7]
Debut 1989[8]

Booker Tio Huffman, Jr.[1] (born March 1, 1965),[9] is an American semi-retired professional wrestler currently signed with WWE. He is also founder/owner of the independent promotion Reality of Wrestling (RoW) in his hometown of Houston, Texas.[10] He is better known by his ring names Booker T and King Booker.

Booker is best known for his time in World Championship Wrestling (WCW), the World Wrestling Federation / Entertainment (WWF/E), and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), holding 35 championships between those organizations. He is the most decorated wrestler in WCW history, having held 21 titles including a record six WCW World Television Championships, and a record ten WCW World Tag Team Championships as one half of Harlem Heat with his brother, Lash "Stevie Ray" Huffman[11][12] (he had an eleventh reign in the WWF with Test).[3][7]

Booker headlined many pay-per-view events in WCW, the WWF/E and TNA between 1993 and 2008 and is a six time world champion, having won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship five times (four times in WCW, with the fourth reign commencing on the 2001 final WCW broadcast under the ownership of the WWF and continuing in that company; and once within the WWF itself) and a World Heavyweight Championship in WWE.[3][13] He is the first pure African American to become a world champion in WWE, and was voted the greatest WCW/World Heavyweight Champion of all time in a 2013 WWE viewer poll.[14] Booker has also gained notable success as a tag team wrestler, being a 15-time World Tag Team Champion between WCW (11 times), WWF/E (three times), and TNA (once). Additionally, he was the winner of the WWE King of the Ring tournament in 2006, the sixteenth WWE Triple Crown Champion and the tenth WWE Grand Slam Champion. As the ninth (and final) WCW Triple Crown Champion, Booker is the most recent of four men in history to achieve both the WWE and WCW Triple Crown Championships.

Booker was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 6, 2013 by his brother, Lash Huffman (Stevie Ray).

Early life[edit]

Booker was born the youngest of eight children, in Houston's South Park neighborhood.[7][8] By the time Booker was fourteen, both of his parents had died, and his brother Lash "Stevie Ray" Huffman[12] stepped in to raise him and his siblings.[8] In high school, Booker Huffman was a drum major.[7][8] He also played touch football and basketball.[3] Booker is a convicted felon who spent nineteen months in prison after pleading guilty to armed robberies at Wendy's restaurants in Houston. Booker and his partners wore Wendy's uniforms during the holdups since they had been working there for 2½ years. Because of the gunmen's uniforms and familiarity with the fast food chain's operations, police suspected the robberies were inside jobs—and it didn't take long before Huffman and three other men were found. Booker pleaded guilty in December 1987 to two aggravated robbery counts and was sentenced to five years in prison. He was released after serving about one-third of that term, and was placed on parole until April 1992

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early career (1989-1993)[edit]

As a single father working at a storage company in Houston, Texas, Huffman was looking to make a better life for himself and his son.[7][8] His brother Lash suggested that he and Booker check out a new wrestling school being opened, run by Ivan Putski, in conjunction with his Western Wrestling Alliance organization.[7][8] The name Booker came from his inspiration Kilian Tennyson. His boss from the storage company loaned him the money to pay for the wrestling lessons.[7] Booker trained under Scott Casey, who helped to turn Booker's background as a gangster and dancer into "sports entertainment", teaching the newcomer in-ring psychology and ring generalship.[7]

Eight weeks later, Booker debuted as "G.I. Bro" on Putski's Western Wrestling Alliance Live! program.[7][8] The character was a tie-in to the raging Gulf War and the WWF's Sgt. Slaughter angle.[7] Even though the WWA met its demise some time later, Booker continued to wrestle on the Texas independent circuit, often with his brother Lash, who performed as Stevie Ray.[5] They were spotted by Skandor Akbar who hired them to work for the Global Wrestling Federation (GWF), where he and Eddie Gilbert were involved.[5][7] Gilbert teamed Stevie Ray and Booker T together as the Ebony Experience,[7] and they won the GWF Tag Team Championship on July 31, 1992.[8] During their time with GWF, they held the tag title a total of three times.[5] Subsequently, Booker T and Stevie Ray left the GWF to work for World Championship Wrestling.

World Championship Wrestling (1993-2001)[edit]

Harlem Heat (1993–1997)[edit]

Main article: Harlem Heat

Booker and his brother Lash signed with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) after Sid Vicious recommended they sign with the company.[7][8] In August 1993, they debuted as the tag team Harlem Heat,[8] with Booker renamed Kole and Lash renamed Kane.[5] They became heels and were on Harley Race and Col. Rob Parker's team in the WarGames match at Fall Brawl on September 19 against Sting, Davey Boy Smith, Dustin Rhodes, and The Shockmaster.[15] They lost the match but were over as heels because of the caliber of faces they wrestled.

In 1994, they acquired the services of Sensational Sherri, dubbed 'Sister' Sherri, as their manager and changed their names back to Booker T and Stevie Ray, at their request. By the end of 1994, they held the WCW Tag Team Championship after defeating Stars and Stripes (The Patriot and Marcus Alexander Bagwell) in December.[5][8] After dropping the title to The Nasty Boys, Harlem Heat regained the belts on June 24, 1995.

Afterward, Harlem Heat got into a feud with Col. Parker's "Stud Stable" of "Dirty" Dick Slater and Bunkhouse Buck. Parker and Sherri were carrying on a love affair and Parker eventually left the Stud Stable in favor of the Heat to be with Sherri. Harlem Heat won the WCW World Tag Team titles at Fall Brawl 1995, defeating Dick Slater and Bunkhouse Buck.[16] Their third title reign only lasted one day,[17] but the duo regained the tag team title nine days later from The American Males (Buff Bagwell and Scotty Riggs). On the June 24, 1996 Nitro, Harlem Heat defeated Lex Luger and Sting to capture their fifth WCW World Tag Team titles.[18]

Three days after losing the tag team titles to the Steiner Brothers, Harlem Heat regained the straps back from the Steiners on July 27. On September 23, Booker T and Stevie Ray were defeated by Public Enemy (Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge) but took the titles back for the seventh time on October 1.[18]

They lost the Tag Team Championship to the Outsiders (Kevin Nash and Scott Hall) on October 27.[5][19] Subsequently, they fired Col. Parker and beat him up and became full-fledged faces. They then entered into a brief feud against Col. Parker's newest team The Amazing French Canadians, a feud they won.[19] In 1997, they feuded with Public Enemy (Grunge & Rocco), The Steiners, and the nWo. In fall 1997, they fired Sherri and added a new manager, Jacqueline. They were briefly put out of action by the nWo and returned to feud with the Faces of Fear (Meng and The Barbarian). Stevie then took five months off from WCW to recover from an ankle injury and Jacqueline left for the WWF.

World Television Champion (1997–1999)[edit]

Booker made the transition into singles action and won the WCW World Television Championship from Disco Inferno on the December 29, 1997 episode of Nitro.[5] Booker feuded over the title with Perry Saturn and Rick Martel culminating in a gauntlet match at SuperBrawl VIII. Martel, the man that was originally supposed to win the match, went down early due to a knee injury, meaning the finish and the remainder of the match had to be called in the ring.[20]

During spring 1998, Booker began feuding with Chris Benoit.[5] Benoit cost Booker the TV title during a match against Fit Finlay.[5] As a result, Booker and Benoit engaged in a "best-of-seven series" with the winner meeting Finlay for the title.[5][21] After seven matches and interference from Bret Hart and Stevie Ray, Booker T won the series, and on June 14, regained the Television Championship.[5][22] He was the first African American to hold the WCW World Television Championship and the only one to legitimately win the title (Stevie Ray also held and defended the title while Booker was injured).

Booker scored a clean pinfall victory over Bret Hart on the February 22 edition of Nitro. The following month, he regained the TV Championship from Scott Steiner,[23] who, in turn, defeated Booker in the finals of the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship tournament.[23] Booker lost the Television title to Rick Steiner a month later at Slamboree.[23]

Harlem Heat reunion (1999–2000)[edit]

By mid-1999, Booker had convinced his brother, Stevie Ray, to leave the nWo and reunite Harlem Heat.[5] Harlem Heat defeated Bam Bam Bigelow and Kanyon for the WCW World Tag Team titles at Road Wild.[23] They lost the WCW World Tag Team titles to Barry and Kendall Windham on August 23,[24] but Harlem Heat regained them about a month later at Fall Brawl.[25] When the Filthy Animals were stripped of the WCW World Tag Team belts due to an injury suffered by Rey Mysterio Jr., the title was put up in a three-way dance at Halloween Havoc. Harlem Heat claimed their tenth WCW World Tag Team title defeating Hugh Morrus and Brian Knobs and Konnan and Kidman.[8][25] By late 1999, a female bodybuilder named Midnight had joined Harlem Heat. Stevie neglected her help and started disputing with Booker over her.

Stevie Ray eventually challenged Midnight in a match that decided whether or not she would stay with Harlem Heat. After being defeated with a surprise small package, Stevie Ray turned on both Booker and Midnight to form Harlem Heat, Inc. with Big T, Kash, and J. Biggs. Stevie Ray and Big T dubbed themselves Harlem Heat 2000.[5] Throughout this period, Huffman was referred to simply as Booker, as Harlem Heat 2000 won the rights to the name "T" in a match with Big T against Booker on February 20, 2000 at SuperBrawl X.[26] Kidman and Booker T defeated Harlem Heat 2000 (Ray and Big T) at Uncensored 2000.[27]

When Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff formed The New Blood, Huffman eventually completely changed his in-ring persona, joining General Rection's military-themed Misfits In Action stable as G.I. Bro, reprising his gimmick from his days in the WWA.[5] He defeated Shawn Stasiak at the Great American Bash in a Boot Camp match.[27] He later returned to the Booker T name.[5]

WCW World Heavyweight Champion (2000–2001)[edit]

Huffman was elevated to main event status in 2000. After WCW booker Vince Russo grew disgruntled with Hulk Hogan's politics, he fired Hogan during the live broadcast of Bash at the Beach and announced an impromptu match between Jeff Jarrett and Huffman for the World Title.[5] Huffman won the match, in the process becoming the second ever African American champion in WCW after Ron Simmons.[8][27] He was then defeated by Kevin Nash on August 28 on Nitro.[28] He regained the title a few weeks later in a steel cage match with Nash at Fall Brawl,[27] but again lost the title, this time to Vince Russo himself in a cage match (Russo was speared out of the cage by Goldberg and won the title), Russo vacated the title and Booker won it for the third time in a San Francisco 49er Box Match against Jeff Jarrett on the October 2 episode of Nitro.[28]

Booker's next feud was with Scott Steiner, to whom he eventually lost the title in a Straitjacket steel cage match. Steiner won by TKO when he put an unconscious Booker into the Steiner Recliner at Mayhem.[27] Steiner was WCW's longest reigning champion in years, whilst Booker was briefly out with an injury.[5] Booker returned to the roster and defeated Rick Steiner for the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship at Greed. This made Booker the ninth (and final) WCW Triple Crown winner.[29] On the final episode of Nitro, he defeated Scott Steiner to win the World title for the fourth time.[30]

Huffman won a total of twenty-one (two more title wins in the WWF making twenty-three) titles in WCW, making him the most decorated athlete in the history of the organization.[11] Booker was also the reigning WCW United States Heavyweight Champion and WCW World Heavyweight Champion when he accepted a contract with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).[30]

World Wrestling Federation / Entertainment (2001-2007)[edit]

The Alliance (2001–2002)[edit]

After WCW was bought by the World Wrestling Federation in March 2001, Booker T made his debut at the King of the Ring pay-per-view in 2001 attacking WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin during his match, promptly injuring him in his very first move in the WWF.[3][31] He later turned heel and became a leading member of The Alliance during the Invasion storyline.[21][32] During July 2001, in his debut match in the company, Booker defended his WCW World Heavyweight Championship against Buff Bagwell.[3][5][33] At InVasion, The Alliance defeated Team WWF when Steve Austin joined the Alliance.[34] On July 26, Booker gave up his WCW United States Title and handed it over to Chris Kanyon.[5] He later lost the WCW World title to Kurt Angle, but he went on to win the title back on the July 30 episode of Raw.[5] Booker kept the title until SummerSlam, when he lost it to The Rock after feuding with him over the similarity in their gimmicks and their identical finishing moves, the Book End/Rock Bottom.[5][31] Booker T won the WCW World Tag Team Championship for an eleventh time, this time with Test,[5] and he also had a WWF Tag Team Championship reign with Test.[35] At the Survivor Series, Booker T was eliminated third by The Rock after a roll-up and eventually The Alliance was defeated, causing them to disband.[31]

In its aftermath, Booker remained a heel,[3] and he joined forces with Vince McMahon and The Boss Man in December to feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin. After Booker T cost Austin a match against Chris Jericho for the WWF Undisputed Championship at Vengeance,[31] Austin gained revenge by attacking Booker T in a grocery store by covering him in food.[3]

Booker T's first WrestleMania appearance was at WrestleMania X8 against Edge.[5] They feuded over who would appear in a fictional Japanese shampoo commercial.[31] When the brand extension was introduced in March, Booker T was drafted to the Raw brand.[36] Booker held the Hardcore Championship twice in May 2002, defeating Stevie Richards only to lose it to Crash Holly seconds later. He then re-defeated Crash and dropped the Belt to Stevie Richards a couple minutes later.

Teaming with Goldust (2002–2003)[edit]

Goldust began trying to start a tag team with Booker, but Goldust kept costing Booker matches. With the nWo now operating in WWE, Booker T was eventually invited into the faction.[3][5] His time there was short-lived, when he got (literally) kicked out of the group by Shawn Michaels, who believed Booker T was taking away from his own spotlight.[5] Booker then turned face and found a partnership with Goldust and the pair teamed to battle the nWo.[5] Booker and Goldust had a title shot against The Un-Americans (Christian and Lance Storm) at SummerSlam, but The Un-Americans retained after interference from Test.[37] At No Mercy, Booker and Goldust battled Chris Jericho and Christian for the tag titles, but they lost the match with Jericho using the title belt on Goldust.[37]

He spent the rest of 2002 teaming with Goldust. They won the World Tag Team Championship at Armageddon in a Tag Team Elimination match defeating the teams of Christian and Chris Jericho, Lance Storm and William Regal, and the Dudley Boyz.[38] They held the belts for about three weeks, when they lost them to Regal and Storm.[38] Booker and Goldust lost the rematch and decided to go their separate ways.[5] The gimmick for Booker and Goldust was Goldust being a strange, yet dependable ally who Booker eventually warmed up to after initial skepticism. By 2003, however, Booker T's popularity had soared and he amicably separated from Goldust, at Goldust's request, in order to pursue the World Heavyweight Championship. In February 2003, he eliminated The Rock to win a battle royal for the number one contendership, granting him a title shot at WrestleMania XIX.[39]

Booker targeted Evolution after Batista and Randy Orton attacked Booker's former partner, Goldust.[5] Several weeks before WrestleMania, the incumbent champion and Evolution's leader, Triple H, cut a controversial promo on Booker T. Triple H downplayed Booker T's WCW success, pointing out that the WCW Championship had been held by non-wrestlers like Vince Russo and actor David Arquette calling WCW and its title "a joke". He said that "people like" Booker T would never win world championships in WWE. This promo is also often interpreted as racist as Triple H also made reference to Booker T's "nappy" hair and comments implying that Booker T was just in WWE to dance and entertain for "people like" Triple H. During the WrestleMania XIX press conference Michael Cole asked Triple H as to whether he had deliberately cut a racist promo, Triple H claimed this was not the case and that he was just referring to Booker's criminal past.[40] A week later, Booker attacked Triple H in the bathroom, laying him out.[41] However, Booker T lost to Triple H at WrestleMania XIX.[38] For several weeks, he teamed with Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash in a feud against Triple H, Ric Flair, and Chris Jericho.[5] At Backlash, Booker's team lost when Triple H pinned Nash after a sledgehammer shot.[38]

Intercontinental Champion (2003–2005)[edit]

Afterward, Booker set his sights on the Intercontinental Championship.[5] After losing a battle royal for the title at Judgment Day,[38] Booker feuded with the champion Christian.[5] After a few matches, Booker defeated him to become the new champion.[42] About a month later, because of a nagging back injury, Booker lost the Intercontinental title back to Christian at a non-televised house show.[43] Booker, meanwhile, was out of action until October.[5]

When Booker returned in 2003, he joined Team Austin at the Survivor Series for a match to determine whether Eric Bischoff or Steve Austin (both co-general managers) would be the sole General Manager of Raw.[44] Team Bischoff won the match.[45] Booker then feuded with Mark Henry, who eliminated him in the Survivor Series match. Booker defeated Henry at Armageddon.[45]

On the February 16, 2004 episode of Raw, Booker T and Rob Van Dam defeated Ric Flair and Batista for the World Tag Team Championship.[5] Booker and Van Dam held the titles for a month, even defending the belts at WrestleMania XX in a 4 Corners tag team match.[46] Eight days later on the March 22 episode of Raw, they lost tag team titles to Flair and Batista. He ended up turning on Rob Van Dam, turning heel in the process.[35]

On March 23, 2004 he was "traded" (along with the Dudley Boyz) to the SmackDown! brand in exchange for Triple H, but as part of a new storyline, he appeared unhappy with the move.[5] Later on, Booker T bragged about how he was the biggest star on SmackDown! and feuded with The Undertaker.[5] Booker tried to utilize voodoo magic to try to overcome his "supernatural" foe;[47] however, it did nothing to prevent him from losing to the Undertaker at Judgment Day.[46]

In mid-2004, Booker T set his sights on the United States Championship along with its champion, John Cena.[5] After Cena got on the bad side of General Manager Kurt Angle, he did his best to get the title away from Cena. Cena successfully defended the title at The Great American Bash in a four-way elimination match against Booker, René Duprée, and Rob Van Dam.[46] After Cena was stripped of his title by Angle for "laying a hand" on the GM,[48] Booker took advantage of the situation and won an eight-man elimination match to win the vacant United States Championship, thus becoming the one-hundredth United States Champion in history, in a match that also featured Cena, Dupree, Billy Gunn, Charlie Haas, Luther Reigns, Kenzo Suzuki and Van Dam. Booker won by last eliminating both Cena and Van Dam in the course of less than 10 seconds[5] After Angle was fired by Mr. McMahon for embellishing his injuries, Theodore Long began his first tenure as Smackdown GM, and booked a best-of-five series of matches for the United States Championship between Booker and Cena.[5] The first match took place at SummerSlam in Toronto and saw Cena gain the pinfall victory to go up 1-0 in the series. Booker would bounce back and win the next two matches, on the August 24 edition of Smackdown in Fresno, CA and a live event the next night in Sydney, AU, to take a 2-1 lead. The next match in the series wouldn't come until the September 16 Smackdown from Spokane, WA, where Cena won and tied the series at two apiece. The series culminated at No Mercy, where Cena won the series 3-2, and thusly, the US Title.[49]

On October 21, SmackDown! General Manager Theodore Long placed Booker in a six man tag team match with Rob Van Dam and Rey Mysterio against John "Bradshaw" Layfield (JBL), René Duprée, and Kenzo Suzuki. JBL expected Booker to betray his partners, but instead Booker pinned him, thus turning face again.[50] Booker T faced JBL for the WWE Championship at the Survivor Series on November 14, but lost after he was hit in the head with the championship belt.[46] The next night, Booker T demanded a rematch, citing Orlando Jordan's interference. He was then joined by Eddie Guerrero and The Undertaker who also wanted a shot at JBL's title, prompting Theodore Long to make a Fatal Four way match for the WWE Championship at Armageddon.[5] Once again, Booker failed to win the title, as JBL retained it.[51] He then briefly teamed with Eddie Guerrero and feuded with Heidenreich.[5]

Booker won a 30-Man Battle Royal dark match at WrestleMania 21 last eliminating Raw's Viscera and "The Masterpiece" Chris Masters.[52] Subsequently, Booker was part of the tournament to name a new number one contender and made it to the Final Four.[5] After Kurt Angle eliminated Booker, he returned the favor, costing Angle the match against JBL.[5] The storyline then turned to a sexual nature,[30] as Angle began stalking Booker's new wife, Sharmell. Booker defeated Angle at Judgment Day.[5] On the May 26 episode of SmackDown!, Booker participated in a "Winners Choice" Battle Royal, with the winner choosing his opponent for the next week. Kurt Angle won and wanted to wrestle Sharmell.[53] Booker protested, and the match was made into a Handicap match. Angle won by pinning Sharmell in a sexual position.[54] The next week, Booker gained revenge on Angle, defeating him with a Scissors Kick.[55]

Booker at tribute to the troops.

On June 30, JBL defeated Christian, The Undertaker, Chris Benoit, and Booker T. During the match, Booker got specifically involved with Christian.[56] Booker later defeated Christian at The Great American Bash.[57]

United States Champion (2005–2006)[edit]

Booker T began teaming with Chris Benoit, eying the United States Championship again.[58][59] Meanwhile, after a series of matches with MNM, Sharmell introduced some villainous characteristics unknown to Booker.[5] Benoit was allowed to pick his next challenger to see who would face him at No Mercy, so Booker, Christian, and Orlando Jordan tried to impress Benoit by winning matches. He could not choose, so he made it a Fatal Four-way for No Mercy, where Benoit successfully defended his title.[60] On the October 21 episode of SmackDown!, Booker T defeated Benoit for the United States Championship, due to an unseen assist from Sharmell.[5] Theodore Long later showed footage of Sharmell interfering in Booker's matches. Later, Booker and Sharmell went to apologize to Benoit and give him a rematch, but instead, he attacked Benoit, and busted him open with the U.S. title officially turning heel once again.[5] Booker then boasted that he had been fully aware of what Sharmell had been doing and had been playing dumb to fool everyone.[61]

On November 25, Booker T fought against Benoit for the United States Championship. The match ended when Benoit superplexed Booker and two referees made a three count on either competitor, claiming that their wrestler had won. Booker was stripped of the belt by Theodore Long, because of the confusion of who won since they pinned each other at the same time. Long decided to put Benoit and Booker against each other in a best of seven series, just as the two had in their WCW days.[5] Booker took an early 3–0 lead.[5] In a must win match during Armageddon, Benoit was able to defeat Booker T to bring the series to 3–1.[5] At a house show on December 2, however, Booker was injured,[5] and he did not wrestle again until after the "Best of Seven" series with Benoit was completed. Booker was scheduled to face Benoit in Match 5 of the Best of Seven Series at the SmackDown! tapings the following night. At the beginning of the show, General Manager Theodore Long said that Booker would have to forfeit. Both Booker and Benoit protested, with Benoit not wanting a cheap victory. Booker managed to persuade Long to allow him to choose a stand-in for the matches. At the time, Orlando Jordan had been feuding most with Benoit and wanted another shot at him. However, Booker instead chose Randy Orton as his replacement.[5] Benoit was able to beat Orton in two matches.[5] Orton, however, was able to defeat Benoit in the final match to win the series and the title for Booker T, who held the title until No Way Out where Benoit won it back.[5]

After losing the title, Booker feuded with The Boogeyman, who continually scared he and Sharmell.[5] The feud culminated in a handicap match at WrestleMania 22 on April 2, which Booker and Sharmell lost.[5] The feud came to an end on the April 7 episode of SmackDown!, after Booker and Sharmell got a restraining order against The Boogeyman.[5]

King of the Ring and World Heavyweight Champion (2006–2007)[edit]

Main article: King Booker's Court
King Booker's signature pose.

Booker next entered the King of the Ring tournament on SmackDown!, advancing through to the finals due to a bye as his semi-final opponent, Kurt Angle, was unable to wrestle.[62] The finals were held at Judgment Day where Booker defeated Bobby Lashley.[63] Upon winning the King of the Ring tournament, Booker began wrestling as "King Booker" [5] and began acting like he was an actual monarch ruling of "The SmackDown! Kingdom". Booker formed a royal court which included his wife, Queen Sharmell, Sir William Regal, and Sir Finlay, and began including the mannerisms and attire of a stereotypical English-style king as part of the character, all the way down to wearing a crown and cape and speaking in a fake English accent. (It was perhaps, then, fitting that Booker's court was composed of a native Englishman (Regal) and a native Northern Irishman (Finlay); both England and Northern Ireland are part of the United Kingdom.)[64] However, whenever King Booker would get angry he would launch into a tirade in the style of Booker T, which lent some comedic aspect to the character as well. King Booker even went as far as having Lashley kiss his "royal" feet.[65]

After gaining his title of King, Booker continued to feud with Lashley. After Lashley defeated JBL for the United States Championship at the end of May, Booker began chasing after the title and even resorted to making Lashley kiss his "royal feet" on the June 2 SmackDown.[65] The feud ended after a steel cage match on the June 30 SmackDown where Lashley escaped to retain the United States title.[66]

The next week, King Booker entered a battle royal on SmackDown with the winner to challenge Rey Mysterio for his World Heavyweight Championship at The Great American Bash.[67] Booker won the match and then defeated Mysterio after Chavo Guerrero turned on the champion by hitting him with a steel chair.[68] This was Booker's first world championship since joining WWE and the win caused him to proclaim himself as the "King of the World".[69][70] This win would also make Booker the sixteenth Triple Crown Champion and eighth Grand Slam Champion in the history of the WWE.

After Booker won, he began a rivalry with the returning former champion Batista, who vowed to regain the title he was forced to forfeit due to injury. King Booker lost to Batista by disqualification at SummerSlam after Queen Sharmell interfered on his behalf.[71] However, he defeated Batista at No Mercy in a match that also included Finlay and Bobby Lashley.[72] After the match, King Booker assaulted Sir Regal, resulting in the complete breakup of the King's Court and leaving Booker alone.

In spite of the break-up of his Court, King Booker defeated Batista on the October 20 episode on SmackDown, due to interference from WWE Champion John Cena from Raw and ECW World Champion Big Show, the two of whom King Booker was to face at Cyber Sunday in a "champion of champions" match.[73] The fans voted for the king's World Heavyweight Championship to be on the line, and Booker retained after defeating Cena with help from Kevin Federline.[74]

After Cyber Sunday, the feud between King Booker and Batista continued with Batista unable to wrest the title from Booker. Eventually this led to a match at Survivor Series on November 26, where King Booker declared that if Batista failed to defeat him this time, it would be the last World Heavyweight Championship match he would receive. On the night of the show, an additional stipulation was added by SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long where if King Booker got counted out or disqualified, Batista would become champion. Late in the match, Queen Sharmell handed King Booker his title belt while referee Nick Patrick was not looking. While she had Patrick distracted, the King attempted to hit Batista with the belt. Batista moved out of the way, knocked the belt out of Booker's hands, picked it back up, and used it himself to hit the champion in the head. An unconscious King Booker was pinned shortly afterward and lost his World Heavyweight Championship.[5] After losing the World title, Booker feuded alongside former royal court member Finlay against Batista and John Cena, which led up to Armageddon where they lost.[75]

While competing in the Royal Rumble match, Booker was eliminated by Kane. A frustrated Booker returned to the ring illegally and eliminated Kane.[76] This started a short feud between the two resulting in a match at No Way Out, which Kane won.[77] King Booker won a Money in the Bank qualifying match, defeating Kane (with assistance from The Great Khali) and earned himself a spot in the match at WrestleMania 23.[78] At WrestleMania, Matt Hardy set up Sharmell for a Twist of Fate during the Money in the Bank match with the briefcase in King Booker's grasp - thus forcing him to choose between a guaranteed title shot and his wife.[5] He chose to defend his Queen and lost the match.[5] On the April 6 episode of SmackDown!, Booker attempted to take revenge. However, he lost the match against Matt Hardy, and Sharmell declared her disappointment in him and slapped him. In an attempt to impress his Queen, King Booker attacked The Undertaker but was Tombstoned on an announce table.[79] Booker was removed from television to deal with a knee injury.[5]

Feud with Triple H (2007)[edit]

On the June 11 episode of Raw, King Booker (along with Queen Sharmell) was drafted from SmackDown! to Raw as part of the WWE Draft.[5] On July 16, King Booker came to the ring using Triple H's theme music "The King of Kings", even using his video. King Booker declared that neither Triple H nor Jerry Lawler could be known as "The King".[5] Booker began a feud with Lawler, defeating him on the August 6 episode of Raw where the loser had to crown the winner the next week.[80] When the time came, Lawler refused, declaring that Triple H was still a king and announcing that King Booker would battle Triple H at SummerSlam. Booker attacked Lawler, throwing him into the ring post and hitting him with a TV monitor.[81] At SummerSlam, Booker lost to the returning Triple H.[82] On the August 27 episode of Raw, Booker wrestled his last match in WWE against WWE Champion John Cena in a non-title match, which he lost by disqualification when Randy Orton interfered.[5]

In August, he was linked to Signature Pharmacy, a company thought to be distributing performance enhancing drugs.[83] He was suspended by WWE for violating its Wellness Policy.[83] He denied using any drugs and being a customer of Signature Pharmacy.[83] In October 2007, Booker T requested his and Sharmell's release from their WWE contracts, which WWE granted.[63]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (2007-2010)[edit]

Feud with Robert Roode (2007–2008)[edit]

Booker T and Sharmell (left) in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling.

At the Genesis pay-per-view on November 11, 2007, Huffman debuted in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) as Sting's mystery partner in a tag team match against Kurt Angle and Kevin Nash for the World Heavyweight Championship,[84] reverting to his Booker T character. His wife, Sharmell also debuted, interfering in the match on Booker and Sting's behalf when Karen Angle interfered on behalf of Kurt Angle and Nash.

On the November 29 episode of Impact!, Booker said he came to TNA to test his skills against the young talent, take TNA to a higher level, and win the World Heavyweight Championship. Robert Roode came to the ring and challenged Booker to a match, claiming he has been pushed down by washed-up wrestlers and has-beens. Booker won his Impact! debut match, but afterwards, Christian Cage and Robert Roode beat down Booker until Kaz made the save.[85] At Turning Point, Booker and Kaz defeated Roode and Cage when Booker pinned Cage.[86] Booker and Sharmell won a mixed tag team match against Robert Roode and Ms. Brooks at Final Resolution. After the match, Roode punched Sharmell in the face,[87] leading to a match at Against All Odds. While the punch was intended to be a work, Roode had in fact made contact with Sharmell during the punch, dislocating her jaw and causing her to be off TV for a few weeks, therefore making it into a shoot. The rivalry, however, went ahead as planned where Booker and Roode wrestled to a double-countout at Against All Odds, which saw them brawl to the parking lot.[88] Roode defeated Booker in strap match at Destination X after hitting Booker with a pair of handcuffs.[89] In a special live episode of Impact!, Booker T and Robert Roode had another outing, this time with the fans being able to vote on the stipulation of the match. At Booker's request during a pre-match promo, the match became a First Blood Match, beating the Last Man Standing and I Quit stipulations. Booker T would go on to win the match-up. At Lockdown, Booker T and Sharmell defeated Robert Roode and Payton Banks after Sharmell pinned Banks with a roll-up.

The Main Event Mafia (2008–2009)[edit]

Main article: The Main Event Mafia
Booker T (left) as part of The Main Event Mafia in TNA. At this time Booker was the TNA Legends (now Television) Champion

Booker T turned heel for the first time in TNA at Sacrifice by attacking Christian Cage and Rhino from behind with a steel chair. This came about as a result of losing a tag team match up against Christian Cage and Rhino, with them furthering themselves in the Deuces Wild Tag Team Tournament.[90] Booker then competed in the King of the Mountain match for the World Heavyweight Championship at Slammiversary. He was seconds away from winning the match, when Kevin Nash stopped him and performed a Jackknife Powerbomb; Samoa Joe would later go on to win the match. On the next Impact!, Booker challenged Joe to a title match at Victory Road, which Joe would later accept. Also around this time he reverted to a gimmick similar to his King Booker gimmick albeit while proclaiming himself a supposed king of Africa. The match at Victory Road ended in a draw after Sharmell replaced the referee and counted after the match was already over. At Hard Justice, Samoa Joe defeated Booker after a guitar shot, thus reclaiming physical possession of the title belt, which Booker had kept after Victory Road. Later he introduced the TNA Legends Championship (which is now the TNA Television Championship) and became the first official champion and defended it on numerous occasions before losing it to A.J. Styles.

Booker T at TNA Impact! in 2008.

Booker would then go on to form the Mafia's resident tag team with Scott Steiner, and at Victory Road, Steiner and Booker defeated Beer Money, Inc. to win the TNA World Tag Team Championship (marking Booker's 15th World Tag Team title reign overall). Then at Hard Justice, Booker T and Steiner retained the World Tag Team Championship against Team 3D. Prior to No Surrender, Booker and Steiner and British Invasion won a match to gain the man advantage at No Surrender's Lethal Lockdown match against Team 3D and Beer Money, Inc. Even with the man advantage, Booker T and Scott Steiner along with British Invasion lost to Team 3D and Beer Money at No Surrender when James Storm of Beer Money pinned Doug Williams of The British Invasion.[91] At Bound for Glory Booker and Steiner lost the TNA World Tag Team Titles to the British Invasion in a four way Full Metal Mayhem Tag Team match, which also included Team 3D and Beer Money; during the match Booker was taken out on a stretcher.[92] Afterwards it was reported that the PPV had been Booker's final appearance with the company, and his and Sharmell's profiles were removed from the official TNA roster. On May 21, 2010, Booker T made a one night return to TNA at a live event in Lake Charles, Louisiana, replacing A.J. Styles, who was unable to attend the event due to travel issues, and wrestling Rob Van Dam for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship in a losing effort.[93][94]

Puerto Rico and Mexico (2009–2010)[edit]

Booker T debuted in the International Wrestling Association on Histeria Boricua, a special event held on January 6, 2009.[95] There he was booked against Chicano, the incumbent IWA Undisputed Heavyweight Champion.[95] The match was won by Cotto, who reversed a "Book End" attempt and scored a pinfall victory. On July 11, 2010, Booker T was booked by World Wrestling Council in a match against Carlito who also involved Orlando Colón and El Mesias. On September 16, 2010, Booker T made his debut for Mexican promotion Perros del Mal. In the main event of the evening he teamed up with Dr. Wagner, Jr. and El Mesías, who represented rival promotion Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA), against El Hijo del Perro Aguayo, Damián 666 and Halloween. After Aguayo had pinned El Mesías, Booker turned on Wagner, unmasked him and joined Perros del Mal.[96]

Return to WWE (2011-present)[edit]

Commentator and feud with Cody Rhodes (2011–2012)[edit]

On January 30, 2011 Booker T returned to WWE to take part in the Royal Rumble. Booker entered the match at number 21 and was eliminated by Mason Ryan.[97]

At the February 1 taping of SmackDown, Huffman debuted as the show's new color commentator, working beside Josh Mathews and Michael Cole, replacing Matt Striker. He works as a Face character.[98] He coached on the returning Tough Enough competition,[99] and at Elimination Chamber he introduced Trish Stratus as a fellow coach. On the June 6 episode of Raw, Booker wrestled his first match on the brand in four years, gaining a victory against Jack Swagger by count out.

On the November 21 episode of Raw, Cody Rhodes threw water in Booker T’s face after Rhodes allegedly heard Booker T criticize him, thus starting a conflict between the two. On the November 29 episode of SmackDown Booker was scheduled to face Rhodes in a match but it did not happen after Rhodes attacked him from behind him during a backstage interview.[100][101][102] On the December 9 episode of 'SmackDown, Rhodes attacked Booker again while heading to the announcer's table leaving him with paramedics. Later that night, Booker T attacked Rhodes during his match with Daniel Bryan, leading to an Intercontinental Championship match at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs,[103] which Rhodes won.[104] On the December 26 episode of Raw, Booker defeated Rhodes in a non-title match.[105] On the January 6, 2012, episode of SmackDown, Booker challenged Rhodes a second time for the Intercontinental Championship, but once again failed to win the title.[106] Booker T along with fellow commentators Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole all participated in the 2012 Royal Rumble.

On the March 26, 2012 episode of Raw, Booker T saved Teddy Long from an attempted attack by Mark Henry, thus becoming the sixth and final member of Team Teddy at WrestleMania XXVIII, where Team Johnny emerged victorious.[107] On the July 9 episode of Raw, Jerry Lawler won by pinfall against Michael Cole in a WrestleMania XXVII rematch. However, Booker, who was subbing for Lawler on commentary, threw Cole back into the ring after he tried to escape. This caused the anonymous Raw General Manager to reverse the decision and give Cole the win as a result of a disqualification.

SmackDown General Manager and Hall of Famer (2012–present)[edit]

On July 31, 2012, Booker T was appointed the new General Manager of SmackDown.[108] Booker would quickly add Eve Torres and Theodore Long to his staff, as his assistant and senior adviser respectively.

Booker was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his brother, Stevie Ray, the night before Wrestlemania XXIX. On the April 19 SmackDown, Booker became angry with Long for making matches without his consent. Big Show arrived and thanked Long for doing a better job than Booker, further infuriating him. On the April 22 Raw, upset with Long for making a World Heavyweight Championship match at Extreme Rules, made it a Triple Threat match. Booker took time off for a torn distal triceps, and had surgery for it on June 12.[109][110] On the July 19 SmackDown, he returned to continue as SmackDown General Manager, but soon lost the job to Vickie Guerrero, on Vince McMahon's orders. Since then, he occasionally does pre-show commentary for Raw on the WWE Network.

Other media[edit]

In 2000, Booker appeared in the film Ready to Rumble as himself.[8] He has appeared in an episode of Charmed, called "Wrestling with Demons" alongside Buff Bagwell and Scott Steiner. In 2001, along with several other WWF superstars, Booker competed on an episode of The Weakest Link, being eliminated second from the show. He also has appeared on Comedy Central and MTV.[8]

On January 13, 2004, the album WWE Originals was released, featuring Booker T performing "Can You Dig It?". On April 21, 2007, Booker began hosting a radio show titled Tea Time with King Booker on KBME 790 AM in Houston.[111] During the week of November 5, 2007, he appeared on Family Feud with several other WWE superstars.[112]

Video games[edit]

Booker T has appeared in twenty-four video games, those being TNA Impact!: Cross the Line, TNA IMPACT!, WCW Nitro, WCW/nWo Thunder, WCW/nWo Revenge, WCW Mayhem, WCW Backstage Assault, WWE Raw 2, WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth, WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain, WWE Crush Hour, WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW, WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008, WWE Road to WrestleMania X8, WWE Survivor Series, WWE WrestleMania X8, WWE WrestleMania XIX, WWE WrestleMania 21, WWE Day of Reckoning, WWE Day of Reckoning 2, WWE '12, WWE '13.

Books[edit]

On September 1, 2012, Booker released his first autobiography, Booker T: From Prison to Promise, with Medallion Press. Booker T made appearances to promote the book with The Score Television Network with Arda Ocal which aired on August 29, 2012.[113][114] He conducted a sixteen-page interview with Pro Wrestling Illustrated in the 2012 volume #50 issue.[115]

Personal life[edit]

Relationships and family[edit]

Booker married his first wife Levestia on May 23, 1996. Booker presented her to the Nitro crowd the night after his WCW World Heavyweight Championship win at Bash at the Beach.[116] Levestia was also used to further the feud between himself and Jeff Jarrett when Jarrett hit her in the head with a guitar. However, they divorced on May 8, 2001.[117]

Booker has a son from a previous marriage,[which?] Brandon,[118] with whom he has a strained relationship due to his time spent on the road.[119] Booker married his girlfriend of five years, Sharmell Sullivan, in February 2005.[120] The couple welcomed their twins, a boy and a girl, on August 5, 2010.[121] Booker and his brother Lash opened a wrestling school in Houston in 2005.[30] Booker T is also a big fan of Formula One, and was in attendance at the 2012 U.S Grand Prix to support the 2008 Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton.

Backstage problems[edit]

Huffman had backstage problems in 2006 at a SummerSlam pay-per-view commercial shoot. It was reported on WWE.com that Huffman got into a real life fist fight with Dave Batista. The fight was believed to stem from the idea that Batista considered himself to be better than the rest of the roster due to his main event status and relatively quick climb to achieve it. According to sources backstage, both men were left bloodied and bruised, however Booker was said to have won and been praised by many wrestlers in the back for speaking his mind to Batista about his attitude.[122][123][124]

Reality of Wrestling[edit]

In 2005, Huffman started his own wrestling promotion in Houston, Texas, called Pro Wrestling Alliance. In 2012, the promotion name changed to Reality of Wrestling. After his final 2013 event, Christms Chaos, ROW was near to close, but Houston business man Hilton Koch, who assisted the event, became a partner with Booker.[125]

In wrestling[edit]

Booker T performing a superkick on Christian Cage
  • Entrance themes
    • "Rap Sheet" by Rene De Wael and Didier Leglise (WCW / WWF/E / AAA; 1993–2006, 2011–present)
    • "The Woodchuck's Game" by FirstCom Music (WCW; 2000)
    • "Hittin' The Jack" by Joel Edwards (WCW; 2000)
    • "G.I. Bro Theme" by Jimmy Hart & Howard Helm (WCW; The Great American Bash 2000)
    • "Rockhouse" by Frank Shelley (WWF; Used while a part of the New World Order)
    • "One of a Kind" + "Can You Dig It?" by Jim Johnston, Breaking Point and Booker T (WWE; Used while teaming with Rob Van Dam)
    • "Dead White Guys" by Joseph Saba and Stewart Winter (WWE; 2006–2007)
    • "Sucka" by Dale Oliver (TNA)[149]
    • "Main Event Mafia" by Dale Oliver (TNA; Used while a part of the Main Event Mafia)

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

King Booker as World Heavyweight Champion, with his wife Sharmell.
Booker T as Legends Champion.
  • Las Vegas Pro Wrestling
    • LVPW UWF Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[151]
  • Texas All-Pro Wrestling
    • TAP Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[158]

1Booker T's fifth WCW World Heavyweight Championship reign overall and first under the WWF banner, where it was known as the WCW Championship.

2Booker T's eleventh WCW World Tag Team Championship reign overall and first under the WWF banner.

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