Offbeat Shenanigans #3 – All Hail King Book-ah!

Kevin McElvaney

“All Hail King Book-ah!”

With the official announcement this week of Booker T and Sharmellâ<80><99>s departures from WWE, I felt it would be fitting to devote this edition of Shenanigans to Booker. Specifically, Iâ<80><99>d like to talk about his â<80><9c>greatest hitsâ<80> in WWE. Donâ<80><99>t think of this as an end of career retrospective, though, as we all know Bookerâ<80><99>s likely to surface elsewhere, when and if he feels compelled to do so.

Instead, think of this as a mid-career compilation – kind of like when seminal garage rockers, The Kinks, released Greatest Hits in 1966…before they ever had a chance to record their classics â<80><9c>Lola,â<80> â<80><9c>Waterloo Sunset,â<80> etc. If youâ<80><99>re too young to know about The Kinks (and, by most accounts, so am I), then consider Green Dayâ<80><99>s 2001 release, International Superhits , and their subsequent rock opera, American Idiot (2004). Booker T is in a transitional period right now but, for the time being, his days with WWE are over. So letâ<80><99>s take a look back at some of the memorable moments from his majestyâ<80><99>s time with the company. As youâ<80><99>ll note, there were many!

Booker T debuted for WWE in mid 2001, as the biggest name from the fallen WCW promotion, during the Invasion angle. His first major feud? The Rock. Not too shabby! The Rock Bottom vs. The Book End. Booker and Rocky headlined SummerSlam 2001, showing right away that Booker wasnâ<80><99>t just some WCW fluke.

Later in the year, Booker feuded with â<80><9c>Stone Coldâ<80> Steve Austin. Austin attacked Booker in a supermarket, in a memorable comedy segment. Booker Tâ<80><99>s character began to show an increasing amount of depth, and his comedic potential seemed limitless. Midway through 2002, this comic prowess was highlighted, during his tag team run with Goldust. A segment entitled â<80><9c>Booker T and Goldust At the Moviesâ<80> (in which the duo reviewed The Rockâ<80><99>s The Scorpion King) showed off the oddball pairingâ<80><99>s unique chemistry quite nicely.

Booker and Goldust were tag team champions on Raw, and the pair managed to part amicably. Book became a top singles competitor on Raw, and one of the biggest fan favorites in the company. He feuded with Triple H over the World Heavyweight Title, in a program that was, unfortunately, marred with unnecessary racial overtones. (Not all heat is good heat, Mr. H.) Still, the feud showed that Booker T was able to compete in the main event. And the two squared off in one of WrestleMania XIXâ<80><99>s main events. My friends still make fun of me for my utter disbelief when Booker lost that match. My eyes went about as wide as The Gameâ<80><99>s ego!

Anyway, Bookerâ<80><99>s consolation prize was the intercontinental title. He and Christian traded it back and forth during a series of highly athletic encounters. The Bookman went back to tag team competition for a while after that. He and Rob Van Dam were fluid, and highly successful for a time, holding the Raw tag titles for a month in spring 2004.

One last memory of Bookerâ<80><99>s time on Raw, because Iâ<80><99>m not sure where it fits in chronologically. And, unfortunately, I wasnâ<80><99>t watching the night this segment went down. But, basically, Booker was backstage with Chris Jericho. He punked Jericho out, then shouted his signature â<80><9c>Can you dig that…â<80> catchphrase – suspiciously leaving out â<80><9c>sucka!!â<80> at the end. Booker walked away, leaving Y2J a besmirched and confused man.

Fast forward a few minutes, and at least one commercial break. Jericho was making his entrance to the ring for a match. All of a sudden, Booker popped up behind him, for the simple purpose of shouting “SUCKA!!!!” Y2J, of course, was none too happy. Raw fans, however, were downright giddy.

Soon after losing the world tag titles, Booker and RVD were both drafted to Smackdown, where Booker quickly turned on his partner. The United States title was Bookerâ<80><99>s next goal. He was unsuccessful in his efforts, but cemented then-champ John Cenaâ<80><99>s reputation after Cena managed to best him in a best-of-five series of matches. There were a couple of feuds after that which Booker would like to forget, but this point in his career would be important for one reason – it marked the return to television of Bookerâ<80><99>s lovely wife, Sharmell. Sharmell was both a positive and negative influence on Booker. She was negative, in that she caused him to betray his friends and turn heel. However, Bookerâ<80><99>s heel turn eventually led to great things for him. It just would take a few months for that to happen.

Booker beat Chris Benoit in October, capturing the U.S. title in the process. The two had a lengthy feud, reprising their lengthy best-of-seven series from WCW. Book was injured, following an encounter with The Boogeyman heâ<80><99>d probably rather forget. But big things were awaiting him when he returned to action.

In June 2006, the King of the Ring tournament was reinstated, and Booker defeated Bobby Lashley in the finals. Immediately, Booker took on the obligatory â<80><9c>royaltyâ<80> gimmick. Past King of the Ring winners had adopted this persona: Owen Hart, Kurt Angle, Mabel, and, of course, Randy Savage. Iâ<80><99>d argue, though, that Booker made it work in ways which none of them could. Bookerâ<80><99>s entrance and promos were hysterical to anyone who â<80><9c>gotâ<80> them, and fodder for hatred in the eyes of the rest of the fans. Though itâ<80><99>s fair to argue that Booker never really needed the â<80><9c>King Bookerâ<80> gimmick at all, he certainly made it work very well.

King Booker defeated Rey Mysterio at The Great American Bash (with a little help from Chavo Guerrero) to win the World Heavyweight championship. He had a relatively long run with the title, considering most Smackdown title reigns in recent years have been pretty short. And, sadly, with his title loss to Batista, there wasnâ<80><99>t much left for Booker to do on Smackdown.

It seemed that Booker would receive a shot in the arm with his being drafted to Raw in summer 2007. After all, there was a fresh set of wrestlers he hadnâ<80><99>t faced in a while / ever on that roster. Still, for whatever reason, Booker decided he wanted out of WWE. A solid feud with Triple H brought a close to a memorable six year WWE run for the former 87 time WCW champion. (The exaggeration is for effect. Please donâ<80><99>t email me with the correct statistic…which is 23 total championships, by the way.)

Booker stated publically this week that heâ<80><99>d actually had nothing to do with Signature Pharmacy, despite his reported ties to that scandal. He also said that his request to leave WWE was due to the “companyâ<80><99>s direction.” As of October 27, Booker and Sharmell are free to work wherever they want. They donâ<80><99>t need to go to TNA, but Iâ<80><99>m sure theyâ<80><99>d be welcome there. In the meantime, the two have a series of business endeavors which deserve their attention – one being Houstonâ<80><99>s PWA promotion. And, of course, theyâ<80><99>ll have more time to spend together now. So why rush to TNA? I donâ<80><99>t see the good in doing that. In my opinion, Booker and Sharmell would do well to enjoy some time off from the road. They deserve it, and theyâ<80><99>ve made some wise financial choices which make a little r&r possible.

Donâ<80><99>t agree with me? Have some favorite Booker T-in-WWE memories of your own? Feel free to share them by emailing me:

Kevin is also a contributing writer for Pro Wrestling Illustrated and The Wrestler.

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