He is a former WWE World Heavyweight champion, a five-time WCW champion, a six-time WCW Television champion, a King of the Ring, and a record ten-time holder of the WCW Tag-Team Championships. And on April 6, Booker T will add to those honours when he is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Already well-known for his championship-winning habit in WCW, as well as being the last WCW champion before the company closed, Booker T made his long-awaited WWF debut in stunning fashion in June 2001 at King of the Ring, kicking off the infamous WCW Invasion storyline. As the headline name of the group of invaders, he immediately found himself in a rivalry with the man he attacked at KOTR, and the top star in the WWF; Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Unfortunately, their rivalry was not able to materialise in the ring, as Austin suffered a hand injury during Booker’s debut attack angle. So following a quick back-and forth swap of the WCW Title with Kurt Angle, Booker switched to a feud with The Rock, who had just returned to the WWF. Their match at SummerSlam that year main evented the show, with Booker making history as the first man to defend the WCW Title in the main event of a WWF pay-per-view, and ended with Rock winning the bout and the WCW Title that Booker had brought with him when he debuted. Following the title loss, Booker remained in the thick of the Invasion storyline, which came to an end at Survivor Series.
Heading into 2002, many wondered if Booker T would appear at WrestleMania X-8, a question also being asked about Edge. The two would end up feuding over, of all things, who would get to appear in a commercial for a fictional Japanese shampoo. Many fans criticised the company for the poor way in which they had booked two of their bigger stars leading into the biggest show of the year. Booker lost the match, and then several weeks later when the Brand Extension was launched, he became a Raw superstar. Following a short-lived association with (WWE’s version of) the nWo, Booker found himself in an odd couple tag-team with Goldust. The team eventually gained popularity, and after several months challenging, they finally became Tag-Team champions at Armageddon in December. They only held the belts for a few weeks, however, as plans were in place for the team to disband. WrestleMania season was around the corner, and big plans were in store for Booker T.
After winning a battle royal on a February 2003 episode of Raw, Booker was named number one contender to Triple H’s World Heavyweight Championship, and their match was scheduled for WrestleMania XIX. Controversy loomed though, when during a promo on Raw, Triple H made several comments that were construed by many as racist, and their angle leading into ‘Mania seemed to be based on Booker being a former convicted criminal and not being ‘the right kind of person’ to hold the World championship. Despite the controversial nature of the storyline, many believed it was being scripted in such a way that Booker would get retribution and redemption by defeating Triple H for the title at WrestleMania. That belief was crushed, however, at the big show when Triple H cleanly pinned Booker, with the biggest gripe of the match being the 19 seconds HHH took to pin Booker following the Pedigree. Many observers claimed that Triple H had sabotaged Booker and his chance of becoming a main event-level talent in the company.
Following WrestleMania, Booker continued to feud with Triple H, teaming with Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash for a series of matches with HHH, Ric Flair and Chris Jericho, before moving onto the Intercontinental Title and it’s holder, Christian. After a succession of matches between the two, Booker finally won the title, before a injury resulted in him dropping the belt back to Christian and having to take some time off. When he returned, it was as a member of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s team to face Eric Bischoff’s team at Survivor Series. Booker was pinned by Mark Henry, resulting in a short feud between the two, which Booker won. The start of 2004 saw him claim gold again, teaming with Rob Van Dam to become Tag-Team champions. Their reign lasted approximately a month, and following the loss of the belts, Booker turned heel on Van Dam. Shortly after, he was involved in a brand trade that resulted him moving to SmackDown and proclaiming himself as being the biggest star on the show, leading to a feud with The Undertaker. Following the inevitable loss to ‘Taker at Judgment Day, he moved on to the United States Championship picture, and he soon won the title after winning a tournament to crown a new champion following the best being made vacant. Former champion John Cena challenged Booker, and the two embarked on a Best of Five series, which Cena ultimately emerged from victorious. Shortly after, Booker turned babyface and started a rivalry with WWE champion John Bradshaw Layfield. The two clashed at Survivor Series, with JBL coming out on top. Booker ended 2004 without a major story. 2005 started the same, and Booker was actually left off the WrestleMania 21 card, instead winning a battle royal held before the show went on the air. This led to him being included in a tournament to name a new number one contender, but he was eliminated from the tournament by Kurt Angle. Short feuds followed, with Angle himself and also Christian.
Following several failed attempts at the World Heavyweight title, it appeared that Booker was destined never to win the belt. That looked like it may change, however, when Booker reinvented himself and introduced a new twist on his character. After winning King of the Ring, he started wrestling as King Booker, even going as far as donning a robe and crown, and speaking in a fake English accent. He even formed the King’s Court with William Regal and Finlay. He initially feuded with Bobby Lashley over the US Title, following on from their match in the King of the Ring final, but bigger things were soon to come. He was pushed as a major heel on the show, and his segments were often the highlight of SmackDown, so when he found himself in a World Heavyweight Championship match against champion Rey Mysterio at The Great American Bash, many believed his time had come.
Four years after debuting in the company, Booker T finally won the World Heavyweight Championship. With the belt, King Booker was pushed as Smackdown’s lead heel. For the next 5 months, Booker would keep the title, fending off challenges from Batista, before finally dropping the title to him at Survivor Series. Over the course of the next six months, Booker had feuds with Kane and Matt Hardy, and he was also involved in the Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania 23. Following this, Booker started a storyline in which his wife Sharmell became frustrated with his in-ring failings. This led Booker, in an effort to impress Sharmell, to attack The Undertaker. That ended with Booker taking a Tombstone on the announce table. This angle was done to remove Booker from TV while he dealt with a knee injury.
Returning from injury on June 11, Booker made his entrance to Triple H’s ‘King of Kings’ theme music, starting the build for Triple H’s return from injury, and Booker’s next feud. Given it was HHH’s return feud, no-one expected Booker to do well in this rivalry, and that is how it turned out, with HHH being victorious in their match at SummerSlam. Shortly after, Booker became embroiled in the Signature Pharmacy drugs scandal, and was one of many WWE superstars suspended for violating the Wellness Policy. Booker strongly denied the accusations, and requested his release from the company. WWE accepted the request, and formally announced that Booker T had been released.
For the next two years, Booker T competed in TNA, enjoying varying success. And in 2011, he made a surprise return to WWE as part of the Royal Rumble match. Shortly after, he was confirmed as the new colour commentator on SmackDown. Since then, he has wrestled sparingly, against Cody Rhodes in a short feud over the Intercontinental Title, and also in the 2012 Royal Rumble match and at WrestleMania XXVIII.
In July 2012 he was named the General Manager of SmackDown, a role he currently still holds.
On April 6 2013, following countless championship victories and many memorable moments, one of the most decorated wrestlers in history will take his much-deserved place in the WWE Hall of Fame.