Though he's widely remembered for his time in WWE and, before that, WCW, there was a time in the late 2000s when Booker T was working his magic as a member of TNA alongside fellow legacy wrestlers like Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner, Sting, and pretty much every other wrestler who was featured on the cover of PWI in the mid-1990s.
Don't remember this particular era of Total Nonstop Action? Well, that's probably for the best, as even Booker was more or less checked out during this era of his career, as he pointed out in a recent edition of his Hall of Fame podcast.
“I was trying my best to entertain myself in TNA. When I got to TNA, I really had high hopes to really, really be able to capture some moments in that company, and after about two weeks, I realized none of that was gonna happen, so I just started acting a fool. I really did. I really started acting a fool. I’m actually ashamed of myself for some of the stuff I did in TNA. I really am because I knew it wasn’t going anywhere, and I lost my zeal for really going out and performing the way I think I always had before that,” Booker T said via No DQ.
“I lost my motivation. I had a two-year contract, and I lost my motivation. I’ve been watching Last Dance. I’m at episode nine, and to watch Michael Jordan’s drive, he was like a tyrant. He wanted nothing but the best from the guys that were around him. I know when I went to TNA, I felt I had that same feeling as far as, I’m going to push these guys to really see exactly how far they can go because I knew I had some young talent that I could really, really go out there and maybe create some magic with. Then when none of that happened, I lost my passion just because I knew it was out of my hands. It was out of my control. There was nothing I could do with it. I was nowhere near that circle of people that was running it or anything like that. So I just literally just said, ‘man, I’m going to come pick my check up, I’m going to try to have some fun and try to create something at the same time, and when these two years are over, we’ll move on.'”
Did Booker T do some good stuff in TNA? Sure, his angle with Bobby Roode was fun, and the Main Event Mafia did some interesting stuff, even if it wasn't exactly a highlight of any member's career. Still, it's probably for the best King Book made his way back to WWE and is currently killing it as a member of the NXT commentary team, even if his partner, Vic Joseph, still gives him a hard time for his DoorDash habits.
Booker T wants to see WWE bring back this WCW stipulation match.
Elsewhere on his Hall of Fame podcast, Booker T discussed gimmick matches and noted that, in his opinion, WWE should consider bringing back WCW's most infamous gimmick match, the Triple Cage match, which was immortalized forever in the movie Ready to Rumble with David Arquette.
“Yeah, I think if anybody can make it work, it would be WWE,” Booker T said via 411 Mania. “You know, they got the budget and the manpower to actually be able to secure something like that. That cage is crazy. And I remember the concept from Ready to Rumble, right? It was crazy. It looked awesome. It looked from a movie perspective, it actually looked awesome. I don’t know if it will work today, though. Something I would be willing to explore, I tell you that. Well, like I said, I think if anybody, if anybody could do it, WWE could definitely pull something off like that. I definitely love to see it.”
Asked what his favorite gimmick match was regardless of the promotion, Booker named a pair that might not be familiar to most wrestling fans but are notable nonetheless.
“Like of all time. I guess the San Francisco 49ers match. No man. But my favorite game is a match. It goes back to a day you probably wouldn’t even remember, but it was called the Coal Miner’s Glove match started right here. They did that match here in Houston, TX. The coal miner’s glove match was always intriguing for me to see the guy get that glove on and go to work with it when the cage matches and, you know, the ladder matches, you know, stuff like that. But for me, it’s just that that match right there had a certain vibe about it.”
Now for those out of the know, a San Francisco 49ers match was a Vince Russo idea where four wooden containers were raised above the ring, one of which had a World Championship inside, and the performers would attempt to retrieve them and then fight with the boxes as weapons for… some reason. It was a weird idea that really didn't work, and it actually featured a Coal Miner's Glove in the match, which is basically a loaded glove used to punch an opponent for added effect. While neither of those matches are probably heading back to television any time soon, it's at least interesting to go back through memory lane and remember ideas that someone once thought were very good indeed.