Booker T talks about pop culture inspirations that influenced turning points in his career.
Booker T is synonymous with the phrase, “Can you dig it, sucka?’ It is in the opening moments of his theme song and was typically the closing line of any one of his promos.
Now, in a new interview with ComingSoon’s Tyler Treese, Booker T is reflecting on the “Shaft” origins of that catchphrase and how much Richard Roundtree meant to him.
"Richard Roundtree was a huge mark in our family. We looked up at Richard Roundtree like he was Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, and like that. To see him whooping somebody’s ass, the regular man in New York as well, because that’s where the Harlem Heat came from. Because we was like, 'Man, we gotta be somewhere like tough.' You know what I mean? If we were the Houston Heat, we’d have to wear cowboy hats, cowboy boots, like Brooks & Dunn, but Harlem, Roundtree, Shaft. All synonymous with everything that I’ve done throughout my whole career."
Later in his career, Booker T became King Booker and adopted a pseudo posh accent. Upon arriving in TNA Wrestling, that accent would eventually switch to one representing African royalty. Booker T also confirms that this was inspired by Forest Whitaker's character in The Last King of Scotland. For Booker, he says he's always been an entertainer first.
"Man, it was. It really was. Last King of Scotland was a character that I studied when I was doing King Booker. So when I went to TNA, I said, I want to do something. I want to have an African accident. I thought it was cool because with wrestling, wrestling is to be embellished. If you take wrestling too serious you can really lose focus on what it really is, but you gotta take it serious at the same time. So it’s really a balancing act there when you’re trying to entertain fans. For me, that’s what I am. I’m an entertainer. I can’t say that I’ve ever did any real wrestling training. Like Greco-Roman or collegiate. I tell my guys, 'You don’t actually have to know how to do this. You just have to act like you knew how to do it very, very good.'”
In TNA Wrestling, Booker T may best be known for his time with the Main Event Mafia, a faction consisting of himself, Kevin Nash, Kurt Angle, Scott Steiner, and Sting. Upon leaving TNA, both he and Kevin Nash would enter the 2011 Royal Rumble. Recalling learning that Nash would be leaving with him, Booker T says the two have been good friends for decades.
"Man, I love working with Kev. I remember I was doing this skit one time and it’s with Kurt Angle. We was getting into it. We was going back and forth, and I was talking about my African accent. Kevin jumps in, he goes, 'Sharmell, get your husband outta here!” We was having so much, big Kev and I. That’s my big homie. We left TNA at the same time. We showed up at the Royal Rumble in 2011 at the same time. I remember it was the contract disputes going on back and forth, contract. Kev calls me and said, “Book, what are you going to do, man?' I said, 'Man, I’m going to the Rumble.' He goes, 'You know what. I am too, bro.' We showed up the same night. We’re good friends, man, really, really good friends."
Recently, Booker T offered some royal advice for the new WWE King of the Ring, Xavier Woods, advising him to switch up his character with this new path. Learn more here.