wrestling / News

Booker T Relates His Royal Rumble Experience And Describes Facing Gunther

January 31, 2023 | Posted by Jack Gregory
Booker T WWE Backstage Image Credit: WWE

Booker T took some time recently on his Hall of Fame podcast to relate some details on how he got the nod to be a surprise entrant for Royal Rumble 2023 (per Fightful). The Hall of Famer enjoyed his return to the ring immensely and also shared his thoughts on his confrontation with Gunther for the event. You can read a few highlights from Booker T and watch the podcast segment below.

On the core emotional impact of his ROyal Rumble return: “I was so excited, man, just to back inside the Hall of Fame, give you guys a little feel of what it felt like, being in a WWE ring [for the first time] since 2012, the last time I was in the Royal Rumble. I want to thank everybody. I want to thank everybody in the arena at that Alamodome for showing the old man some love. It was off the chains, it was electrifying. It was unbelievable, man. I’ll tell you, man, I gotta thank all of those guys that was in the Royal Rumble for just letting me participate and getting to back and see what that felt like one more time, just to walk that aisle was an awesome time. For me, I always said I never got that itch to scratch or anything like that, but every time, I always say preparation is the only luck you’re gonna have. For me to get out there and be in front of my students like Rok-C, like my daughter, she was so freaking happy, she’s been singing my song all day. My son was hyped up. But it wasn’t about me. It was about those young guys, it was about all of those guys that was in the Royal Rumble that gave me a chance to have that opportunity one more time to share the ring with those guys, and I must say, it was awesome.”

On his last-minute invite into the ring: “I was sitting at the table, on the Kickoff Show, and I got a text message. It was the invite telling me, ‘Book, you’re in the Rumble.’ Me, I’m old school. I went down in the Winnebago, right, so something told me, ‘Bring your gear. Make sure you’re ready. Just so you don’t have to get ready. Stay ready.’ Boom, there it was. The text message came through, I said okay, here we go. Just like when I won my first world title, I had about ten minutes to warm up. So that’s what happened. I wasn’t warmed up, I went to the ring cold. I didn’t have that gloss, I didn’t have the sheen on me. I wasn’t lathered up and ready to go. I didn’t get a chance to jump rope for 45 minutes to get the heart rate up, get the blood flowing. I didn’t get a chance to do that. I would have won that damn Rumble if I would have been able to prepare properly. That last-minute text message definitely slowed me down a little bit.”

On the circumstances leading up to his inclusion after he had already been on the Kickoff: “I didn’t have my invitation yet. I think Rey went down, and I think they had to fill that spot. Who better to call than me and say, ‘Hey, let’s give Book a shot at this.’ Like I said, I had my gear with me. I’m old-school. All you young wrestlers out there, don’t show up without your gear, man. I won my first singles championship because Rick Martel did not bring his gear. You gotta be ready. I was ready. I was almost ready, and I think I went out there and just got caught up in the moment, that 50-plus-thousand, they were cheering my name. Everybody was wanting it, everybody was feeling it. They had to have that Spinaroonie, so I said let me give it to them early. I didn’t know what I was gonna have in the tank left late in the match. So I said if I’m gonna give then the Spinaroonie, let me do it now because I don’t know how this thing is gonna play out.”

On the experience of joining Dominik Mysterio in the ring: “It was awesome. I requested Dominik for that and Finn. Like I said, it was awesome. I’ve been doing this a long time, since 1990. I always say it was like déjà vu and a place that I love so much. When I finally got in the game, I was like man, they gonna have to kick me out. I’m sticking around as long as I can. To have been in the game 32 years, to have watched Dominik when he was a baby, when he was a little baby, he was a toddler, and then to be in the ring with him, man, that’s dreams that come true that you never have. That’s stuff that you don’t ever think you’ll be doing. But for me, it’s like my career, I’ve been that fly on the wall. I’ve seen so much. It was so freaking awesome to still be here. For instance, walking out of the curtain and Michael Cole going, ‘The voice of NXT.’ [laughs] Okay, I like that. Let me get back to my role because this job is a little harder than this, but it’s awesome to still be in the game, still giving back.”

On the aftermath of the Royal Rumbe for him personally: “I gotta stay out of that ring, man, if I’m gonna stay in great shape because it was just the adrenaline, man. I woke up sore as hell. My shoulder was hurting, my back. I had to get Sharmell to stand on my back just to get me back in line. I’m like, what the hell is going on? When I wrestle at Reality of Wrestling, I’m taking spinebusters, and I didn’t feel that bad. I felt much worse after just walking to that ring and that adrenaline flowing through me, which was almost like explosive, like it wanted to burst through my body. That feeling, it’s so unbelievable. Never get used to that. I see why these old guys don’t want to get out of the ring. I see why they’re pushing the envelope. It’s hard to walk away from that. But that may have been my last Rumble [laughs]. If I’m in shape, if I can just keep the old bod going for a couple more years, that’s the way I measure stuff. I say I got three years left. After that, I ain’t working out ever again [laughs]. I’m done, I’m done. That’s when everything pays off, my retirement kick in and everything, so I’m done.”

On going up against Gunther for thye Rumble: “Gunther did an awesome job making history. That guy is gonna be a major, major player here for WWE for a long time, and it was my honor to do the favor for him. I’ve seen people, stupid people, saying, ‘Booker got jobbed out.’ Let me must say this, Booker got jobbed out by Gunther. I want to say this publicly just so everybody can hear it. I’d rather be jobbed out by Gunther than Gunther be jobbed out by me, any day of the week.”