Booker T originally made a name for himself in the ’90s alongside his brother Stevie Ray as Harlem Heat. Together, the brothers won the World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship a record ten times before disbanding at the end of 1999. Booker went on to be one of the most decorated singles wrestlers of his time, becoming a five time (Five time! Five time!) WCW World Heavyweight Champion and having many other title reigns (including a sixth World Heavyweight Championship in WWE). Though he is likely best known to contemporary wrestling fans as the comical, yet dominant, King Booker after winning the 2006 King of the Ring tournament, WWE’s new The Best of WCW Clash of the Champions DVD is a reminder of (among many other things) just how powerfully entertaining Harlem Heat once was. As that DVD hits store shelves today (read my review here), Booker T talks to Wrestling with Pop Culture about who might become the superstars of WWE’s future and the possibility of a Harlem Heat reunion.
What are the chances we’ll ever see a Harlem Heat reunion?
You might. I always say, “Never say, ‘Never.’” Me and my brother actually reunited just [a few weeks ago] after five years. We had a lot of friction between us. We got the same mother and the same father and sometimes it’s hard to get along that way. But [this] was the first time we came together as brothers in five years, so there is a chance you might see a Harlem Heat reunion.
What brought you back together?
Actually, it was my sister’s retirement party. She invited us all to come together and she made it happen. After five years it seemed kind of stupid to go that long without having contact.
You never know. I haven’t retired yet. I’m still active. I’m working towards letting these young guys have their due and do their thing because they really are what it’s all about, the next generation. But that would be a great way for me to finish the way I started with my brother.
You have your own wrestling school, Booker T’s Pro Wrestling Academy, in Houston. Is there anyone there, at Florida Championship Wrestling or some of the younger guys on the WWE roster that you think may become some of the next top stars?
One guy I like that’s coming up is Darren Young. He’s one of the guys on our smaller shows, Superstars and NXT, but he’s a guy you really got to look out for. I like Curt Hawkins as well. He’s another kid that’s really got a lot of potential. The way they’re molded is going to really affect how far they go. Right now with a lot of guys like myself, Bill DeMott and William Regal working with them, they’re getting a lot of great insight now. So we can hopefully teach them how to bounce in the right direction. Trust me, it’s really not that easy to learn the entertainment, Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet side of what we do.
Curt Hawkins was originally in a tag team with Zack Ryder. As someone who established yourself as part of a tag team and later went on to become a successful singles wrestler, what do you think someone like Hawkins can do to attain the success that his former tag team partner has achieved, if not more?
He’s going to have to be creative just like Zach Ryder. I always tell the young guys, “Every move has been taken. There’s not anything you can do that’s different from the next guy. But you’ve got to create your aura around you to make people feel a certain way when they watch you.” That’s what Zach Ryder has done very, very well. He’s not a great wrestler at all, but I don’t think too many people care about that.
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