Jason Powell: Well thanks for the time and stay warm.
Booker T: Definitely, thank you.
Mike Johnson: Hi Booker, I just got 2 quick follow ups and I’m jealous of the 75 degrees because it’s about 5 degrees in New York City right now. You mentioned your book “From Prison to Promise” that book is a very raw, gritty story of you growing up and I was curious how hard it was for you to be as honest as you were in the book about all of the obstacles you encountered in your life? And also what your family’s response was to you putting all that out there because there are members of your family that don’t always come off in the greatest light, and even you yourself at times don’t. So I was curious what the process was like for you when, you know how you felt during the process of getting it out there and what the reaction has been from your family?
Booker T: I’ll get the second part of that out first as far as my family goes. My family has been totally supportive you know we’re all still here, all my brothers and sisters are still here. We came up the hard way, you know, we’ve seen it all you know from so many different perspectives and I think , it was only right to put it out there from a raw perspective if I want to help somebody. I don’t want to sugar coat it and not really put it out there you know I really would have been lying to myself and that’s one thing I can’t do these days is look at myself in the mirror and lie to myself you know. That was the reason why I whole heartily had to put it out there from a raw perspective. I want kids to know when they read it first and foremost, Booker T has been in these situations and if he can come out of it, I can to you know. That sugar coated like I said wouldn’t of had the real message , but as far as me and my feelings putting it out there you know it was hard. I was easy for me to write it and put it down but it was hard for me to read it and go back in time you know and go through all of those errors and re-visit those moments you know what I mean. It really touched my heart from a certain perspective so, but as far as getting it out there and making sure that everybody got the real and true story of Booker T, I think the man upstairs is going to bless me for doing it. I think some kid is going to read it and think man I need to change my life and by me putting those words out there in that context, it’s worth it to me and I have no skeletons in my closet that anybody can go and find and pull out and say, well look at this Booker T used this, I put it all out there myself. I made sure everybody knew exactly who Booker T really is; you can trust Booker T because I have lied before and I make sure these days I walk a fine line. I want my kids to look up to me one day and say man that’s my dad. That right there is what I am working for these days. So any criticism I get from it, you know any backlash I get from it, from anybody it’s going to be totally worth it me because my mother always said you know if you’re 100% about something you speak up on it 100% of the time because if you’re 99% you keep your mouth shut, that’s why I did.
Mike Johnson: I got to tell you I thought it was one of the better wrestling books that have been released in the last couple of years. For most of the book you don’t get into wrestling, which is what I think made it more vibrant and all that more interesting. Bringing this conversation back to WCW, in a lot of ways we watched you grow up as a performer over the course of Nitro and Harlem Heat and the best of seven championship matches for the TV title and eventually your entrance into the WCW world title scene. Obviously there’s the new Nitro DVD coming out in the last couple of weeks, when you guys were in the trenches as loyalist WCW wrestlers during that era of the Monday night wars how much of that, of the competition between the WCW wrestlers and the WWE wrestlers was it something that the guys took to heart, was it the feeling that the boys are the boys and everybody’s a wrestler and everybody gets along, but that was really where like the strong territory and the strong borders were kind of divided even though guys were going back and forth between the 2 companies. So walk us through what it was like as a wrestler who started out as a tag team guy and the ascended all the way to the world championship during the height of that craziness of the Monday night wars and what it was like for you with your loyalties towards WCW?
Booker T: I tell you , it really was a war from a certain perspective, …in the beginning. It really was a war between WWE and WCW from a perspective in ring, from a perspective how big the budget was going to be, how much was going to be invested into the pay-per-views and as far as the look of it. It was truly a war but I can honestly say that when NWO came along you know the tide shifted, the land, the lay of the land totally shifted towards WCW and which was a good thing in the ways as far as the ratings go, as for t-shirts sales, as for the fan fare, but then again it was bittersweet at the same time because the NWO literally changed the landscape and the game as far as the way the rules were being played. But at that time like I said it was great being on top, the arenas were so loud at that time. But then you saw the wrestlers relaxing, you saw the wrestlers slacking. A lot of the guys were making a whole lot of money; a lot of the guys weren’t really caring about their performances anymore. Guys were just partying like …it was never going to stop. That’s where , I think the tide shifted back you know towards WWE and I think they took over and you know they never let the ratings go from that point on, but I tell you it was like being on a black stallion without a saddle you have to hold on tight. It was a great time, it was a fast time. But for myself I was in the mix, I was having fun and I saw everything happening around me, as far as the guys getting sauced, guys out slacking, that’s how I ascended to the championship just due to everybody’s lack of work, that’s exactly what happened and then on top of that when the company folded I was still ready and prepared to go that next leg, at the time I was ready to go around the track one more time you know. I wasn’t slacking when it was time for those other guys to go around the track, they weren’t prepared to go, all that slacking all the money that they made cause they were living off it at that time, it caught up with them. I mean they were getting fat and most of them couldn’t recover from it as you see most of them still at home right now sitting on the sofa wishing things were different so, but it was a great time, it was a great time for me and thank God you know I was prepared for the situation when it came.
Mike Johnson: One more question and I appreciate that question it’s great. When you went from WCW to WWE how hard was it to kind of grasp the mindset of the differences between the 2 companies and find your groove there because you always hear guys talk about even when they’ve worked all over the world, when they come to the WWE it’s a totally different animal both in the production, the way the things are structured and what not. Going from WCW to WWE there was a huge spotlight on you because you were the WCW champion at the time, how hard was if for you to find that groove and figure out the proper way and the proper nuances to work so you could succeed the WWE talent as opposed to a WCW talent?
Booker T: Well like I said first and foremost I knew I had to leave everything behind and think about me being WCW champion and you know me being tag team champion with my brother and you know doing all this stuff that I did there. I knew it was a totally different animal I knew I was coming into something that I wasn’t really a part of you know, I wasn’t WWE. I wasn’t born and bred WWE so I knew I was going to have to work a little harder just to make it there but then again I had WWE guys, you know guys like Taker, guys like Blackman guys like Pat Patterson, guys like the Hebners back then, that were helping me and pushing me on and saying man you are pretty talented, you could do this. Giving me advice as far as going out there and how to do certain things and then I had to take a step back and do things on my own as well because sometimes, if you do things you know other peoples way, you might get by their way, and myself I get by on my own so I was always willing to go with what I believed in and I was always willing to stand up for it. As far as coming in as champion and then you know losing the title and having to work my way back to it, I just knew it was something I was going to have to do. One thing I have always believed in this business since day one if my talent, I always knew my talent would get me to the next level. I always knew that one thing I could fall back on and no one could take that away from me you know so, as far as making it, it was different of course yes. But I just looked at it as a challenge and when I look at myself this many years later, 12, 13 years later, man I’m still there I’m still here doing my thing and the company is still blessing me to do what I do, I’m still making the fans happy from a certain perspective. If I could be an ambassador from this business for forever that’s what I want to be.
Mike Johnson: Awesome, thank you for your time today sir.
Arda Ocal: Hey Booker I just want to bring this back to the shooting straight panels, can you tell us a little bit about what you expect form the panels and I guess a selling feature is in the name, I guess it’s going to be a very open and honest conversation, where really there is no rules?
Booker T: Ya that’s right, there’s no rule, I mean that tells you everything right there. I’m going to expect you know everything, I’m going to expect you know, what happened when I was half doing the promo you know with Sherri and my brother and I said the N word, I know that’s going to come up. You know so I going to be prepared to answer and I got a pretty good answer to come back as well. And the things is all of that stuff is in the past, it’s nothing that , nothing that I should have to hide from or anything like that, like I said everything about my career has been open and I’m sure we’re going to get the shock master question, how did I feel when he fell out on the stage you know, I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of other questions that will be really really personal but you know that’s what this is about, that’s what this open mic thing is about it’s really all about this shoot. Open mic is really all about guys who let it all out and ask the questions that you really want to ask, don’t hold back, don’t hold anything back and a we’re going to be willing and shoot right back and answer the question and don’t be surprised if we get a little bit hot between the panel because you know we all think different ways on a lot of situations on a lot of questions that are going to come up.
Arda Ocal: Thank you.