Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast
Release Date: February 15, 2018
Guest: Booker T
Recap By: Matthew Wilkinson
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- Booker T calls out the dirt sheets who ran the Graves story with no proof.
- Booker claims Kevin Nash invited him to be in the nWo.
- Booker thinks there is real talent in WWE today.
- Sam believes Miz/Strowman/Elias are the present and future of WWE.
- Sam thinks Nikki Bella is making an official comeback.
- Sam wants to see Bayley vs Sasha Banks at WrestleMania.
Subjects Covered (with timestamps)
00:00- Sponsor Ads
9:00-Booker T Interview/ Corey Graves Situation
40:00-Working With WWE
1:15:00-State Of Wrestling/ Future Of WWE
1:30:00-Nikki Bella Comeback
1:49:00-Dual Branded PPV’s
Booker T Interview- Corey Graves Situation
Sam welcomes Booker T to the podcast and brings up the recent Corey Graves situation saying he loved the whole thing and then it pops up to what he thought it was.
He saw Booker yelling at Otunga, jokingly saying he was only supposed to be covering him for six weeks and it ended up being eight months, so Sam thought when he heard about Coach it was a good thing as he could spend more time with his family.
Booker said that not in a million years did he expect all this, before he did it, he said all of the dirt sheets are going to pick this up, like Meltzer and the rest of them so let’s just get it out there.
They had a last segment where we had nothing to talk about so they had to fill in time so our sponsors wouldn’t get mad, they filled the time slot and Graves was the brunt of it.
People have been asking for the longest time after a few looks he has given him, but this proves that pro wrestling is still alive if the angles is played properly. These journalists that went to college picked it up, it’s crazy.
Sam said it on the podcast that he imagined it’s two guys goofing about but if it’s not he does think Booker would whoop that ass.
He loved the way Booker framed it just now, he almost pushed the dirt sheets into talking about, Sam asked if he thinks because fans are closer to the business they are always waiting for a payoff.
Booker said Sam nailed it, two guys goofing around. Him and Brad were just laughing, he had to work away from the microphone a few times.
Sharmell read it back to him, the Forbes article, the writer had to be black and he formed the story where it went from him beating up Graves to race in professional wrestling.
It was funny to him to see how they took it. He was talking about black commentators, they took him off and put Coach on and they have Percy Watson, so they can see they are trying.
People are always trying to make something over nothing, there is so much stuff that needs covering about real news. You have to call out these fake journalists like Meltzer who claimed he heard from sources, what sources? He never contacted Booker or Graves, if they can get the clicks then they are happy.
Sam asked if he ever thought there would be a time when dirt sheets would be part of places like Forbes of Sports Illustrated.
After the first night Brad called him Sunday morning and was like maybe you should make a statement. We blew it off and the following Monday morning and he says we really need to make a statement.
For a minute he started to run with it, but if he did that he wouldn’t have been able to make a point. It’s not about Booker, if he was one of those guys who needed the spotlight he would have run it to the hills, but he doesn’t have time for it.
Corey Graves is a fine young man who is doing a great job, there are a lot of people who hate him so he is doing a great job, something that a lot of people on the roster are failing at doing.
Sam mentioned that on a performance level, using social media and let wrestling escape the TV show is a good thing.
Booker always used to look at his performance where it had to be totally different to everything on the card right now, he would put himself in the mind of the fans.
He needs these young guys to tap into this, the looks the gestures, making it as real as it can be. Staying in the moment, social media you can use to your advantage instead of just looking at how many followers you have or how many this is awesome chants we got.
If these young guys only knew what Sgt. Slaughter had to go through when he turned on America, that’s why the heel role was endeared.
Booker wanted to make them truly despise him. His first match in Canada, was with Kevin Nash, the people loved him he went out and gave everyone the NWO kiss sign, even though Nash was the heel in the match.
Booker came out and they booed him, that’s when he knew the NWO almost ruined the business as far as bad guys and good guys, you don’t want to mess that up.
Sam has a theory on the NWO that whilst the group was important, the long-term effect was that WCW was seen as uncool and NWO was cool, so when they went away, nothing was cool anymore.
Boker said that’s true. The big thing was turning Hulk Hogan into a bad guy, we turned him with them but he is still the good guy. He is still doing the same thing and wanting people to love him, he is not a bad guy what is going on here?
WWF knew how to work it properly instead of WCW who slipped on a banana peel. It morphed into something where it got out of control, Booker doesn’t even know how many versions of them there was.
Kevin Nash came to him at one point and was like this is getting real hot, we need some color bro. He goes, we want to bring you in and Booker goes thanks but no thanks, I am a solo act man. Everyone was coming out to NWO music, it was ridiculous.
The guys were paying Booker a lot of money, he still has WCW money. If the bottom fell out, which he tells his students about all the time, he was one of the only guys prepared.
Booker knew everything doesn’t last forever the way they were spending money, as soon as tax season came around.
The only thing he hates more than anything is that he had a million and two contract offered to him, and needed six more months. He gave up a lot of money to go to WWE and was willing to take that chance, but if they would have given me that big money contract he would have sat on it for a year.
Working With WWE
Sam asked if he knew whether WWE were aware of him?
Booker said that every time his contract would come up in WCW he would always get a call and let him know there was a spot open, he was always aware of that.
When he finally got there, Linda McMahon goes we finally got you. It was cool to be wanted by that company, he knew he was going to be a WWE star he just needed the chance.
Sam mentioned when he had that chance and they do that one WCW match between him and Buff Bagwell which has become a notorious disaster did he panic or did something else give him confidence.
Booker never panicked, that wasn’t a match he drew up, especially Bagwell, Booker worked with him 50 times easy on the road, they could work in their sleep but at that time he had neck surgery and wasn’t the same person that he was.
Booker knew he wasn’t prepared to go out and perform in a main event situation and he elaborated that to one of the agents, Johnny Ace.
It didn’t come off proper, he wasn’t prepared and it was the first time Booker had got the chant ‘You Suck’ in his career.
His thing was that he had performed at a high level and said he could work with a broomstick and prided himself on it but that situation whatever he did that wasn’t going to happen.
It wasn’t a good night, and Booker said he will have to put it behind him and more important they knew he was a performer. The following week DDP and him took it to another level.
Sam mentioned that Booker is mainly seen as a WWE Superstar, just like AJ Styles is now, with their past being forgotten because they were so good in WWE.
Booker said he was willing to take a backseat, you have to know how to make it in the locker room before you have a chance of making it in the ring.
When he got there, he knew he would go out there and put the matches on, but was willing to do the character building and AJ Styles is a perfect example of someone who left everything behind and at this point in his career he is better than he has ever been.
He is better now and he does a whole lot less. Booker was willing to take that script and make it as good as he could, when you give him the ball Booker is going to score for you.
There have been things where he has said no, but he always had reasons, and wouldn’t say no for entertainment reasons.
He has heard a lot of words about Booker T people saying the only reason he is still there is because he is one of Vince’s boys or is a sell-out, he knows the reason he is still in this business, he knows his work and it’s not about him.
It’s all about the young guys on the show, Elias or Jason Jordan. He is sick about Jason being on the shelf, he wanted to see him have his WrestleMania moment.
That’s why he is still at the dance, as well as the great performances he gave in the ring with the Benoit’s of the ring, it’s been about the memory for the fans to have.
He was in Detriot on the weekend for a comic con and was doing a panel, maybe 50-75 people and Booker had answered all the questions and got to the last guy it was a black man and he says he just wanted to thank him.
He said that’s my son right there, he is 13 and has had four heart surgeries and hasn’t been able to play sports, but he does it through you on the video game and nobody can beat him.
Booker started crying and broke down, that sums up what he has done, hopefully he has changed people’s lives and been that joy that beacon they can live through if they are in a dark place. More than anything, that right there is what he lives for.
Sam said it sounds like he is very optimistic about that talent that is there right now?
Booker is very optimistic, they are talent they really are. He sees the independent world moving, he was at a show five months ago and Adam Cole was there and Booker said when they going to sign you and he said he was waiting on the call.
At the Rumble he comes up and Booker said you made it, Booker was so happy to see that kid make that dream.
Sam mentioned how HHH has said Ronda Rousey will change the landscape in WWE and asked Booker what his thoughts on that are.
Right now, Booker can honestly say he doesn’t know, he has a kid down in NXT right now who is a guy who was sitting in the audience watching the shows like a big kid and that was his huge advantage, you will make it because you love the business and people like him.
Ronda has always had an attitude where a lot of people she rubbed them the wrong way, can she change the landscape, that’s a tall order as we have some awesome women as far as performers go and there aren’t any in the world as good as Charlotte.
She needs to bring her game and study her game and then bring it. Can she do it, Booker is pulling for her.
State of Wrestling – The Future Of WWE
This is number five because he has been so anxious to talk about it. It really hit Sam as he was watching Raw, he always enjoys it to some level, sometimes you can do other things whilst it’s on, it can be comfort food.
Sometimes there are segments where you have to stop what you are doing. If there is anybody out there who has the ear of Vince and the people running to WWE, please listen.
You don’t have to do anything abrupt, if you want to go to WrestleMania and put the title on Reigns, Sam doesn’t care. But the day after is when the next year of WWE begins.
If Sam could have any influence on the WWE right now it would be to put all of your money, behind The Miz, Braun Strowman, and Elias. Those three men are the future of your company.
Every Miz segment works, and most of them shouldn’t. But because it is him, he can pull off anything, he was the best part of Raw 25, he is the one person who is consistently doing segments where you look up, you watch what he is doing.
Those three guys are the end all and get this, they are home grown talents, can you believe this? If there is any influence Sam could have it is to bet the farm on those three guys.
They are your present and your future, Elias has a weird gimmick, Strowman is a big guy and Miz has a history of not being taken seriously. Put all that aside and watch the performances. The segment on Raw with Elias and Braun Strowman was the best segment on the show.
Sam was thinking the same thing as you, people said they didn’t like what Strowman did as it made him a cartoon character. But when he takes it out and he starts singing, guess what, he pulled off the singing thing.
A lot of times stuff like that will happen and people will judge that it’s not going to work so it didn’t. In reality it shouldn’t have, but it did. Braun Strowman convincing us and the more he talks it feels like is expanding.
We all know he is a person, he isn’t actually a monster. The more he talks and does entertaining stuff the more it expands his character. What saved him was the fact he was carrying the thing like it was a guitar, he is a giant man and uses this as a guitar. It’s great.
What saved him was that he teased like he was going to hit it, then they all put the guitars down and engage in fisticuffs. Then he actually hits him with it and Sam cringed as that giant wood instrument came down on the back of Elias.
They are so big and the idea it got smashed over Elias’ back, it took the spot that is hitting someone with a guitar, it’s been done so much we don’t take it seriously but that one we did. It made the segment and maintained Braun Strowman as a monster.
They are varied, they are different, everybody you talk to depending on what they like will have a different favorite out of them.
There is no need to rush them but you have to look at them moving forward. There have been rumors about a match between Miz and Strowman at WrestleMania, if you see what is going on, Sam would think “let’s change plans,” there is bigger potential here.
After WrestleMania, The Miz is going to go after Reigns and he will dethrone him. We don’t get the Miz/Strowman match until Miz is chasing after the championship. This next run won’t be like his last WWE Title reign, which is kind of like what Jinder Mahal got.
You let Miz beat Roman, let’s be honest he beat Roman for the Intercontinental Title so who is to say he can’t win it? Have him go forward and win these things, then you can come out and have Braun challenge him.
Do something with Miz and Finn Balor, there is a ton of people, but you have Braun Strowman beat Miz and next year, who is knocking on Strowman’s door? Brock Lesnar.
Over the next 365 days, Sam would go Reigns loses to Miz, who loses to Strowman, Brock Lesnar wins the Royal Rumble and goes to WrestleMania 35 and faces Braun Strowman for the championship and have Strowman win the thing, it might be time for Brock to do the favors.
To cash in on the Brock Lesnar investment, it’s been good for money, but also so it means that much more when he finally loses. Whilst all that is going on, you still have Elias just waiting.
Nikki Bella Return
Story number four, came when Sam was watching Raw and they are running a local commercial and they advertise for a show at Madison Square Garden in March.
One of the matches is a mixed tag team match between Nikki Bella and John Cena as a team, so we guess Nikki is coming back? It was never confirmed or officially announced, but you would have to believe based on this that she is indeed coming back. It’s very interesting.
Speaking of the women it brings story number three, Sasha Banks vs Bayley, Sam is so hungry for a Sasha Banks heel turn. She is perfect as a heel, if you are familiar of her NXT stuff, you know she was great as a heel.
It was awesome, that is where that character should be, but Sam does see that the heel turn could be a fake out and we will see a Bayley heel turn.
Now, he personally would rather see a Sasha Banks heel turn. It might be more predictable but if she was a bad guy it would give fans the chance to appreciate her as a bad guy and when she eventually turned back she would be a much bigger star.
Bayley is a natural good guy and maybe that’s because we are going back to where they were in NXT, Banks has got to a whole other level in the past few weeks.
The benefit to all of this is that an implosion is coming, there is a limited amount of room on the ‘Mania card but based on where we are with the women’s revolution, you have genuine superstars.
It’s not that farfetched to think we will have three women’s matches and the Ronda Rousey match. If they want to be progressive and talk about the revolution, it’s controversial because someone would miss a spot.
There would be an interest, you have two weeks to Elimination Chamber then you have six weeks. You go forward you have Charlotte defending the title maybe against Asuka or Becky, you have Alexa Bliss defending maybe against Asuka or Nia Jax. Sam would like to see Bliss get involved in the Asuka v Jax match and then she picks Charlotte.
You have Rousey in some sort of mixed tag match, it would be super cool to have no titles, a grudge match Sasha Banks vs Bayley. Imagine what a big deal that would be for WrestleMania, no title, no battle royal, just two women putting on an amazing match.
They have the ability to do that, NXT Takeover Brooklyn 1, the show was stolen by Sasha vs Bayley. That’s a match Sam wants to see at ‘Mania, regardless of who is a good guy or a bad guy.
Whilst we are talking about women and Ronda Rousey, Triple H said she is going to change the landscape, she is signing her contract at Elimination Chamber.
It has the potential to be a game changer, in order for it to be a landscape changer she needs to work a lot more than Brock Lesnar works, she needs to be pretty regular.
In order for it to be something that changes the landscape, she needs to be really good at professional wrestling. If you have her in a long-term contract it makes sense to start her slow.
WrestleMania should be special, Sam likes the idea of a tag match where she is protected, but after that she needs to be brought up to speed, we need to believe she can be the champion.
That complicates things a little bit because if she is not that good then it takes away from her a little bit. We have never had anything like this, Mike Tyson was a landscape changer but if he had been around as a long-term competitor we would forget the speciality behind him.
If Rousey doesn’t become great, quick, we run the risk. It’s a tough spot for her to be in as she has to be very good at this and Sam’s hopes she will be.
When you have people like Charlotte and Asuka or Alexa Bliss it is a lot to live up to. When you haven’t done pro wrestling before, and she hasn’t.
Shayna Baszler made the transition pretty seamlessly, but Rousey has to be better than that. She needs to get a lot of reps in at the PC or wherever she does it.
Dual Branded PPV’s
Top story of the week, rumor, single branded PPV’s. Dave Meltzer reported this, of course he did report that Booker T and Corey Graves had major heat between them but rumor, rumor, rumor.
What the reports are saying is that Backlash will be a dual branded PPV, people are getting that from Ticketmaster, people who bought tickets and they reached out to them saying just so you know, it will be a dual branded show.
Sam thinks it’s a good idea for the quality of the shows so they go back to being dual branded. Only half of the PPV’s have been really great and most have been Raw shows because of the star power.
But then you have three PPV’s headlined by the same match, Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton headlined three shows, you have to fill these PPV’s. It’s a good idea to do one PPV a month.
But, part of him wishes they would keep some things single branded because of the opportunity it allows people. There was a moment when the draft first happened, the gaps between the PPV’s were longer, so if you had two months, what you are doing this time one PPV a month with each brand, that is the best of both worlds to stretch it out.
That could be good, just because when you do dual branded shows people like Rusev Day, would they have the opportunity to shine?
At one point they were low on the roster but were able to jump up because they have the chance. You have to move the talent over a little bit, if you moved some of those Raw stars over it would help the interest.
We won’t ever get back to a place where we only do a Big Four, we have to do monthly PPV’s at least, the issue now is we are doing it ever two weeks.
It doesn’t make the brand split pointless but this is what happened last time, you do dual brands, then dual champions, and how do you promote Survivor Series, the one time they compete?
Unless the dual branded shows they wouldn’t compete. The other thing you have to keep in mind is that you could do Network specials and televise house shows.
Do less PPV’s but SmackDown is in the Barclays Center and you do some cool stuff? Sam wishes they did that a little bit more, make super shows, do 12 PPV’s a year and then do a Saturday Night Main Event, do specials. Make a King of the Ring on a house show?
Here is the thing, they used to build unique sets, it does become more difficult to do that in HD, Sam is not hung up on that.
Do Tuesday in Texas, Ring Of Honor did a televised house show and you see the hype, Lawrence just put on Facebook.
Why not put them on, if Starrcade was on Facebook wouldn’t you watch it? Maybe then you put it on the Network to maintain the value, without being a shill it is the best value.
This was a great piece of work by Sam Roberts who continues his strong streak of podcasts. He mentioned last week that he would attempt to get either Booker T or Corey Graves on the podcast after the recent story and he delivered. The conversation with Booker was a fun one and it was good to hear them expand past just the Graves chat. Both men clearly have a good relationship and that helped the podcast which was funny and easy to listen to.
About the Writer
Matthew Wilkinson is from Bradford, England. He’s been a fan since the late 90’s with the Attitude Era and was then heavily invested again through the rise of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. He can be found on Twitter at @MC_Wilkinson1
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