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The 7 - Pro Wrestling - Booker T and the history of black superstars in the WWE Register and log in to post!
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Stilton
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#1 Posted on 24.2.04 2334.59
Reposted on: 24.2.11 2336.38
I know similar issues have been discussed on WB before, but given Booker T's current situation, I'd thought I'd bring this up.

With the exception of The Rock, not many African American superstars have ever been on the top of the WWE. I want to be clear that I'm not accusing the WWE of consciously "keeping the black man down" as Teddy Long would say. Now, I know the Rock is also of Polynesian heritage, and he looks Polynesian, but that's somewhat beside the point. As far back as I can remember, black wrestlers in the WWE have usually not risen above the mid-card, and if they've courted the Main Event, it's either been as a monster (Mark Henry/Kamala/Viscera/Papa Shango) or as a heel (Bad News Brown/Butch Reed). African American babyfaces have almost always been mid-carders or part of a tag team, which is essential a mid-card division (Koko B. Ware/D-Lo Brown/D-Von). That brings us to Booker T.

Five time WCW Champion. Five times in Turner's organization, Booker was the man to beat. WCW went out with Booker on top. Then he came to the WWE and was shipped straight to the middle. Now I know Booker's best years are probably behind him, but I wonder what's left for him. A friend of mine said to me recently that he didn't think the WWE knows what to do with black wrestlers story-wise. Last year, Booker got a push against Triple H, and it quickly went away, and Booker went back to the mid-card. Is there anything left for Booker T? Should he turn heel and join Teddy Long? Or does the the WWE need at least one African American babyface on the roster?

Am I missing something here? I'm curious to hear your thoughts.
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jerkflavorkoolaid
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#2 Posted on 24.2.04 2343.26
Reposted on: 24.2.11 2345.39
I don't think it's because he's black that he isnt pushed, he just kinda sucks. He's become very stagnant, and doesnt have that cutting edge charisma anymore. His spinaroonie is dumb, and the fans just don't want him bad enough.
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#3 Posted on 24.2.04 2350.32
Reposted on: 24.2.11 2350.51
I thought Booker T was a GREAT babyface WCW World Heavyweight Champ. If Benoit indeed wins the title at WrestleMania XX I think Booker should get a run at a title shot. I also think that if Booker had been fucking dating the boss' daughter he'd have had a nice little run as WWE champ, at least.
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#4 Posted on 25.2.04 0000.14
Reposted on: 25.2.11 0000.14
    Originally posted by JayJayDean
    I thought Booker T was a GREAT babyface WCW World Heavyweight Champ. If Benoit indeed wins the title at WrestleMania XX I think Booker should get a run at a title shot. I also think that if Booker had been fucking dating the boss' daughter he'd have had a nice little run as WWE champ, at least.


I would say that Booker's constant talk of retiring soon was more of a detriment to his winning the World title, not "dating" the boss' daughter. It doesn't help Booker's case that he has to use that new music that confuses the crowd who aren't used to it yet. Booker's place is the midcard, and he might be fine with it, especially if he is ready to hang them up soon.
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#5 Posted on 25.2.04 0017.26
Reposted on: 25.2.11 0018.57
Everytime the issue of race is a topic of any forum here on the WB I cringe a little because they seem to almost always deteriorate and get ugly somewhere along the line. With being said Im glad Im getting in first.


Should I put up the discalaimer that Im black? well I just did.


When WCW was bought by WWE back in 2001 I was excited that Booker T was going to be a major player. I really didnt watch that much of WCW but I knew that Booker T had skill and was one of their top guys and I liked that. When I saw his match with Steiner on the last Nitro I became a fan. I really wanted to see a prominent black wrestler in the WWF other than the Rock, some of you may not understand that, but it was important to me. And the for the most part I got my wish, while they didnt push him to the main event like I wanted, he didnt get done too badly in his first year or so with the WWE. He got some commercials and some decent fueds IMO and finally they were going to give him a fued with HHH and a Wrestlemania title match. I was really excited about that, I actually thought that he might even go over HHH UNTIL the first head to head promo. And we all know what happened, HHH pretty much killed any thought of the Book going over with his first promo, with the nappy headed comments and such. Then just as soon as WM was over Book really hasnt done a damn thing since.

Why did the fed just dump him after it seemed like they were going to make him a major player? Supposedly Booker went on an interview sometime before WM and basically said he was wrestling two more years and then he was retiring. The WWE heard that and basically refused to run with a guy that wasnt going to be around for the long term. ive never really believed this, It just didnt seem like it made too much sense. Im not saying it didnt happen, but Ive never heard or saw any quotes from that interview. It seems like that would be a dumb ass thing to say just as you were about to be given a big ME push. Maybe he was saying that even though he was goingto be given a big push, he knew they werent going to let him go over and be the top guy, I really dont know.



Can Booker be the believable top guy in the WWE? I say yes and no. Hes go the size,and the ring skill IMO. He has charisma but I think his promo style may be the problem. I thinks Books problem may be that he talks a little too black for the mainstream audience. So his crossover appeal may be limited. I dont know, Im just taking guesses here, but I think the WWE is missing out with the black audience by not going with Booker more. Especially with the Rock gone.


But I do have high hopes for Shelton Benjamin.




Freeway
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#6 Posted on 25.2.04 0312.19
Reposted on: 25.2.11 0312.41
Based on history, outside of Hulk Hogan the WWE is hesitant to put a belt on somebody who won't be around to carry the ball for a while. BUT, Booker T is charismatic, good in the ring (and on the stick) and usually over with the fans. I would like to see him turn heel, though, as his face character is pretty stale at this point.

I hate to over-generalize, but it seems that black wrestlers can't do much without being a monster heel or just a heel. That being said, only Ron Simmons and Booker T have EVER worn a WCW or WWE World Title belt around their waists. I'd count The Rock there, too, as he is of mixed heritage and could be argued for or against in that respect.
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#7 Posted on 25.2.04 0503.05
Reposted on: 25.2.11 0503.19
I might be completely wrong here, because I am sure there are plenty of black/non-japanese asians and other colored people in indy feds..

But I think the reason you see only a handful of black (superstar) wrestlers might be because it is not a "black sport"? (at least participating, watching on tv is something different)

You see the same with hockey. Only a small amount of people play, and of those a handful makes it into the NHL where some of these are considered superstars, and others are (just like most other NHL-ers) just there.

It is hard for -any- wrestler to get noticed by the big feds (now WWE, used to be WWE/WCW).
Let's say 1 in a 1000 ever gets a shot (a try out)
The odds of this person being colored is even smaller since of those 1000, there are 900 white guys?

As for being midcard of main event. Again it's the odds.
Only 1 in dunnhowmany wrestlers make it to the main event, either as heel or face. Of those an even smaller % will be colored.

And finally, an explanation for being an uppercard heel might be because a heel is easier to portray. You do not have to be very talented to be that bad ass mofo that beats on the face. (See Mark Henry but also Big Bossman)
madiq
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#8 Posted on 25.2.04 0937.04
Reposted on: 25.2.11 0938.46
(Takes deep breath)

First thing we need to do is disavail ourselves of the notion that black wrestlers *can't* do something. As I've mentioned in another topic YEARS AGO, every factor that makes a successful wrestler is exhibited by large numbers of blacks, from athleticism to charisma, to the ability to entertain. Hell, many sports figures cultivate heel personas that TNA would kill for, and many rappers can have a crowd hanging on their every word.

But there are many factors at work. One, the incentives to play professional sports is greater for the truly gifted athletes. A "hoss" like Shaq or Karl Malone may have grown up watching wrestling, but given the choice between millions in the NBA or an uncertain wrestling future, it is likely that at an early stage he decides that wrestling is something he'll watch, but not do.

Okay, pulling out those who could've been successful in sports, and restricting your class to failed pro dreamers, guys who got hurt or for whatever reason, couldn't play pro ball (like The Rock), you still come up against perhaps the greatest barrier of all: The structure of the wrestling business itself.

Now we should all check our illusions at the door and realize that the wrestling business is corrupt. For all of our Vince McMahon bashing, we have to respect the fact that he owns a publicly traded wrestling company, which means that by and large, he has to be on the level and above-board. On the indy circuit, however, promoters run their own little fiefdoms, complete with unwritten rules of "respect," good-ole-boys networks, and less than scrupulous behavior amongst the boys. Add the fact that many established federations have roots in the South, where subtle tinges of racism still persist, and where even a benign promoter can feel pressured to book a less talented white wrestler over a black one, because of concern for his ability to draw heat. And rather than sports, which tends to be more objective, (you can prove that you are able to run faster, hit the ball further, or pass with more precision than the guys you compete against) in wrestling, the subjective perception of the fanbase or booker controls. And what plays well in Decatur won't necessarily get over in Buford, and vice versa.

Exacerbating the problem is a lack of creativity from bookers and writers with regard to gimmicks and feuds. Much of that is due to the culture, I admit, because nonblack audiences are not used to seeing nuanced portrayals of blacks in dramatic situations, so the archetypes that provide the genesis of wrestling gimmicks tend to be considered with white faces in mind. Those that are considered with blacks in mind tend to be shallow and limiting to performers. To make matters worse, the booking rarely adds depth or distinction to the initial gimmick, and so the characters get stale.

We've seen the creative aspect at work in the WWE, where Booker has seen limited character development since his debut, and therefore, has become just what Triple H said that he was, a nappy-haired dancing sideshow. I've joked to my friends that whereas most wrestlers get gimmicks, the black guy's gimmick is that he's the black guy.

Given the slight probability of success, and high probability of injury, the number of black wrestlers isn't surprising.

I *was* however curious to see how Rocky Johnson's promotion was doing. Does anyone have any info about them?

(edited by madiq on 25.2.04 1039)
wudis007
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#9 Posted on 25.2.04 1006.32
Reposted on: 25.2.11 1007.27
Two things from the original post...

(1) It DOES make a difference that The Rock doesn't "look" black. Being a main-event type guy is as much about a character's marketability as their work rate. As a hispanic, I hate it that it makes a difference but I think it would be naive to believe otherwise.

(2) WCW went OUT with Booker T on top. That's what you said. OUT. Doesn't that mean something?
Spaceman Spiff
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#10 Posted on 25.2.04 1029.50
Reposted on: 25.2.11 1030.10
    Originally posted by wudis007
    (2) WCW went OUT with Booker T on top. That's what you said. OUT. Doesn't that mean something?

Not to me. WCW was in trouble prior to Book getting the strap. Book was the #1 face in the company, and the fans were begging for him to be the champ. Putting the strap on him didn't kill the company. Hell, pushing Book as a big star when he came in could have helped to retain some of the "lost" WCW audience.
samoflange
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#11 Posted on 25.2.04 1056.10
Reposted on: 25.2.11 1056.24
Not a big fan of Booker T, whatever his race may be. He looks awkward in the ing, to much of a showman in my opinion. His mic work sometimes makes no sense, and his catchphrases just dont click.

In general, pro wrestling is not largly devoid of black stars because of racism or whatever. It is because it is, by a huge majority, white entertainment. I do not know a single black person who watches WWE, or any wrestling for that matter. Its a cultural difference. Nothing wrong with that, its much like hockey as somebody pointed out. Don't try and look for hidden meaning in everything that happens with regards to race. Sometimes the simplest answer is the best one, wrestling merely appeals more to white folks than black folks.
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#12 Posted on 25.2.04 1122.16
Reposted on: 25.2.11 1122.16
    Originally posted by samoflange
    In general, pro wrestling is not largly devoid of black stars because of racism or whatever. It is because it is, by a huge majority, white entertainment. I do not know a single black person who watches WWE, or any wrestling for that matter. Its a cultural difference. Nothing wrong with that, its much like hockey as somebody pointed out. Don't try and look for hidden meaning in everything that happens with regards to race. Sometimes the simplest answer is the best one, wrestling merely appeals more to white folks than black folks.
Yeah, I usually just delete profoundly ignorant statements like this. Instead, I'll suggest that your sample size is skewed, anecdotal evidence is the weakest form of evidence, and also remind everyone else to please try to keep the level of discussion in this thread higher than these discussions tend to sink.
Gavintzu
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#13 Posted on 25.2.04 1150.21
Reposted on: 25.2.11 1151.26
To get off the race aspect of the conversation for a moment:

    Originally posted by Torchslasher
    I would say that Booker's constant talk of retiring soon was more of a detriment to his winning the World title, not "dating" the boss' daughter.


I really don't understand this line of reasoning, if indeed it is the reason Booker hasn't been pushed as a main-eventer the past year. When the Fed knew that Mick Foley was retiring in a few months, they didn't bury him in the mid-card ... they pushed him to the moon. So when HHH retired him, it really meant something.

In the leadup to Wrestlemania 19, Booker was over huge. The crowds loved him. Why not give him the ball and make him the go-to guy on Raw, with one eye on his continued crowd support and another on his retirement date? Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but that would have been much better than the HHH/Nash and HHH/Steiner title feuds we were treated with. I don't think it would have been much worse anyways. And then, when someone retires him at say Summerslam '04, it would have, like HHH/Foley at No Way Out, really meant something too.




(edited by Gavintzu on 25.2.04 0952)
The 5th Horseman
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#14 Posted on 25.2.04 1156.05
Reposted on: 25.2.11 1156.59
    Originally posted by Spaceman Spiff
      Originally posted by wudis007
      (2) WCW went OUT with Booker T on top. That's what you said. OUT. Doesn't that mean something?

    Not to me. WCW was in trouble prior to Book getting the strap. Book was the #1 face in the company, and the fans were begging for him to be the champ. Putting the strap on him didn't kill the company. Hell, pushing Book as a big star when he came in could have helped to retain some of the "lost" WCW audience.

Exactly! Booker was extremely popular long before they gave him his chance and it was just too late to save the company by that point.

Plus, it's very misleading to make a big deal about the company going OUT with Booker T as champion, because Scott Steiner was actually the champion going into the final show and Booker T won the title as a way to give the fans a happy ending to the WCW Championship. The fans got to see one of their favorites, Booker T, go out as both the World Heavyweight Champion and the U.S. Champion.

Which leads me to this...
    Originally posted by madiq
    many established federations have roots in the South, where subtle tinges of racism still persist, and where even a benign promoter can feel pressured to book a less talented white wrestler over a black one, because of concern for his ability to draw heat.

As a Southerner that has spent plenty of time up north in the Washington D.C. area, Philadelphia, Boston, and Binghamton, NY, this doesn't sit well with me. I don't want to go into detail on this here, because it's a much deeper subject that would be better suited on a Political Board than here on a wrestling board, but you are deluding yourself if you buy into the stereotype that racism is a much bigger problem in the south than it is in the north.

Just to keep this on the wrestling issue, I will give some examples that dispel your inaccurate claim that southern promoters have somehow perpetuated the problem because of the inability to get heat from black wrestlers here in the south.

- Before my time, but Rufus R. Jones was one of the most popular babyfaces in Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling (South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia) during the '70s.

- When I first started watching wrestling at a very young age, one of the most popular stars (very possibly the most popular) in the south was the Junkyard Dog. Even after JYD's career was over in the WWF and WCW, he was still making money as the featured guy on many small independent shows around the south.

- "Hacksaw" Butch Reed was very much over in the south in the '80s whether he was a babyface in Georgia Championship Wrestling or a heel in Mid-South Wrestling.

- On Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling (and later the NWA) in the mid '80s, Rocky King was a very popular jobber. He was so popular with the crowds, that even as a jobber, he was occasionally part of high profile feuds including some World Title matches vs. Ric Flair.

- More currently, Booker T is very popular around here. The next time the WWE does a RAW from South Carolina, pay attention to how popular Booker T still is here in SC. Whether the show is in Columbia, Greenville, or Charleston, the only guy that typically gets a bigger response than Booker T is Ric Flair.


While I definitely won't deny the existence of racism in the South, I do think you're buying into a false stereotype if you believe it is any bigger of a problem here than it is in the northern states. The lack of black wrestling stars DEFINITELY can't be blamed on the South.
wudis007
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#15 Posted on 25.2.04 1218.12
Reposted on: 25.2.11 1220.18
    Originally posted by The 5th Horseman
      Originally posted by Spaceman Spiff
        Originally posted by wudis007
        (2) WCW went OUT with Booker T on top. That's what you said. OUT. Doesn't that mean something?

      Not to me. WCW was in trouble prior to Book getting the strap. Book was the #1 face in the company, and the fans were begging for him to be the champ. Putting the strap on him didn't kill the company. Hell, pushing Book as a big star when he came in could have helped to retain some of the "lost" WCW audience.

    Plus, it's very misleading to make a big deal about the company going OUT with Booker T as champion, because Scott Steiner was actually the champion going into the final show and Booker T won the title as a way to give the fans a happy ending to the WCW Championship.


But this wasn't the first time he had the strap either....so that's somewhat misleading of you to say. How many times had he held the belt....

EVERYBODY..


FIVE TIME FIVE TIME FIVE TIM....well, you get it (I hope).
The 5th Horseman
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#16 Posted on 25.2.04 1350.10
Reposted on: 25.2.11 1351.32
    Originally posted by wudis007
      Originally posted by The 5th Horseman
        Originally posted by Spaceman Spiff
          Originally posted by wudis007
          (2) WCW went OUT with Booker T on top. That's what you said. OUT. Doesn't that mean something?

        Not to me. WCW was in trouble prior to Book getting the strap. Book was the #1 face in the company, and the fans were begging for him to be the champ. Putting the strap on him didn't kill the company. Hell, pushing Book as a big star when he came in could have helped to retain some of the "lost" WCW audience.

      Plus, it's very misleading to make a big deal about the company going OUT with Booker T as champion, because Scott Steiner was actually the champion going into the final show and Booker T won the title as a way to give the fans a happy ending to the WCW Championship.


    But this wasn't the first time he had the strap either....so that's somewhat misleading of you to say. How many times had he held the belt....

    EVERYBODY..


    FIVE TIME FIVE TIME FIVE TIM....well, you get it (I hope).

What was so misleading about my statement? All I said was that Booker T wasn't the WCW Champion going into the final show. He won it from Scott Steiner on the final show.

And, he didn't win his first one until WCW was already in desperation mode. The first time he won the belt, he wasn't even advertised as being in the World Title match. He won the WCW Championship for the first time on the night Russo was doing his little bit with Hulk Hogan. They had Jeff Jarrett lay down to let Hogan pin him. Then, later on that show, Booker T beat Jarrett for the WCW Championship. Do you really think anything could have saved them at that point?

(edited by The 5th Horseman on 25.2.04 1453)
wudis007
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#17 Posted on 25.2.04 1418.12
Reposted on: 25.2.11 1419.05
An injection of capital, perhaps, but with a parent company unwilling to do that, probably not.
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#18 Posted on 25.2.04 1449.59
Reposted on: 25.2.11 1450.11
I'd just add to that that Junkyard Dog was one of THE most over wrestlers in the company during its mid-1980's peak, and prior to that, his popularity in the Watts territory was equal to that of Hogan and Stone Cold in their primes. As the story goes, though, JYD let himself go between drugs and junk food, or I have no doubt they could have gone all the way with him. I really, truly believe that anyone who proves they could make McMahon good money, he'd put them on top.

As far as Booker T goes... I was suprised they didn't give him the belt last year. I'm not saying he could carry the company himself, but there wouldn't have been much harm in trying him out in top. Now, it's probably too late. He just doesn't have the same momentum anymore going for him...

Was he the reason WCW went under? Absolutely not. He was one of the only things keeping the company afloat for that last year...
JoshMann
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#19 Posted on 25.2.04 1509.59
Reposted on: 25.2.11 1510.08
    Originally posted by CANADIAN BULLDOG
    I'm not saying he could carry the company himself, but there wouldn't have been much harm in trying him out in top.


Although really, not since Austin in the early/mid part of 98 when guys like Foley, Rock and Trip were almost full-fledged main-eventers but not quite has any one individual been asked to carry the company single-handedly on their back.



(edited by Blanket Jackson on 25.2.04 1610)
Eddie Famous
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#20 Posted on 25.2.04 1755.56
Reposted on: 25.2.11 1756.34
I do believe the Tony Atlas/Rocky Johnson team was the first all-black World Champion tag team.

Plus, the WWF DID push Pedro Morales and Tito Santana to major titles...it would be tough to find a similar "latin" NWA/AWA push.
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