Booker T recaps his WWE in-ring return.
Coming in at the number #21 spot in the 2023 men’s Royal Rumble match was WWE Hall of Famer and NXT commentator Booker T.
While in the match, Booker got offense in on Dominik Mysterio, Finn Balor and was able to pull off a ‘spinaroonie’ before being eliminated by GUNTHER.
Booker recapped it all on the newest installment of his ‘Hall of Fame’ podcast. He thanked everyone in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas who gave him the reaction he received.
Give you guys a little feel of what it felt like being in a ring, in a WWE ring since 2012. Since 2012, the last time I was in the Royal Rumble and man, I must tell you guys, I wanna thank everybody. I wanna thank everybody in the arena at Alamodome for showing the old man some love. It was off the chains, it was electrifying. It was one of those things where it was pandemonium. It was unbelievable and I’ll tell you what, I gotta thank all of those guys that was in the Royal Rumble for just letting me participate and getting to go back and see what that feels like just one more time and just walk that aisle. I must say, was an awesome, awesome time and you know, for me, it was a chance to, you know, I always said I never got that itch to scratch or whatever like that but every time I say preparation is the only luck you’re ever gonna have, for me to go out there and be in front of my students like Rok-C (Roxanne Perez), to be able to get out there, my daughter, she was so freaking happy. She’s been singing my song all day, my son was real hyped up. He knew what was gonna happen. But, it wasn’t about me, it was about those young guys and it was about all those guys 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 an awesome moment.
For several years, Booker has talked about the idea of competing in another Royal Rumble and waiting on an invitation. This invitation came while Booker was on the Royal Rumble Kickoff panel.
He had his gear with him and said he had about ten minutes to get ready. He joked that he would have won the match had he had time to properly prepare.
I was sitting at the table at the Kickoff show and I got a text message and it was the invite telling me, ‘Book, you’re in the Rumble’ and me, I’m old school dog, I’m old school. I went down in a Winnebago, right? So something told me, bring your gear, alright? Make sure you’re ready just so you don’t have to get ready or stay ready and boom, there it was. The text message came through and I said, okay, here we go. Just like when I won the World Title, my first World Title, I had about ten minutes to warm up. So that’s what happened. I wasn’t warmed up, I went out to the ring cold. I didn’t have that gloss, I didn’t have the shine on me. I wasn’t lathered up, you know what I mean? And ready to go. I didn’t get to jump rope for 45 minutes to get the heart rate up, get the blood flowing, get the blood pumping… I would’ve won that damn Rumble if I would’ve just been able to prepare properly. That last-minute text message definitely slowed me down a lil bit.
Booker does believe he was filling in for Rey Mysterio, who was advertised for the match but did not appear. Dominik Mysterio came out in the slot after Rey and it was implied that Dominik attacked his father.
I think that’s what happened. I think Rey (Mysterio) went down and I think they had to fill that spot. Who better to call? They said, hey, let’s give Book a shot at this. Like I said, I had my gear with me, I’m old school, old school. All you young wrestlers out there, don’t show up without your gear. I won my first championship, my first singles championship because Rick Martel did not bring his gear. That’s a true story so you gotta be ready man and I was ready, kind of. I was almost ready, and I think I went out there and just got caught up in the moment. That 50-plus-thousand, they was cheering my name and everybody was wanting it, everybody was feeling that. They had to have that Spinaroonie. So I said, let me give it to them early because 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 them the Spinaroonie, let me do it now because I don’t know how this thing gonna play out.
As mentioned, Mysterio and Finn Balor took offense from Booker and that was something Booker requested. He spoke about how crazy it was to be in the ring with Dominik and thinking about seeing Dominik when he was a toddler running around backstage.
When Booker came out, Michael Cole labeled him ‘the voice of NXT’ and Booker said he liked that, adding that the in-ring aspect is much more difficult than his current job with NXT.
It was awesome. I requested Dominik (Mysterio) for that and Finn (Balor to take my moves in the men’s Royal Rumble) and like I said, it was awesome, because I’ve been doing this a long time, since 1990, the first time I stepped inside the squared circle. 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’re gonna have to kick me out this party. I’m sticking around as long as I can and to have been in the game 32 years, to have watched Dominik in the locker room when he was a baby, when he was a little baby, when he was a toddler, okay? And then to be in the ring with him, come on. That right there, that’s dreams come true that you never have. That’s stuff that you don’t ever think you’d be doing but for me, it’s like my career, I’ve been that fly on the wall. I’ve seen so much in my career, I’ve seen so much and it’s so freaking awesome to still be here, just for instance, walking out of the curtain and Michael Cole going, ‘The voice of NXT!’ (Booker laughed) Okay, okay, I like that. Let me get back to my role because this job is a little harder than this one so, but it’s awesome to still be in the ring, still giving back.
He further touched on the feeling he got that night and described it as ‘explosive’. Booker stated that he understands why people have a tough time stepping away from the spotlight but jokingly said that may have been his last Rumble due to how he felt afterwards.
I gotta stay out of that ring 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 (Sullivan-Huffman) to stand on my back just to get me back in line. I’m like, what the hell is going on? And when I wrestle at Reality of Wrestling, I’m taking spinebusters, 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 explosive, like it wanted to burst through my body, you know what I mean? That feeling, it’s so unbelievable, you never get used to that. I see why these old guys don’t wanna get out of the ring. I see why they’re pushing the envelope. It’s hard to walk away from that but, I’ll tell you what, that may have been my last Rumble (Booker laughed)… If I’m in shape, if I can just kept 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 ever working out ever again. I’m done, I’m done. That’s when everything pays off. My retirement kick in and everything, you know, so, I’m done.
On the topic of GUNTHER eliminating him, Booker said it was an honor to be eliminated by the Intercontinental Champion.
GUNTHER did an awesome job making history. That guy’s gonna be a major, major player here for WWE for a long time and it was my honor to do the favor for him and I’ve seen people, stupid people saying, ‘Booker got jobbed out.’ Let me just say this, Booker got jobbed out by GUNTHER and I wanna 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.
GUNTHER clocked in at one hour, 11 minutes in the Royal Rumble and got five eliminations.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit the ‘Hall of Fame’ podcast with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.