Harlem’s Heat: The Infamous Booker T Promo

Brian Damage

Promos are an integral part of professional wrestling. They can help sell fans on a particular match or feud. Great promos can engage fans and make them feel what the wrestler delivering a promo is feeling at that moment. Most promos are forgotten over the course of time, and then there are those ones that fans never forget. It may not be the best, but unforgettable none the less…

One of those unforgettable promos took place on April 6, 1997 in Tupelo, Mississippi. That was the sight of WCW’s Spring Stampede pay per view. The tagline for this event was “These Men Do Solemnly Swear… to Kick, Fight, Punch, Stomp, and Flatten anybody who gets in their way!” The line certainly could’ve applied to the scathing promo that was about to ripped by Harlem Heat’s Booker T.

‘Harlem Heat’ consisting of brothers Stevie Ray and Booker T and managed by Sister Sherri were booked on one of the top matches on the Spring Stampede card. They would both compete as singles wrestlers in a Four Corners Match that also included the Giant and Lex Luger. The winner of the match would determine who would be the new number one contender for the WCW world title held by ‘Hollywood’ Hogan.

Before the match, in typical fashion…the great ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund was in the locker room getting thoughts from the participants of this big match. When it came time for Booker T to talk, he held nothing back. Booker T said years later, that he channeled his younger self when he was scratching and clawing trying to survive day to day in the ‘hood. His raw emotions came out in his promo and it was intense. During his promo, Booker said…“Hulk Hogan, We Comin’ For You …..” and then slipped and called Hogan a “nigga!” As soon as Booker uttered that word, he immediately shut up and put his hands on his face. He knew he took his promo a few steps too far. His manager Sherri placed her hand on his back to try and calm him down.

The proverbial cat was already let out of the bag, however, and Booker T knew he messed up and could possibly be fired by Turner management. Sherri, who was more of an older sister or mother figure to Harlem Heat grabbed Booker after the cameras were off and consoled him. She assured him that everything was going to be okay. Getting fired, was the least of what was bothering Booker after the interview. He felt that by saying the N word on live TV, it made it okay for young fans watching to say it themselves. Booker T said that he felt he let down his brother, Sherri and all of their fans. WCW executive Eric Bischoff said he was shocked by the statement, but wasn’t angry. Bischoff knew it was an accidental slip of the tongue and that he and his brother Stevie were always consummate professionals. Bischoff said that Turner management let the incident go with no repercussions even discussed.

If Booker T hadn’t felt awful enough, several other wrestlers made sure to make him feel worse. They unmercifully ribbed Booker the rest of the evening and again when they showed up to Monday Nitro the next day for saying what he said. According to Booker’s brother Stevie Ray, one of the biggest agitator’s was the ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. The Macho Man was said to be relentless by going up to Booker and Stevie and asking…. ‘What’s up n**ga?’ It would continue while the brothers were sitting in catering having lunch and a bunch of wrestlers continued egging Booker T on. It was at that point, where Hulk Hogan walked into the room and Savage ran up to Hogan and said…‘Hey, Hulk, what’s going on man? You know Booker T called you an n**ga?’ Hulk looked over at an obviously upset and embarrassed Booker T and said….‘That’s OK man, at least I’m a good n**ga.’

That statement made everyone in catering burst out laughing and suddenly, all the heat and stress that was on Booker T was lifted. Nobody bothered him about what he said in that promo after that.

6 thoughts on “Harlem’s Heat: The Infamous Booker T Promo

  1. Booker T’s reaction in the interview shows how concerned toward the impact it would have on young fans as much as the reaction in general. Throughout all his HOF career, Booker T’s influence has been positive and it continues even now with all the mentoring, training schools/local wrestling shows so a moment like this was always an early sign of his passion and awareness.

    Liked by 1 person

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