Saturday, April 13

Booker T Names Unexpected Harlem Heat Match As His Favorite WCW Memory


  • Booker T reminisces about his favorite WCW memory being a tag team match against The Steiner Brothers at WCW Hog Wild, despite a hostile crowd that was allegedly racist. He relished in riling up the crowd and embraced their unconventional circumstances.
  • Booker T describes late stage WCW as chaotic, citing instances like The Shockmaster’s disastrous debut and Randy Savage booking him to job to Buff Bagwell after winning number one contendership. Despite the chaos, he laughed about the situations on The Kurt Angle Show podcast.
  • Booker T’s successful heel roles, such as playing King Booker in WWE, may be attributed to his ability to work the crowd and create an electric atmosphere. His fond memories of being a bad guy in Sturgis connect to his later heel personas.

Booker T is one of the most decorated pro wrestlers of all time, with a record that includes six world championships, not to mention picking up hardware in WCW, WWE, and TNA. In WWE and TNA alike, he crossed paths with fellow legend and WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle, and the two connected again for an episode of The Kurt Angle Show podcast that dropped on November 19.

RELATED: A Look Back At Booker T’s Forgotten TNA RunThe two old acquaintances talked all about Booker’s career, but one of the more interesting revelations came in discussing his run with WCW. The question arose as to what Booker’s favorite memory from the promotion was. One might expect him to talk about winning his first world title at Bash at the Beach 2000 or perhaps winning back the world title on the last ever episode of WCW Nitro. Instead, he reached back to a chapter of his tag team career, partnering with his brother Stevie Ray. Even if fans had guessed that he’d look back to Harlem Heat, they probably wouldn’t have predicted the specific match Booker remembered so fondly.

Harlem Heat Wrestled The Steiner Brothers In Front Of A Hostile Crowd At WCW Hog Wild

Hog Wild

In what would become a three-year annual tradition, WCW ventured to Sturgis, South Dakota to stage a wrestling PPV in the middle of a motorcycle rally in the summer of 1996. The show was called Hog Wild and included Harlem Heat defending the WCW Tag Team Championship against The Steiner Brothers.

Many fans cite Hog Wild and its Road Wild-branded successors as uncomfortable for motorcycle revving often distracting from the action and the belief that much of the crowd weren’t all that invested in wrestling. This specific match at this specific show has grown especially notorious, though, because of allegations that a vocal portion of the biker crowd was explicitly racist in its response to Booker T and Stevie Ray.

Booker openly acknowledged this dynamic on the podcast. Rather than lamenting the situation, though, he reminisced fondly about riling up the crowd, talking about how he hated rednecks in a pre-match promo to get even more heat, and ramping up their heel antics to work the crowd into a frenzy during the match itself. Indeed, one of the things fans might not realize about Harlem Heat now is what effective heels they could be, and Booker openly laughed about this night, relishing the unconventional circumstances.

Booker T Called Late Stage WCW Chaotic

Booker T WCW

After reflecting on his favorite WCW memory, Booker T addressed some less positive elements of working for the company. He discussed his first months with the company, and the unusual situation of working in a featured role early, because Harlem Heat debuted alongside Sid Vicious. Things went off the rails quickly, he recalled, on the way to their War Games match at Fall Brawl 1993, when The Shockmaster had his infamously disastrous debut.

RELATED: War Games: The Real-Life Origins Of WCW’s Best Gimmick Match EverBooker went on to more than once describe WCW as “chaotic toward the end.” He specifically cited a period when Kevin Nash was in charge of booking, but took a night off and somehow Randy Savage wound up running the show. The Macho Man booked Booker to job to Buff Bagwell which, ordinarily, may not have been a problem, except Booker had just won his way to number one contendership the week before. Savage responded to Booker’s concerns by telling him, “Don’t worry about it, it’s just wrestling, brother.” Booker and Kurt Angle had a good laugh about this situation on the show.

Throughout their discussion, it was clear that there was a great deal of mutual respect and camaraderie between Kurt Angle and Booker T, both legends of the business. Booker’s fond memories of playing the bad guy in Sturgis may well connect to just how good he was in arguably his most famous heel role years later, playing King Booker in WWE. In each case he leaned into the heat, worked the crowd, and really developed an electric atmosphere around him.

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