Posted in: Chair Shots Chair Shots Celebrates Black History Month: 28 Greats in 28 Days (Days 28: Booker T. and Finale)
Feb 28, 2013 - 12:34:32 PM
Well, this is it faithful readers. We’ve made it through 28 days of great black professional wrestlers. I’d like to thank you all for coming along on this journey with me. I’d also like to thank ChrisBear and Hustle for contributing to the piece, Shane from the CF for pushing me along, and Uhaa Nation for reading his entry and tweeting us back with thanks. I hope you got something out of this series, as I know for sure that I did. If you kept count, you’d see you actually got 30 stars in 28 days, so I went a little beyond what I promised. But we’re not done yet- we’ve got one more great star to take a look at. So without further ado, let’s get to it!
Day 28: Booker T.
3 time GWF Tag Team Champion
5 time WCW World Heavyweight Champion
11 time WCW World Tag Team Champion
6 time WCW World Television Champion
1 time World Heavyweight Champion
4 time United States Champion
1 time Intercontinental Champion
2 time Hardcore Champion
2006 King of the Ring
1 time TNA Legends Champion
1 time TNA World Tag Team Champion
Is it any wonder that I chose Booker T. to finish this series? I knew from the jump that he would be the superstar to top this whole thing off, and the only wrestler to appear twice in the series. We’ve already noted all the amazing tag team achievements he accumulated with his brother Stevie Ray in Harlem Heat, but as a singles wrestler, Booker T. turned the wrestling world on its ear. I’ve had the privilege of following Booker through his entire career. I watched him in the GWF, I watched Harlem Heat join WCW, and I watched him transition to the WWF/E, to TNA, and back again.
I’m not going to sit here and chronicle Booker T.’s entire career, because quite frankly there just isn’t enough time in the day to do that. He’s got a resume that speaks for itself. What I do want to do though is highlight some of my favorite moments in Booker’s career; periods in time that took Booker to a whole other level in my opinion.
Booker’s tag team partnership with the bizarre Goldust will go down in WWE history as one of the oddest pairings ever to step foot in the squared circle. There’s a long history of dysfunctional tag teams, right down to today’s Team Hell No, and they always bring out some good comedy. But Booker and Goldust were also World Tag Team Champions. They split amicably, and Booker would go on to challenge Triple H, in a match that many say Triple H buried Booker. But when it came to comedy and tag team excellence, Booker and Goldust were a great pairing.
King of the Ring
One of my favorite concepts of all time is the King of the Ring tournament. Honestly, I wish the WWE would bring it back instead of having some of these slapdash PPV’s that have no bearing on anything. When Booker competed in the King of the Ring tournament in 2006, he became an entirely different character all together, transforming himself into King Book-ah. He all of a sudden became British, and with his court consisting of his Queen Sharmell, William Regal, and Fit Finlay, he used the King of the Ring title to propel himself to the World Heavyweight Championship. Booker was at his best in this role, and despite being completely annihilated again by Triple H at the end of this reign, he proved that the King of the Ring title isn’t just a stupid gimmick.
It was during this time that Booker T. was involved in a comeback, and was feuding with the then Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes. I specifically highlighted this PPV, because I was in attendance to see Booker’s return to the ring. There were many great pops that evening, but Booker’s rivaled them all. There were several false starts to the match, with Cody attacking Booker T. backstage on a couple of occasions. The fans behind me were upset because they came from another state just to see Booker’s return. When he finally hit the ring, the crowd exploded. We wanted him to win the title that night, but alas he did not. He received a standing ovation after his return to the ring, and I was happy to say I was one of those people standing.
Booker T. for me, is not only one of the best black professional wrestlers ever to hit the ring, but one of the best wrestlers period!
So that wraps it up for our look at 30 of the greatest black wrestlers in the history of professional wrestling. When the journey started, we saw that there was a lot of racism and stereotyping in the business. A black wrestler was surely used to make promoters money, but they would never elevate them to the top status in the territory. But despite that, the black wrestlers became great successes, often times being the top star regardless of whether or not they were given the championship.
These men led the way for today’s current superstars, who are finally being judged on their talent and ability, not just on the color of their skin. It took quite some time for there to be an “official” black World Champion, but there is no doubt in my mind that that color barrier no longer exists. We’ve seen some greats step through those ropes, and many more greats are still to come. I missed out on some names in this series obviously, like Kofi Kingston, Elix Skipper, Bobby Lashley, Monty Brown, Kharma, and other, but by no means did I forget they played a role in the history of professional wrestling.
Thanks again for reading everybody. Time for this columnist to take a little break, recharge the batteries and come back for more great Chair Shots columns. I truly appreciate all my readers, my colleagues, and this website.
Until next time,
Day 27: Mark Henry
Two days left. Have you kept up with me all this time? If you have, major thanks for making this series a success. Our last two days are going to see two of the greats in the business. Today’s superstar started slowly, and for quite some time didn’t really seem like he’d amount to much, but over the last few years, with the opening of the Hall of Pain, he’s become a real force inside the squared circle.
Where do you begin when talking about Mark Henry? He’s a renowned power lifter who won medal after medal in weightlifting. He earned the nickname of “The World’s Strongest Man” on two separate occasions, first by setting power lifting records, and secondly by winning The World’s Strongest Man competition. But his career in professional wrestling wasn’t as successful, at least early on, as his other endeavors were.
The WWF/E signed Henry in 1996, and after his appearance in the ’96 Olympics Games they signed him to an unprecedented 10-year contract. For the first year of his contract, he didn’t really do very much, engaging in minor feuds throughout the year. In 1997 he took some time to heal from injuries and to further train, as his early ring work was average at best. He returned later in 1997, and again seemed to flounder around for several months. But it was at this time, that a race war was breaking out in the WWF/E.
Henry joined Farooq, Kama, D’Lo Brown, and The Rock in the Nation of Domination. They feuded with Los Boriquas, and DOA, but it wasn’t long before the Nation split up, and Henry AGAIN took on a new persona. He was now being referred to as “Sexual Chocolate”, and engaged in storylines with Chyna, and even a transvestite (no, not Chyna). It was during this time, that Henry became a proud poppa, fathering a hand that the elderly Mae Young gave birth to in one of the Attitude Era’s most ridiculous storylines. During this time, Henry was saddled with everything, including admitting on national television that he was a sex addict. Despite all the ridiculous storylines however, Henry still wasn’t very good in the ring, and in 2000 he went back to OVW to train.
From 2002-2004, Henry bounced around again from the Raw and Smackdown brands. His in-ring work was slowly improving, but Henry was being bitten by an injury bug that kept him off TV for several months at a time. In 2006, his first real push started as he began a path of destruction, a precursor to today’s Hall of Pain if you will. But again, a major injury stopped the push, as Henry tore his patella keeping him out of action for approximately six months.
In 2008, Henry was drafted to ECW, now being managed by Hall of Famer Tony Atlas. It was in ECW, that Mark captured only his second title in his long WWF/E career, winning the ECW Championship in a Triple Threat match with Kane and The Big Show. After ECW shut down, Henry was drafted back to Raw, where he again sort of drifted around, being involved in several Tag Team title matches with the likes of MVP, Evan Bourne, and Yoshi Tatsu. It wasn’t until April 2011, almost 15 years since Henry first signed with the WWF/E, did he really come into his own.
He was drafted back to Smackdown, and Mark Henry became a full on beast. He opened what he called “The Hall of Pain”, a place in which all of his defeated opponents would go after he destroyed them. He beat the likes of Kane, The Big Show, and Randy Orton, from whom he won his first World Heavyweight Championship. Henry continued to dominate Smackdown, and had one of his better feuds with a returning Big Show, which culminated at TLC when Big Show beat Henry for the World Championship, only to lose it after Henry knocked him out and Daniel Bryan cashed in his MITB briefcase.
It was during this time that Mark was noticeably in pain, working through a major injury for which he would once again have to miss time. Henry was out of action for almost nine months, but just recently returned, reopening the Hall of Pain by defeating the likes of The Great Khali, Sin Cara, and Randy Orton. How long Mark Henry has left in the WWF/E is still to be written, but after 15 years, his presence as a superstar is being felt. It’s weird to say that after all these years I became a Mark Henry fan, because for the longest time I just wanted him released. But if he had been, we may have never had the opportunity to see the reign of terror he’s inflicting on the WWF/E right now. Kudos to the WWF/E for having faith in Mark Henry.
One more day! Can you dig that……sucka!!!
Day 26: Ron Killings
With only three days left, I honestly can’t believe our journey through the history of black wrestlers is almost complete. I’d like to thank Uhaa Nation, who actually read the column yesterday and gave a big thanks to Hustle and myself via Twitter for spotlighting him. Today, we look at the first black NWA World Champion, and that’s What’s Up!
Ron Killings never had any intention of being a professional wrestler. Music was where his heart was at, and becoming a professional rapper was on the forefront of his mind. It wasn't until Jackie Crockett of the famed Crockett family convinced him to try wrestling did Killings’ love of the sport begin to blossom. He traveled the road for close to three years, working as a manager while being trained by the “Raging Bull” Manny Fernandez. In 1999, he finally debuted as K-Krush, and was quite suddenly having matches with the likes of AJ Styles.
Killings sent a tape to the WWF/E around the same time, hoping for some interest. Surprisingly they bit, and offered Killings a contract in development and appeared for Memphis Championship Wrestling. He wasn't there long though as he made his main roster debut within the year, forming a tag team with Road Dogg. Other than capturing the Hardcore Championship on two occasions, his first stint in the WWF/E wasn't groundbreaking, and in 2002 he was released from his contract.
In 2002, Ron went to work for XPW, a controversial wrestling organization run by Ron Black and his porn star wife Lizzy Borden. The organization was known for over the top violence and extreme sexuality. Killings, now going by the name of K. Malik Shabazz, became part of the “New Panthers”, a group loosely associated with the Black Panther Party. Killings didn't stay long in XPW, which is probably a good thing, because the organization shut down amidst allegations that Black and Border were involved in distribution of overly obscene materials.
From there, Killings turned up in TNA, which at the time was still affiliated with the NWA. He once again went back to his old moniker of K-Krush, and was put into a feud with Brian Christopher and several NASCAR race car drivers. Frustrated with being held back, the storyline called for Killings to play the race card, blasting the NWA/TNA officials for holding him back because he was black. He began going by his real name, speaking The Truth about the racism in TNA. Shortly after, Ron “The Truth” Killings defeated Ken Shamrock to become the first ever black NWA World Heavyweight Champion. He held that belt for three months before losing it to Jeff Jarrett, which also saw a face turn for Killings.
In 2003, Killings teamed back up with his old friend Road Dogg (now BG James) and Konnan to form 3 Live Kru and as part of that group he captured the World Tag Team Titles. They feuded with all the top teams in TNA at the time, but eventually broke up due to dissension among the team members. But Killings did have another reign as World Champion, defeating AJ Styles, Raven, and Chris Harris in a Fatal Four Way match. This reign only lasted about a month, but Killings still goes down in wrestling history as the first black wrestler to wear the NWA Title belt.
In 2008, Killings left TNA and made his way back to the WWF/E under the name of R-Truth, with no reference to his previous time in the WWF/E whatsoever. He has remained in the WWF/E since, and has had some pretty good success over the years, capturing both the US Title and the World Tag Team titles with his partner Kofi Kingston. Most recently, Truth has been accompanied to the ring by his imaginary friend Little Jimmy. His association with Jimmy has made for some very entertaining moments, like the time that Daniel Bryan kicked Little Jimmy outside the ring ropes. Truth has just come back from a pretty serious leg injury, and time will tell if he is able to once again capture gold in the WWE.
The jury seems to be pretty split on Killings as a wrestler. There are those that can’t stand him in the ring, and think he brings absolutely nothing to the table. I am not one of those people. I have always been entertained by Killings, and think he’s got a unique set of wrestling moves. There’s just always been something missing that has kept him from being elevated to a higher status. What do you think readers? Are you a Ron Killings fan, or a Ron Killings hater? I want The Truth.