WWE Hall of Famer Booker T recently spoke with Alfred Konuwa from Forbes about a wide range of topics, including his thoughts on diversity in AEW, and what he believes are AEW and WWE’s strongpoints. Highlights from the interview are below.
Booker T on what WWE does better than AEW and vice versa
“Of course, WWE has always been leaps and bounds ahead as far as packaging. Making wrestlers look like superstars on film. That’s just something that they’ve always done very, very well. Storytelling in WWE has been really, really good also .But then you look at AEW, and I kind of look at AEW like WCW back in the day. Kinda. Before the Monday Night Wars, WCW was a wrestling company. The only thing we did was wrestle. The storylines didn’t really matter as much as the wrestling, and I think that’s what AEW focuses on and does very well at certain times is go out and give the fans good old fashion professional wrestling. I wouldn’t necessarily say [AEW is superior] because you’ve got guys in WWE that are really, really good entertainers. Really, really good performers outside of the ring, and then you look at them in the ring—just say, for instance, a Seth Rollins who’s been playing this Riddler character for the past year or so, but then you put Seth Rollins in a position where he’s gotta go out and give you a five-star match. He’s gonna do it. Finn Balor, you put him in a position, Roman Reigns, they’re gonna do it. So I think the talent is there on both sides, I just must say both are different.”
Comments on AEW’s diversity issues, adding that they have diverse stars it’ll just take some time for them to get to where WWE is at:
“I’ve heard [concerns on diversity issues] about AEW, and me personally, it’s really hard for me to criticize a company that’s only been in existence for three years. One thing about this sport, just being real, it’s always been dominated—as far as wrestling talent goes—by white guys. White girls. I always have this argument with people as far as when I was doing it. I was one of the few Black guys who was in this sport and doing it at a certain level. I kind of slipped on a banana peel and found professional wrestling. When I found it, I tried to open doors for the Big E’s and Bobby Lashley’s of the world. When you come from the neighborhood, especially back in the day, professional wrestling is the last form of entertainment as far as our way out. It’s gonna be football, it’s gonna be basketball, it’s gonna be rapping, it’s gonna be something other than professional wrestling. But when kids saw Booker T doing it, they thought “man, this might be the way out, so we’re gonna start gravitating toward professional wrestling. AEW’s got Jade Cargill, you’ve got the Will Hobbs of the world. You’ve got the Scorpio Says. That’s very few in comparison to the roster, so you’ve got to give those guys a little bit of time to actually get what WWE has, and you’ve got to look at the time WWE took to actually get to where it is right now as well.”