10 QUESTIONS FOR BOOKER T

Ken Hoffman gets in the ring with former WWE world champion Booker T

Ken Hoffman gets in the ring with former WWE world champion Booker T
Booker T brings hall of fame swagger to ESPN 97.5 FM. Photo via WWE.com

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

WWE superstar and master of the devastating Spinerooniemaneuver Booker T is the newest member of the Gow Media family, hosting the Hall of Fame show Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights on ESPN 97.5 FM.

The show, with co-host Brad Gilmore, airs live from 9-11 pm. While the main focus of the show will be WWE happenings, mixed martial arts, and boxing, Booker T isn't exactly shy about giving his opinion on politics, sports, and whatever else.

The show's title is a natural. Booker T was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a solo performer in 2013, and next month will be inducted again as part of the Harlem Heat tag-team with his brother Stevie Ray. For the record, Booker T (Robert Booker Tio Huffman) and Stevie Ray (Lash Huffman) are real-life brothers, but they weren't raised, nor ever lived in Harlem. They're from the South Park section of Houston.

ESPN 97.5 program director AJ Hoffman says, "Booker T and Brad bring an energy and excitement to the table. They want to be here as much as we want to have them. We think the show will bring new ears to 97.5, and they'll be a perfect fit in our station's brash culture."

Between breaks of his show, I cornered Booker T and hit him with 10 Questions.

CultureMap: Which is more frightening, fighting Triple H in a WWE ring, or battling him on TV's The Weakest Link?

Booker T: Oh, The Weakest Link for sure. Wrestling is easy. But a TV game show like The Weakest Link is a pressure situation. You've got to be quick on your toes. You might say something you wish you didn't say, like what happened to me. It was nervous time, sweaty palms, butterflies, the whole thing.

CM: Are you serious about running for mayor of Houston?

BT: Absolutely! I'm very serious. My ultimate goal is to be the mayor of Houston. It might be too late for me to get in the 2019 race, but a mayor's term is only four years. It looks like 2023 will be my time.

CM: What is the worst injury you've suffered as a sports-entertainment performer?

BT: Several years ago, I slipped a disc in my back in Australia. I was working a match, nothing out of the ordinary, but when I woke up the next morning I couldn't move. I was out for two months and had to take two epidurals.

CM: What is your relationship with WWE now?

BT: I still work for WWE. I'm currently an analyst on pay-per-view shows and ambassador for the company. My contract runs through 2029.

CM: You run an independent wrestling promotion called Reality of Wrestling in the Houston area. Most of your performers are young men and women new to the business. Do they have the same fire and intensity that you had coming up?

BT: We try to instill that. Not everybody is going to be like me when I was entering the business. In Reality of Wrestling, we have a lot of ambitious guys who want to get to the next level. We push them as hard as we can. If they don't have fire in them, they don't last very long. I'm extremely tough on them.

I don't accept any excuses. I didn't accept any excuses from myself. I was a single dad when I started in the business. I was working six days a week. I had a beat-up car. I never asked anyone for anything. I worked my butt off to get where I am today.

CM: You grew up very poor, and you struggled as a young man. Your life is very different now. Are you enjoying success?

BT: It's a funny thing. I enjoyed life when I didn't have a whole lot. You don't miss what you never had. Life is the same for me, I'm just able to pay my bills now. I've never wanted to be flamboyant or front everything I have. I have two beautiful kids, a boy and girl twins, a beautiful wife (former wrestler Sharmell), and a nice home. I was happy growing up poor, and I'm happy now. I'm blessed to have this life.

CM: Your most famous move is the Spineroonie. In the middle of a match, you would bust a break dancing move. Tell me the first time you did that in a ring.

BT: I did it during my very first match. I used to do it in practice, just screwing around. I was a break dancer back in the day. It was very natural for me. So I did it during my first real match. It changed the whole momentum of the match.

I knew it was something that would stick with me forever. It's actually easy to do in a ring. Under the mat, there's a pretty hard piece of foam, and there are 2-by-4's under that. It's pretty sturdy and it gives me good balance, so I'm not going to break any skin.

CM: Name the wrestlers who you most admired growing up. Did you get to compete against them?

Continue reading on CultureMap to learn about Booker T's favorite wrestlers growing up.

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We're not saying this is the greatest photo of Alex Bregman ever…but we're not saying it's not. Photo by Bread & Water Productions.

Only Alex Bregman, his tireless crew (we’re looking at you, Tyler Straub), and his endless business and charity interests could make Major League Baseball’s quiet offseason seem so 24/7.

The latest: Wild Sol, the spicy and saucy new Southwest food brand that Alex and his wife Reagan have created — and just toasted with a totally fire launch party at EaDo hotspot Chapman & Kirby.

Alex and Reagan welcomed a star-studded, invite-only list of party people to celebrate the Wild Sol official launch and sample some savory — and spirited, literally — salsas (more on the “spirited” part in a moment). The party also saluted the Wild Sol team who have been working for more than a year on the launch: Laurice Howard, Reagan’s mother (and an Instagram treasure); the aforementioned Tyler Straub (whom we here at CultureMap have dubbed “Tyler the Creator”); Michael Posey, and Adrienne Price.

While hot Houston DJ Mr Rogers spun his party-perfect beats, the VIP crowd sampled Wild Sol’s line of Hot, Mild, Salsa Verde, and Mango Habanero salsas. Flecha Azul Tequilaprovided the perfect way to cool off from the spicy Mango Habanero and Hot salsas. Considered the fastest growing additive-free, ultra-premium tequila in the world, Flecha Azul was founded by A-list friend of the Bregmans — Mark Wahlberg — along with his partners Aron Marquez, and Abraham Ancer.

A Sol-powered party

Astros star shortstop Jeremy Peña (aka La Torrenta) hit the party. Photo by Bread & Water Productions.

As for the crowd, it was a family affair and a who’s-who list of sports celebs. Guests included Alex’s mother, Jackie De Oliveira Bregman; and Reagan’s parents, Laurice and Grant Howard, with her brother Kyle Howard. Other guests included Flecha Azul Tequila founder Aron Marquez; Houston Astros star shortstop Jeremy Peña; Astros business development director Kyle McLaughlin; Astros’ reporter Julia Morales Clark and husband Matt Clark; Adrienne and Jared Crane; rap legends Slim Thug and Paul Wall (who attended with his wife, Crystal); Warren Moon; former NFL star Adrian Peterson and his wife, Ashley; Madison Straub; Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale; former Houston Texans star Chester Pitts; Madelyn Payne; Haleigh Broucher; and Southern songstress Lenora and her fiancé Jarren Small.

The normally Navy SEAL-composed Alex Bregman tore it up on the dance floor and posed for an epic photo with his beloved Mom and with Paul Wall and Straub — making us wish they three would start a hip-hop act.

“I am so grateful for all of our friends and family who showed up to support,” said Alex Bregman of the party. “We’ve got great momentum and we’re looking forward to taking this to the next level.”

A little about the new Wild Sol salsas: each brings the heat and is made with an actual splash of Flecha Azul tequilas. Here’s the Wild Sol starting lineup:

Ladies and gentlemen, your Wild Sol starting lineup. Photo by Bread & Water Productions.

Hot Salsa: robust and spiced with dried chilies that really bring the heat; made with a splash of Flecha Azul Blanco Tequila

Mild Salsa: rich with limes, tomatoes, and dried chilies for a touch of heat; made with a splash of Flecha Azul Blanco Tequila

Salsa Verde: herby and smokey with tomatillos and vibrant serrano peppers; made with a splash of Los Coyotes Mezcal

Mango Habanero Salsa: sweet up front with fresh mangos and a punch of fiery habañeros; made with a splash of Flecha Azul Reposado Tequila

“We are excited to collaborate with our friends at Wild Sol,” said Flecha Azul Tequila founder Marquez. “Over the last year, I received samples of recipes, and their desire to produce a salsa that is unique and spirited shines through. You can’t have the best spirited salsa if you are not using the best tequila.”

No, you can’t, Aron. Those on the hunt for Wild Sol’s salsas can find it online at WildSol.co. — expect even more products this year. Houston shoppers can also look forward to Wild Sol on H-E-B and Kroger shelves in the coming months, the company promises. Score the Flecha Azul tequila line at local Spec’s, Total Wine & More, or online.

Breggy talks his bomb offseason

Bregman poses with his manager Tyler Straub just before he headed back to Phoenix after attending Astros Fan Fest. Photo by Steven Devadanam.

As we mentioned, few — if any — MLB stars have put in the work like Alex Bregman this offseason — on and off the field. Just how committed is the All-Star third baseman? In January, he flew in from Phoenix, where he’s been training, just to attend the Astros Fan Fest — only to hop a flight immediately after the event.

Seriously, does he sleep?

“Oh yeah,” Bregman told us at the event. “Sleep is the key. The sleep’s where you recover — you gotta sleep. I feel like that’s the best form of recovery for any athlete. So, we try to sleep eight to 10 hours a night.” When we jokingly asked if the headline is that Baby Knox (his son) is letting him sleep eight to 10 hours a night, Bregman chuckled.

“Oh, Knox sleeps — Knox might sleep 12 hours himself. He’s growing so much and I think it’s because he sleeps so well.”

Bregman, who (somehow) turns 30 on March 30, is well aware of all the speculation as to whether he’ll extend with the Astros, like his teammate José Altuve. He revealed good news for his fans who are waiting for an epic season.

Big things ahead

“I feel better than I’ve ever felt,” he told us. “I feel younger than I’ve ever felt. I feel more athletic than I’ve ever felt. I’m really looking forward to having a really good year.”

He’s also working on every part of his game as he readies for another World Series run, and is ready to play ball —as he works on every part of his game. “I think it’s every single aspect of the game, trying to get a little bit better,” he said. “This offseason’s been really hitting-focused and it’s been fantastic. I cannot even tell you how excited I am to get down to Florida and get going.”

We also caught up with Bregman at the annual Cactus Jack Celebrity Softball Tournament put on by Travis Scott this past week, where he hit the field with a host of all stars and celebrities. Having just headed up his Bregman Cares Classic tournament at Sugar Land’s Constellation Field, a ball game for a special cause meant that much more to him.

“It means so much,” he told us before the game. “Being able to help any community is such an honor.”

We also asked Bregman about his Super Bowl experience, where he partied with Houston Texans superstar quarterback C.J. Stroud and newly minted NFL Hall of Famer Andre Johnson, the first Texan to be inducted into the halls of Canton, Ohio.

“It was an honor to be able to hang with him and Andre,” Bregman added, “and celebrate their amazing seasons.”

And we’re ready to celebrate an amazing Bregman season, too.

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