Booker T Reflects on the Debut of the Shockmaster

Posted By James Walsh on 08/12/19

During his appearance on the Steve Austin Show, Booker T recalled being on stage for the Shockmaster’s infamous debut and his own WCW debut in the infamous Chain Gang gimmick. The Shockmaster’s debut is, of course, a thing of wrestling legend, with Fred Ottman coming out as the character by bursting at Clash of the Champions XXIV as the partner of Davey Boy Smith and Sting against Sid and Harlem Heat. He burst through a wall wearing a purple, glitter-covered Stormtrooper helmet and jeans, but tripped on a 2X4 and fell on his face with the helmet coming off. Sid broke character entirely and Smith can be heard saying, “He fell flat on his arse!” To make matters worse, in recovering he began to gesture toward his opponents before Ole Anderson — who was providing his voice off-screen — began speaking, making it look even more goofy.

As for the Chain Gang gimmick, this was the original gimmick that Stevie Ray and Booker debuted under. The gimmick saw the brothers come in as prisoners who were won by Colonel Rob Parker in a card game with a warden, and they came out to the ring in wrist and leg shackles. Apparently no one realized that this didn’t look good from a racial sensitivity angle, something that was a serious concern for the corporate entity under Turner Broadcasting System. After their debut, the gimmick was very quickly changed and they became the Harlem Heat everyone remembers.

Highlights from the discussion are below, along with the full podcast:

On being on camera for the Shockmaster’s debut: “It was crazy man, because you know, me and my brother, I don’t know if you know how we got into WCW or not. But Sid was the reason we got into WCW. He brought us in, he called down to Dallas, said he was gonna get us in. And next thing you know, we’re in Atlanta. We’re living in Sid’s apartment as well at that time. And Sid, he looked out for us. And then, for us to be in a match of that magnitude, first and foremost. My brother and I, we were like two flies on a wall. I mean, we were. [laughs] Because we get ready to do a PPV in Houston, in the main event, our first time. We were like, ‘Wow! It can’t get any better than this.’ And when that happened, I remember rehearsing it, though. And I think — I could be wrong, that’s why I gotta take a little of the heat off of Fred. I could be wrong, but when we rehearsed that thing, which we ran through like a small rehearsal. The wall was very, very shaky. It was moving, like, back and forth. So they said, ‘We gotta put a little reinforcement on it. So they put a 2X4 going all the way across the bottom of it and didn’t tell Fred about it. And the pyro went off, and Fred had that mask on. And he busts through it and bloop, bloop, bloop, bloop, bloop. There he went. And of course for me, like I said, I was young, happy to be where I was. But I felt so bad for him, man. When the thing, when the hood came off and started rolling. Glitter was flying off of him, then he tried to regroup and he tried to find his way out of that. And from that point it was downhill. Every time I see him now, I don’t even mention it. I don’t even mention Shockmaster. But he seems to make fun out of it now, because every dude does. But it had to be a bad night.”

On his WCW debut with Stevie Ray as the Chain Gang: “It was an infamous moment. When my brother and I — I don’t know how they thought this was gonna work on television in the ’90s. But our first character was, we were called the Chain Gang. Two brothers that just got outta jail. And we was working for Colonel Rob Parker. Rob Parker had paid the warden off to get us out. And we came in on TBS. And it was like, ‘What the hell’s going on here?’ The executives went crazy. And we had the match and we walked back to the dressing room, and Ole Anderson, ‘They wanna see you in Ole Anderson’s office.’ So we go to Ole Anderson’s office, and he goes, ‘I should send you back to Texas.’ [laughs] And we were like, ‘Wait a minute! This wasn’t our idea! This was your idea, what are you talking about.’ But [he said], ‘You guys got talent. But can you draw money?’ Put us in a frickin’ gimmick! Not like two prisoners, and we can make some money. So thank god they didn’t have social media back then, or that tape would be running around forevermore of my brother and I coming in as the Chain Gang, two prisoners.”