booker books a new spot
Ken Hoffman on Houston's wrestling all star's big power move on ESPN 97.5 FM
By popular demand (and when popular WWE legend Booker T demands something, it’s best to say yes), the Hall of Fame wrestling talk show has expanded to four nights a week on ESPN 97.5 FM and 92.5 FM.
Hosted by 5-time world champion wrestler Booker T and best-selling author and summa cum laude UH grad Brad Gilmore, the Hall of Fame show will air at 9 pm Tuesdays through Fridays.
The Hall of Fame show debuted on ESPN radio in Houston in 2019 and has grown into the No. 1 wrestling show in Texas. Station boss Todd Farquharson tells me, “We’re excited to expand the footprint of The Hall of Fame. Booker and Brad have been terrific partners.”
The Hall of Fame show came by its name legit. Booker T is a two-time inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame, first as an individual superstar and later, as a member of the Harlem Heat tag-team with his brother Stevie Ray.
We caught up with Booker T and Gilmore to talk wrestling and The Hall of Fame.
CultureMap: How did two Houston guys, Booker T, a street-tough wrestling veteran, and Brad, straight-A brainiac at UH, get together to co-host a radio show?
Brad G: I met Booker when I was 18 years old. I saw a tweet from him asking for people to audition as a ring announcer for his promotion, Reality of Wrestling. I sent in my resume and got a call about three weeks later.
I met with Booker and got the job. A couple years later, he called me and asked if I’d co-host a radio show with him. I jumped at the opportunity. Growing up I never thought of being on the radio, especially not with Booker T, a guy who main-evented the first wrestling show I ever went to at Toyota Center. It really was an unexpected dream come true.
CM: Does Booker still have his wrestling school in Houston?
Booker T: Of course! The Reality of Wrestling School is still going strong. We opened our school in 2005 and we are one of the few schools still out there training the next crop of stars. We’ve had several of our talent recently get picked up by WWE or AEW.
One of our girls, Rok-C (now Roxanne Perez) just signed with WWE about a month ago and she’s already main evented NXT with the champion Mandy Rose. It was awesome. So there’s no slowing down for us at the school. We are always training talent and we have more students now than ever.
CM: What is Booker’s relationship with WWE now?
BT: My relationship with the company has never been better. My contract with them isn’t up for another several years. I’m still around doing the kickoff shows for all the premium events on Peacock. I sometimes host RAW Talk and Talking Smack and WWE has me involved with several other projects.
CM: Booker, how’s it feel being married to a fellow WWE Hall of Famer now that Queen Sharmell was inducted at WrestleMania last month?
BT: I can tell you that our price for bookings has definitely gone up! But my wife has always been my queen, whether she was in the WWE Hall of Fame or not. But I will say, it’s pretty awesome they inducted her. We are a Hall of Fame family!
CM: What’s your opinion of the AEW wrestling promotion? Is it a serious challenger to WWE?
BT: AEW is a wrestling company that’s trying to provide a product like everyone else. I think it’s a good thing because wrestlers need a place to work and the more places to work, the better for the wrestlers, the business, and the families.
How much competition is it to WWE? I think it’s something that the WWE needs to keep an eye on. AEW has a cult following and a passionate and loyal fan base. When a company has that, you never know how big it can get and how fast it can grow.
I’ll say this, competition makes you run faster, so I think it’s a great thing for wrestling.
CM: How much wrestling do you guys watch each week? It seems like wrestling is on 24/7 these days.
BG: You are right. There are seven wrestling companies, including Impact and Booker’s Reality of Wrestling, on TV each week. It’s almost impossible to watch everything, but we want to give the listeners our best takes and most informed opinions.
We watch as much as we can. Booker and I both have a passion for wrestling. Watching hours and hours every week doesn’t feel like work. It’s no different than covering the NBA or NFL like a beat reporter.
CM: There’s no shortage of wrestling talk shows and podcasts out there. What makes your show different?
BG: Well, there isn’t another wrestling show hosted by a two-time WWE Hall of Famer and the BOAT (Best of All Time). But seriously, our show is so much more than just wrestling.
Although we spend most of the time talking about wrestling, we venture off into personal stories, music, debates about which Rocky movie is the best, and just life in general. It’s a lifestyle show more than a wrestling show. You can’t find a show like the Hall of Fame anywhere else.
CM: Is Booker retired from wrestling, I mean for real?
BT: I’ll never be done wrestling. I’ll be doing this until I can’t move my legs anymore. Wrestlers never retire. If I get a chance to bounce around the ring like a kid one more time, I’ll take that opportunity every time. I won’t be retired from the squared circle until I’m six feet under.
CM: Is anybody out there who can beat the WWE’s unified champion Roman Reigns?
BT: That’s a great question. It’s going to take someone special to take the spot of Roman. He’s really been on a different level of late than most of the guys, and making it past Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania was big for him.
There’s still so much left to do for The Head of the Table, so that’s a question that can’t be answered yet.