The Royal Rumble PPV is second only to WrestleMania in the WWE in terms of importance. While fans may all look forward to different matches at Mania, everybody pays attention to the Royal Rumble match because they are guaranteed three things: surprise/returning entrants, an unpredictable match and the official beginning to the Road to WrestleMania.

Current Smackdown GM Booker T took part in a phone conference this Thursday to talk about the Rumble. While he was one of the surprise entrants in the 2011 Rumble, he started off the conference by saying he would not be participating in this year’s event. “This year I’m going to sit it out and do my duties as General Manager and see how the Smackdown matches play out,” Booker said as he started off the conference.

Booker T arranges the main event for the Smackdown show on Friday night, taped Tuesday in Sacramento, Calif. Photo by Devin Chen,

For Booker, that 2011 Rumble was a very special time, not just regarding his favorite Rumble, but regarding his career as a whole. “I really didn’t expect the ovation that I got from the fans,” Booker said. “I was totally taken aback from it. But it really put that stamp as far as my career goes.”

Why was it so special even though he only lasted about a minute and didn’t eliminate anyone? The pop from the fans the entire time he was in the ring. “Everything I’ve given to the fans over the years, they gave it all back to me that night just from an applause standpoint that night letting me know that they appreciate all I’d done for them over my 22 year career,” Booker said. “That was a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.”

For those wondering about his entry, Booker admitted it came somewhat out of the blue. The WWE didn’t give him a lot of time before the Rumble when they contacted him. “It was a couple of weeks,” Booker said about how far in advance he was contacted. “It was an almost surreal moment. It wasn’t something that was planned months in advance.”

When asked about this year’s Rumble match and who is pick for a winner would be, Booker kind of balked at his answer. “It’s an unpredictable match,” Booker said. “It’s all about luck. As far as calling a winner, I just can’t call it.”

But when asked about his pick for a surprise entrant, Booker wasn’t shy about giving his answer. He explained that his pick for a dream entrant would have to be someone he truly loved as a fan. Booker knows his dream pick will never do this, but would love to see the Junkyard Dog make an appearance. “If I could have Junkyard Dog come back from the grave and be part of the Royal Rumble that would be great,” Booker said.

Why someone from that generation of wrestling and not a contemporary from Booker’s era? There aren’t really any current wrestlers that Booker admired like the Junkyard Dog when he was growing up. “As far as current guys out there, I never looked at the business that way,” Booker explained. “Everybody I went against in my era was my foe, I was trying to beat them and I wasn’t looking at them as a Superstar.”

Booker T is a surprise entrant in the 2011 Royal Rumble in Boston. Photo by Bruno Silveira

This year’s Rumble PPV is a bit of an oddity because while everyone focuses on the Rumble match, the title matches typically are an afterthought (Brock Lesnar vs. Hardcore Holly, Kurt Angle vs. Mark Henry), this is a rare one where the WWE Title match (The Rock vs. CM Punk if you’ve been asleep for a while) could legitimately be placed in the Main Event spot without anyone complaining.

Like any good GM, Booker T explained why he believes giving The Rock a title match is good for the business, even though he’s only a part-time wrestler now. “Rock means revenue. Rock means ratings,” Booker simply stated. “The Rock isn’t just a great performer; he’s a great ambassador for the business. He’s one of the guys whose stepped out from the game and still maintained [his star power] and gotten bigger. He parlayed it and made us look good. I think it’s great that he’s returning and stepping right into the fire with CM Punk.”

Booker did want to warn The Rock about not assuming this match will be a cake walk. “He better be careful about what he wishes for because CM Punk really is no joke,” Booker said. “That’s a very dangerous person.”

The Smackdown GM believes that this title match will not only be good for the WWE in terms of revenue, but can also serve as a learning tool to the newer members of the WWE roster. “I hope those young guys in the locker room are taking notes and realizing what it is to be a true Superstar in the business,” Booker said. “They’ll learn a whole lot.”