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WRESTLING COLUMNS

JBL: One Of The Greatest Heels Ever"
August 29, 2005 by Eric Schomburg


It's no secret that the "bad guy" has always seemed to be the more interesting of the two applicable attitudes. With professional wrestling, it's no different. In professional wrestling the bad guy is known as the "heel," while the good guy is known as the "face." Some wrestlers, like Triple H, have perfected a heel character. But, what can be labeled as one of the best heels in wrestling history" How about JBL"

Let's be honest, John Bradshaw Layfield hasn't always been the most popular of wrestlers since his run with the WWF/E. Before he was JBL he was Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw, a rough Texan that didn't get above opening card status. Then, he was one of the New Blackjack's with partner Barry Windham. He finally got a break and joined with Ron Simmons, better known as Farooq, to form The Acolytes, it was then that things started to look up for him as a professional wrestler; however, even though his character was supposed to be a rough and somewhat ignorant Texan that only drank beer and played cards, John Layfield is a very intelligent person. Just read his book, "Have more money, now."

Despite that fans loved the Acolytes, the WWE took a chance (after the "firing" of Ron Simmons) and turned Bradshaw into JBL. JBL is a tycoon that now claims to be from New York City, because that is where the stock market is and it fits well with his character. A lot of "smarks," which is jargon for smart fans, and marks for "real" wrestling and not gimmicks, were outraged that JBL would win the title from Eddie Guerrero. Not only did JBL win the title, but held the title close to a year, which was the longest run over the course of the last decade.

Like all great heels, JBL has catchphrases like, "I am the wrestling GOD," which has really angered a lot of fans, because JBL is known more for his gimmicks than his wrestling ability. However, while the fans may hate JBL, I think personally his gimmick is brilliant. A tycoon that calls himself the wrestling God just makes you want to hate this guy. How can he say he's a wrestling God when he has as much in-ring talent as Hulk Hogan" That's the beauty part of JBL, because he's not THE wrestling God, nor is he A wrestling God, but he is a heel and claiming that he is the wrestling God makes him a good heel. I mean, even Triple H hated it when JBL said he was the wrestling God. That is saying something.

JBL's character has some down sides, but they still work as a heel. For example, in Munich, Germany he mocked Germany by doing a Nazi salute and goose stepping around the ring. While it may not be politically correct, it stirred up the crowd and made it work for JBL. JBL likes to attack minorities such as illegal immigrants, but to show that JBL isn't a racist he balanced his character by having Orlando Jordan in his "Cabinet."

I know a lot of fans will not agree with me that JBL is one of the best heels that the WWE has had, but can you honestly say that you would rather have him as "Bradshaw" or "Blackjack Bradshaw"" Obviously not, because we didn't pay much attention when he was, but we're paying close attention to him as JBL. Even his so-called bullying backstage antics have only strengthen his character as being a top heel, not to mention that he can sell better as JBL than any of his past gimmicks. Just look at his mic skills. I have seen Bradshaw cut a promo and you can tell that he was rusty, but as JBL it's like he is very comfortable being that character.

You can love him, you can hate him, but you can't deny the fact that JBL is a greatest heels in the WWE.

by Eric Schomburg..


Louie The Man wrote:
Nice reading, but I don't agree. First off, greatest heel" No way! Why" I'll tell you why;

1. The man is not entertaining. He's just an irritating bully whom is just mean. Didn't you see what he did to the Blue Meanie"

2. And, as you said, he do not have any in-ring skills. He's boring to watch. The WWE is giving him to big of a push, so it's getting boring to see him getting new title shots week after week.

Who here can honestly say they haven't grown tired of Hulk Hogan going in week after week with his puny skills beating up good wrestlers like Shawn Michaels"

Well, let's not get of the subject.

As for the racist part, who knows" I mean, Orlando is working under JBL, i.e "slave". Dosn't that send you a message" (Plus the goose-step thing he did in Germany)

One of the greatest heels ever, as many people think, even if his run was short, was Muhammed Hassan. Now, that man had some SERIOUS beefs with the crowd. And his in-ring skills were not bad. Good, actually. Mic skills: EXCELLENT. I really miss him......... More heels" DX" Shouldn't that be enough.

Well, to conclude: JBL; Not a wrestling god, not a good wrestler, not the greatest heel ever.
Lawrence Watson wrote:
Sorry Eric, here we have to agree to disagree. You may love his gimmick, but all I can see is a much more rascist and BORING version of a much more talented performer, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. As far as I can see, he's a wrestler with little talent and a gimmick that was done better before.
Nicholas Johnson wrote:
First of all, Eric: You beat me to the punch! I was going to send an article in about John Bradshaw Layfield, but you beat me to it! Very well written, my friend.

I, too, am a HUGE fan of John Bradshaw Layfield! When he first came out with this gimmick-- complete with the makeshift western rodeo theme and cow mooing in the background-- I said right there: "Oh, I'm gonna enjoy this!" I must admit that I did not expect him to win the WWE Championship; I thought that they would have at least given him the U.S. Title, but he held on to the title and paraded around as though he were the late Ronald Regan. I especially liked when JBL offered to pay a young fan one thousand dollars to clean his limo in one minute. I enjoyed when JBL told the young man: "Whoops, you missed a spot; lemme help... uh-oh! Well, you still have nine seconds to clean my limo and win the money, Son!" That was truly classic-- I honestly didn't see that coming!

My best JBL promo would have to be on June 17, 2004-- the night that he stated his case. I remember JBL saying: "You can knock me down on my [expletive deleted] but I will be back... John Bradshaw Layfield is here... and if you don't like it, you can go straight to hell!" That was truly the most passionate and powerful promo that he ever performed.

I was at WrestleMania 21 in Los Angeles when he fought John Cena, and even though people looked at me crazy, I STILL cheered for JBL! Even when JBL suffered the F-U, I STILL supported JBL! And this is saying a whole lot; usually, I usually side with the faces, but in the past couple of years, I have grown to like the heels! But I digress!

All that I am saying is that I am with you, Brother! I fully support your claim that John Bradshaw Layfield is indeed one of the greatest heels ever. This man smells like smoke because he has been through fire! He has been broken-nosed and bloodied more times than he cares to count! He has sweat buckets and bled gallons, and not one time did he ever say the words "I Quit"... well, until Judgment Day 2005, but that's beside the point!

JBL said it best: "Just like the Israelites on the base of Mount Sinai making that golden calf, the WWE fans will realize that they are worshipping something false, because John Bradshaw Layfield is what he says he is-A WRESTLING... GOD!!!
Joizyboy23 wrote:
To say JBL is the best heel in the business today just shows how thin the WWE is right now. I mean c'mon in the late 80's or even late 90's would this guy even have mattered. Ted Dibiase was better in almost the same gimmick. He cuts horrible promos, has had two of the worst matches I've ever seen with Batista (although it would take a superb in-ring performer to carry old Daver) and has only been recognized because he's been shoved down the throats of viewers of WWE. While he's getting this huge push where's the push for guys that are infinitely more talented such as Christian" And you can't tell me that making Booker T out to be a whipped shell of his former self is the best they could come up with, the man is incredibly entertaining and much more worthy of a push then JBL. Do I think he's a decent heel, and even one of the best on Smackdown" Yes I agree with that statement but let's face it when your supposed to be the number 1 company in the business and that's your best heel on one of your shows then it just shows the sorry state that wrestling is currently in.
Matt Kopp wrote:
No. No. no. No. Jbl is not and will never be the greatest heel ever. He dosent know how topush a crowd's buttons like the great Ted DiBiase. Did JBL ever hire someone to win the WWE Belt for him, then give it to him" Did u ever see JBL make fake superstars to work for him" No, and you never will because JBL's character is going to come to an end very soon. It's obvious that his heel promos are becoming increasingly stale and after one year anmd 5 months of being giving main event shots, I predict that he is FINALLY going to be out of the spotlight when Brock Lesnar debuts in WWe and beats his redneck a$$ into the ground.
Shaun Brimson wrote:
Hey Eric, great article man, now I have always liked heels and JBL has pushed me even more, I mean I did like him when he was known as "Bradshaw" but he didn't get the push he deserved. JBL may not be able to cut promo's but hey or can the World Heavyweight Champion. JBL in my eyes and many others will b known as one of the greatest heel's of all time, this guy has great catch phrases, as heel's need, I defiantly am looking for him to kick the living hell out of the so called Animal, and retain what is rightfully his, but I must say I think the gimmick is coming to an end as he has lost his secretary of defense.

One last thing about someone else's response, Brock will not return his focused his life on money to much, if you enjoy something you do, you do it for the love not the money. Like JBL, he stayed in this business as a low card wrestler and look at him now.
Steve Slaughter wrote:
Hi my name is Steven nair. and all i can say is that.......... J.B.L IS A JOKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Christopher "MR FN BALLS" Gilmartin wrote:
Dude what are you on" JBL Can't even be brought into the top ten of heels in history! Hey a complete moron can go out and piss off a crowd. Fact is he never turned in the ring on Ron Simmons, (oh just you are fired well see ya) Kinda back doored it into the heel role. Hell I have told some of my best friends at my job that when they got fired, doesn't make me a heel. hey and while im beating on a dead horse why in the sam hell haven't we been treated to a Ron Simmons vs JBL grudge match for the Title" I mean Simmons was a NWA champ when JBL still thought he was going to be a football player. If there are any real wrestling fans reading this maybe they can remember a little tag team managed by Teddy Long called Doom that consisted of Butch Reed and Ron Simmons. So it must really get to you all also when Teddy Long was looking for a number one contender for the title when JBL had it. The MR FN BALLS top ten list is as follows 1)Ric Flair 2)Terry Funk 3) HHH (yes I think he is that damn good) 4)Kevin Sullivan 5) Rick Rude 6)Shawn Micheals 7)Micheal P.S. Hayes 8) Undertaker 9)Mr. Fuji (hey that guy could have made Hogan a great heel if he managed him and if Vince was open-minded) 10) Roddy Piper (come on how many people could have told Mr T how stupid he looked when we were all thinking it anyway) So when you say greatest ever it kinda makes me think you haven't watched it as much as I have (the better part of 20 years) so next time you go handing out "honorary titles" to the flavor of the day, month or year, It might help if you looked up some real heel work like the 10 above or possibly these guys that I haven't got around to numbering yet. Stu, Bret and Owen Hart, Dick Murdoch, Dick Slater, Dick The bruiser, J.J. Dillion, all of the Andersons, The Road Warriors with Precious Paul Ellering, I could go on but you probably don't even have a clue who these guys are and there is months of research that your gonna have to do now anyway just to give you some hint how much egg is on your "face" (LOL)
Eric Schomburg (original author) wrote:
Hey, guys, I'm glad for all of the responses both positive and negative.

I do appreciate the wholesome responses I have received even though the majority of the responses were against my article, but that's cool, it's your opinion just like JBL is ONE of the greatest heels in WWE history is my opinion.

I can see where JBL is a lot like the Million Dollar Man; the money, the suits, the constant reminder that he is the "greatest," having a "black" bodyguard (Virgil and Orlando). Yes, I will admit that Ted Dibase played the Million Dollar Man a lot better than JBL plays "JBL." The point I was coming across was JBL is a perfect heel, because he's the type of guy you want to see get his ass whipped. Of course JBL takes cheap shots at minorities, it works. Of course JBL can't wrestle, but it works, because he talks like he can wrestle.

Obviously, when people say he's untalented, overrated, and not one of the greatest heels ever, just proves that he is. It's a wrestling trick that heels have used for years. They shoot their mouths off of how great they are, then they can't pull it off, but somehow do.

Please don't conclude that I am saying that JBL is THE greatest heel, hardly. In my opinion the greatest heel in wrestling is Buddy Rogers. Buddy was the original nature boy who had the tanned body, the blonde hair, and everything Ric Flair isn't.

I guess that answers your question, FNBALLS. I do realize that there is better heels, it's obvious. In fact, you missed a lot of great heels. The only ones I'm not familiar with in your list is the Dick's. Obviously, you know more about Dick's than I do. Here's other heels that you missed.

Andre th e Giant (1987-1990) - When Andre was a heel he was a badass and he knew it. Despite that Hulk Hogan got the best of him, Andre was a monster in the ring. Just the sight of the guy makes you cringe, but just imagine if this guy had illful thoughts about you and wanted to choke you to death" That's scary. Not to mention that when Andre was a heel, he would have this crazy look on his face everytime he would laugh.

Raven (1995-1996) - Raven is one of my all time favorite heels ever. This guy had the potential to become the next Jake "The Snake" Roberts, but the WWF and WCW dropped the ball on how to use the character. Raven did anything and everything to shock people. I remember the first time I watched Raven he did his pose and I thought he was mocking Jesus, but it was actually a pose of a raven spreading its wings. Raven turning the Sandman's son against him was a classic. Raven's feud with Sandman, Terry Funk, and Tommy Dreamer, not to mention the feud with Diamond Dallas Page in WCW.

Taz (1995-1997) - Taz in ECW was a badass. This guy hated Sabu so much that he chocked out everyone and everything. I don't need to inform anyone who knows TAZ not tazz.

Dudley Boys (1995-Present) - The Dudleys were an awesome tag team that just pissed everyone off. They would tell you that you're nothing but a fag who likes to suck "dick." Dudleys breaking the neck of Beulah was a classic heel move and catipulted them to one of the greatest tag-team heels of all time.

Vince McMahon (Yes I said it) - Let's be honest, Vince McMahon is a kick ass heel. When he feuded with Stone Cold Steve Austin, it was classic. The number 1 face (SCSA) vs. the number 1 heel (VM) it was equivilent to Andre vs. Hogan in the 80's. Vince fired people, screwed over people, and did everything and anything possible to make the faces' lives a living hell.

Jake the Snake Roberts (1991-1992) - Jake the Snake Roberts was a classic heel in the early 90's. A guy who slapped Elizabeth, put a cobra on Randy Savage, and looked more like your average rapist/serial killer than a pro-wrestler. Jake Roberts just looked at you and you were shaking in your boots. Remember the statement he made, "Trust me." That was spooky.

Muhammed Hassan - how many wrestlers do you know can make the fans turn out to be the villians" I loved Hassan when he was wrestling. If it wasn't for Vince McMahon being an idiot and showing the "sacrifice" on SD, we would be seeing Hassan being world champion.

Buddy Rogers - Buddy Rogers was everything Ric Flair wishes he could be. Buddy Rogers, known as The Original Nature Boy, had a charisma that the likes of Shawn Michaels can pull off. He was good looking, but he was cocky. He worked the mic about how he was the greatest and how his opponent wasn't. Buddy Rogers was sharp when it came to reacting to the fans. Calling the fans names, telling them to shut up just made him more hated.

Yes, I am very familiar with wrestling history, and it's obvious that a lot of you missed my point in JBL. I am only saying that JBL is ONE of the greatest heels, not THE greatest heels. Why" Because he's all blow and no show. You watch Smackdown to see JBL get his ass whipped, or at least, that is why I watch Smackdown.
Andrew Giambrone wrote:
JBL is one of the best heels I've seen in my twenty years of watching wrestling.

It's not because of his in ring skills, his coordination or athletic ability. Because he is not a gifted athlete by any means. Nor he is even graceful or nice to look at like Batista.

To understand why JBL is the WWE's top heel today and one of the best of all time, we should analyze precisely what he does to make us hate him:

Begin with his entrance: He's driven in to the arena in a white limo with bullhorns attached to the front. He does not exit the vehicle until the driver walks all the way to the back to open the door for him. This precludes his entrance brilliantly, it says exactly what JBL's gimmick is all about: I am in the upper class, I am elite, wealthy and priviledged, the common man's job is to serve me by opening the door for me. The irony of the situation is that he is a wrestler, perfectly capable of opening the door himself, he consciously chooses to wait in the backseat like a child to emphasize his upper class status.

When he approaches the ring: He takes off his cowboy hat, a symbol of the rugged American individual, raises his arms and smiles. No one cheers. But it does not affect his smile or his entrance routine. He is impervious to their boos or silence. It's like he's living in some deranged reality where truth or what's right in front of his face means nothing. Earth to JBL, they don't like you, yet he smiles and walks slowly like a triumphant politician.

The irony and hyposcrisy of JBL's character are what make him one of the best heels ever. Ted DiBiase had no such hypocrisy embedded in his persona. When Teddy Long was just about to award JBL for winning the Smackdown title on June 30, JBL was on his knees praying for his gift like a child. This undercuts the elite wall street cowboy image he portrays. It shows him for what he really is--just an immature child, selfishly hoarding all his toys. That is what he must be because anyone who would spend his time looking down on the common person and proclaiming his greatness, obviously has an inner child inside that needs to be coddled.

The hypocrisy is evident even in his entrance: He smiles, but no one is cheering. He's happy, when he shouldn't be. he is a person unable to confront reality and that makes him a great heel.

I know these images are true and that they work on a subconcious level. I've been living and working in a foreign country now for almost a year, and for some reason they carry WWE faithfully on the local cable channels (still in English, although the cable company is trying to voice over the shows). In this small Asian country John Cena is known by all--he is more popular than in the US--where there are more entertainment options. All I have to do is mimic the "you can't see me" pose and every street kid will do it right back to me laughing, chanting "Cena Cena." That is probably all the English they know. The only rival to Cena's popularity is the uniform hatred for JBL, even though his pro-American posturing (this is a country that uses American currency and loves the U.S.A) would make him many friends here. They know that JBL cheats and that he thinks he's great, but he's not.

The gimmick is universal, the ego-maniac who, really deep-down is a pathetic individual.
Jay Roberts wrote:
In my mind there is no doubt that JBL is indeed one of the greatest heels ever, and I have to say that I respectfully disagree with a re-occurring sentiment that he doesn't know to push the right buttons with the crowd.

He came to a house show in Manchester, England in June called the Smackdown summer bash tour, and before long he had the whole crowd baying for his blood. He tried getting to us by saying "last night I was in a decent city by the name of Dublin, now I have to spend my time in this hell hole" there were a few boo's but no one really cared. Then he tried saying "you WILL show me the proper respect because I am an American...you know, the same country that saved your asses in WW2" again, no one was really bothered. But then..... He hit the issue that every man on earth cares about their local sports team, he looked menacingly around the 18,000 people in the arena and said "you people are so pathetic you had to get someone from another country to buy Manchester united, and now your all sore because a mean old American has come along and bought your little football team". I had never heard anything like the abuse he got for that one and I still haven't. CLASSIC!!!
Stephen wrote:
Now, I have to state that there was a period of about 5 years where I didn't watch wrestling of any sort. I just got back into it with the ECW: One Night Stand PPV. The only thing that kept me somewhat informed of WWE was "Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth". I knew when I got the game the roster wasn't an actual portrayal of the roster (at the time I got it), but I thought it'd give me enough to get by...

I know a lot of fans will not agree with me that JBL is one of the best heels that the WWE has had, but can you honestly say that you would rather have him as "Bradshaw" or "Blackjack Bradshaw""

I would LOVE to see the Black-Haired, Black-Beared Texan that sent wrestlers flying from a CLOTHESLINE FROM HELL!! My favorite wrestlers in Shut Your Mouth were Bradshaw & Faarooq (the APA as I later found out). From the little Entrance Videos that I saw for each, they were two tough guys coming in and beating the crap out of ya. I like that...there should be more wrestlers like that today...

So imagine my reaction when I started to watch Smackdown! right before Wresltemania...A friend informs me that JBL was actually Bradshaw...my heart sanked. I've had that one image of Bradshaw for years...and WWE turns him into this" A rich stock broker/financial analyst"! Yes, he's very good at it (was on CNBC/Fox News) and I like to see honesty with a wrestler (...somewhat), but carrying that ALL THE WAY OVER into the ring" It still sickens me when I see him.

Yes, I want my BRADSHAW back! Hell, he can keep the same sayings/mannerisms if he wants...and even if it's not a permanent change...for a short-time I just want to see the old Bradshaw back in the ring...
Luan Erasmus wrote:
Hell no! Bradshaw one of the best ever? I don't care which category you look at, he doesn't qualify. He was practically a nobody as Bradshaw and all of a sudden he jumps out of nowhere, becomes champion and keeps it for a couple of months and now he can call himself a wrestling god? Sure he had a long reign as champion but can anyone tell me how many of those matches were won fairly? And come on, he won the title from Eddie Guererro, Eddie was good and all but he was a bit out matched against the heavy weights. I prefer him as Bradshaw way above JBL, sure Bradshaw didn't get a lot of attention but at least I didn't want to change the channel every time he appeared. And please tell me whose bright idea was it to make him a commentator on Smackdown? It seems like he's got about 10 sentences written on a piece of paper and he just chooses a random one every couple of minutes to say out loud. His commentary is actually worse than his wrestling, hard as that is to believe. Wait a minute... I think I've found a category that he can actually win, the most annoying guy in all of sports entertainment (although is getting stiff competition from King Booker and Queen Sharmell). It doesn't even help to bring him back as Bradshaw because that's just been ruined all together, please just get rid of him!

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