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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Who is John Bradshaw Layfield"
November 8, 2006 by Kyle Haynie


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Hi, my name is Kyle. I have been a wrestling fan for 14 years and seen the highs and lows of sports entertainment. I own 23,000 hours of wrestling footage so I can honestly say I am obsessed. One of the great aspects of wrestling is seeing the growth of a wrestler. I would like to talk about one of the most controversial enigmas in wrestling history. That man is JBL.

John Charles Layfeild was born a Texas cowboy and in his younger years, played college and pro football, so he has athletic abilities. He started his wrestling career by training with Brad Rheingans in Southeast Texas. Starting in the GWF and won tag team gold with the late Bobby Duncam Jr., Layfeild also won the NWA North American title. Later signed with the WWF in 1995.

That was the birth of Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw - a rough and tough cowboy managed by Uncle Zebkiah a.k.a Dutch Mantell. At the peak of the gimmick, he was a jobber for Saturday Morning Superstars. After the "Hawk" gimmick went nowhere Bradshaw was teamed up with Barry Windam as the New Blackjacks, a remake of the 70's tag team the Blackjacks (which were Barry's father and Layfeilds uncle). The Blackjacks were used sparingly and had one major appearance at WrestleMania 13 in a four way elimination match. For some reason the tag team was dropped with no push. A rivalry was started between the two but after one week was dropped.

Then there was just Bradshaw, a mix of the two previous gimmicks. During this time Bradshaw was teamed up with Taka in a gimmick in which a "big brother was showing younger brother America". While under this role Bradshaw got his biggest victory yet with a clean win over Vader. A shoulder injury halted that push and Bradshaw disappeared.

When he returned in 1999 he and Faarooq had a Goth look and were Acolytes for a "Greater Power" which was the beginning of the Undertakers Ministry of Darkness. During this time the Acolytes won tag team gold, defeating X-Pac and Kane. When the Ministry was disintegrated the Acolytes were left gimmick less.

The Acolyte Protection Agency was born in 2000. The APA was so over with the fans; after all, what's not to love about bar brawlers getting paid to kick someone's ass" I mean the fought heels and face's and the fans loved that. Before the APA Bradshaw had virtually no mic time and was nothing but a big tough guy that did his talking in the ring. The APA was involved in almost every storyline on the show in some way or another. APA ran strong throughout 2002. WWE's Brand Extension had Farooq drafted to Smackdown! and Bradshaw to RAW.

On his own, Bradshaw went back to the Texas cowboy gimmick and started a singles push against the NWO. Bradshaw was in main events on RAW and wrestling big stars at the PPV's. His character was an honest no non-sense fight for what's right wrestler. He was also shown at military bases and charity events helping out and being a great caring citizen. Winning singles gold with the Hardcore and European Championships. The push ended again do to a torn left bicep.

In 2003 Bradshaw debuted on Smackdown with short blonde hair. He was a financial consultant for CNBC. The APA was reborn, never really reaching the status they once had. Then Farooq was fired by Paul Heyman due to a loss against Scotty and Rikisi. Then, JBL turned his back on Farooq, and JBL was born. The next weak this arrogant New York City cowboy came out talking about how great he was and above the average man. Which he portrayed himself as for so long" However now that he was talking more than he wrestled the life time mid carder was given the opportunity to be WWE Champion. He defeated the late great Eddie Guerrero at The Great American Bash in a "Bull Rope Match.". JBL then defended the title for 10 months. Even though every mark in the world wanted and expected the title to be taken from him way sooner, JBL didn't lose the title Wrestlemania 21. In that time, JBL became a self-proclaimed "Wrestling God". He hung around the WWE title scene for a while then had a few small programs with Mysterio, Boogyman and Lashley. At WrestleMania 22, JBL defeated Beniot for the U.S. Championship. Suffering from constant back injuries, JBL has called it quits for now and decided to join the Smackdown! announce team.

Since the JBL character I've read nothing positive about this man. He's a bully and loud mouth behind the scenes and is treated with special treatment from Mr. McMahon. But before the JBL character the only thing I ever heard behind the scenes was a fight with Steve Blackman at an airport. My question is who is the real John Bradshaw Layfeild" Is the JBL character so good that we believe that to be the real him" How is it possible that a perfect example of a feel-good story be looked at as a no good SOB" I mean think about it. Beniot, Guerrero, Mysterio and Foley were all stuck in mid card land but when they finally won the title: marks said they deserve it. JBL wins the title and people hate it. Well then JBL is what wrestling needs. In this day and age of sports entertainment everyone knows that people are playing a role on T.V. The great thing about John Charles Layfeild is no one knows where the character ends and where the man begins"

by Kyle Haynie ..


Brian White wrote:
Good article well thought out and written beautifully, But I really don't like JBL or his character and from what I read he is a real dick I wish he never got that championship push so he could stay with politics and get the f out of wrestling.
James Watts wrote:
"The great thing about John Charles Layfeild is no one knows where the character ends and where the man begins". That is not a great thing. That is a disastrous thing, because it shames the professional wrestling industry. Look at Scott Hall: that man is a disgrace to professional wrestling because of his lack of self-control. Eddie Guerrero (God rest his soul) is an example of a man who had problems with his demons but overcame them through sheer will and determination. Scott Hall has never even tried to oust his demons and was fired from WWE because of it (see the "Plane Trip From Hell" column for more info on that).

Even the wrestlers disliked Hall because he was a jackass outside the ring as well as in it. Scott Steiner is another example of a character that never ends, because he can be an arrogant SOB outside of the ring as well as in it. Take a look at the comments he made about Ric Flair during an interview he gave on the December 7th edition of Monday Nitro:

"When you appeared on WCW programming, the people at home, all they did was grab their remote, and change their channel to the WWF, and watch Stone Cold - a person you and your own friends got fired from here, 'cause you're a jealous old bastard."

Steiner went on to call Flair an "ass-kissing, butt-sucking bastard" and finished the tirade with the words "WCW sucks!". He was suspended for two weeks without pay for the incident. Very professional, Mr. Steiner.

Wrestlers who cannot control where their gimmicks end and they as human beings begin do not often last long in wrestling, and if Mr. Layfield really does live his gimmick all the time, then it is a miracle that Vince has allowed him to keep his job.
Al Fucsko wrote:
I am also a fan of the JBL persona that evolved from Mr. Layfield. His entertaining mic skills made him a superstar, and even his in ring work is far better that most would lead you to believe. I questioned the WWE putting their strap on a mid carder at first as well, but I was won over in time. The character had legs, and I expected JBL to turn face 1 year ago, as he lead a team of good guys into the RAW vs. Smackdown Survivor Series. It also looked like he would move to RAW around that time to freshen him up a bit as well. It would have been interesting to see how a face turn and a brand change would have went, but the back injuries had piled up by then and now we have JBl in a new role. His commentary has improved immensely over the past several months and was a great change from Tazz's "wh-wh-whoa, whoa!" commentary. JBL has transitioned into a good announcer and in time, he will be a great one. As always, if the fans give him time, JBL will impress!
Leigh Gabriel wrote:
Yeah, and weirdly enough, I agree with what you've said about JBL, this is his best character so far, at least he was getting a reaction, now I'll say, as a fan, I was always hoping for him to lose the belt, but when he did, it strangely didn't feel right having him without the belt, and now, and I think even the most biggest mark would agree that JBL needs to win some sort of commentator of the year award because he is so refreshing after Good Ole JR's incessant rambling and mistakes, and his comments towards the face and heels are hilarious, MVP has been a pain to watch, but Bradshaw's "Power Ranger" comments have made it at least bearable, and don't even get me started on comparing him to Tazz
Dan F. (from Kent, England) wrote:
That was a good article Kyle. As a fan I used to like Bradshaw when he was apart of the APA but that's about it. And I thought that he wrestled better as a member of the APA and when he was known as Bradshaw. But when he Turned into JBL he just turned into a complete and utter jerk. And to add to that I feel that his moves changed a lot as well. I think this because He almost always used shortarm clotheslines instead of the diving clothsline which is the Clothsline from Hell I know and Love.

But I don't know a lot about what he's like away from the ring. And I didn't know that he was stuck up and a bully behind the scenes. So thinking back I'm surprised by how he spoke about the late Eddie Guerrero during the raw tribute show shortly after his sad and unfortunate passing. So I think you've asked a very good question. Again a very good article which was well written
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