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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Rise & Fall Of JBL
April 3, 2006 by Tony K.


Let me tell everyone that I am only 13 years old, and this is my first attempt at writing a column, so feedback would be appreciated. Thank you.

John Bradshaw has fallen a lot over the past year. Last year at WrestleMania, he was defending the WWE Championship after almost 300 days as champion. Now, he's fighting for the U.S championship and has faced people like Lashley, Matt Hardy, and the Boogeyman at PPVs. I never liked the JBL character, and hated him being champ. But, if you're fighting for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 21, the least you can be doing at WrestleMania 22 is somewhere in the title hunt. And he hasn't been mentioned in the title hunt since The Great American Bash. Now, I think that is wrong. But before we talk about his downfall, let's talk about how he got to the top in the first place.

John Charles Layfield was born on November 29, 1967 in Sweetwater, Texas and later moved to Houston, Texas, then moved to New York City. While attending Abilene Christian College, John had a football career in mind. He succeeded, having gained interest from the NFL's Los Angeles Raider and playing as an offensive tackle of the San Antonio Riders of the World League of American Football. But after 1992, injuries had curtailed his pro football career and focused on pro wrestling.

After being trained by Brad Rheingans, John made his debut on September 23, 1992, and spent much of the early months of his career in the Texas-based CWF and GWF. For most of 1992 and 1993, Layfield would remain in Texas-based organizations like the GWF and the USWF, winning several tag team belts. In 1994, he toured Germany with Otto Wanz's CWA promotion. For a few years, he split time between the United States and Germany before signing with the WWFe in 1995.

Known as Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw, he played up his Texas heritage and had Dutch Mantel as his manager. He had a stint as part of the New Blackjacks, and then with Farooq (Ron Simmons) he formed the Acolytes. He joined the Ministry of Darkness, but after the Ministry disbanded, they stayed together and won their first tag team belts. By the end of January 200, they became the APA. They were transformed into ass-kicking, beer guzzling good ol' boys. On July 9th, they won yet again. Not content to be known as a tag team wrestler, he won the European gold in 2001. The APA then broke up in the brand split, and Bradshaw had many hardcore title reigns. Bradshaw then had an arm injury (torn bicep muscle in left arm) then re-united the APA. Ron Simmons was then fired, and this marked the beginning of the JBL rich tycoon era.

This is where JBL began atop the WWE. In two bloody matches at Judgement Day and the Great American Bash, he won both. At Judgement Day he won via disqualification, and did not win the title. But, at The Great American Bash, he won a Texas-bullrope match to win the title. He went on a title streak that lasted almost 300 days, the longest in 10 years, and beat the likes of Big Show, Undertaker, Kurt Angle, Booker T, and of course, Eddie Guerrero. He was on top of the world, but, at WrestleMania, in a move I believe WWE should regret, they handed the belt to a still relative newcomer by the name of John Cena, instead of having it stay with a person who had worked a long time for it. They fought one more time, though JBL had to win a tournament to get the title shot. They had an I Quit match settle the score. John Cena won that very bloody match.

JBL then had a few matches with then-World Heavyweight Champ, Batista. JBL lost every match with him, including a bullrope match on the first edition of Friday Night Smackdown. Ever since then, he has faced Lashley, Matt Hardy, and even the Boogeyman at PPV's, three men nowhere near the WWE title (though Lashley has a good chance in the future). Now, I still don't think it is right. As I said, I never liked the JBL character, I liked him way better as the rough nosed, beer guzzling, ass-kicking Texan. However, I think due to the long title reign and WrestleMania main event he was in, JBL has taken a long ride downhill, and it will be hard for him to recover.

by Tony K...


Jacob L. wrote:
I understand the argument in your article, but I'm not entirely sure you understand the purpose of JBL's "de-push." The majority of fans HATED JBL as champ, and not in a good way. Most felt he did nothing to deserve his title run, and he really didn't. JBL was not really established as a credible contender, and he should probably should not have been booked to go over Guerrero, but I believe Eddie was going through some problems with the stress invovled with being champion. JBL's matches as champion were very lackluster, and he had very few convincing victories. The difference between him and other heel champions in the past is that others are able to hold their own, and win without cheating, at least occasionally. Once Bradshaw lost the belt, and was dropped from the title scene (with the exception of the Boogeyman program--is anything going to look good with this guy"), his product improved exponentially. People began to be interested in his promos AND his in-ring stuff. The "wrestling God" stuff was priceless, and I believe the feud with Benoit now is exactly what he needs. I think it would be wise to keep him out of the World Championship picture for a little while longer, at least, to keep him fresh for another (likely inevitable) title run. Overall, I enjoyed your column, but I do not agree he has risen and fallen. I believe he is just starting to rise.
Dan King wrote:
First of all, if this is your first article and you are 13 I would say this is beyond your years in quality. Good job.

I completly agree with you that JBL's star has fallen since last year's Wrestlemania, but I do not think it is a bad thing. When JBL won the WWE title, in my opinion, he did not deserve it. But over the course of his title reign he did raise his stock value and become decent and credible heel champion. Going into last year's WrestleMania it was expected for JBL to put over Cena and to continue the feud afterwards. When Batista came over JBL was the number one contender for the title again but came up short. This is where you would say JBL's star fell and where I would say JBL returned to a more comfortable place for him. JBL has never really been a top tier talent even though he does posses great mic skills and decent wrestling ability. When JBL is paired with the right person (Rey or Benoit) he can put on a good match but he can also wrestle poorly when paired with the wrong person (Booker T, Boogeyman or Cena).

I believe it was critical for JBL to take a back seat for a while. JBL was in the SD main event from Judgement Day 2004 to Summer Slam 2005. I know I was tired of JBL before he lost the title and I was annoyed at the length of time he was allowed to pursue the title afterwards. I think JBL feuding with Rey and Matt Hardy was a great way to build up his status after suffering several high level losses. JBL's feud with the Boogeyman was designed to help put over the Boogeyman. I think JBL's feud with Lashley will be re-ignited now that JBL is the US champ, a title much more fitting to his capabilites and status.

Now I think I need to remind you that HHH lost the title at the same time JBL did. HHH last title shot was at Vengenance (If i remember correctly) before his WM title match, while JBL's last title shot was in September. HHH's feuds (Flair and Big Show) inbetween title shots were designed to re-establish HHH as title contender (not that he was never thought of as one) and to give people a break from the HHH dominated title picture (HHH main evented PPVs from Unforgiven 2002 to Vengenance 2005). I know I personally have enjoyed seeing HHH chase the title for the past year alot more that the time he was champ.

So like HHH has re-entered the championship race I suspect JBL will again chase after the World championship sooner or later. As of right now it seems it will be later but with Orton's recent suspension JBL is the top heel legitimate title contender (Mark Henry doesn't count).
John Cruickshank wrote:
I agree with you completely on this article. Whilst not many people like JBL, I still think he deserves a lot more respect.

Unfortunately, I don't think JBL is going to win the title again. Because when you look at him on SmackDown!, you'll see that he is clearly out of shape. He doesn't have that athletic body he once had when he won the title back in 2004. He also seems to be a lot slower in the ring as well. I have no idea what happened to him. Did he just let go of his training" I'm sure if JBL ever writes an autobiography we will know the answer.
Dragomatt wrote:
I Agree with the JBL article about him going "downhill" from the title contention but i feel that he may be getting ready to make the jump to Raw. I think that since John Cena is getting Booed and Triple H is expecting a kid, JBL will go to Smackdown as soon as HHH takes his leave of absence to help Steph take care of the newborn. This opens up a vacant spot for a title contender and EDGE is not the one to do it. Ratings went down Poorly when EDGE was the champ dont let him fool you and i dont feel that EDGE should have even been in the hunt or been money in the bank for the WWE title. getting back to JBL, when HHH leaves to take care of the baby, JBL will make his jump and start an uproar with John Cena which will spark a rivalry with the 2. then he will go to the PPV of whatever month and finally John Cena will be dethroned of the WWE title and it will be another Reign for JBL. I think that Triple H might retire after his son/daughter is born and Raw will scramble desperately for a quality superstar to challenge for the title(JBL) i mean think about it, why else wouldnt JBL be the champ" i mean he and Batista would make a great rivalry but Batista is hurt and if they made JBL challenge now it would be no contest between him and rey. Also the WWE needs to stop being Charity cases to John Cena and Rey Mysterio. John Cena has been the champ way too long and Wrestlemania was supposed to be HHH's night to be the 11 time world champ. Randy Orton's night was also supposed to be at Wrestlemania, How do you put Rey Mysterio ahead of Randy Orton who hasnt held the title since summerslam and you give a person who is more suited for the curiserweight title an automatic win""!!! no the WWE is in denial and they need to make alot of changes before they lose to a more interesting show (TNA)
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