John Bradshaw Layfield recently spoke about the genesis of the JBL character, his Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw gimmick, the APA skits and more. Check out the highlights:
On the genesis of the JBL character: "Shane McMahon saw me walking to Madison Square Garden one time in a suit, cowboy hat and boots. He said ‘That's the character.' He liked the look. It took a year or two after that. I mentioned something about doing this character. I thought in my mind about the character J.R. Ewing from the TV show "Dallas." That was my idea. Vince McMahon will tell you it has nothing to do with J.R. Ewing. In his mind it was a blow up of my life, an embellishment of some of the things I was doing. For many years they didn't really want me to be a bad guy, because I was doing so much with the troops. But a lot of things happened at once. Big Show got hurt, Brock Lesnar had left the company, Undertaker was out, Kurt Angle was hurt, and they needed somebody to wrestle Eddie Guerrero, and so they said ‘Hey, let's create this character of JBL.' That's when the thing started."
On Vince's opinion of the character: "Vince McMahon always thought (the character) could be a World Champion, but other than one or two people, nobody thought it could be. I didn't know. I had no idea if it could be or not. We had it as a scheduled main event against Eddie and after about two weeks it was falling horribly flat. I really wondered if it was going to work. They needed me for that main event in Los Angeles where the Pay Per View was. We had about six weeks lead up time, which was good. They were going to push at least that Pay Per View. Thank goodness it was Eddie Guerrero."
On his feud with Eddie Guerrero: "Eddie was just fantastic. If it had been anyone else it may have been a one-shot deal. Eddie took a lot of interest in helping me with that character, and the match worked. That's why the character got extended and ended up becoming a main event character for quite a while. But it was never a sure thing. Fortunately I had the right guy to wrestle, and I had the right circumstance happen around it."
On the Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw gimmick: "I thought it was great! But it didn't work. I was friends with Stan Hansen, and when I came in they told me ‘wrestle like Stan Hansen'. I knew that style well. I wrestled with Stan in Japan, I was a big fan of his. I pretty much had that style anyway. After three months the character was going nowhere and they said, ‘John, what are you doing? If we want Stan Hansen, we'll bring in Stan Hansen.' I said ‘OK, how do you want me to wrestle?' They said ‘Wrestle like Barry Windham.' Three months later they bring in Barry Windham! I learned a lot from Barry. I learned a lot about wrestling, about how to carry yourself, a lot of different things I learned from Barry. That really helped me."
On the backstage APA skits: "Those things were so loosely scripted. They would literally give us kind of an idea and roll the cameras. It was so much fun. Ron was so great to play off of. He has such a great presence. That thing worked phenomenally. Vince came up to me one day and said ‘I want to put that on tape'. I said, ‘What?' and he said, ‘You and Ron, drinking beer and telling stories.' That day they created the APA office. They were building it, and Ron walked in and saw just the door and said ‘Leave it like that.' They said, ‘What do you mean? There are no walls.' He said, ‘that's perfect.' It was just stupid. I love doing fun stuff like that. It was so silly. It was a lot of fun."
On tension between WCW and WWF workers during the Invasion: "Any time you have two separate entities merge together, there is going to be, inherently, some personality conflict. It's been a long time since I thought about it, but I don't remember too many problems with guys coming in. A lot of it was storyline, and a lot of it was perpetuated backstage. Rumors were allowed to grow, because we wanted it to seem like it was really happening. I never had a problem with any of those guys. People were trying to make everything look like a shoot. Some rumors got out – ‘Hey, these guys really hate each other' – but that really wasn't the case."