WWE Backstage presents the next 2020 HOF Inductee!
A hard road to the top but when the WWE needed a top bad guy, he answered the call. JOHN BRADSHAW LAYFIELD is entering the Hall of Fame! He debuted for the WWF as Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw, then eventually became a world tag team champion as just “Bradshaw,” alongside Ron “Farooq” Simmons in the Acolytes. They then shifted the team name to the Acolytes Protection Agency, or APA.
In 2003, JBL published “Have More Money Now,” a book on financial management. The book’s success brought JBL to major channels like Fox News and Fox Business Network. In the ring, JBL’s financial success was parlayed into perhaps one of the most successful Heel runs of all time as “JBL” became the wealthy and arrogant Heel we all know and love to hate. He would become WWE Champion and hold it for 280 days, “the longest reigning champion in SmackDown Television history!” JBL would become a Grand Slam Champion and claim many times he was a “Wrestling God.”
But even after retiring from in-ring competition, JBL would continue on as a hit color commentator and Network special host. And now, to add to that list of accolades, JBL is going into the HOF.
JBL is also Backstage!
John Bradshaw Layfield struts and shows off the Texas two-step. He’s still got it! JBL goes over the top rope and shakes hands with the panel before sitting down. Henry notes we now have a King, a queen, and a Wrestling God. This is a triple Texas panel right here. There is a lot of history between the three here. Renee asks how that HOF call went. JBL says it was a private matter between him and Mr. Vince McMahon who have become good friends. But it is definitely a dream come true. JBL remembers watching wrestling growing up, and he watched the Von Erichs. The life JBL has led, reality is greater than the dreams!
Renee says it is so great for JBL to be in the HOF, but what is the moment JBL feels defines JBL? For his career, that would have to be the feud of JBL VS Eddie Guerrero. For his life, that would have to be meeting Ron Simmons and become friends with him. Best man at JBL’s wedding and Ron gave a great toast, “Til death do us part.” Teaming with Farooq was a great time, but so was having that rivalry with the late, great Eddie. The Staples Center, the bull-rope match, the world title, the JBL character was fading and everyone was wondering what to do. But Eddie had the idea that, while back home in El Paso to honor the passing of father Gory Guerrero, for JBL to cause Eddie’s mother to have a heart attack.
The crowd was so quiet, state troopers had to keep JBL safe because of angry fans, and when people saw it on TV, that heat was off the charts. They sold out the Staples Center, and Eddie kept feeding JBL lines to turn up the heat! He was the one that told JBL to say, “My ancestors came to America on a boat, not an inner tube!” JBL said Eddie was going to get him killed, but Eddie said it would be fine. That heat was unreal! All thanks to Eddie Guerrero. If it wasn’t for Eddie, JBL would not be in the Hall of Fame.
Henry notes that JBL was “unapologetically a Heel.” JBL says it’s even worse online. But does he ever regret not showing the fans some love? “Absolutely not.” Because when people go to Broadway, people don’t want to know “The Phantom of the Opera is actually a waiter at Del Frisco.” They want to believe that the villain is that awful. JBL wouldn’t allow WWE to sell merchandise because he didn’t want fans cheering for him. If a Heel has a fan section, they have failed. When a Heel gets over like a Face, that’s actually a Heel failing at being a Heel. JBL remembers Curt Hennig VS Hillbilly Jim, a fan shouts, “Hillbilly, you suck! Curt Hennig, you’re the best!” Mr. Perfect’s response was in fact perfect: He spits his gum out and flicks it at said fan. The fan then shouted, “Curt, you suck!”
“The art of being a Heel is being something that is unredeemable, because if there’s not a bad guy, then there’s not a good guy.” The worse bad guy you can be, the better you make the good guy look. Renee says there’s actually a message from one of JBL’s other great rivals.
“Hey, John, it’s John.” Cena that is. Remember the young whippersnapper he put over for the strap? Cena thanks JBL for everything he has ever done for Cena. Cena has great respect for all those who did, and there is no Cena without JBL. It is so great that JBL is in the HOF, and maybe they can relive those memories together. Cena is so very thankful, and JBL has absolutely earned this moment. JBL hearing that from Cena, he remembers Vader on his way out. Vader told JBL that he asked for JBL as his last PPV opponent. Vader wanted JBL to get that rub by beating “the old Vader.” That was the most respectful thing someone in this business can do for another, and so JBL passed that on by doing that for Cena.
JBL says that when Cena first showed up, he fit in right away because he’s a good guy. No one can actually say anything bad about Cena. Haters hate but Cena’s a great guy. Cena deserved to beat someone, and that is why he and JBL had such an amazing match. JBL won’t take any credit for the rest of what Cena did, but Booker and Henry joke about taking credit for their parts. But we all know that there’s a huge difference in an 8 minute match and a 25 minute one. The psychology alone needs to be different, it needs to be an emotional roller coaster. JBL was one of the first opponents Cena did that with. No one could’ve guessed Cena would get to where he is now, but JBL still knew Cena was going to carry the WWE forward.
Renee notes JBL being one of the best bad guys ever, but he is also a good guy in real life. JBL’s charity work for at-risk children has been a great passion for the last decade or so. He works with Memphis City Rugby as well as Washington DC Youth Rugby. 100% graduation rate in a city with 50% drop-out rates. These kids are going to trade schools, college or the military. JBL goes around the world to help kids who didn’t get the same opportunities as others just because of the randomness of life. JBL puts it on Twitter not as self-promotion but to get the message out there. Once again, a congratulations to a classic villain and a real-life hero.