October 6, 2004
John Bradshaw Layfield

Bradshaw of the APA

Real name: John Layfield
6'6", 290 lbs.
From: Sweetwater, TX
Aka: John Hawk, Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw, Blackjack Bradshaw, Bradshaw, JBL

While attending Abilene Christian College, John Layfield had a football career in mind. To a degree, he succeeded in that regard, having gained interest from the NFL's Los Angeles Raiders and playing as an offensive tackle of the San Antonio Riders of the World League of American Football. However, by 1992, injuries had curtailed his pro football career and Layfield turned his attention to pro wrestling.

After being trained by Brad Rheingans, Layfield made his debut on September 23rd, 1992 and spent much of the early months of his career in the Texas-based CWF and GWF. Wrestling as John Hawk, Layfield formed a tagteam with the late Bobby Duncum, Jr. known as the Texas Mustangs that defeated Black Bart and Johnny Mantel on November 27th to begin a reign as the GWF Tagteam champions that lasted an entire year before they were dethroned by the Bad Breed (Ian and Axl Rotten).

For most of 1992 and 1993, Layfield would remain in Texas-based organizations like the GWF and the USWF, winning several more tagteam titles. However, in 1994, he toured Germany with Otto Wanz's CWA promotion. For the next couple of years, he split time between Germany and the U.S. before signing with the WWE in 1995.

Known as Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw, Layfield played up his Texas heritage and had Uncle Cletus (Dutch Mantel) as his manager. In 1996, Layfield's ring name was changed slightly as he became Justin Hawk Bradshaw and then later, Blackjack Bradshaw as he would team with Barry Windham to become one-half of the New Blackjacks.

The New Blackjacks came and went as a tagteam and Windham left the WWE. By 1999, Layfield's character was going nowhere. However, teaming with Farooq (Ron Simmons) changed all that. Farooq and Bradshaw became members of the Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness and they became known as the Acolytes. Even after the Ministry disbanded, the Acolytes remained.

On May 25th, 1999, Bradshaw and Farooq would unseat Kane and X-Pac to win their first WWE Tag Team Championships. Although the Acolytes would drop the belts to the Hardy Boyz in June, at Fully Loaded '99 in July, the Acolytes defeated the Hardy Boys and Michael Hayes in a handicap match to regain the titles.

At the end of January, 2000, the Acolytes opened up the Acolytes Protection Agency, which was then shorted to just A.P.A. Meanwhile, the characters that Bradshaw and Farooq portrayed were miles away from their Ministry of Darkness characters. They were transformed into beer-guzzling, ass-kicking good old boys.

On July 9th, the A.P.A. once again tasted tag team gold, as they defeated the Dudley Boyz in Atlanta, Ga. Not only were the A.P.A. portrayed as fiercely patriotic Americans, but they were also loyal to the WWE, as they tried to weed out any infiltrators from the ECW and WCW Alliance and taking on the best that this Alliance had to offer.

Not content to simply be known as a tag team competitor, Bradshaw would also win singles gold, as he defeated the Hurricane to become European Champion on October 22nd, 2001.

As the brand split occurred, the APA would have to close up shop as Bradshaw was drafted to Raw by Ric Flair and Ron Simmons was drafted to Smackdown. As a Raw competitor, Bradshaw had to wage war against the N.W.O.

In June 2002, Bradshaw defeated Stevie Richards to win the Hardcore title. This was the first of seventeen such reigns that would occur between June and August 2002.

However, in September 2002, Bradshaw teamed with Kane in a tag match against Lance Storm and Christian. During that match, Bradshaw suffered an arm injury that left him sidelined while he underwent surgery to repair a torn bicep muscle in his left arm. When he returned from surgery, Bradshaw was reunited with his APA partner, Ron Simmons, first in Ohio Valley Wrestling and then on Smackdown.

The reunion of the APA would last until late 2003 when Simmons was fired from the WWE. Afterwards, Bradshaw would stun many by turning his back on his former partner and develop a new gimmick, that of a rich, ruthless tycoon known as JBL, that was not unlike Ted Dibiase's character from the late 1980s.

The new gimmick wasn't a total surprise, as Layfield had been known for many years for his financial acumen, going so far as to publish a memoir/financial guide in 2003 entitled Make More Money Now and becoming a financial analyst for MSNBC.

The heel turn and new gimmick quickly paid dividends as JBL was entered into a program with then-WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero. However, JBL's new push was almost halted before it began. During a live event in Germany in June 2004, JBL attempted to get heat with the local crowd by mimicking the Nazi goose-step and salute, an act which is illegal in Germany.

Although fired from his position at MSNBC, JBL continued getting a main event push. At the Great American Bash, JBL defeated Eddie Guerrero in a Texas Bullrope match to become the WWE Champion. Currently, however, JBL has his hands full, even with his new aide, Orlando Jordan, fending off a challenge from WWE legend, the Undertaker.

JBL managed to get by the Undertaker at SummerSlam and at No Mercy in a "Last Ride" bout, thanks to the intereference of Heidenreich. After a mini-feud with Hardcore Holly, Layfield was shocked when Booker T turned on him during a tag team match on Smackdown. Much like he did with the Undertaker, Bradshaw got by Booker T, both at the Survivor Series and, in a Fatal Fourway match that also included the Undertaker and Eddie Guerrero, at Armageddon.

As events moved toward at Triple Threat match at the Royal Rumble, JBL moved to set his two opponents: Kurt Angle and the Big Show against each other. Layfield won the match at the Royal Rumble by pinning Angle but his celebration was short-lived when it was announced that he would have to face the man he didn't pin, the Big Show, in a barbed wire cage match at No Way Out.

It seemed as though the Big Show would exit the cage after chokeslamming Layfield through the ring, but a bloodied JBL managed to crawl out from under the ring to retain the title. With his title intact, Bradshaw's cabinet (Jordan and the Basham Brothers) held a party for JBL to celebrate his being the longest reigning WWE champion in ten years. The celebration was short-lived as the Big Show played party-crasher and when Bradshaw and his cabinet began to beat down the Big Show, John Cena rushed to the ring to the rescue.

Cena, named the number one contender by winning a tournament final at No Way Out, would be the next challenger to face JBL, this time at Wrestlemania XXI. After one of the longest title reigns in recent memory, JBL's run as champion finally came to an end as Cena defeated him.

JBL would get another chance to face Cena, although he had to win a tournament involving some of the top names in the WWE, including Booker T, Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle and others to do so. He would get his rematch, but lost a bloody "I Quit" match to Cena at Judgment Day.

JBL became the subject of some controversy, once again, with his stiff shot at the Blue Meanie during the ECW/Anti-ECW brawl at One Night Stand. Meanwhile, back on Smackdown, with the departure of Cena to Raw, JBL looked as if he might have made it back to the top of the mountain, having won a six man match that was to have named the new Smackdown Champion.

Imagine JBL's suprise, when he found out that Batista had been drafted to Smackdown and had brought the World Championship belt with him. Instead of becoming champion, JBL was simply the number one contender to Batista's title. JBL assumed that another World title reign was only a match away, going so far as to throw himself a victory party BEFORE his match against Batista at the Great American Bash". Batista defeated JBL at the Bash, SummerSlam and even in a bullrope match on Smackdown in September.After a loss to Rey Mysterio, a distraught JBL hired Jillian Hall as his "fixer".

Following an appearance on Raw's Homecoming episode, JBL began popping up on Raw as part of Smackdown's invasion but was not voted in as part of the Raw vs. Smackdown match at Taboo Tuesday. Bradshaw re-entered the Raw vs. Smackdown battle at the Survivor Series.

With that angle winding down, JBL remained in Smackdown's main event mix, battling Matt Hardy at Armaggedon, the Boogeyman at the Royal Rumble and Lashley at No Way Out.

After recovering from a hand injury, JBL defeated Chris Benoit for the United States Championship at Wrestlemania 22. But the U.S. title wasn’t enough for JBL, who began sending massive contenders like Mark Henry and the Great Khali after Rey Mysterio, hoping to soften him up.

The plan failed horribly. Not only did Mysterio retain at Judgment Day but on the next edition of Smackdown JBL lost the U.S. title to Lashley and then lost to Mysterio, after JBL promised to retire if he didn’t win the title.

Retired from the ring, JBL took over the colour commentary spot on Smackdown.

JBL spent the next year-and-a-half injecting SmackDown with his sharp wit while still occasionally climbing into the ring to criticize the babyfaces, which inevitably led to him suffering their finishing moves.


He also faced battles outside the ring, with his working name “JBL” becoming a contentious issue. In July 2007, news reports emerged that Harman International, an entertainment technology company, and WWE were in a trademark dispute over the JBL name. WWE wanted to trademark the name and Harman objected, citing JBL stands for its brand founder James Bullough Lansing and is its trademarked electronics brand name.

In the meantime, JBL’s company Layfield Energy produced a virility energy drink (JBL said the Dominicans called it “liquid Viagra”) called MamaJuana Energy.

The lure of the ring still remained, and with his body having recovered from various injuries, JBL would return as an active wrestler in December 2007. He started a feud with the recently returned Chris Jericho and began the program by interfering in Jericho’s title shot against WWE Champion Randy Orton at Armageddon. He interfered again in a return match on RAW in Iraq before facing Jericho in a handicap contest a couple weeks later. The match that pitted Jericho against JBL and Gene Snitsky ended in a no contest when JBL hit Jericho with the ring bell. JBL continued his attack, choking Jericho out with electrical cables, which led up to their bout at Royal Rumble.

There, JBL defeated Jericho by disqualification after Jericho gained a measure of revenge by smashing a steel chair over JBL’s head before choking him with cables. The two then exchanged wins in tag matches on RAW But Jericho would have the last laugh, first defeating JBL by pinfall on TV and then eliminating him from an Elimination Chamber match at No Way Out.

At the following RAW, JBL inserted himself into the Vince McMahon-Hornswoggle-Finlay angle. During McMahon’s steel cage match with Hornswoggle, JBL entered the fray to handcuff Finlay to the ropes and squash Hornswoggle.

JBL STORIES

  • June 15, 2012: Ain't no mountain high enough for JBL
  • Nov. 30, 2011: JBL talks Lou Thesz Award, future in WWE ... and rugby!
  • Nov. 8, 2008: JBL: My character is here to stay
  • Feb. 16, 2008: Burst of Energy for WWE's JBL
  • Nov. 21, 2005: JBL talks candidly about the passing of Eddie Guerrero
  • Nov. 20, 2005: 'Way too many guys have died': JBL
  • Nov. 19, 2005: Wrestling world mourns Guerrero
  • Aug. 10, 2005: Hogan, Batista get cheers at SummerSlam confab

    -- compiled by John Milner and Richard Kamchen


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