John Layfield in 2014
|Birth name||John Charles Layfield|
November 29, 1966 |
|Alma mater||Abilene Christian University|
|Spouse(s)||Cindy Womack (m. 1994; div. 2003)
Meredith Whitney (m. 2005)
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Bad Santa
John "Bradshaw" Layfield
|Billed height||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)|
|Billed weight||292 lb (132 kg)|
|Billed from||Sweetwater, Texas as Bradshaw
New York City as John Layfield
Roscoe, Texas as Justin Bradshaw/Blackjack Bradshaw
|Trained by||Black Bart
John Charles Layfield (born November 29, 1966), better known by the ring name John "Bradshaw" Layfield (abbreviated JBL), is an American color commentator and retired professional wrestler and formerly part of the broadcast team on SmackDown and pay-per-view events. He also is a regular panelist on the Saturday morning Fox News show Bulls & Bears.
Outside of his WWE work, Layfield is a financial analyst for Fox News. Within WWE, he was previously known by the ring name Bradshaw, and prior to that, the variations Justin Bradshaw and Blackjack Bradshaw (as half of The New Blackjacks with Blackjack Windham). As JBL, Layfield was WWE Champion for 281 days from 2004–2005 after controversially defeating Eddie Guerrero for the title. Layfield's main gimmick as JBL – a wealthy, big-mouthed, fiery-tempered businessman – was based on Layfield's real-life accomplishments as a stock market investor. Layfield is a guest panelist on Fox News Channel's The Cost of Freedom, has appeared on CNBC, and has written a book on financial planning called Have More Money Now. He hosts a weekend talk radio program, syndicated nationally by Talk Radio Network, in which he discusses his conservative political views. Layfield is also employed by Northeast Securities as its Senior Vice President.
Layfield won 24 total championships including one reign as WWE Champion, one reign as United States Champion, one reign as European Champion, 17 reigns as Hardcore Champion, one reign as Intercontinental Champion, and three reigns as WWF Tag Team Champion with Faarooq as part of the Acolytes Protection Agency (APA). He is also recognized by WWE as the 20th Triple Crown Champion and the 10th Grand Slam Champion. During his career Layfield was accused of perpetrating various pranks or hazing upon other WWE employees. After his retirement, Layfield later became an on-air commentator for WWE programming.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Professional wrestling career
- 2.1 Global Wrestling Federation (1992–1994)
- 2.2 International circuit (1993–1995)
- 2.3 National Wrestling Alliance (1994–1995)
- 2.4 World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment
- 2.4.1 Early years (1995–1997)
- 2.4.2 The New Blackjacks (1997–1998)
- 2.4.3 Acolytes Protection Agency (1998–2002)
- 2.4.4 Singles competition (2002–2003)
- 2.4.5 APA reunion (2003–2004)
- 2.4.6 WWE Champion (2004–2005)
- 2.4.7 United States Champion (2005–2006)
- 2.4.8 Part-time wrestler and commentator (2006–2007)
- 2.4.9 Grand Slam and retirement (2007–2009)
- 2.5 Return to WWE
- 3 Mixed martial arts involvement
- 4 Business career
- 5 Cable news
- 6 Other media
- 7 Personal life
- 8 In wrestling
- 9 Championships and accomplishments
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Layfield was born on November 29, 1966, in Sweetwater, Texas. He trained under Black Bart and Brad Rheingans.
Prior to his professional wrestling career, Layfield was a collegiate American football coach for Trinity Valley Community College and player for Abilene Christian University. At Abilene, Layfield was a two-year starter on the offensive line and was named first-team All-Lone Star Conference as a junior and senior. Layfield signed with the Los Angeles Raiders as an undrafted free agent, but was released before the 1990 season began. Layfield did play in the World League of American Football, starting all ten games of the 1991 season at right tackle for the San Antonio Riders, wearing jersey number 61. Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was the quarterback of that team.
Professional wrestling career
Global Wrestling Federation (1992–1994)
Layfield was trained initially by Brad Rheingans and first started wrestling in the Global Wrestling Federation (GWF) in Texas. His first gimmick was as John Hawk, storyline cousin of the Windham brothers. He formed the tag team "Texas Mustangs" with Bobby Duncum, Jr.; they quickly won the GWF Tag Team Championship from Rough Riders (Black Bart and Johnny Mantell) on November 27 but dropped the titles to The Bad Breed (Ian and Axl Rotten) on January 29, 1993. Hawk won his second GWF Tag Team Championship with Black Bart on December 25 of the same year from Steve Dane and Chaz Taylor, eventually losing them to The Fabulous Freebirds (Jimmy Garvin and Terry Gordy) on June 3, 1994.
International circuit (1993–1995)
In January 1993, Layfield went on his first overseas trip to Japan, wrestling for George and Shunji Takano's Network Of Wrestling. Later that same year, he would also wrestle in Mexico for Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, wrestling under the name Vampiro Americano and frequently teamed with Vampiro Canadiense. He would also wrestle for Federacion Internacional de Lucha Libre, where he won its Heavyweight Championship. In June 1994, he went to Europe and toured Austria and Germany for Otto Wanz's Catch Wrestling Association, where he won its World Tag Team Championship with Cannonball Grizzly in November 1995. In March 1995, he returned to Japan, but with NOW recently folded, he went to Genichiro Tenryu's WAR, where he went by the name Death Mask. Before joining the World Wrestling Federation, he was set to join Smoky Mountain Wrestling in December 1995, to wrestle Buddy Landel, but didn't happen due to the company closing in November.
National Wrestling Alliance (1994–1995)
After the GWF shut down in September 1994, he joined the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). Layfield won the NWA North American Heavyweight Championship on January 14, 1995, defeating Kevin Von Erich. Two months later, he lost the NWA North American title to Greg "The Hammer" Valentine.
World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment
Early years (1995–1997)
After three and a half years touring the independent circuit, Layfield signed a contract with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in late 1995 and debuted in January 1996 as Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw, defeating Bob Holly in his debut match. His initial gimmick was that of a tough cowboy/mountain man. After victories, he branded his opponents with the symbol "JB" in ink, rather than being seared into the flesh. Bradshaw remained undefeated for almost a year until a loss during a Caribbean Strap Match to Savio Vega on the September 22, 1996 PPV In Your House 10: Mind Games. Managed by Uncle Zebekiah, the character fizzled out by the end of the year, perhaps remembered only for a feud with Savio Vega and a match with Fatu which he won in eight seconds.
The New Blackjacks (1997–1998)
In February 1997, Layfield paired up with his storyline cousin Barry Windham to form The New Blackjacks, complete with the traditional "Blackjack" handlebar mustaches and short, jet black hair. In late 1997 Bradshaw traveled to the United States Wrestling Association (USWA) where he competed as a singles wrestler (without Windham). During his time in the USWA he helped his former manager in the WWF, Dutch Mantel (known in the WWF as Uncle Zebekiah) defeat Jerry Lawler for the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship.
Windham's injuries piled up throughout 1997, so the team disbanded, and Layfield wrestled only occasionally on TV as Blackjack Bradshaw, sometimes teaming with fellow Texan Terry Funk. He earned a shot at the NWA North American Heavyweight Championship against Jeff Jarrett at No Way Out of Texas: In Your House and won by disqualification, but Jarrett retained the title because a title cannot change hands by a disqualification. In 1998, he wrestled as a mid-carder wrestling the likes of Marc Mero at Mayhem in Manchester, Kaientai (Funaki, Dick Togo, and Men's Teioh) with Taka Michinoku in a handicap match at Over the Edge in which Michinoku was pinned, and Vader in a Falls Count Anywhere match at Breakdown which was won by Bradshaw.
Acolytes Protection Agency (1998–2002)
In late 1998, Bradshaw teamed alongside former Nation of Domination leader Faarooq to form the tag team of the Acolytes, managed by the Jackyl. Their main gimmick was that of a dark duo known for their unrepentant savagery against their opponents, occult symbols painted on their chest and the Necronomicon "gate of Yog-Sothoth" pentagram symbol on their black tights. After the Jackyl left the WWF, Faarooq and Bradshaw joined The Undertaker's new Ministry of Darkness. The Ministry went on to feud with the Corporation. As part of the Ministry, Bradshaw feuded with Ken Shamrock. The two stables would soon unite as the Corporate Ministry, but disbanded after Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated the Undertaker at Fully Loaded. When the Undertaker went on hiatus in September, Bradshaw and Faarooq's dark gimmick faded.
On the May 31, 1999 episode of Raw Is War, the Acolytes (still with the Corporate Ministry) won their first WWF Tag Team Championship by defeating Kane and X-Pac. On the July 5 episode of Raw Is War, they dropped the titles to the Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff) before defeating the Hardyz and their manager Michael "P.S." Hayes at Fully Loaded for their second WWF Tag Team Championship. On the August 9 episode of Raw Is War, they lost the titles to Kane and X-Pac.
The duo became fan favorites and changed their gimmick to that of cigar-smoking bar brawlers for hire. In jeans and T-shirts, Faarooq and Bradshaw became the Acolytes Protection Agency (APA), with a motto of "because we need beer money." The duo was often seen in the backrooms of arenas with a poker table and later a framed doorway comically in the middle of the often large, open aired hallways; they insisted that anyone entering the space use the door. Occasionally, if the "room" was destroyed in one arena, it was set up exactly as it was destroyed at the next arena for comic effect.
The Acolytes earned a shot at the WWF Tag Title at the Royal Rumble against the New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn), but lost the match. Their next shot at the title was at Fully Loaded when they faced Edge and Christian. The Acolytes won the match by disqualification but did not become champions. After unsuccessfully challenging for the tag title in 2000, APA won their third WWF Tag Team Championship on the July 9, 2001 episode of Raw is War by defeating the Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von). On the August 9 episode of SmackDown!, they lost the tag title to Alliance members Diamond Dallas Page and Chris Kanyon.
On the October 22 episode of Raw Is War, Bradshaw defeated The Hurricane to win the WWF European Championship, his first singles title in the WWF. He lost the title to Christian on the November 1 episode of SmackDown!. At No Way Out in 2002, APA won a Tag Team Turmoil match and as a result, they challenged for the tag title at WrestleMania X8 along with Hardys and Dudleys, in a Four Corners Elimination match. The champions Billy and Chuck retained their title.
Singles competition (2002–2003)
Shortly after WrestleMania, Faarooq and Bradshaw split due to the brand extension. Layfield was drafted to Raw where his Bradshaw gimmick had an increased emphasis on his Texas roots, which included him carrying a cowbell to the ring and teaming up with fellow Texan Stone Cold Steve Austin. Bradshaw helped Austin in the latter's feud against the nWo, teaming up with him against them and had a brief feud with Scott Hall where he faced Hall at Backlash in a losing effort due to interference by X-Pac. Following Austin's walkout on the WWE, Bradshaw joined the hardcore division and won the WWE Hardcore Championship seventeen times, with his first title win coming over Steven Richards. He renamed the title the Texas Hardcore Championship. It was also during this time that his finishing move was briefly renamed from the "Clothesline From Hell" to the "Clothesline From Texas" or the "Clothesline From Deep in the Heart of Texas". Jim Ross often called the move as such during his commentary, although the name eventually reverted to the original "Clothesline From Hell".
In the hardcore division, Bradshaw feuded and exchanged the title with the likes of Richards, Shawn Stasiak, Raven, Christopher Nowinski, Big Show, Justin Credible, Johnny Stamboli, Crash Holly, Jeff Hardy, and Tommy Dreamer, before the title was unified by WWE Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam in August 2002. In September 2002, Layfield suffered a torn left biceps at a house show. He was out of action for six months until returning to Ohio Valley Wrestling and then a few weeks later to the active WWE roster.
APA reunion (2003–2004)
Bradshaw returned on an episode of SmackDown! in 2003, which saw him and his old friend Faarooq saving the Undertaker from the hands of Chuck Palumbo and Johnny Stamboli. Layfield returned with a new look by cutting his long hair, returning it to its natural color, and going clean shaven. His new look would only be referenced once when, in a scripted segment, Faarooq asked him directly about it. Bradshaw insisted that he had already told the story to Faarooq, who rejected this claim. The duo would return to perform their regular segments, as they did before the brand extension, such as playing poker, drinking beer, and bribing superstars of their money. Unlike before, they would not attack or protect other superstars at the employment of other superstars as none would hire them. At Vengeance, Bradshaw won a bar room brawl match which featured Faarooq and a variety of mid-card superstars and other WWE employees. The duo wrestled tag teams such as the Basham Brothers (Doug and Danny) at No Mercy and The World's Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin) at No Way Out. At WrestleMania XX in 2004, they unsuccessfully challenged for the WWE Tag Team Championship in a fatal four-way tag team match. The gimmick continued on-and-off until the March 18 episode of SmackDown! until losing a tag team "You're Fired" match to WWE Tag Team Champions Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty for the tag team title. General Manager Paul Heyman, frustrated by an insult by the APA, told Faarooq that if he did not win the aforementioned match, then "You're Fired". After the match, Bradshaw led Faarooq back to Heyman's office to state they had not been fired, but had resigned. Then Heyman cleared up the misunderstanding and pointed out that he said that if they did not win the titles, then he told Faarooq "You're fired". His reason for saying this directly to Faarooq was because it applied only to Faarooq because "WWE Management" still saw a lot of potential in Bradshaw. He left them after telling Bradshaw to think about his own future. Faarooq shouted after Heyman that he was not fired because they (Faarooq and Bradshaw) had quit. Bradshaw, however, hesitated. Faarooq took Bradshaw's hesitation to mean that he would not resign, and so Faarooq promptly disbanded the APA and left. In reality, the WWE had decided to stop using Ron Simmons as an on-air performer. He was initially released, but he was later re-hired to work behind the scenes in the WWE under various roles.
WWE Champion (2004–2005)
After the on air character of Faarooq disappeared from WWE TV, Bradshaw proceeded to take on a J. R. Ewing esque gimmick, becoming a heel for the first time since 1999 complete with a suit, cowboy hat, and tie as he began his first main event push. He began referring to himself as John "Bradshaw" Layfield, or JBL. His finishing move's name was part of the overhaul, becoming the Clothesline From Wall Street until he later changed it back to its original name. His first promo was on the border between Texas and Mexico, where he hunted for incoming illegal immigrants in order to win a "Great American Award", which granted the winner number one contendership to the WWE Championship. He won, thanks to the then-SmackDown! heel general manager Kurt Angle, and immediately challenged Eddie Guerrero for the title.
The storyline leading up to the match was that JBL caused Guerrero's mother to have a heart attack at a house show when he threatened her and grabbed her by the shoulder. At Judgment Day, JBL defeated Guerrero via disqualification in a match for the WWE title. A title cannot change hands by disqualification, so Guerrero retained the title. JBL controversially won his sole world championship, the WWE Championship from Guerrero in a Texas Bull Rope match at The Great American Bash. The initial decision of Guerrero's victory was reversed by then-General Manager Kurt Angle, awarding the match and the title to JBL; the replay showed that JBL touched the fourth corner before Guerrero. JBL won a rematch in a steel cage two weeks later, again with Angle's assistance.
After claiming he would not be defending the title at SummerSlam, The Undertaker challenged JBL for the title. Around this time, JBL hired Orlando Jordan to help him in title matches. At SummerSlam, JBL won the match by disqualification. After the match, Undertaker chokeslammed JBL through the roof of his limo. JBL wore a halo complete with his cowboy hat on top for the next few weeks to sell his "injuries". SmackDown! General Manager Theodore Long then booked a Last Ride match for the title at No Mercy. JBL retained the title with some help from Heidenreich.
Though JBL held the title for many months, most title matches were won controversially. At Survivor Series, JBL defeated Booker T to retain his WWE Championship by hitting Booker in the face with the title belt when the referee was knocked out. JBL defeated Eddie Guerrero, The Undertaker, and Booker T in a Fatal Four-Way at Armageddon after a run-in by Heidenreich, who incapacitated the Undertaker, allowing JBL to take advantage and hit Booker with the Clothesline From Hell to get the pinfall victory.
During JBL's time as WWE Champion, he employed a stable named "The Cabinet". At its peak, the stable contained Orlando Jordan, who was JBL's "Chief-of-Staff" and Doug and Danny Basham, who were his "Co-Secretaries of Defense" until quitting the Cabinet on the June 16, 2005 episode of SmackDown!. Amy Weber was also a member, being JBL's image consultant, but later left WWE. WWE explained Weber's absence by saying that JBL fired her after an episode of SmackDown! taped in Japan. That episode saw Weber accidentally shoot JBL with a tranquilizer gun. Jordan is the only member not announced to have left the group, though mention of the term cabinet went on hiatus after SummerSlam and Orlando was released from WWE in May 2006.
JBL's luck continued in early 2005; at the Royal Rumble, he snuck past both Big Show and Kurt Angle in a Triple Threat match when he pinned Angle after the Clothesline From Hell. He once again emerged with his title intact from WWE's first-ever Barbed Wire Steel Cage match at No Way Out against Big Show. JBL won the match when Big Show chokeslammed JBL off the top rope through the ring. JBL managed to crawl out from under the ring apron before Show could make it to the floor, winning the match by escape. On the next episode of SmackDown!, JBL had a "Celebration of Excellence" in which he and his Cabinet celebrated the fact that he was the longest-reigning WWE Champion in ten years, a party which was broken up and ruined by Big Show and newly crowned number one contender John Cena. JBL was aggravated consistently by John Cena to make him retaliate as John Cena could then strike back. Cena failed to convince Layfield to do so.
JBL lost the WWE Championship to John Cena at WrestleMania 21. Layfield's unbroken nine-month reign was billed as the longest in a decade, lasting 280 days. On the April 28 episode of SmackDown!, JBL defeated Big Show, Booker T, and Kurt Angle in a four-way elimination match to earn a rematch for the WWE title, but lost to Cena at Judgment Day in an "I Quit" match.
United States Champion (2005–2006)
On June 12, Layfield appeared at the WWE-promoted ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view as an anti-ECW "crusader". In the course of the night, he attacked The Blue Meanie in a shoot. WWE capitalized on the situation by resigning Meanie to a short-term contract. On the July 7 episode of SmackDown!, Meanie was reunited with his old The Blue World Order associates Nova and Stevie Richards and he defeated Layfield with the help of the World Heavyweight Champion Batista, who was drafted to SmackDown! a few weeks after Cena was drafted to Raw.
Layfield and Batista then met in a match at The Great American Bash for the World Heavyweight Championship. JBL won the match by disqualification, after Batista hit JBL with a steel chair. But a title does not change hands by disqualification, so Batista retained the title. At SummerSlam, Batista defeated Layfield in a rematch. JBL lost another rematch with Batista on the September 9 episode of SmackDown! in a Texas Bullrope match.
In early 2006, JBL started a feud with The Boogeyman who scared him many times in the new year. The two had a match at the Royal Rumble, which the Boogeyman won. His next opponent was Bobby Lashley, whom Layfield defeated at No Way Out. On the February 24, 2006 episode of SmackDown!, he suffered a broken hand at the hands of Chris Benoit in a six-man tag team match, and WWE.com announced that he underwent successful surgery. Layfield returned and feuded with Benoit, defeating him for his United States Championship at WrestleMania 22. During this time, Jillian Hall remained at the side of JBL until the April 21 episode of SmackDown! when JBL fired Hall, due to a mistake she made during a JBL/Benoit steel cage rematch the week before  as well as her lack of putting together an "appropriate" celebration for him.
JBL, while still United States Champion, challenged for the World Heavyweight Championship. JBL tried to weaken then champion Rey Mysterio in the weeks leading up to his title match as Mysterio faced off against any opponent of JBL's choosing, capitalizing on Mysterio claiming that he was "a man of his word," and would take on anyone. Mysterio was defeated by Mark Henry and squashed by The Great Khali in non title singles matches before facing Raw's Kane in a match, that went to a no-contest. This was leading to their title match at Judgment Day, which Mysterio won and retained the title by pinning JBL after a frog splash. On the May 26 episode of SmackDown!, Mysterio turned the tables on JBL, making him take on Bobby Lashley with the United States Championship on the line, and JBL lost the title. Infuriated, JBL went to SmackDown! GM Teddy Long, telling Long that he wanted a rematch with Mysterio for the World Championship and that if JBL lost, he would quit. When he did lose, the crowd at the arena began to sing "Na Na, Hey Hey, Goodbye". JBL later stated that he did not have a formal contract with Teddy Long going into the match and that he did not intend to leave SmackDown!. This angle was used to give JBL time off wrestling due to his serious back injury.
Part-time wrestler and commentator (2006–2007)
At One Night Stand, Layfield announced that he would take Tazz's place as the new color commentator for SmackDown!. He made his debut as a heelish color commentator on the June 16 episode of SmackDown!. Layfield noted in a commentary on TheStreet.com that he was retiring from in-ring competition for good. In his final column on the website, JBL wrote, "I have also come to believe that you can't fight father time. A broken back suffered in a match in England, compounded by a herniated and bulged disc, finally made me realize my career as a professional wrestler was over. I since migrated to the color commentary position much in the way that Jesse Ventura did before me."
JBL returned to the ring on November 13, 2006, in the main event of a WWE house show in Dublin, Ireland. JBL teamed with Mr. Kennedy and King Booker against The Brothers of Destruction (Kane and The Undertaker), and Batista. On the December 22 episode of SmackDown!, JBL cut a promo berating Theodore Long and cursing out the fans for cheering during the Inferno match at Armageddon five days earlier ("Rome didn't fall because of the gladiators in the ring. Rome fell because of the spectators in the stands.")
On the October 12, 2007 episode of Smackdown!, Layfield was announced as one of the options WWE fans would be able to vote for to be the special guest referee at Cyber Sunday for the World Heavyweight Championship match between Batista and The Undertaker, but he lost the vote to Stone Cold Steve Austin. At Cyber Sunday, he issued a heated altercation towards those running alongside him, ultimately receiving a Stone Cold Stunner from Austin. After this, he became physical as a color commentator, attacking both Batista and The Undertaker in the middle of a match as revenge after he was speared by Batista and later chokeslammed by The Undertaker after taunting them consecutively, in events leading up to the pay-per-view. He justified these actions by explaining, "I am retired, not dead" (and that he [Layfield] should be respected).
Grand Slam and retirement (2007–2009)
In December 2007 at Armageddon, JBL was present at the SmackDown announcer's table during the WWE Championship match. During this match, Randy Orton whipped a charging Chris Jericho over the announcer table where JBL was situated, and in the heat of the match, Jericho "pushed" JBL out of the way. Minutes later, an infuriated JBL kicked Jericho in the head, leading to a disqualification victory for Jericho meaning that Orton retained the title.
On the December 17, 2007 episode of Raw, JBL announced that he would resume his career in response to a challenge made by Jericho. On the December 21 episode of SmackDown!, JBL gave his farewell address from SmackDown, officially marking his return to Raw on December 31. Jericho was disqualified in their match at the Royal Rumble after hitting JBL with a chair. The duo battled in a rematch on the February 11 episode of Raw, which Jericho won.
On February 18 on Raw, JBL interfered in the scheduled steel cage match between Mr. McMahon and his storyline illegitimate son, Hornswoggle. After Vince whipped Hornswoggle with his belt, JBL attacked Finlay from behind and handcuffed him to the top rope. After Mr. McMahon left the ring, JBL proceeded to beat Hornswoggle throwing him against the sides of the cage. JBL later revealed to McMahon that Hornswoggle was Finlay's storyline son, not McMahon's. On March 29, JBL inducted the Brisco Brothers into the WWE Hall of Fame. On March 30, JBL defeated Finlay in a Belfast Brawl at WrestleMania XXIV.
JBL's first championship bid since returning to the ring came by challenging Randy Orton for the WWE Championship and participating in a Fatal Four-Way Elimination match at Backlash that also included John Cena and Triple H. JBL was eliminated first in the match by tapping out to Cena's STF, thus renewing their feud from 2005. Cena defeated JBL at Judgment Day and then at One Night Stand in a First Blood match. He managed to defeat Cena in a New York City Parking Lot Brawl at The Great American Bash.
JBL's next on-screen rivalry was with CM Punk, the reigning World Heavyweight Champion. During the feud, JBL insulted Punk's straight-edge lifestyle, calling it "boring" and saying he could challenge Punk to a contest he could not win which was revealed to be an alcohol-drinking contest on Raw. Punk, instead of drinking a shot, said that he followed his own rules, before throwing the drink in JBL's face. JBL faced Punk for the championship at SummerSlam, which he would lose after Punk hit him with his finishing move, the Go 2 Sleep. On September 7 at Unforgiven, JBL faced Batista, Kane, Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho (who replaced Punk in the match after he was attacked by Randy Orton.) in a Championship Scramble match for the World Heavyweight title. Jericho went on to win the match and the World Heavyweight Championship. On October 5 at No Mercy, JBL was defeated by Batista in a Number One Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship match.
In November 2008, JBL had an on-screen short rivalry with Shawn Michaels which led at Survivor Series (2008) in a five on five tag team elimination tag team match in which Michaels' team emerge victorious. Michaels had lost his family's personal savings due to the global financial crisis and would become Layfield's employee. After failing to secure JBL the World Heavyweight Championship against John Cena at the Royal Rumble, Michaels agreed to take part in an "All or Nothing" match at No Way Out on February 15, 2009, Shawn won the match, after his wife (who was watching in the audience) punched JBL in the face and Michaels planted the Sweet Chin Music. This ended any employment links between the two with Michaels still receiving the full payment owed to him and end the feud.
On the March 9 episode of Raw, JBL defeated CM Punk to win the Intercontinental Championship, thus becoming the tenth Grand Slam Champion and twentieth Triple Crown Champion. He held the title for one month, losing the Intercontinental championship at WrestleMania XXV against Rey Mysterio in 21 seconds. After the match, JBL grabbed a microphone and he said "I quit!"; the next day he announced his retirement on his WWE Universe blog.
Return to WWE
Sporadic appearances (2011–2012)
Layfield made his return to WWE on the March 7, 2011 episode of Raw as Michael Cole's choice for special guest referee for his match against Jerry Lawler at WrestleMania XXVII. He cut a promo claiming he was starting his "journey back to the main event at WrestleMania", before being interrupted by Stone Cold Steve Austin just as he was about to sign the contract. After a brief argument between the two, Austin hit Layfield with the Stone Cold Stunner and signed the contract to be the special guest referee.
On March 31, 2012 Layfield inducted his former tag team partner and real life best friend Ron Simmons into the 2012 WWE Hall of Fame. On July 23 Layfield returned with Simmons at Raw 1000 as the APA, after being called for protection by Lita. After a Clothesline from Hell, Lita defeated Heath Slater.
Return to commentating (2012–2017)
Starting at Night of Champions, Layfield returned to his JBL persona, and sporadically filled in as color commentator, replacing Jerry Lawler, who suffered a legitimate heart attack during the Raw episode preceding Night of Champions. Layfield later re-signed with the promotion and returned to the SmackDown broadcast team on a full-time basis, alongside Josh Mathews and eventually Michael Cole.
On April 1, 2013, JBL became the third commentator for Raw alongside Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler. JBL was also part of the commentary team at WWE pay-per-views and commentated at WrestleMania 29. On September 12, 2013, JBL was named Commissioner of NXT, replacing Dusty Rhodes.
On January 26, 2014 at Royal Rumble, JBL wrestled in his first WWE match in nearly five years as a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble match. Having been on commentary the whole broadcast, JBL left the commentator's table when his number (#24) came up. However, Layfield was quickly eliminated by Roman Reigns while trying to hand his jacket to Michael Cole, and resumed his role as commentator for the rest of the broadcast. In July, Layfield was retired as NXT General Manager.
On the January 19, 2015 episode of Raw, JBL, along with Ron Simmons (a fellow member of The Acolytes Protection Agency), the New World Order and The New Age Outlaws attacked The Ascension and then, JBL would perform a Clothesline from Hell on Viktor. On the March 30 episode of Raw, Layfield, along with Booker T and Michael Cole, were injured by Brock Lesnar after Seth Rollins refused Lesnar his WWE Championship rematch.
Layfield returned to his alma mater, Abilene Christian University, a color commentator for two radio broadcasts as the ACU football team faced Houston Baptist University and Stephen F. Austin State University in September 2016. He made his first appearance on the American Sports Network on October 1, 2016, when ACU hosted the University of Central Arkansas.
Mixed martial arts involvement
Vyper Fight League (2009–2010)
In April 2009, following his departure from WWE, Ohio Valley Wrestling owner Danny Davis announced in a press release that Layfield would be color commentator and host for Vyper Fight League, which Layfield would also sponsor with Layfield Energy; however, the company folded the following year.
WWE describes Layfield as a "self-made" millionaire. In 2003, Layfield published a book on financial management titled Have More Money Now. He and his wife, Oppenheimer Holdings financial analyst Meredith Whitney, were featured in the August 2008 issue of Fortune magazine.
Layfield is the founder of Layfield Energy. In 2008, Layfield Energy launched a drink called MamaJuana Energy. In March 2009, Layfield Energy became the main sponsor and advertiser of Ohio Valley Wrestling, a former WWE developmental promotion based in Louisville, Kentucky.
Layfield has lived full-time in Bermuda since shortly after his retirement from in-ring activity. Feeling confined living in New York City, he spent the summer of 2009 in Bermuda at his wife's encouragement, and the couple soon bought a full-time home there. As he acclimated to Bermuda, he noticed what he called "the almost predominant black-on-black violence that is unfortunately pervasive throughout the local neighborhoods", and in 2011 created the nonprofit organization Beyond Rugby Bermuda, using rugby union to provide young people with an alternative to gangs. The organization is an offshoot of Beyond Sport, a South African nonprofit that uses running for similar purposes; Layfield was introduced to that group's founder when he and his wife visited the country for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He spends much of his time outside of WWE with the organization, filling duties as varied as celebrity fundraising and mowing the rugby field. Beyond Rugby Bermuda began with six boys; as of February 2017, more than 400 boys and girls were involved. Layfield is now a global ambassador for Beyond Sport alongside figures such as Tony Blair and Desmond Tutu.
In 2004, Layfield was hired by CNBC to be a contributor. During a WWE house show in Munich, Germany early in June 2004, in an attempt to draw heel heat, he gave the crowd several Nazi salutes while goose-stepping around the ring. Such a display is illegal in Germany, and CNBC fired Layfield as a result of the controversy. In an interview with The Washington Post, Layfield explained "I'm a bad guy [on WWE TV]. I'm supposed to incite the crowd. I've done it for decades. I really didn't think anything of [the Nazi salute] – I know how bad it is, I've lived [in Germany]. I've been to Dachau, seen those places where they exterminated millions of Jews. I draw the line between me and my character. That's like saying Anthony Hopkins (who portrays Hannibal Lecter) really enjoys cannibalism".
Layfield has made regular appearances on the Fox News Channel weekend business show, Bulls & Bears. In 2003, he met his wife, Meredith Whitney, while seated next to her on an episode of Bulls & Bears.
In November 2012, Layfield started hosting a new show on WWE's YouTube channel alongside Michael Cole and Renee Young called The JBL and Renee Show (formerly known as The JBL Show and The JBL and Cole Show). The series ended in May 2015.
Layfield used to run the website Layfield Report which highlighted a variety of his views and opinions in numerous articles. The site was ended in September 2014.
Layfield has appeared as a playable character in a number of WWE video games. His first appearance as a playable character was in WWF Attitude, with his latest appearance in WWE 2K18, as well as being a playable character, in WWF WrestleMania 2000, WWF SmackDown!, WWF No Mercy, WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role, WWF SmackDown! Just Bring It, WWF Road to WrestleMania, WWE WrestleMania X8, WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth, WWE Crush Hour, WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw, WWE Day of Reckoning 2, WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2010, WWE '13, WWE 2K14, WWE 2K15 as DLC, WWE 2K16 and WWE 2K17. Layfield made appearances as a commentator for several games, teaming up with Michael Cole (2008, 2K16 and 2K17) and Jerry Lawler (2K16 and 2K17).
|2015–2017||Legends with JBL||Himself||Host|||
|2012–2015||The JBL and Renee Show||Himself||Series regular|||
John Layfield is also a golf practitioner and a self-declared alpinist. He loves golf and mountaineering apart from wrestling, mixed martial arts, bodybuilding, rugby and American football.
Bullying allegations and hazing
Sports Illustrated has that Layfield "has been accused for years of being a locker room bully", while Deadspin wrote that "backstage tales of Layfield's hazing and bullying have long been legend among hardcore wrestling fans." Dayton Daily News described that "YouTube has dozens of interviews where former [WWE] performers discuss harassment, bullying and taking real blows from Layfield while wrestling him in supposedly choreographed matches." Le Journal de Montréal listed Mark Henry, Matt Hardy, René Duprée, Daivari, and Ivory, among others, as wrestlers who in interviews described Layfield as a bully. In 2010, The Miz referenced Layfield in an onscreen promo about hazing he faced in the locker room early in his career. Layfield admitted to hazing Miz and said that he didn't regret doing so.
In April 2017, WWE commentator Mauro Ranallo took an absence from WWE, which Dave Meltzer reported had been triggered by hostilities with Layfield. The allegations coincided with the release of former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts' autobiography, in which he alleged that Layfield encouraged Johnny Nitro and Joey Mercury to steal his passport. Angered WWE fans subsequently called on WWE to fire Layfield. On April 22, Newsweek reported that Ranallo and WWE "mutually agreed to part ways", and Ranallo released a statement in which he said his departure had "nothing to do with JBL". Layfield released a statement of his own, stating: "Admittedly, I took part in locker room pranks that existed within the industry years ago. WWE addressed my behavior and I responded accordingly, yet my past is being brought up because of recent unfounded rumors. I apologize if anything I said playing ‘the bad guy’ on a TV show was misconstrued."
- Finishing moves
- Signature moves
- With Faarooq
- Entrance themes
- "Born in the U.S.A." by Bruce Springsteen (GWF)
- "Cotton Eye Joe" by Rednex (GWF)
- "Liturgical Rites" by Jim Johnston (WWF; used while teaming with Faarooq as the Acolytes)
- "Acolytes" by Jim Johnston (WWF; used while teaming with Faarooq as the Acolytes)
- "Protection" by Jim Johnston (WWF/E; used while teaming with Faarooq as the APA)
- "Longhorn" by Jim Johnston (WWE; 2004 – present)
Championships and accomplishments
- Catch Wrestling Association
- Global Wrestling Federation
- International Wrestling Institute and Museum
- Lou Thesz Award (2012)
- Memphis Championship Wrestling
- NWA Texas
- Ohio Valley Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- United States Wrestling Federation
- World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment/WWE
- WWE Championship (1 time)
- WWE Intercontinental Championship (1 time)
- WWE United States Championship (1 time)
- WWE Hardcore Championship (18 times)
- WWF European Championship (1 time)
- WWF Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Faarooq
- Slammy Award (1)
- Twentieth Triple Crown Champion
- Tenth Grand Slam Champion
- WWE Championship #1 Contender's Tournament (2005)
- Race To The Rumble Tournament (2009)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
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