John Bradshaw Layfield was announced as the latest inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2020 last night on WWE Backstage on FS1.
The 53-year-old Texan from Sweetwater had a long wrestling career which started in 1992 working for the Global Wrestling Federation. In 1995 he joined the WWE which is where he cemented his name into this business.
JBL started with WWE as Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw but didn’t have much success to begin with. In 1997, he was repackaged and aligned with Barry Windham to form The New Blackjacks, a gimmick which once again didn’t last long.
But in 1998 he struck gold when he teamed up with Ron Simmons to form the APA – Acolytes Protection Agency. The two joined the Corporate Ministry, winning their first WWE Tag Team titles. When the Corporate Ministry disbanded, the APA turned faces and transformed into brawlers for hire, often smoking, drinking and playing cards in backstage vignettes in an imaginary office with a framed door in front of them as they wait for clients.
In 2002 the brand extension split the APA and JBL and Faarooq went their separate ways. In 2004, JBL completely changed his gimmick to resemble that of JR Ewing from the TV show Dallas and started his legendary main event career. With feuds against Eddie Guerrero, John Cena, Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio, The Undertaker, Booker T, and many others, JBL became one of Smackdown’s leaders. He was recognized as the longest WWE champion in a decade, lasting 280 days back then, only to lose the title to John Cena at WrestleMania 21.
After his wrestling career wrapped up in 2009, JBL moved to the commentary desk and provided commentary for Smackdown. He still makes sporadic appearances for WWE. JBL is also the one who came up with the Tributes to the Troops concept, an event which is still being held to this day every year in December.
His WWE career led him to win the WWE, Intercontinental, United States, and European title once, the Tag Team title three times, and the Hardcore title 18 times. He is a triple crown and grand slam champion as well.
Congratulations to JBL!