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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

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Eyes On WWE: Is JBL The Greatest Heel Of The 21st Century

By @IOnlySayFacts


(Note: This is about his career, not about his backstage stuff with Mauro. That I do not have an opinion on in this piece)

John Bradshaw Layfield.

Before this turn, he was just Bradshaw, a brawling beer loving Texan who beat up people for money with his best friend Faarooq. Behind the scenes, JBL was a financial analyst who appeared on Fox News and had written books about finance. The turn resulted from when Bradshaw and Faarooq lost a championship match against Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty. Faarooq was fired and JBL stayed and did not stick up for his partner. The week after this event showed a whole new side of him.



JBL was a mix between George W. Bush and JR Ewing from Dallas fame. He was a morally bankrupt blueblood that was also a Texan. Immediately when Bradshaw debuted his new gimmick, the first thing he did was change his name to his whole full name. The way he was able to get the crowd to turn on him so quick was amazing. By saying that he didn’t bring back Ron Simmons when he had the opportunity showed that he was a scumbag. Trashing a very popular group while saying that he was a person that is similar to the government made people hate him so much.



From there, the first big feud he had was with then WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero. Eddie, popular with the masses, was the face of the brand, as Lesnar left and Angle was on the shelf. During this feud, I realized that what JBL had was special. He developed into such a sleaze bag that took shortcuts to win and when he did win he was not anything special. JBL did so many despicable things, that it made me hate him when I was young. JBL did everything from causing Eddie Guerrero’s mother to have a heart attack, to kicking out Mexicans in the border. All this did was get so much heat on him and people paid to see him get his ass beat. At Great American Bash (the worst PPV of the year), when he won his only WWE Championship, was sold out in California because of the fact that people wanted to see Eddie beat JBL. JBL won the bullrope match by touching the last corner in a fluke way. The fact that this feud worked so well is a success to both guys. Bradshaw, an American got heel heat against Eddie Guerrero, a man with Mexican heritage. They tried to do a similar thing with Jack Swagger and Alberto Del Rio minus the extremism that went into the feud, but it did not work at this level.




Following the feud with Guerrero, he had feuds with The Undertaker and Booker T. No matter what he did, he’d always find a way to win. The way he’d play a coward heel was just amazing. His ring work purposely became worse and he rarely won matches cleanly. It wasn’t like other cowardly heels of today, who have shown dominance at some point in their tenures. He ended up giving John Cena the belt at Wrestlemania 21 in a feud that was built a year in the making. JBL was the perfect guy for Cena to pin. This elitist vs scrappy underdog feud can work, and it paid off major dividends. It was the one that made Cena the potential face of the company.



After that feud, JBL started a feud with Batista for his championship, and while they tried to make Batista the face of Smackdown like Cena was about to be, it did not work to the same scale because the Cena/Batista prototypes were different. He still was the chickenshit heel that everyone wanted to beat, but it didn’t have the same affect as others. Eventually after winning the US Championship from Benoit, and losing the World Heavyweight Championship match to Rey Mysterio, JBL’s star status wained. This was also due to injury, and eventually he retired in embarrassing fashion.



JBL worked, because unlike Triple H (who had a longer and worse reign of terror), he made himself look like an ass on a decent amount of occasions. His run at the top was also fairly short. The thing about JBL is, unlike Triple H, is that he got ‘’it”, that a heel can only last so long before fatigue gets in place. Compared to other top heels, JBL’s run was fairly short in both his debut run and his return run at the top. In my mind, he was the best heel in the 21st century.

-Doug

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