How Bradshaw became JBL, splitting up APA
In the latest episode of Something to Wrestle, Bruce Prichard spoke about the decision to break up the APA in 2004 and turn Bradshaw from the ass-kicking Acolyte into the Wall Street businessman JBL. Prichard revealed that Vince saw the JBL character as Bradshaw’s last chance to be a singles star and he probably would have been done if it didn’t get over. Here are highlights:
On splitting up the APA: “We had gotten to draft stuff, all these different things, but looking at so many talent that were injured and we had to have someone step up. We really needed talent. We really needed to change some of the things we were doing and we needed to create new stars. Ron was unfortunately… it just was not working with Ron at the time, and so they told Ron, ‘Maybe we’ll do something with you as an agent.’ Ron really wasn’t interested in that. And Ron was let go.”
On going from Bradshaw to JBL: “But John, the character with John, during this time, he was working with I believe MSNBC, doing a lot of guest appearances, he had his book, the financial book was flying off shelves. He’s appearing on all these television shows as John Layfield. Articulate, great advice, and people are clamoring to have him as a guest on their financial shows. While we’re thinking of an idea we’re like, ‘Well shit, he’s already doing this. What if we just put a spin on it and made him a heel?’ Let him be…and again, just one more attempt. I remember Vince even saying, ‘This one doesn’t work then… it’s not gonna happen for John. Let’s make one last attempt with this Wall Street character.’ Kinda like a Michael Douglas play, he’s a real asshole, and make one last attempt and Vince gave him the ‘Come to Jesus’ meeting. ‘John if this doesn’t work then, you know, we’ve got nothing for you.’ John took it and ran with it. And the JBL character was born. But it was met with a lot of skepticism because people thought, ‘Well shit, how many times are you going to go to the well with this guy?’ And Vince just had the confidence and the wherewithal and staying power to say ‘f*** it, I’m gonna do this and we’re gonna make it work.’ And John did his part by busting his ass and doing everything he could to make this character work. And we finally found away to get the guy in the backstage on camera. And that was JBL.”
On how Bradshaw felt about Ron Simmons being released: “John was upset. He didn’t like it. Because he and Ron were friends. He felt that just sadness more than anything. You’re losing your friend, your partner that you travel with and hang out with all the time. It’s not gonna be the same on the road anymore. So John was definitely upset. But he also understood. He was very professional about it, said he disagreed with it but was moving on and he would make the most out of the new character. Just said, ‘What do you need me to do?’ And we told him. He went and got suits made and the whole nine yards. He was ready to invest and move forward with this new gimmick.