Dark Match Dungeon: It’s JBL’s Debut, Maggle!

Welcome back for another edition of the 37-time Peabody Award-winning feature known as the Dark Match Dungeon! This is, as usual, where we jump online and dig up some old and/or forgotten footage of today’s wrestling stars. Major shout-out to the internet for being a permanent archive of everything that has ever happened. Imagine how hard it would be for me to make jokes about bad hairstyles of the past if we were still on the tape trading system.

Today we’re looking at John “Bradshaw” Layfield, a former WWE Champion who was named Most Likely To Mispronounce “Michael” by his high-school yearbook. He’s always been an imposing heavyweight, but how did he get his start in WWE? Before he was an Acolyte or a poker-playing mercenary, he was simply Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw. Take a look.

What To Look For:

  • Bradshaw’s opponent Bob Holly, who is stuck somewhere in the long, awkward transition from Sparky Plugg to Hardcore Holly. Don’t worry, he’s OK now, but things were scary there for a while.
  • Speaking of Bob, tell me he isn’t sporting the most impressive mullet outside of early ’90s country music here.
  • No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That’s Zeb Colter (a.k.a. “Dirty” Dutch Mantel) as Bradshaw’s manager, under the name of Uncle Zebekiah. I don’t think they ever made it clear whose uncle he was.
  • In case you were wondering just how long ago this was, Jim Ross is talking about the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl.
  • One thing that hasn’t changed? JBL’s Clothesline From Hell, still his go-to move.

This is taken from an episode of WWF Superstars in late January 1996. That’s right, JBL is nearing two decades of service to Vince McMahon and the WWE. I doubt I’d be surprised if he ended up in the WWE Hall of Fame alongside his tag-team partner Ron Simmons, but for now, he’s perfectly content shouting rugby references at Michael Cole. You’ve got to play your strengths, I guess.

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