JBL went through the ringer but he eventually made it to WWE.
John "Bradshaw" Layfield got his start in the World Wrestling Federation in 1995 after working the territories and competing overseas for a number of years. Once JBL arrived to the sports-entertainment company, he went from an enhancement talent to being placed in a tag team with former WCW World Heavyweight Champion Ron Simmons to having one of the longest WWE Title reigns in the history of the company.
JBL reflected on the time he has spent in the business when he joined the 'Prime Time With Sean Mooney' podcast and detailed how he got his start with the WWF and it all began with a call from Bruce Prichard.
“I was in Europe. We wrestled over there… basically the carnival circuit, and, I would… you know you have your trailer behind you, you’d dress around, you didn’t have a bathroom in the trailer. You’d have to go into the building to use it. It was… was a wonderful life, and you learned the business, and while I was there, somebody told me that Bruce Prichard wanted to talk to me." JBL said. "So, way before cell phones, and I didn’t have a phone in my caravan so I went down and waited at a pay phone. It was raining in Hannover, Germany. I thought, ‘This is crazy. Nobody’s gonna call me’, and the dang phone rang, and it was Bruce and Bruce said, ‘We wanna hire you. Come on through on your way back and we’re gonna have a tryout match and see if we like you’ and I said, ‘Well, I’ve gotten an offer from WCW’, and I said, ‘But I want to come work for you guys’, and he said, ‘Come see us first. We’ll see how it goes, and if so we’ll hire you on the spot’, and that’s how it happened.”
JBL arrived to his WWF tryout but was tossed out by security because he was not listed on the card for that specific show. The former WWE Champion had no way to get home so he stayed where he was at and things soon began to shape up as he put himself in position to secure a spot on the roster.
“I went through -- back to the states, walked in the back and security said, ‘Are you are on the card today?’ I said, ‘No I’m not. I’m supposed to have a tryout match’ and he threw me out. The hell are you doing? I was excited about this job and I got thrown out of the back and so, it was snowing like crazy, and I went back to the airport and I couldn’t get a flight out, and I [thought], ‘Screw it. They don’t want me’, and, so I stayed, and the next day I think they were in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and it was a snow storm." He continued, "It was only about 300 people there -- remember you’d put all the people behind the hard camera where you’d see them so the arena looks full. It was the day Goldust debuted. The Ringmaster I think had just gotten there, Steve [Austin], and I had a match with Savio Vega and the only reason I went was because I couldn’t get a flight out and after the match was over Jerry Brisco pulled me aside and said, ‘We wanna hire you’ and I was still upset about them throwing me out the day before. I said, ‘Well, I’m going to WCW this week’ and he said, ‘Well we don’t want you to go’ and I said, ‘OK, you promise me a contract, I won’t go’, and that’s how it happened.” He said.
While on the topic of contracts, head over to Fightful's "Wrestling Contracts Expiration Dates" article to stay up to date with the contracts of various wrestlers, commentators and producers in the industry.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit the 'Prime Time With Sean Mooney' podcast with an H/T to Fightful for the transcriptions.