JBL Discusses His WWE Run, If His Singles Push Was Rushed, How Eddie Guerrero Helped His Career
WrestlingINC: You mentioned that Eddie Guerrero helped you out. How did he mostly help you? Was it advice in the ring or selling for you?
Layfield: Eddie was the perfect character for JBL at the time and he was such a popular character that it made a big difference. But, Eddie and I were really good friends and we sat backstage a lot with me, him and his brother Chavo [Guerrero] and went over a lot of different storyline ideas and a lot of different things. The whole heart attack thing with Eddie's mom in El Paso around Mother's Day weekend right before our first match, that was, I believe, an idea of Chavo and Eddie. There the ones that pitched it to me.
A lot of my promo, Eddie really helped me with a lot of these promos as far as the content of it. Eddie really took it personal in that he wanted my character to get over because it was failing miserably at the beginning. I'd been a tag team wrestler, a mid-card guy, for so long that people weren't buying me as the main event guy. Eddie really took it personal that he could help make me. That was one of the main reasons that the JBL character succeeded.
WrestlingINC: I know you said that WWE didn't have a lot of options in terms of building you up a bit more and then putting you in the title feud. Do you think that would have helped initially or do you think it's better that it played out the way it did?
Layfield: I don't know, you know, it turned out as well as it could have for me. We had a long pay-per-view window at that time. If we just had three or four weeks, I don't think it would have worked. But we had time, I think five or six weeks to try this. It finally started working and it finally started getting heat on the JBL character, mainly because of Eddie.
It ended up working and I think a lot of that had to do with the long lead-up time with pay-per-view.
WrestlingINC: Did you speak with Ron Simmons much during that time?
Layfield: Oh, of course. Yeah.
WrestlingINC: I take it he enjoyed what you were doing with the character and everything.
Layfield: Absolutely. Ron and I are really good friends and he got to see me get a chance to do something.
WrestlingINC: For a short while, you went to commentary and you seemed to be doing very well. Fans really seemed to be enjoying it. I remember at that time you said you were retired for good. Did you originally think you were retired and that you wouldn't be returning or did you know in the back of your mind that it would probably happen at some point?
Layfield: No, no. I didn't know. It came up during the weekend. I had some physical problems with my back that caused me just some really bad problems. So, that's when they came up with the idea out of the blue. I think it was in Phoenix, somewhere in Arizona. I wrestled Rey and quit. It happened within two days, it was just something in my back and it got really bad. I was having really bad nerve problems. I really thought I was done.
So, when I quit/retired, nobody expected me to come back. I was doing commentary and I was enjoying it but then my back started getting better. I didn't quit because I wanted to, I quit because I had to. I didn't have any lead up to it. It was just that one day I was a later, and the next day I wasn't. So, I kind of wanted to finish on my own terms. That's when I came back and my back slowly started getting worse again. That's when I came up with the idea to retire at WrestleMania. I just thought it was fun to have Rey do it twice. [Laughs.] Plus, the association of Rey and Eddie, it was kind of my tribute to Eddie in the same vein.
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