Raj Giri of WrestlingINC.com recently interviewed former WWE Champion John "Bradshaw" Layfield. In the second and final part of our interview below, JBL discussed a potential return to the announcer's booth, appearing at RAW 1000, making amends with Tully Blanchard, his Seven Summits project and more.
Click here for part one of our interview, where Layfield discussed signing with WWE, his singles push as JBL, how Eddie Guerrero helped his career, his new Layfield Report website, more about his Seven Summits project and more.
WrestlingINC: I also know that you're a big MMA fan and you've been to a lot of the UFC events. Are there things WWE can learn from MMA and vice versa?
John Layfield: Yeah. You can't be critical of Dana White. He's built this unbelievable company from almost being bankrupt many years ago. He's done an other-worldly job. So, you've got to take it with a grain of salt when somebody offers him advice. The guy has built the fastest growing sport in the world. My hat goes off to him, I'm a big fan of what he does.
The one thing I would change is I would not burn through champions like they do. I would use the old '70's and '80's boxing model where you put a champion out there with maybe a top ten guy instead of the number one guy. These guys are so even that I think you could take care of these champions a little better and have one or two big fights per year instead of three or four and letting people see them three or four times per year.
To me, I think that's the one thing you'd do different. That being said, he's done an unbelievable job and I'm a big fan of what he does. It's hard to give advice to somebody who's built something like this, I'm sure he would laugh if he found out somebody was trying to advise him on anything.
WrestlingINC: I wanted to talk more about Seven Summits and that rough climb you had in Russia. But, it seemed like you were joking on Twitter recently and teasing a return to Smackdown! as a commentator. We posted it on the site and people were really happy to hear that. Is that something you'd be interested in doing?
Layfield: I am interested. The job has not been offered to me and I was just having fun with Michael Cole on Twitter. I think I said I was coming back. You know, I was having fun with Michael. I don't mean to mislead anyone, I'm not working, so to speak, on Twitter. [Laughs.] I was simply having fun. The job does appeal to me, yeah.
I never thought the job would come open. There's only two jobs for color commentary in WWE and Jerry Lawler may be there for another 30 years and I hope he is. He's a great commentator. Booker moving to the general manager role opens up that job. But, that doesn't mean it's not filled and I don't know it. It could be filled and they may already have plans for it -- I don't know that. I haven't been offered the job. They haven't told me, 'Hey we want you to come work,' or anything. So, yeah, it does interest me and if they called, it certainly would be very tempting to do.
WrestlingINC: Did you get the bug to come back after your appearance on Raw 1,000?
Layfield: Yeah, that was a lot of it. I really have enjoyed coming back and doing stuff and I've really enjoyed watching the shows recently. So, that's a big part of it, you know. It's been a part of my entire life, I've wanted to be a wrestler since I was a little kid. I don't think that ever leaves you. Me, coming back for the Hall of Fame and then Raw 1,000 -- that was a lot of fun.
I miss being around it, miss being around the guys, miss being around it all. If I never get a change to go back, I'm fine with that. But if I have the chance to do something, then it'd be very tempting. Especially if it's something like Smackdown! where it's on a Tuesday and I still get to spend the weekend with my family.
WrestlingINC: What was that night like, going back for Raw 1,000 with all the guys being there?
Layfield: Coming back was awesome, it was like I had never left as far as being in the locker room with a lot of these guys that I had wrestled with and all. You add the legends, guys that I really idolized like 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper and Harley Race was backstage. It was really cool to be back and I wanted to come back for the show. I passed up a deal in London where I was going to be part of a big Rugby thing to do it and I'm really glad I did it.
I wanted to come back as the APA. I wanted to come back with Ron. When they called me asked me to come back, I was really happy about it. Then, when they called me a week before, they asked me if I had any old APA shirts because they couldn't find any at the time. I was really excited that they had decided I was going to come back as part of the APA.
WrestlingINC: When you worked the match with Heath Slater, you seemed really happy with how he sold it, really amused.
Layfield: What a bump he took. There were so many guys who took so many good bumps for me over the years. And hopefully I returned the favor to them. Bully Gunn was unbelievable. Rikishi was unbelievable. X-Pac, Road Dogg, you know. You hit those guys with a clothesline and it looks like you just absolutely destroyed them.
A lot of that had to do with Heath Slater taking a really good bump for an old guy like me. Which is very much appreciated.
WrestlingINC: Tully Blanchard was saying there was an incident between you and him recently. What happened there?
Layfield: When I saw Tully at the [George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling] Hall of Fame [in July], I apologized to him and told him I had respect for him. I hadn't seen him for years and we had an old heat. When I first saw him, I blew up and I shouldn't have done that. He's a legend and I don't think that was very respectful the way I handled that. I apologized to Tully when I saw him at the Hall of Fame.
WrestlingINC: Was the heat when he worked as an agent [for a few days in WWE in 2006]?
Layfield: Yeah, he was an agent for I think Jim Crockett was what it was. And it wasn't a big deal, it just festered in me over the years and probably got blown out of proportion in my mind and I should have handled it a different way. I didn't expect to see him that day, I turn around and there he is. I blew up and shouldn't have done it.
I went straight up to him at the Hall of Fame and I had never apologized to him officially. I apologized to him for doing that. We had a really good chat and we had a good weekend. We talked quite a bit and I really enjoyed mending things with him and being around him.
WrestlingINC: Did you ever find out who got your phone, and was making those Tweets? [details]
Layfield: [Laughs.] I'm not positive it was Jerry Brisco, but I'm positive Jerry Brisco told somebody to do it. Jerry's not a techno-file. He's on Facebook all the time, but he's not a guy who has ever done Twitter. So, he would have had to have some help from someone. So, I have no doubt that Jerry Brisco is the one who directed that Tweet. Which is my fault for leaving the phone out on the table. I should have known better. Rookie mistake.
WrestlingINC: With the Seven Summits idea, is that something you've been thinking about for a while?
Layfield: Yeah, it's something I had been thinking about for a long time. I always wanted to try Mt. Everest since I was a kid. I never thought I would be able to do anything like that. My back was so bad when I retired. My back has gotten better, I'm now able to train a lot, enough to do these mountains hopefully. You never know about a mountain like Everest. There are a lot of great climbers who don't make it. So, it's not just about being in shape.
I ran into Anabella Bond, who was the fastest woman to climb the Seven Summits, and she raised something a couple million dollars for a charity. I think that's right. So, it occurred to me that this was a great way to raise money for my kid's programs here. Also, it gives an example to our kids. We try to tell our kids that you can do anything you want in life but you have to work hard at it and you have to be able to plan smart. I'm kind of doing a lot to lead by example here with our kids. Their following me on the different things I'm doing. So, hopefully it's a big deal to them and hopefully, I raise a lot of money for them.
WrestlingINC: Yeah. You started in June with climbing Mt. Elbrus and the storm came in. Did that climb change your strategy at all for handling it as far as weather conditions and time of year?
Layfield: Yeah, as far as my conditioning. I trained a lot. I was up to 18-mile hikes, I was up to three hours on the Stair Sapper. I really put the effort in. The one thing I'm changing is that I'm starting to jog which I haven't done since I was 19. When I broke my leg in college my first year, they were worried that I wouldn't walk straight again. In fact, I'm pretty pigeon-toed and most people think I don't walk straight anyway. [Laughs.] The doctors told me to never jog again, so I never have.
But, I've started jogging again and I actually feel OK. You know, the body needs to get hardened up to it. But I think I need to raise my heart level a little bit more. I was doing these heights of up to 18 miles with a backpack and I think I need to raise that level just a little bit, I think I can get in better shape. I also think I can lose more weight. I was down to 240-pounds on the mountain. My next mountain is Kilimanjaro and the next really tough one is Aconcagua in December and I'd like to be down below 220 for that. I think that would help me tremendously to lose more weight and to do that, I think I need to up the cardio and go more from hikes to running.
WrestlingINC: With the climb, with Mt. Elbrus, you mentioned you wanted to try it again. Is that still the plan to go back and try again.
Layfield: I want to go back to Elbrus. I feel very confident I can make the mountain and I was very confident that we could have made it then. I don't know exactly how high we got, but we were in what's called the saddle, in between the two summits. 17,500 feet -- somewhere around there. All the hard climbing was done, we had been climbing for a week. We were so close, it was really frustrating to turn back. We had less than a thousand feet, but that's still three to four hours at that altitude. But, we had no choice. It's very frustrating but that's part of mountain climbing. You get up there but you have to have a little luck as well as just being in shape.
WrestlingINC: You said that you were lucking to be alive. Did that experience change you in any way? What was that like?
Layfield: We actually at one point roped ourselves together and slid down the mountain trying to get ahead of the storm. We slid down probably a thousand feet or more. It was pretty hairy there for a while. If we had gotten stuck up there, we had no sleeping bag or tent up there because we were hoping to make the summit in one day to make it back. Things were not going to be very good for us up there.
As far as changing? No. Ed Viesturs is probably the greatest recent climber, and he said it best: 'The summit is optional, returning is mandatory.' That's the mindset you have to have going in. I was up there, I was the one arguing to keep going. Thank goodness there were some rational people up there who said, 'If we don't turn around now, we're stuck up here.' We still almost got stuck up there on the mountain.
So, it did tell me that you have to pay attention to stuff like that. I would have changed our tactics a little bit. I would have camped at a higher level so we didn't have quite as long of a summit day. That was part of the problem because the snow was soft instead of hard and we were taking a lot longer than what we thought because of the way we were having to travel.
WrestlingINC: What is WWE's involved as I know you put the flag up there. Are they a sponsor or are they involved at all?
Layfield: Yeah. They're my partner in this. They're going to be advertising in this and putting us on their social media. I've gotten a phone right here from WWE where I can upload videos and send them to Stamford where they can keep up with the climb as I'm going. I'm going to try to do a live feed from one of the summits and do a better job of the social media. Their job is to help me and they've got a wonderful social media platform. They're helping me tremendously with the awareness. In the end, we're trying to raise a lot of money for kids.
WrestlingINC: Great luck with the project and your website. Thanks again for the interview.
Layfield: Thank you, I enjoyed it.
Click here for part one of our interview, where Layfield discussed signing with WWE, his singles push as JBL, how Eddie Guerrero helped his career, his new Layfield Report website, his Seven Summits project and more.