JBL Reveals How Vince McMahon Pitched The APA, What Professional Wrestling Means To Him

Former WWE Superstar JBL was a recent guest on the Prime Time with Sean Mooney podcast. The former WWE Champion opened up about how he became a Fox News contributor, what it was like interviewing Linda McMahon, and a night out drinking with Vince McMahon that led to his pairing with Ron Simmons, and much more.

(Transcription Credit: Michael McClead, WrestleZone) 

On What Professional Wrestling Means To Him:

It gave me everything. I’ve gotten to travel the world. I’m a kid from a small town in West Texas and I’ve gotten to travel the world. I got to live all over the world. I’ve been to over 70 different countries, all seven continents. It’s been just a wonderful ride and all that is because of professional wrestling 100%. The job I have now on FOX is because of that and the businesses I’m doing on the side are because of that. It was a wonderful ride. You always look back and wish you could have done a few things different. I wish I could have been healthy longer. When I first made it in my peak earning years my body got hurt and just gave out on me. I wish I could have had another 4 or 5 years, but everybody says that. I’m nothing new. Michael Jordan was the greatest of all time and he wishes he could have had 4 or 5 more years. That’s nothing new, but I look back with nothing but pleasure. I wish I could do it all over again. It was so much fun.

On Being A Part Of A Stacked WWE Roster:

They did [push me right away]. That roster was so loaded. Business was terrible, but I think probably that was the most loaded roster in history. You can argue maybe the ‘80s, but that roster had everybody. It had the nWo before the nWo. It had Bret Hart and the whole Canadian contingent. It had Undertaker and all of his guys. It had Triple H. The Rock was coming in just a little bit later. Steve [Austin] was there as The Ringmaster. Kane was there as Isaac Yankem. That roster was loaded, but they used me. I worked the opening match for about a year straight with Bob Holly, most of the time. I worked with Savio Vega a bunch, but I got to be on almost every pay-per-view, not in big matches. I had a few gimmick matches, strap matches here and there, but they used me. At that time it was more of a slow build. Rarely did you have a guy come in straight on top…..I thought they took real good care of me. I didn’t have a ton of success as Justin Hawk Bradshaw, but it wasn’t a failure either. I got to be on almost pay-per-view and wrestle every house show that year.

JBL Gives Credit To Ron Simmons For The Rock’s Development:

He came in and he was such a good looking guy, incredibly talented and incredibly athletic, but it just didn’t work. They later did it with Kurt Angle on purpose, so that it would work, which they kind of learned their lesson. Rocky kind of had no chance. It was so badly received that the only chance he really had was to embrace it and then when he came out with that ‘Rocky Sucks’ t-shirt, that was just gold. The guy just took off from that point. Ron Simmons had a lot to do with Rock’s success. Ron was a great mentor to him in The Nation and a lot of the stuff that Rock said he got through banter in the back with Ron. I think Ron had a lot to do with Rocky having so much success.

On How He Came To Team With Ron Simmons:

That was just me and Ron. It was my birthday in Baltimore and Ron and I had been out celebrating my birthday and I run into Vince [McMahon]. The next morning they said, ‘Vince wants to see you.’ I thought, ‘Oh geez, I’m in trouble.’ I go in there and he said, ‘You look a little worse for wear.’ I said, ‘I had a birthday yesterday.’ He says, ‘I know. I bought you a shot.’ I said, ‘I think I remember. Thank you.’

So I was waiting for the dress down and he says, ‘I want to put that on television.’ I said, ‘Put what on television?’ He said, ‘You and Ron sitting around drinking beer b.s.-ing. I love that. That’s great. That’s what guys do. That’s funny stuff. You guys got a great rapport.’ I said, ‘You want us to drink beer on television?’ He goes, ‘Yes, that’s what I want to do. Make it real.’ I said, ‘That’s the greatest thing I ever heard.’

So, I go tell Ron and he goes, ‘Yeah, are we in trouble? You still got contacts in Japan?’ I said, ‘Ron, we’re not only not going to Japan. We’re gonna drink beer on television.’ He said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘Vince loved it. He wants us just sitting in the back.’ He goes, ‘We’re not gonna wrestle?’ I said, ‘No.’ He goes, ‘We’re gonna drink beer and play cards?’ I said, ‘Yeah and smoke cigars.’ He goes, ‘That’s the best idea I’ve ever heard.’

On What It Was Like Traveling With Kerry Von Erich:

I got the honor of traveling some with Kerry Von Erich. He was as close to a rock star as I’ve ever seen. He had a presence that when he walked into a room, it was like Elvis walking into the room. He had the most humble thing. People would shake hands and he’d go, ‘Hi, I’m Kerry Von Erich.’ Of course, everybody knew who the frick he was. They would just melt. He had a charisma that was unbelievable. I don’t know, if I’ve ever seen anything like it. Maybe Shawn Michaels in the ring was like it, but there was nothing like Kerry Von Erich and they [the Von Erichs] were just God in Texas. They could do anything and I mean anything and they did. Man, it was an incredible time.

Readers may listen to Sean Mooney‘s interview with JBL in its entirety below:

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