When JBL joined the SmackDown commentary team in June 2006, he was a breath of fresh air. He had just begun his first retirement as an in-ring performer and he transitioned into the role swimmingly. Tazz, who was Michael Cole’s prior announcing partner, had done a tremendous job molding him into a knowledgeable source of wrestling information. Well, as much wrestling information as Cole has in him. JBL and Cole quickly gelled as a team and it was the perfect mix of WWE’s brand of storytelling, calling the match and commentator-to-commentator insults. He ended up back in the ring for a short time and then was gone from WWE overall before we could even get comfortable with the nearly universally-praised work that JBL was doing behind the table.
Layfield returned two years ago and many wrestling fans rejoiced, expecting the quality of commentary to return with the intelligent (or, if nothing else, entertaining) voice of the quick-witted, fast-talking JBL. It started off a bit rough, he was brought in as a part-time solution to the void created after Jerry Lawler suffered a heart attack, but he got back on point and came across just about as good as ever. Lawler returned and JBL stayed.
I’ll cut to the chase, it has come to the point that Cole is a welcome lead commentator and analyst and King is entertaining and even insightful. The third man, one Mister John “Bradshaw” Layfield, however, has become more and more grating, irritating, bothersome, belligerent and, most importantly, it is a complete chore to have to watch parts of RAW because of his intrusive behavior. He talks over his partners, he talks over other wrestlers and he goes off on tangents and rants that often have not only nothing to do with what is happening on TV, but not anything wrestling related at all. It’s an utter mess.
What has put me over the edge is his incessant hounding of Jack Swagger. He simply will not shut his mouth. The entire point of the feud between Swagger and Rusev is buried underneath Bradshaw’s yelling and screaming and hemming and hawing about how Swagger let the country down and should be ashamed and embarrassed. No matter what they try, Cole and Lawler can’t get a word in edgewise to shut him up. They are very often quite clearly exasperated and there’s nothing they can do about it.
It’s a shame. JBL was really entertaining and now he is just a loudmouth with carte blanche to say and do anything he wants at any time. JBL needs to go; I assume that the only reason he gets to stick around is solely because Vince McMahon sits behind the curtain giggling and tittering to himself. Sadly, that’s why most of the bad things that make it to WWE TV get to stay on as long as they do.