SmackDown Live commentator John Layfield, also known as JBL, announced on Twitter that he will be stepping back when it comes to his role on SmackDown Live in order to spend more time helping at risk kids and communities.
After much consideration, I will be stepping back my weekly role as Smackdown Announcer to dedicate more (cont) https://t.co/An7zuYRFmV— John Layfield (@JCLayfield) September 1, 2017
Here’s JBL’s full statement:
After much consideration, I will be stepping back my weekly role as Smackdown Announcer to dedicate more continuous time on the work I have done since 2010 with at risk kids and communities. My new schedule will allow me to continue to be a part of the WWE family and also continue my work that I feel is the most important thing in my life. I will continue my 20+ year relationship with WWE and will appear on such marquee shows as Tribute to the Troops, WrestleMania, amongst others.
With the help of Beyond Sport, I founded Beyond Rugby Bermuda in 2010--which has been recognized as one of the world's best charities for work with at risk, gang focused, youth intervention. Beyond Rugby Bermuda won the 2014 NACRA Fair Play Award out of 7,000 programs and 17 countries for its work with at risk kids. I was named as a Beyond Sport Global Ambassador--an organization backed by all major sports leagues in the U.S.
I'm proud to say that in addition to being Smackdown's longest reigning WWE Champion, I inspired WWE's Tribute to the Troops over 10 years ago. WWE has been my partner in all my philanthropic works and this new deal with WWE ensures that will continue. WWE has made my dreams come true and helped me become a global name. And now, WWE is helping me use that name to make a difference.
The 50-year-old Layfield has been with the WWE for over 20 years. He's a retired wrestler that started his career in the ring back in 1995. Layfield was known as Bradshaw up until 2004 when he changed his name to JBL, taking on a New York stock mogul gimmick that made him one of the most hated heels in the WWE. Cashing in on that success, he won the WWE Championship as well as the United States Championship.
As the years went on and JBL's body started to feel the effects of taking bumps around the world, he stepped back from in-ring competition to become a part-time commentator in 2006. Though, that didn't last long as he stepped back in the ring in 2007 to continue his wrestling career. JBL then retired in 2009.
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Though he didn't stay off our screens for long. The former champion returned WWE as a commentator during an episode of Raw in 2011 becoming a full-time commentator going forward. JBL's voice has been heard on Raw, SmackDown, pay-per-view events and even WWE network exclusives.
Though it wasn't always smooth sailing for JBL. Some drama did follow the legend after being teamed up with Mauro Ranallo and David Otunga. Early on in 2017, Ranallo ended up leaving the company for a brief period of time leading to speculation that he was being bullied by JBL. There was also a time where JBL got upset when Ranallo ended up winning the “Best Announcer” award. He even blocked Ranallo's supporters on Twitter after receiving backlash. Though when Ranallo returned to the WWE he claimed that his absence was not because of his JBL.
Pro Wrestling Sheet reported that back in May JBL told the WWE that he will not be re-signing with them. But he did say in his statement that he will continue to have a role. So maybe both sides worked out a new agreement.
It will be interesting to see if the WWE end up replacing JBL by adding another person alongside Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton. Or whether they will go with two guys in the booth whenever he's not around.
Even though Jerry Lawler is in his 60's he could come back as a temporary solution until the WWE can find someone on a more permanent basis. In fact, when The King stepped in the booth to fill in for Booker T, he sounded great, not missing a single step since he stepped away from commentating on a full-time basis.
Though it's unclear who will replace JBL in the coming days, one thing is for sure, love him or hate him, the SmackDown Live commentary team lost a very loud and recognizable voice. Comment below and tell us what you think about JBL's announcement.