JBL Didn’t Think He’d Make It WWE, Calls ‘Justin ‘Hawk’ Bradshaw’ Name An Act Of Self-Preservation
Photo Credit: WWE
JBL went on to become a ‘Wrestling God’ in WWE, but there was a time when he didn’t think he’d be sticking around with the company that long.
Bradshaw spoke about his WWE beginnings on the APA episode of “WWE Untold” and explained how he ended up in the company, as well as how Vince McMahon christened him with the ‘Bradshaw’ name.
“I hung around professional football for a few years, I played in the World League, but then I got cut. I still thought I had a chance, while I’m young enough, to do what I always wanted to, and that was to be a professional wrestler. So I started wrestling. I wrestled in Texas, Japan, I moved to Europe for a few years and then I finally made it to WWE in December of 1995. I went to meet with Vince [McMahon] for the first time up at Titan Towers and he said, ‘We’ve got this idea for ‘Justin Bradshaw’ and so I said, ‘How about we use Justin Hawk?’ because I’d been wrestling under the name John Hawk,” JBL explained, “and that way I could keep the name and go back to Japan when eventually I would get fired at WWE, I figured after two or three years. [laughs] So, it was self-preservation and Vince just said, ‘OK, we’re going to name you ‘Justin ‘Hawk’ Bradshaw’ and that’s how we got the name. I have no idea where that name came from. I don’t mind it, people call me ‘Bradshaw’ to this day.”
Bradshaw debuted on television on January 27, 1996 against Bob Holly, but he soon found himself feeling like he wasn’t going to be around much longer. Pointing to WrestleMania XII as a key point, JBL said he thought WWE was a mismatch for him and debated heading back to Japan.
“I was lost. I was in this incredible machine and I remember, it was WrestleMania XII, where Bret [Hart] and Shawn [Michaels] had that incredible Iron Man match in the Pond [Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, now the Honda Center], I remember sitting there and thinking that ‘I’m not sure I belong here.’ It was such an incredible spectacle, and I just thought I needed to go back to Japan and finish out my career there,” JBL explained, “I was really despondent about the whole thing. I didn’t know if I was going to make it or not.”
Bradshaw would later team with Barry Windham as the New Blackjacks, then worked briefly as a singles star again before tagging with Faarooq as the APA. Check out the full episode at this link.