Awakening a 'wrestling god's' wrath

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January 11, 2008

John "Bradshaw" Layfield is not the man he used to be -- Chris Jericho found that out the hard way last Monday on Raw.

Even longtime observers of JBL were stunned by the ferocity of his attack on Y2J following a Handicap Match pitting Jericho against the self-proclaimed "wrestling god" & Snitsky. Jericho had trouble breathing after the former SmackDown color commentator brutalized him with a cable. (WATCH)

JBL's ruthlessness is almost legendary, but even WWE officials seemed taken aback by the difficulty they had pulling the self-made billionaire off Jericho. The former WWE Champion snorted and bared his teeth in a volcanic rage while officials tended to Y2J. JBL didn't hear anything that anyone was saying to him; he didn't hear the sold-out Mohegan Sun Arena raining boos on him. Only one person was in his crosshairs: Jericho.

'Wrestling Afterthought'?!?

Layfield has been on a mission since Jericho referred to him as a "wrestling afterthought" the night after Armageddon. A JBL kick ruined Y2J's championship mission at Armageddon, the aftermath of a seemingly innocuous shove by Jericho when the heat of the battle spilled onto the broadcast area. When Jericho suggested in a subsequent confrontation that the wrestling god was becoming a wrestling afterthought in sports-entertainment history, JBL's ego couldn't take it anymore. His face visibly changed; his eyes bulged with outrage and his lips curled into a sneer. Something ignited in JBL's belly as he roared he was leaving SmackDown and returning to the ring on Raw.

The rage JBL has unleashed on Raw seems to have been building for months. Even while he was still SmackDown's color commentator, he expressed frustration over calling the matches of "guys who couldn't even lace" his boots. He kept talking about how he wanted one more chance "at the biggest dance of them all" at WrestleMania where the lights are brightest. And controversy seemed to follow JBL behind the broadcast table, as he found himself physically involved in confrontations with Batista, Undertaker and Mysterio.

So, what did JBL,  whose 10-month WWE Championship reign between 2004 and 2005 was the longest in 10 years at the time, think when he saw Jericho, the first-ever Undisputed Champion in WWE history, make his grand return to much fanfare in November? Does he think Y2J can't lace his boots?

No Longer on a Campaign

JBL seems hell-bent on proving a point to Jericho and all of WWE. In the past, even though he's always favored a "win-at-all-costs" philosophy, Layfield has courted the public's vote. Even when deriding our fans, he's had a ready smile. But that smile -- that person -- has disappeared since JBL announced his return to competition. JBL doesn't want your vote -- he knows he's a wrestling god. He's out to cement his place in history and make skeptics like Jericho a wrestling afterthought.

But has the big Texan-turned-New Yorker picked on the wrong man? Y2J has been intense since his return after a two-year absence and he wants to give JBL a receipt for costing him the WWE Title. He also has a documented mean streak and will likely want to give JBL a receipt for last Monday's attack.

At Royal Rumble, we'll see a savior of sports-entertainment in one corner and a wrestling god in the other -- and their rivalry has just escalated to epic proportions. The battle between Jericho and JBL could be anything but divine when the smoke clears at the Rumble.

Photos: JBL-Y2J rivalry gets ugly

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