Everyone in the SmackDown locker room is still talking about new United States Champion Montel Vontavious Porter, and his impressive victory over Chris Benoit at Judgment Day's 2-out-of-3 Falls Match. And the one who has been most vocally impressed—other than MVP himself—is his second-biggest fan, John Bradshaw Layfield.
"MVP is what America is all about," said JBL. "He's a guy who grew up to be World Champion. He is the future of sports-entertainment, and he's a model citizen. He's going to be a great champion."
High praise, indeed, from a self-proclaimed "American hero" and "wrestling god" who once held the WWE Championship—especially when one considers his initial "Franchise Playa-hater" remarks more than seven months ago. SmackDown's color commentator openly admits that he first thought MVP was "all talk, no action" when he signed the most lucrative contract in SmackDown history. Since then, however, the major-league progress in MVP's mat work, plus watching him continually elevate his game against elite Superstars like Kane (including a brutal Inferno Match at Armageddon last December), Undertaker and most recently Benoit, has "won me over completely."
Of course, it also pleases JBL to know that the hotshot followed some "extremely instrumental" counsel to earn one of WWE's most valuable prizes at Judgment Day.
"I gave him some advice on Chris Benoit," JBL admitted. "Back at WrestleMania 22, I defeated Benoit for that same United States Championship, so I gave MVP my game plan."
So much for calling the ring action "down the line" from the announcers' table. Then again, JBL's motivation for what some could describe as "playa tampering" goes deeper than our fans might realize.
"I like MVP. I think he's the future of sports-entertainment," he explained, "but I also hate Chris Benoit. Benoit's the one who broke my back in a Triple Threat Match in England for the championship. He German-suplexed me off the top rope—probably the only time it has ever been done, period—and shortened my career. So a lot of this has to do with how much I hate Chris Benoit."
MVP "ballin'" his way to United States bling may be the result of a vengeful strategy from beneath a ten-gallon cowboy hat. However, JBL is confident that Porter's potential for WWE greatness has no end zone in sight. "He's going to do tremendous things for the legacy of the United States Title," he declared, only to noticeably bristle moments upon hearing that MVP believes he will sit atop the list of great United States Champions—a list that includes John Bradshaw Layfield. "Any time you're a champion, you need to feel that you're No. 1 of all time," he said. "Obviously, I would take issue with him about that. But as the champion, that's what he's got to feel. And except for me, he is the greatest champion of all time."