Layfield’s first incarnation for Vince McMahon was as the Stan Hansen knockoff, Justin “Hawk” Bradhaw. He actually looked the part, but there was only so far that a sadistic cowboy could go in the 90’s. After becoming a Blackjack and a non-eventful face turn, he really made noise as one half of the Acolytes with Faarooq. The duo were a decent power based team, but as they morphed into the beer drinking, card playing “Acolyte Protection Agency”, Layfield really learned the art of developing a winning character.
With that said, he was a mid level talent for years and when he went solo with the J.R. Ewing type persona of John “Bradshaw” Layfield he didn’t seem worthy of the monster push he was receiving. That perception was proven wrong as his new character that was loosely based on his own personal success was played beautifully and generated incredible heat and made him one of the top heels in the industry. He was in championship contention after that and was the “wrestling god” he claimed to be. The performance of John Bradshaw Layfield from 2004 to 2008 is Hall of Fame material and is a realistic entry on our list.