JBL on his RAW return

JBL said sign him instead of me. He’s that good!

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JBL and Finlay are well-respected and decorated veterans in their own rights, and it seems they have a longer history together than just their time together in WWE in the mid to late 2000s and early 2010s.

In 1994, as John Hawk, the young John Bradshaw Layfield headed to one of Europe’s top promotions, Otto Wanz’s Catch Wrestling, a German/Austrian-based outfit. This is where he met another fellow up-and-comer, Dave “Fit” Finlay. The future WWE Hall of Famer was so impressed with the Irishman that he recommended Fit Finlay to Vince McMahon when he signed for the then WWF, as he shared on a recent episode of the Stories with Brisco and Bradshaw podcast.

Finlay is more or less a WWE lifer today
Finlay is more or less a WWE lifer today

JBL explained how he vouched for Finlay, and how it led to the future United States champion joining the Fed:

“I can tell you that we all wanted to be Fit. Let me tell you, when I signed with WWE, I met Vince for the first time in the office. Had my tryout match, and Jerry’s the one that signed me. He and JJ Dillon signed me, or agreed to sign me. I go to a meeting with him, and at the end of the meeting, Vince says, ‘Well, is there anybody that I should sign in Europe?’ I said, ‘Yeah, Fit Finlay.’ And Vince says, just kind of half-jokingly, he said, ‘Well, if you were me, would you sign him instead of you?’ And I said ‘Absolutely.’ I said, ‘I’m serious, he’s that good.’”

Finlay eventually joined WWE in 2001 after its takeover of WCW, where he had worked since 1996. The Belfast native was first a trainer, before working as an in-ring talent until 2011. A year after his release in 2011, he returned as a producer and has been there ever since.

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