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.
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.’”