JBL emphatically retired from in-ring competition in April 2009, but there was one match he was willing to come out of retirement for.
John ‘Bradshaw’ Layfield famously quit WWE following his twenty-two second loss of the Intercontinental Championship to Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania 25 in April 2009. Unlike most wrestling retirements, ‘The Wrestling God’ has stayed true to his word, with just one Royal Rumble-related exception.
However, the success of his and Michael Cole’s YouTube show – aptly titled The JBL and Cole Show, and then renamed The JBL and Renee Show when Renee Paquette (Young) replaced the veteran commentator – almost led to the former WWE Champion putting his wrestling boots back on.
Per the man himself on his and Gerald Brisco’s Stories With Brisco And Bradshaw podcast, JBL was willing to come out of retirement to team with Heath Slater, who’d play the character of JBL’s nephew, Big Clem Layfield. This is the persona he portrayed on the tongue-in-cheek YouTube series, and would’ve carried into mainstream WWE programming as he explained (h/t Sportskeeda):
“I liked it so much I went to Vince and I told him, ‘Listen, I’ll come out of retirement and wrestle a tag match with Heath as my nephew’. Vince thought about it. He goes, ‘That’s really interesting’. But then he physically didn’t think I could do it, so he backed out of it. I loved Big Clem Layfield!”
Premiering in December 2012, The JBL and Cole Show replaced the Zack Ryder-helmed Z! True Long Island Story, and ultimately won the 2013 Slammy Award for Favourite Web Show of the Year. Its final episode – under the banner of The JBL and Renee Show – aired in early May 2015, and was the 128th episode made.
Heath Slater departed WWE in April 2020 after being the victim of budget cuts, though he now resides in IMPACT Wrestling where he recently challenged Moose for the Anthem-helmed promotion’s World Championship.