After beginning his wrestling career in 1992, John “Bradshaw” Layfield appeared in Mexico, Japan and across Europe before signing with the WWF in 1995. Upon joining the company the rugged Texan recommended Vince McMahon also sign another brawler who had become a staple on the European scene.
Fit Finlay made his in-ring debut back in 1974 and spent the next two decades performing all over the world, although never in the United States. However, it was during this period that he crossed paths with JBL, wrestling for the Catch Wrestling Association in 1994.
JBL Told Vince McMahon To Hire Finlay
When Bradshaw met with Vince McMahon to finalise his WWF deal, the then-Chairman asked him if there was anyone in Europe he should sign. Recounting the meeting on Stories with Brisco and Bradshaw, the WWE Hall of Famer said that he recommended Finlay. When Vince McMahon jokingly asked if he should sign him instead of JBL, the former World Champion responded with full sincerity that he should.
“When I signed with WWE, I met Vince for the first time in the office, had my tryout match, Jerry [Gerald Brisco] is the one who signed me, him and JJ Dillon agreed to sign me. At the end of the meeting, Vince says, ‘is there anyone I should sign in Europe?’ ‘Yeah, Fit Finlay.’ Vince says, half-jokingly, ‘Well, if you were me, would you sign him instead of you?’ I said, ‘Absolutely. I’m serious. He’s that good,'”
Despite the recommendation Fit Finlay didn’t sign with WWF/WWE until 2001 after a spell in WCW which began in 1996. The Northern Irish star initially worked as a trainer before returning to the ring in 2005. Over the next six years Finlay won the United States Championship and became famous for appearing alongside Hornswoggle.
Finlay left the company in 2011 before returning a year later as a producer and trainer. He is widely credited with helping launch the ‘Women’s Revolution‘ with his emphasis on training women to wrestle the same style as WWE’s male performers.
JBL recently returned to WWE television working as Baron Corbin’s manager.
H/t to Fightful