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December 9, 2008

The JBL-Joey Styles incident

Here’s a headline that looks like something you’d find on satirical Web site "Joey Styles punches out JBL in Iraq"

Well, you know what they say about truth being stranger than fiction. According to, the former voice of ECW knocked down JBL with a punch to the face during WWE’s trip to Iraq last week for the Tribute to the Troops show. The story is that JBL, who has a reputation for hazing and bullying people, was relentlessly picking on Styles, who finally reached his boiling point and confronted JBL.

Styles (listed at 5 feet 8, 165 pounds on Wikipedia) dropping JBL (6-6, 290, according to blows away Paul Orndorff knocking out Vader and Chris Jericho taking down Bill Goldberg as far as shocking results to real-life physical confrontations. I am guessing that Styles has gained a new measure of respect in the locker room and is probably a hero to others who have been hazed, while JBL’s reputation as a tough guy has taken a hit – literally.

Hazing and pulling ribs have been an accepted aspect of the wrestling business forever. Some of it is rather harmless, but it can also be quite mean-spirited. Such behavior would be grounds for termination in a traditional workplace, but it’s often dismissed in wrestling as boys being boys.

In the past, there have been instances of WWE talent citing hazing as a reason for quitting the company. In the case of Styles, who is WWE’s director of digital content, instead of putting pen to paper and drafting his resignation letter, he put fist to face.

It shouldn’t have had to come to that. Now that WWE is a publicly traded company and wrestling is no longer the equivalent of a secret society, the lawlessness and frat-boy mind-set of the old territorial days need to end.

It will be interesting to see if any action is taken by WWE in regard to Styles and JBL, but since both were on Raw last night, I wouldn’t expect any.

What makes this latest incident even more embarrassing is that it happened during a feel-good event – entertaining the troops in Iraq – that was originally JBL’s idea.

Posted by Kevin Eck at 9:28 PM | | Comments (29)


Good for Joey Styles . I've never been a fan of John Layfield . If you've ever seen him on "Fox" or any of the other news channels that he often appears on as a real life stock analyst , the arrogant , over-bearing , boorish personality traits he displays in the ring , carry over to outside the ring .
Too bad as you said Kevin , it happened on a goodwill trip and it didn't look good for the company . But as far as JBL , "he got what he got".

Remember a few years ago when JBL sucker-punched the Blue Meanie at the "One Night Stand" pay-per-view? Totally gutless act. Tracy Smothers seriously threatened to hurt JBL over that. Karma rules. And Joey Styles is Karma...

I was dumbfounded when I first heard the news. You made the perfect analgy in your last blog - it's just like the scene from "A Christmas Story."

Sort of off topic - did you know that JBL is mentioned in a college finance textbook? My friend has that class and one day while watching wrestling she asked me what "JBL" stood for, I told her & she told me her book has profiles about Americans who made it big in the stock market and there's a profile about John Layfield the fits the bill.

Way to go Joey, having been an avid fan for many years, I loved The APA Bradshaw, but I think the JBL character is his true self, and someone finally stopped his arrogant childish garbage. The fast that it was a 5'8" Announcer/writer makes the story great. Guess Styles really is EXTREME.

"I am guessing that Styles has gained a new measure of respect in the locker room and is probably a hero to others who have been hazed...."

I don't doubt that he has gained respect, but is he a hero to others who have been hazed? I'm not so sure.

Here is a hypothetical situation: I am a wrestler, and JBL hazes me, and I don't do anything about it. Then, some harmless-looking ex announcer knocks JBL horizontal. I think that would make me feel worse.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: So Chris Masters is probably feeling pretty bad.


I actually really enjoy both guys work.

Styles should be calling play by lay instead of Cole.

JBL is fantastic as the rich guy heel.

I think a fantastic comedy spot would be if JBL has to make cut backs due to the economy and comes out to the ring in a Toyota Prius with the horns attached to the front.

No wrestling news story has made me smile as much as this one did.

JBL is a talented worker, but from all reports he's pretty much a jerk and a bully towards those below him.

He's dished out more than his fair share over the years, so hopefully he's feeling embarrassed (you'd have to be, wouldn't you?) and thinks twice before he bullies another green rookie.

Well done Joey, keeping the EXTREME alive.

I think we have a new winner for the "Oh My God!!!" moment of the year....

Yeah, I'm no fan of JBL's attitude. I get where he's coming from, I agree with him in that there are a lot of green newcomers who don't seem to have the same reverence for the business as some of the old guard do. What I don't agree with is the way he conducts himself, as if he has some sort of tenure that gives him free run of the place and entitles him to be able to bully other talent. I actually think this proves that JBL's intentions aren't solely for the sake of tradition, though, as Styles is an old-school guy himself. It seems to me like JBL finally let his self-indulgent side come through fully.

The other thinkg I think is interesting is the predicament WWE is in now. Like you said, hazing has become commonplace in WWE. It doesn't even stop at hazing, though. If you'll recall, Randy Orton got in some hot water for harassing a few different female employees, all of whom left the company. Any other company and Orton would have been the one out looking for work. Anyways, I just think this is going to put WWE's policies up to the test, and rightfully so. I think their stance has always pretty much been that if it brings negative publicity, it's a punishable offense, but if no one makes a deal about it it'll always slide. Of the two offenses, punching a coworker and harassing a coworker, which one brings the worst publicity? Punching a coworker, at least in WWE's case. The problem is not only that the attack was provoked and that Styles can prove it, JBL has a history of this type of behavior that has been known to WWE and has been left unattended for some time. If they indeed do try to fire Styles or take action against him, he has a pretty damn good case of workplace misconduct and negligence on WWE's part in enforcing a safer environment. Whatever happens, I do think it serves as a perfect example of how lopsided WWE's policies concerning misconduct in different areas is.

From seeing Styles on Raw,he hasn't seen 165 pounds in quite a while..Looked closer to 265 to me.
Really enjoy your blogs.

wasn't JBL in a hazing incident back in the APA days where he got a naked ref. and duct taped him to a rolling chair and rolled him out in the halls? i seem to remember that.
the only way the punch out could have been better is if Styles used a Kendo stick.....

The only question that remains is if Joey Styles screamed "OH MY GOD!" when he KO’ ed JBL. Probably not, but this is possibly the best thing to come out of wrestling in all of 2008. It's just too bad they didn't give Joey a Slammy Award for Best Shoot of the Year on Monday.

On a technical mismatch side note, Baltimore-born Hasim Rahman is taking on Wladimir Klitschko in Mannheim, Germany on Saturday. Most fight fans (including myself) think that Wladimir will destroy Rock. But hey, if Joey Styles can get one over JBL, maybe Hasim can pull out that same magic punch that landed him the Undisputed Heavyweight Title by knocking out Lennox Lewis in April of 2001. Good luck Rahman; you’re going to need it.

OH MY GOD!!!!!!

I'm glad to see this fake "tough guy" get exposed. Now if only someone would knock out the Undertaker so he would stop trying to act like he is king of the bad asses outside the ring.

Talk about an OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!! moment.

Given John Layfields long tenure in professional wrestling and his success there , along with his success in the outside business world , you might think that he would be more highly regarded in both venues . The fact that he's not , speaks volumes as to the type of person he is .
You go Joey Styles .

What's not being talked about here is the reaction JBL is going to get from the fans. This has the same potential of the Edge/Lita/Matt Hardy situation that was never supposed to be a storyline, but had to become one because of the intense reaction by the audience.

JBL's career is about to change big-time. He'll be hearing a lot "Jo-ey Sty-les" chants in his future.

And how did the news not get out before Raw? Joey would've been the biggest babyface in Philly if it had.

It's a shame that news of the incident didn't hit until after Monday's TV show in Philly. The Philly fans, especially the old ECW cult, would have eaten this up, and we wouldn't have been able to hear JBL steal the award from Michaels over the OMG chant.

If I recall correctly, they made a short story line out of the sucker punch BJL landed on the Blue Meanie. I wonder if a story line is forthcoming from this incident.

This should have been on the PPV. If this exists on tape, they should offer it for $39.99 and I'd pay it. It'd be worth every single penny.

"I'm glad to see this fake "tough guy" get exposed. Now if only someone would knock out the Undertaker so he would stop trying to act like he is king of the bad asses outside the ring."

Come on now... JBL was terribly drunk! Unless you really believe Joey Styles beat JBL up legit...

And what are you talking about with the Taker? From all accounts (e.g. Lance Storm and JR), Taker is the man outside the ring. Besides, he is clearly into his MMA these days so he isn't that clueless (though he is much smaller than he used to be).

I haven't been to a live wrestling event in years, but I may have to go to the next Raw taping in DC or Baltimore just so I can try to get a "JBL FEARS JOEY" sign on TV.

I know it's already been said a few times but.......oh my......GOOOOOOODDDDD!!!

one quick comment regarding the Undertaker. I remember the Raw that took place the night after Owen Hart was killed. Every wrestler in the WWE spoke from the heart, except one. Taker refused to address this tragic incident because he wouldn't allow himself to be seen out of character. That's the day I lost all respect for him.

JBL must have some real-life toughness. Did he not beat Mark Canterbury in the Brawl for All?

I think JBL really is tough to some extent. That is why this story is so amazing.

"Taker refused to address this tragic incident because he wouldn't allow himself to be seen out of character. That's the day I lost all respect for him."


How do you not know this is not management's choice (since I'm 100% it is)?

Do you think Taker wanted to beat up management for them showing him embracing Flair after RAW went off the air on a DVD?

Do you think Taker wanted to beat up Edge due to Edge mentioning in an interview recently how Taker said to him personally that he had the best chemistry with him since Michaels and Hart?

Do you think Taker wanted to be backstage, alone by himself, while everyone else was out there in the crowd enjoying Rock's return at the Hall of Fame?

Come on.

Just a quick defense of Undertaker in reference to the Mark's comments. Taker refusing to leave character to discuss the Owen Hart tragedy is actually a reason to respect him even more for his dedication to his craft and his respect for the traditions of the industry, both of which are traits that most would agree Owen would admire. Owen was born and bred into the tradition and understands that breaking kayfabe sucks something out of wrestling. These days everyone is "in on the joke" and so the tradition is not protected. By Undertaker not leaving a character, a character revolving around death mind you, to speak about Owen is commendable given that I'm sure Taker had sentiments to express, but did the right thing by doing it off camera. To these few people that do this for a living it is life and in some cases bigger than themselves. Look at Vickie Guerrero for example. So, don't be so quick to write off Taker, by basically every account he is the most solid of dudes in an industry full of Triple H's and Shawn Michael's.

"one quick comment regarding the Undertaker. I remember the Raw that took place the night after Owen Hart was killed. Every wrestler in the WWE spoke from the heart, except one. Taker refused to address this tragic incident because he wouldn't allow himself to be seen out of character. That's the day I lost all respect for him."

I think WWE made that call due to the Undertaker character being so interconnected with the idea of death, plus the satanic edge of the character at the time of Owen's death.

'Taker addressed why he does not appear on tribute shows during his American Badass days. Because of the type of character 'Taker is, he feels that it is both macabre and disrespectful to bring out his funerary character of death and destruction to speak on those sorts of shows.

First, re: JBL/Styles. Both are old schoolers in wrestling. Even if both of them know JBL could beat down Styles in a fight, I'll bet that JBL will never mess with Styles, knowing Styles will do whatever he can to [get] JBL back.
Second; Undertaker. I might not agree with 'Taker, but I respect him. He feels it's best, not just for him, but for the business he loves, not to leave character. This gives him a painful choice. Does he break character and talk about Owen (who, from all accounts, he respected) or does he keep character and not appear? I'll give him all credit for doing what he thought was best, instead of doing what was easiest.
- Peace

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
E-mail Kevin.

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