Finally, the wait is over, as it appears JBL is here to stay.
On Wednesday afternoon, JBL took to Twitter with the following:
Layfield (@JCLayfield) November 7, 2012
The link takes you to his Facebook page, where he preceded to make the following announcement:
Very happy WWE and I have worked out a deal for me to return on a full-time basis. There came a need when my friend Jerry Lawler had a heart attack and was not able to work, however, I realized how much I enjoyed being back and this was the basis for my decision to return.
I will doing Smackdown with Josh Matthews. I have filled in on Main Event some but mainly when Miz has a large part in the show and can't do commentary.
Raw is 100% Jerry's. He and Michael are a great team, I enjoy listening to Jerry and there are no plans for a three man booth with me in it. I am happy on Smackdown.
It looks like I will be doing PPVs as a representative for the Smackdown brand as part of a three-man booth with Cole and King.
As a fan of JBL's commentary, I feel this is great news. Especially considering he is a successful heel commentator that fans can appreciate. He not only knows how to work the mic, he can also work fans without really trying. Since his return, JBL has been welcomed back by fans with open arms and proved that he hasn't missed a beat.
The fact is, it appears the WWE realised having Michael Cole on both brands as "The Voice of the WWE" wasn't working. Let's face it, if we have learned anything from the wrestling business, it's that you can't force fans to boo or cheer someone, no matter how much TV time you give them.
Overall, having a separation between the brands is a great idea. It allows the two shows to have their own different and distinct identity. It also gives fans a break from the same old, same old and gives them a reason to tune in to the shows. Hopefully with this announcement, the WWE will go back to a true split between the brands.
In 2002, the WWE introduced the "Brand Extension," which included an annual draft. This move allowed each brand's GM to draft several stars and showcase them exclusively on their respective show. Then in 2003, the company began splitting many of their pay-per-views between the brands.
To me, this gave the creative team a chance to put over wrestlers that may not have otherwise had a spot. It also gave fans a chance to really see how talented the WWE roster truly is. Sadly, the WWE discontinued this practice and has been co-branding the pay-per-views since 2007.
In the end, JBL belongs back behind the booth. Overall, he is vested in the product and truly enjoys what he does. Not to mention, his presence at the pay-per-views will give SmackDown a true voice as opposed to having the Raw team call the shots. Hopefully for content's sake, he is locked in for several years to come.