It takes a good actor to pass from a hardcore Texan cowboy to a "bar-brawlers-for-hire" then to a rich businessman, and JBL is just that, a great actor.
When he debuted with WWE in 1996, he was a long-haired cowboy who branded his defeated opponents. He was managed by Uncle Zebekiah (Dutch Mantel), but his initial gimmick was abandoned after 10 months.
In February 1997, he was repackaged, and he formed a tag team known as The New Blackjacks along with Barry Windham to become Blackjack Bradshaw. Both men were a copy of the original Blackjacks, with their black hair and mustaches.
However, the New Blackjacks were just a plain copy of the originals and they had zero success. When Blackjack Windham was put out of action due to injuries, Bradshaw continued in solo with the same attire, but still as enhancement talent.
Finally, after nearly three years roaming in the low-mid card at best, he upgraded his status when he was put together with Faarooq to form The Acolytes as a part of The Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness.
In fact, both men's career were going nowhere before they started their successful association in December 1998. As members of the Ministry, they won the Tag Team Championship twice before the stable disbanded.
Then, in January 2000, the Acolytes Protection Agency (APA) was officially created. The APA offered their protection services to those who paid the most. They also cut many memorable promos in their famous APA Room, in which many poker games were played.
In 2001, they had their third and final WWE Tag Team Champions reign together. Bradshaw and Faarooq were split at the May 2002 draft, but they kept their gimmick, re-uniting on some occasions until 2004.
In March 2004, a new persona appeared on Smackdown! It was JBL, the arrogant heel who claimed to be better than everyone and who received his long-awaited main event push. The 17-time Hardcore Champion became World Heavyweight Champion in June the same year. His reign had an impressive length of 280 days.
But what goes up must go down and JBL eventually dropped on the card. He had some great feuds in the bottom of the Top Card until the end of his career and he completed the Grand Slam Championship by winning the US and Intercontinental Titles.
Ultimately, as the infamous guy in complete suit, with a tie and his signature cowboy hat, JBL became one of the greatest heels ever.