Poker Returns To The WWE As JBL Hosts Invitational Poker Tournament
- Retired professional wrestler John Layfield recently hosted a poker tournament on WWE Raw
- Layfield, known as JBL to wrestling fans, became popular because of his poker gimmicks back in the day
- A lot of poker players love the WWE including Dan Cates
Poker is back on WWE Raw! Wrestling superstar John “Bradshaw” Layfield, known as “JBL”, hosted an invitational poker tournament on Monday Night Raw on December 5, 2022.
The first of a series of poker games that both wrestling and poker fans can look forward to in future episodes of the popular wrestling show.
JBL’s Relationship with Poker
JBL retired from professional wrestling in 2009 but remains connected to the sport, making multiple appearances at various wrestling shows. At the moment, he manages the wrestling career of former professional footballer Baron Corbin.
JBL’s rise to prominence began during the WWE’s Attitude Era where he won as Tag Team Champion three times along with his partner Ron “Faarooq” Simmons. Poker had been an integral part of their acts, with the duo, known as the Acolytes Protection Agency (APA), often seen playing poker in the backrooms of arenas, eventually gaining a huge fan base.
Now, JBL hopes to recreate those moments as poker makes a return to WWE Raw.
The Poker-Wrestling Connection
WWE has a long-standing love affair with poker, using it as a gimmick several times in the past. Back in 2018, when the show marked its 25th year, it aired a special poker game that featured no other than the APA team.
The WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2006 also banked on the popularity of Texas Hold’em, as it was among the mini-games featured in the video game, allowing users to play against 50 different wrestlers.
In October 2021, the WWE took another shot at using poker to boost fan engagement. This time around, it was Australian professional wrestler Duke Hudson who would become the lead star. “Duke’s Poker Room” became part of WWE NXT but was short-lived after failing to gain traction.
In the poker world, plenty of poker pros are wrestling fans as well. Take for example Dan “Jungleman” Cates who impersonated American wrestling legend Randy “Macho Man” Savage during the recent World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas. He ended up winning the $50K Poker Players Championship, becoming the first player in WSOP history to win the tournament in two straight years.
Cates is a fan of wrestling but never tried it his entire life. Dash Dudley did. Prior to becoming a poker pro, Dudley was a wrestler in Michigan. The career shift was a good decision as he now holds three WSOP gold bracelets with over $3 million in live tournament earnings.