Welcome back for entry number 38–the third since the reboot–here at the “Church of Christ Celebrities” blog! I hope you’re enjoying the topic selection so far, but if you have comments or topic suggestions of your own, feel free to pass them along at the Contact page. I always enjoy hearing from you!
Last time out, we focused on two key figures in the history of Pixar, Andrew Stanton and John Lasseter. While we weren’t able to find much about Stanton, Lasseter clearly had substantial connections to Churches of Christ, as did singer Pat Boone from the previous entry. Today, we’re moving into yet another realm of the entertainment industry as we profile former professional wrestler John Layfield (1966-).
Before we get to Layfield, though, a brief update on my forthcoming book, Visions of Restoration: The History of Churches of Christ. VoR will be officially published on September 12, but you can go ahead and order copies now at http://www.hcu.edu/product/visions-of-restoration-the-history-of-churches-of-christ-by-john-young/. There will also be a reception and book signing event at Heritage Christian University in Florence, Alabama, on the day of the release, so if you’d like an autographed copy or to personally threaten me with bodily harm, here’s your chance!
With that in mind, let’s return to John Layfield, best known for his storied (and somewhat controversial!) career in the WWE. A former college football player, Layfield pivoted to wrestling in the 1990s, eventually rising through the ranks to become WWE champion and retaining the belt for several months from 2004-2005. Since retiring from wrestling, Layfield has worked as a color commentator for wrestling competitions and moonlighted as a business commentator for CNBC and Fox Business Network, among numerous other pursuits.
(“Layfield at a 2002 house show during his time as Bradshaw” by Mshake3 is licensed under CC BY 2.5.)
As it turns out, Layfield’s connections to Churches of Christ are perhaps the easiest to establish of any of the subjects we’ve profiled recently. Layfield played college football at Abilene Christian University, a school associated with Churches of Christ, and in 2016, he briefly returned to ACU to serve as the color analyst for several football games. (1) Additionally, the announcement for Layfield’s 2005 marriage to Meredith Whitney which appeared in the New York Times notes that the ceremony was performed by “Lavelle Layfield, a minister of the Church of Christ and the father of the bridegroom…” (2)
Although information about Layfield’s connections to Churches of Christ in the last few years is harder to come by, it’s clear that there has been a long-term link of some sort throughout much of his life. Join us again in two weeks as we follow this entry up with another one focusing on combat sports–more specifically, a profile of former UFC champion Holly Holm. See you then!
(1) Grant Boone, “Layfield returns to broadcast games of a team he knows well,” ACU Today, Spring 2017, 60.
(2) “Meredith Whitney, John Layfield,” New York Times, February 13, 2005, accessed July 11, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/13/fashion/weddings/meredith-whitney-john-layfield.html .