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Justin Gabriel

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Title: Justin Gabriel  
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Subject: Wade Barrett, WrestleMania XXVII, David Otunga, WWE NXT (TV series), Global Force Wrestling
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Justin Gabriel

Justin Gabriel
Gabriel in April 2014
Birth name Paul Lloyd, Jr.[1]
Born (1981-03-03) 3 March 1981 [1]
Cape Town, Cape Province, South Africa[1]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Justin Angel[2]
Justin Gabriel[2]
Paul Lloyd[1]
Paul Lloyd, Jr.[1]
PJ Black[1]
Billed height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[3]
Billed weight 213 lb (97 kg)[3]
Billed from Cape Town, South Africa[3]
Trained by Paul Lloyd, Sr.[1]
Steve Debbes[1]
Alex Shane[1]
Mark Sloan[1]
Florida Championship Wrestling[1]
Debut 1997[1]

Paul Lloyd, Jr. (born 3 March 1981) is a South African professional wrestler. He works for WWE under the ring name Justin Gabriel.

A second-generation wrestler, Lloyd was initially trained by his father. Debuting in 1997 aged 16, he competed in the United Kingdom and South Africa, and was the inaugural WWP World Cruiserweight Championship in World Wrestling Professionals. In 2008, Lloyd signed a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment, and was assigned to Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), WWE's developmental territory, where he won the FCW Florida Tag Team Championship, with Kris Logan, and the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship. In February 2010, he competed in the first season of NXT, finishing third, before being called to the main roster in June 2010 joining The Nexus. He joined the Corre in 2011. Teaming regularly with Heath Slater, the duo won the WWE Tag Team Championship three times in 2010 and 2011.

Professional wrestling career

Early career (1997–2000)

Lloyd was originally trained by his father, Paul Lloyd, Sr., a promoter and wrestler in South Africa, who was also known by his ring name The Pink Panther.[1] His grandfather was a professional boxer and amateur wrestler.[1] Lloyd grew up watching his father wrestle and in the early part of his training he used to practice in the backyard of his home, in which two rings were positioned. He made his professional wrestling debut at the age of 16.[4] Using the ring name "PJ Black", he formed a regular tag team with Ray Leppan called Pure Juice.[1] His father died during Lloyd's final year in high school, and a year later he moved to the United Kingdom for five years.[5][6]

United Kingdom and South Africa (2000–2008)

Lloyd spent five years in the United Kingdom, where he trained with the FWA Academy. He was trained by Alex Shane and Mark Sloan. In 2003 he made his FWA debut. He also made an appearance in International Pro Wrestling: United Kingdom.[5]

He debuted for the South African promotion World Wrestling Professionals (WWP) in 2005.[7] In 2006, he returned to South Africa full-time, and returned to WWP.[5] His most notable feuds during his tenure in WWP were against Tornado, Dameon Duke, Mikey Whiplash, and Joe E. Legend. On 1 November 2007, Black became the promotion's inaugural World Cruiserweight Champion, by defeating The Playa in a match to determine the inaugural champion.[8] After holding the championship for 13 days, he lost it to Lizzard on 14 November.[8] He then declared his intentions to compete in WWP's heavyweight division.[8] Lloyd challenged unsuccessfully for the WWP World Heavyweight Championship against Joe E Legend on a WWP Thunderstrike episode that aired on 10 January 2009. During the match he suffered minor burns to the face after a fireball spot did not go as originally planned, and he had to be treated at in hospital. His final match in South Africa took place on 8 November 2008 at WWP's bi-annual Carnival City Casino show, where he was defeated by Terri Middoux in front of a record attendance.[9]

World Wrestling Entertainment / WWE

Florida Championship Wrestling (2008–2010)

Angel as the FCW Florida Heavyweight Champion in January 2010.

In 2008, Lloyd signed a three-year developmental deal with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), becoming the first South African person to do so. He was assigned to Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), WWE's developmental territory, where he made his debut under his real name on 5 February, in a loss to Kawal.[10] His first win in FCW came the following week, when he teamed with Caylen Croft and Trent Barreta to defeat Tyler Reks, Johnny Curtis, and DJ Gabriel in a six-man tag team match.[10] The following month, he changed his ring name to 'Justin Angel'.[10] He went on to wrestle against DH Smith, Barreta, Yoshitatsu, and Lance Hoyt over the next few months.[10] In June, he formed a tag team with Kris Logan, with the pair defeating DJ Gabriel and Vic Adams in their debut match as a team.[10] They quickly began to feud with The Dude Busters of Barreta and Croft, losing to them in several championship matches over the next month.[10] At the 23 July 2009 tapings of FCW's television show, Angel and Logan defeated Barreta and Croft to become the Florida Tag Team Champions.[11] They lost the championship on the same night to The Rotundos (Bo and Duke).[11]

Following the loss of the championship, Angel and Logan dissolved as a tag team, with Angel returning to singles competition. He went on a winning streak throughout August, defeating Alex Riley, Vance Archer, and Sheamus.[10] Angel won the Florida Heavyweight Championship from Heath Slater in a two out of three falls match at the 24 September 2009 television tapings.[1][11] He successfully defended the championship against Drew McIntyre, Eric Escobar, Slater, and Curt Hawkins throughout late 2009.[10] In February 2010, he changed his ring name to 'Justin Gabriel' to conincide with his appearances on NXT. Further successful championship defenses occurred in early 2010, against competitors including Hawkins, Barreta, and Kaval.[12] After a near six-month reign, Gabriel lost the championship at the 18 March television tapings, when Alex Riley won a three-way match, which also included Wade Barrett.[11][12] Gabriel lost a rematch to Riley on 31 March and again on 20 May.[12] In May, he started a feud with fellow South African Leo Kruger over who was the better wrestler.[12] On 10 June, Gabriel beat Kruger, but Kruger reversed the result in a rematch at the 1 July television tapings, which was Gabriel's final appearance in FCW.[12]

NXT, The Nexus, and The Corre (2010–2011)

On 16 February 2010, it was announced that Angel was going to be competing on the first season of WWE NXT, under the name Justin Gabriel, with Matt Hardy as his storyline mentor.[2] He made his in-ring debut on the 2 March episode of NXT in a tag team match with his mentor Hardy, against the team of William Regal and Skip Sheffield. Gabriel and Hardy won the match when Gabriel pinned Regal, making him the first rookie to pin a pro on the show.[13][14] He went on to defeat Wade Barrett the following week, before suffering his first defeat on the 16 March episode of NXT, when he and Hardy were defeated by CM Punk and Darren Young.[14][15] On 30 March, in the first Pros Poll, Gabriel was ranked third behind Daniel Bryan (first) and Wade Barrett (second).[16] Before the first elimination, Gabriel won the Rookie Challenge earning immunity from elimination in the following Pros Poll.[17] In that Poll, Gabriel remained in third place behind Wade Barrett (who was moved to first) and David Otunga (second).[18] In the season finale on 1 June, Gabriel was the first eliminated, finishing in third place overall in the competition.[19]

Gabriel (second from left) with the rest of The Nexus at SummerSlam.

On the 7 June episode of Raw, Gabriel and the other season one NXT rookies turned heel (villainous) by interfering in the main event match between John Cena and CM Punk, attacking both competitors, the announcing team and Justin Roberts, the ring announcer, before dismantling the ring area and surrounding equipment.[20] The following week on Raw the rookies (excluding Daniel Bryan who had been released) attacked General Manager Bret Hart, when he refused to give them contracts.[21] At the Fatal 4-Way pay-per-view, the seven rookies interfered in the WWE Championship match and cost Cena the championship. The following week on Raw, Vince McMahon fired Hart and announced the hiring of a new General Manager, who had signed the seven season one NXT rookies to contracts.[22] The following week, the group was named The Nexus.[23] On the 12 July episode of Raw, The Nexus competed in their first match together, without Darren Young, a six–on–one handicap match against John Cena, which they won when Gabriel pinned Cena.[24] The Nexus continued to feud with Cena and the Raw roster, resulting in a seven-on-seven elimination tag team match at SummerSlam. Gabriel was one of the final two Nexus members in the match, but Cena's team won when Cena eliminated Gabriel and then Barrett to win the match.[25]

In October 2010, Cena was forced to join The Nexus as a result of losing to Barrett at Hell in a Cell, and at the following pay-per-view, Cena and Otunga won the WWE Tag Team Championship.[26][27] On the 25 October episode of Raw, Barrett made a tag team match, with Gabriel and Heath Slater facing Otunga and Cena for the championship. Gabriel and Slater won when Barrett ordered Otunga to allow Slater to pin him, becoming the new Tag Team Champions.[28][29] Gabriel and Slater held the championship for nearly two months before losing it to Santino Marella and Vladimir Kozlov in a four-way elimination match, also involving The Usos and Mark Henry and Yoshi Tatsu on 6 December.[30] Gabriel and Slater received a rematch for the championship at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs on 19 December, but lost by disqualification when Nexus member Michael McGillicutty interfered.[31]

Gabriel in 2012

On the 10 January 2011 episode of Raw Gabriel and Slater refused to take part in new Nexus leader CM Punk's initiation and walked away from the group.[32] The following day, at the tapings of the 14 January episode of SmackDown, Gabriel and Slater helped their former leader Wade Barrett and Ezekiel Jackson attack Big Show.[33][34] The following week, Gabriel, Slater, Barrett, and Jackson announced they had formed The Corre, and later that night Gabriel defeated World Heavyweight Champion Edge in a non-title match, following interference from the other members of The Corre.[35][36] After winning a non-title match against the champions Kozlov and Marella on 4 February episode of SmackDown, Gabriel and Slater received a match for the WWE Tag Team Championship two weeks later, but lost via disqualification when the other members of The Corre interfered.[37][38] They received a rematch at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view on 20 February and defeated Marella and Kozlov to win the WWE Tag Team Championship for the second time.[39][40] The following night on Raw, Gabriel and Slater lost the championship to John Cena and The Miz, but won the championship back minutes later after Barrett invoked The Corre's rematch clause, and The Miz turned on Cena.[41][42] During this time, The Corre had continued to feud with The Big Show, and at WrestleMania XXVII in April the team of The Big Show, Kane, Santino Marella, and Kofi Kingston defeated The Corre.[43] At the 19 April taping of SmackDown, the duo of Gabriel and Slater lost the Tag Team Championship to the team of Kane and The Big Show. In a backstage segment following the match, Gabriel was attacked by Slater, who thought Gabriel blamed him for their loss.[44][45] On the 6 May episode of SmackDown, Gabriel, Barrett, and Slater attacked Jackson, removing him from the group.[46] The three remaining members of The Corre feuded with Jackson until the 10 June episode of SmackDown, when Barrett walked out on Gabriel and Slater during a six-man tag team match against Jackson and The Usos, causing Gabriel and Slater to proclaim the end of The Corre.[47][48][49] Gabriel continued to ally himself with Slater despite the dissolution of The Corre, and the duo began a feud with The Usos. On the 17 June episode of SmackDown, Gabriel and Slater were defeated by The Usos, but defeated them in a rematch the following week.[50][51] They were again defeated by The Usos on the 8 July episode of SmackDown, resulting in the pair arguing in the ring.[52] The following week, their team was ended when they faced off in a match won by Gabriel and Gabriel transitioned to a face (fan favourite) character.[53][54]

Various feuds and alliances (2011–present)

Gabriel (right) with partner Kidd (left) at a live SmackDown event in November 2012.

At Money in the Bank, Gabriel participated in the SmackDown Money in the Bank ladder match, but was unsuccessful and the match was won by Daniel Bryan.[55] Gabriel then went on a winning streak in both singles and tag team matches, until Wade Barrett pinned him on the 23 September, on SmackDown.[56][57][58] Gabriel competed only sporadically on SmackDown for the next two months, losing several matches until defeating Jinder Mahal on the 2 December episode of SmackDown due to a distraction from Ted DiBiase.[59][60][61] In January 2012, Gabriel began an alliance of sorts with Hornswoggle, saving him from Slater and Cody Rhodes, leading to matches with both which he won and lost respectively.[62][63][64] At Elimination Chamber, Gabriel failed to capture the WWE United States Championship from Jack Swagger.[65]

Following a series of matches in early 2012, Gabriel and Tyson Kidd showed mutual respect for each other, and decided to team up and form a tag team to challenge Primo and Epico for the WWE Tag Team Championship.[66][67] In a dark match at WrestleMania XXVIII on 1 April, also involving the Usos, they attempted to win the championship but were unsuccessful.[68][69] During the match, Gabriel suffered a hyperextended and twisted elbow, rendering him inactive for several weeks.[70] He returned on the 30 May episode of NXT, scoring the win for himself, Derrick Bateman and Percy Watson over the team of JTG, Johnny Curtis and Michael McGillicutty.[71] Gabriel reunited with Kidd on 6 June, when they defeated Johnny Curtis and Heath Slater on NXT Redemption.[72] At the No Way Out pay-per-view, Gabriel and Kidd were defeated by the Prime Time Players (Titus O'Neil and Darren Young) in a number one contender four-way tag team match, also involving Primo and Epico and The Usos.[73] When NXT merged with WWE's developmental territory FCW in August, Gabriel participated in a tournament to determine the inaugural NXT Champion, but was eliminated by Michael McGillicutty.[74][75] On the 31 August episode of SmackDown, Kidd and Gabriel suffered their first loss as a team against the Prime Time Players.[76] On the debut episode of WWE Main Event on 3 October, the pair, now unofficially called International Airstrike,[66] lost to Santino Marella and Zack Ryder in the quarter-finals of a tournament to decide the number one contenders.[77] The following month, they were named part of a team for Survivor Series, and were on the winning side of a precursor match on 12 November when they, Rey Mysterio, and Sin Cara defeated the Prime Time Players, Primo, and Epico with Gabriel pinning Young.[78] At Survivor Series, Gabriel and Kidd were part of the victorious team in a five-on-five elimination tag team match, alongside Mysterio, Sin Cara, and Brodus Clay.[79] In January 2013, it was revealed that Kidd had suffered a torn knee meniscus, placing their partnership on hold.[80]

On the 17 April episode of Main Event, Gabriel won a battle royal to earn an Intercontinental Championship match against former ally Wade Barrett later that night,[81] but was unsuccessful. Used sporadically throughout 2013, he became briefly involved in the storyline between The Authority and Daniel Bryan, and was punished by COO Triple H after aiding Bryan. On 6 April 2014, Gabriel competed in the André the Giant Memorial battle royal at WrestleMania XXX, but was eliminated by Big E.[82] In mid-2014, Gabriel began competing regularly on NXT. On the 3 July episode of NXT, Gabriel lost a match to Sami Zayn. After the match, Gabriel and Tyson Kidd attacked Zayn, reforming their alliance.[83] The following week on NXT, Gabriel and Kidd defeated Zayn and Adrian Neville in a tag team match.[84] On the 7 August episode of NXT, Gabriel and Kidd participated in the number one contender's tournament but lost to Zayn and Adam Rose in the first round.

Modeling career

Lloyd has competed in numerous modeling contests. He placed first in the Male Fitness Model Search held by FAME SA,[85] sixth in the 2008 Mr Body Classic contest held by Mr & Ms Body Beautiful SA,[86] eighth in the 2007 Men's Model Search held by Mr & Ms Fitness SA,[87] and reached the top five in the Mr Physique Division in the 2008 Men's Model Search.[88][89]

Other media

Lloyd appeared on Discovery Channel's Shark After Dark television programme in August 2013.[90] In September 2013, he was featured on an episode of Total Divas as a love interest for JoJo.[91]

Personal life

Lloyd has a degree in sports science.[4]

In wrestling

Gabriel about to perform a 450° splash on Ricky Steamboat.
Gabriel performing a moonsault on Cody Rhodes in 2012.
  • Entrance themes
    • "We Are One" by 12 Stones[130] (7 June 2010–14 January 2011)
    • "End of Days" by Matt McCloskey and Jim Johnston[131] (14 January 2011–24 June 2011)
    • "Black or White" by Bleeding In Stereo[132] (24 June 2011–15 July 2011)
    • "The Rising" by Jan Cyrka and Tony Bricheno[122] (29 July 2011–15 July 2013)
    • "Fear Nothing" by CFO$[133] (17 July 2013–present)

Championships and accomplishments

Gabriel as one half of the WWE Tag Team Champions in November 2010.


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External links

  • WWE Profile
  • Online World of Wrestling profile
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