Brian Girad James was born May 20, 1969 in Marietta, Georgia. He is the son of wrestling legend Bob Armstrong and brother of Scott, Brad and Steve, so wrestling literally existed in Brian’s bloodline. After receiving training from his father, he immediately appeared in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) alongside his father.
His debut in the NWA came on December 1, 1986 where he defeated Kevin “The Taskmaster” Sullivan to win the NWA Southeast Championship. Despite his impressive debut, the patriotic James decided to enlist in the Marine Corps in 1987 and completed a tour of duty as part of Operation Desert Storm. Upon his arrival, he jumped back into the wrestling scene, losing to Terry “Red Rooster” Taylor at the Great American Bash in 1991.
In 1992 he appeared in Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling (SMW) under a mask as the Dark Secret, a glorified jobber that went nowhere in the territory. He would fight for his country in another tour of duty shortly thereafter.
He would also return to SMW as the Dark Secret while simultaneously working for Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling (WCW) as Brian Armstrong. He gradually fazed himself out of SMW and wrested for WCW exclusively. He did not have much success during this stint of his career with no title reigns to speak of and mostly jobbing to other talent.
In 1994, James headed to the fertile plains of WWF. His gimmick was that of “The Roadie” and Country and Western singer that would act as the assistant/ sidekick to heel Jeff Jarrett. Roadie would partake in some singles matches, but mostly functioned to interfere in Jarrett’s matches.
Jarrett and Roadie left the WWF to the United States Wrestling Association under the name of Jesse James Armstrong, winning several titles in this independent promotion.
In 1996, James appeared back in the WWF by himself as “Jesse James”. James claimed to be the true singer of Double J’s country catalogue and quickly established a reputation as a heel.
James started a feud with the Honkytonk Man who was approaching the twilight of his career along with Honky’s sidekick, Rockabilly. James fought against Rockabilly and Honky exchanging victories along the way until James decided to form an alliance with Rockabilly against Honky.
It was at this point that things really stated to change. James now started calling himself “Road Dogg” and Rockabilly became “Badd Ass Billy Gunn”. James started growing out his hair and braiding it in cornrows. As a team, Gunn and James became the “New Age Outlaws” and were able to upset The Legion of Doom (LOD) for the WWF Tag Team Championship.
The Outlaws successfully defended the titles against LOD in future encounters as well as against Mick “Cactus Jack” Foley and Terry “Chainsaw Charlie” Funk. The two dropped the straps to Foley and Funk in a “dumpster match” after a more than 4 month reign. The Outlaws would regain the titles from Foley and Funk the following day in a steel cage match on Raw. After another 4 month title reign, the Outlaws lost to Kane and Foley again, this time as his Mankind persona.
The Outlaws next joined Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Chyna as part of the popular Degeneration-X faction. After their alliance with DX, The Outlaws had tremendous success, winning the Tag Team titles 3 more times all against long time rival Mick Foley as Mankind with various partners such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kane, and Al Snow.
In solo efforts, James also won the Intercontinental Championship from Val Venis in 1999 and the WWF Hardcore Championship.
In 2000, the Outlaws were forced to break up as Gunn needed time off to tend to injuries. James than teamed with fellow DX member X-Pac, but the two failed to win any championship belts. This led to tensions between the two and they faced one another at the SummerSlam Pay-Per-View event. X-Pac won the bout and tried to make amends with Dogg, but Dogg backstabbed X-Pac by attacking him after the match.
Dogg then had a short-lived unremarkable tag team with K-Kwik (the future R-Truth). He was eventually released from his WWE contract in 2001 due to alcohol and painkiller addiction.
In 2002, James appeared in Total Nonstop Action (TNA) under the handle of “B.G. James” as the Road Dogg character was owned by the WWE even though he dressed and acted the same way. His partner was Ron Killings, his former partner as K-Kwik in the WWF. The two joined forces with third member Konnan as “3Live Kru”, a rapping trio that would sing their own entrance music live.
3Live Kru had some success by winning the NWA Tag Team titles twice whereby any two of three could defend via the “Freebird” rule.
A storyline was developed whereby Gunn appeared in TNA calling himself the “New Age Outlaw” and then later Kip James. Kip encouraged B.G. to leave 3Live Kru and reunite with him as the Outlaws once again. With divided loyalties, the storyline continued until finally B.G. asked Killings and Konnan if Kip could join the team. They agreed and now 4LiveKru was born.
The Kru broke up when a jealous Konnan attacked both B.G. and Kip James with a steel chair and sealed the fate of the quartet forever.
The two James stuck together as a duo and started to call themselves “The James Gang”. They feuded with former partner Konnan in his Latino faction called LAX (Latin American Xchange).
After the feud with LAX died down, the James boys feuded with old WWF rivals, Team 3D (Bubba Bubba Ray and Devon Dudley) in a series of hardcore styles matches with either team emerging the victors.
For a period, the James’ changed their name to Voodoo Kin Mafia, a parody of WWE head honcho’s initials, Vincent Kennedy McMahon. The two claimed to wage war with DX and the WWE, but nothing ever came to pass and the angle fizzled out altogether.
He went through a period of drug and alcohol difficulties once again and returned with his father “Bullet” Bob Armstrong as his partner over his usual Kip. Kip later turned on the Armstrongs, becoming heel in the process. B.G. James would later go on to defeat Kip in a six sides of steel cage match.
James then feuded briefly with Kurt Angle after he was released from TNA in 2009. For the next two years, he played the independent circuit, going back to his Jesse James moniker and resumed teaming with Billy Gunn as well as with Kevin “Diesel” Nash.
From 2011 to 2013, James returned to the WWE as a road agent and inducted his father into the WWE Hall of Fame. He also started hosting a YouTube series known as “Are You Serious?” highlighting failed gimmicks throughout WWE’s history.
In 2014, James returned to in-ring competition alongside Gunn once again as the New Age Outlaws. They feuded with the Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins) and aligned themselves with CM Punk.
Later on in January 2014, The New Age Outlaws won the WWE Tag Team titles for the sixth time by an upset victory over Cody Rhodes and Golddust.
They defended the title for just over a month after being defeated by the Usos. After their loss, Gunn went to become a trainer on NXT and James resumed a production role.
The two would later crop up to face the Shield and the Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) but were not involved in any major storylines.
Presently, James holds the honorable post as being the Head of Creative and Production for SmackDown! Throughout his successes and determination, it is no surprise he has achieved this career milestone.
Special thanks to Dr. Stephen Balsky for contributing the above wrestler profile.
Dr. Stephen Balsky is a chiropractor currently in practice in his native Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has been a wrestling fan since age 13 and is very passionate about the product, especially the “old-school” 80’s – 90’s era. He completed his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree in 2015 and currently is also working part-time as a professor in both business and healthcare.