The WWE is starting to get some mainstream attention for something that has nothing to do with in-ring action. Major news outlets like CBS Sports, Deadspin, and Forbes have picked up the story of allegations against SmackDown Live announcer JBL and accusations of bullying. Even WXPI in Pittsburgh has picked up the story, and ESPN‘s Jonathan Coachman has apparently said he was quitting coverage of the WWE because of fans demanding to get more coverage of JBL and the current situation.
Starting off with ESPN, WrestleZone reported yesterday that Coachman, a former WWE announcer, has said that he will no longer cover the WWE for ESPN.
This was all caused by a feud with insider Dave Meltzer and what Coachman calls the “negative 10-percent” that makes being a WWE fan tough. This was all because Meltzer claims that ESPN didn’t “show balls” by covering the JBL bullying allegations, which Coachman said were all rumors that didn’t deserve to be covered.
2 things: we don't report on rumors for any sport or company. And you getting "heat" for anything is laughable. https://t.co/9s4VK0fqLd
— Jonathan Coachman (@TheCoachESPN) April 7, 2017
The entire situation picked up steam when former UFC Champion Bas Rutten attacked JBL on Twitter after Mauro Ranallo stepped away from his WWE announcing duties. JBL denied all of the allegations and said he just plays a heel in the WWE.
While the WWE claimed that the first absence was due to weather conditions, the second was blamed on illness. Mauro Ranallo suffers from depression and bipolar disorder, and the rumors kicked up that was the reason for his absence. Rutten added fuel to the first that JBL bullying allegations were the cause of the flare-ups.
While ESPN refused to report on the JBL bullying allegations, CBS Sports had no problem reporting on Mauro Ranallo, at least. They reported that Mauro Ranallo was not expected to return to the WWE at all to pick up his commentating duties. Ranallo is under contract until August 2017 but has said that he wants to return to announcing MMA fights in the future. The article did not mention JBL but did touch on the bipolar disorder that Mauro suffers from.
Deadspin has never been afraid to court controversial topics, whether it is the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, or the WWE. Deadspin reported that former WWE announcer Justin Roberts told some stories about his time in the company and talked about how JBL was one of the biggest bullies there.
According to Roberts, there was an instance in 2003 where JBL personally abused him and even went so far as to steal his passport during a European tour. The Deadspin story even told an instance where WWE Hall of Fame superstar Edge talked about hazing and bullying backstage by JBL. Edge and Christian have both spoken about how JBL was huge in the backstage WWE wrestler’s court where no one was safe from abuse.
Deadspin went in depth to the stories as well. While JBL took to Twitter to deny that he stole Justin Roberts passport, he also said that everyone hated Justin so it could have been anybody. JBL went on to call Roberts an idiot.
Deadspin spoke to current Lucha Underground champion John Morrison and he said that JBL specifically asked him and his partner, Joey Mercury, to steal the passport from Justin Roberts. Morrison said that he and Mercury were targeted by JBL for bullying as well and considered doing it to get on his good side but then changed their minds.
The Deadspin story also specifically touches on the JBL bullying allegations against Mauro Ranallo. Forbes joined in with an opinion piece that touched on all the JBL bullying allegations and compared it to the company’s Be a STAR anti-bullying campaign.
The Be a STAR campaign sees the WWE reaching out to communities and schools and holding rallies to teach kids that bullying is never the answer. One has to wonder if the mainstream media publicity of the JBL bullying allegations will cause the WWE to act on the complaints.
[Featured Image by WWE]