In WWE news, a new play-by-play commentator has been hired for Smackdown, according to ESPN. An announcement is expected on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw about Mauro Ranallo being appointed for the position, which was previously occupied by Michael Cole. World Wrestling Entertainment opted to look outside the company as Ranallo comes from a boxing and mixed martial arts background. According to Mauro, Cole contacted him via email a couple of months ago to gauge his interest. After sending some samples of his work to WWE, he was given a reasonable contract offer and a high-profile job.
For those that are not familiar with Mauro Ranallo, he does boxing commentary for Showtime. He was the one that was tasked with the responsibility of doing the international feed for the massive fight between Floyd Mayweather, who has performed at Wrestlemania, and Filipino fighting legend Manny Pacquiao. Ranallo also has experience with Pride Fighting Championship and GLORY Kickboxing, the promotion that Goldberg considered fighting for.
A lot of WWE fans might look at Mauro Ranallo and immediately dislike him because of his boxing and mixed martial arts background, but the 45-year-old has been a lifelong fan of pro wrestling and has dabbled in the industry as well. Ranallo was the one that called the English version of the weekly New Japan shows that aired on AXS TV. Mauro already has a familiar face within WWE, as he and Renee Young once hosted a pro wrestling show in Toronto together.
Critics did not like the style of commentating that Mauro Ranallo utilized in boxing and MMA. Many felt that he was a bit too over the top for legitimate sporting events. That style might suit him extremely well in WWE, where fans still talk fondly about the over-the-top style of commentating that the legendary Jim Ross used during the Attitude Era. Vince McMahon will certainly not be asking Ranallo to tone things down. In fact, he might even ask him to turn up the volume a little bit.
Vince McMahon wants to make sure that Smackdown is as good as it can be before the move to the USA Network. The show was previously aired on the SyFy network. By making the switch, WWE should see an automatic increase in viewership for Smackdown. McMahon wants to make sure that the business relationship between World Wrestling Entertainment and NBC, which is the parent company of the USA Network, stays strong. The network recently helped McMahon secure new advertisers, including Coca-Cola.
When asked by ESPN about who his commentating partners were going to be, Mauro Ranallo only acknowledged that he would have some. He did not give out any names, which is a sign that WWE might be considering a change. The Smackdown commentating team currently consists of Rich Brennan, who is most likely to be reassigned or released, Jerry Lawler, and Booker T. It will be interesting to see what Vince McMahon will do with Lawler, as he was removed from the Monday Night Raw commentating team not too long ago.
Though he has yet to start the job, Mauro Ranallo is going to already receive some heat from the internet wrestling community. Some will view him as using WWE as a stepping stone to a more high-profile sports broadcasting position. Comparisons to Todd Grisham and Jonathan Coachman are sure to come. There was a little bit of backlash from fans towards Renee Young when it was discovered that ESPN had shown interest in hiring her for a position on their network.
Who do you think will be at the Smackdown commentating table when the show moves to the USA Network?
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