SmackDown Live play-by-play commentator Mauro Ranallo was absent from the show’s live broadcast for the third consecutive week on Tuesday. Earlier this month, Ranallo was rumored to have missed a March 14 episode of SmackDown due to inclement weather in the northeast.
However, later reports indicated that the commentator was absent due to his battle with depression and bipolar disorders, which he’s spoken publicly about in the past. On screen, Ranallo has dealt with verbal jabs from color commentator JBL, who plays a heel character. However, JBL’s comments and constant bashing of his colleague may have contributed to Ranallo taking an absence from WWE beyond the realm of scripted television, according to Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer (subscription only).
Meltzer claimed the tension between the two had been building for a while as JBL has continued to bash Ranallo for his pop culture references and Twitter activity. JBL was also reportedly upset with Ranallo for tweeting about receiving the WON Announcer of the Year Award, which he mentioned in character on WWE Network’s Bring It to the Table.
Following the appearance, Ranallo tweeted “Jealousy is one hell of a drug,” which many took as a direct response to JBL’s appearance, although it was never confirmed.
JEALOUSY IS ONE HELLUVA DRUG! ????— Mauro Ranallo (@mauroranallo) March 14, 2017
Ranallo also re-tweeted several comments from fans mocking the former WWE Champion’s critiques on Bring It to the Table.
Meltzer also said that JBL likely said something off camera to Ranallo about it, leading to speculation that his comments were more than just part of the act.
Following Ranallo’s second absence from the March 14 episode of SmackDown in Pittsburgh, JBL bashed his colleague for missing the show. In the since-deleted Tweet, JBL wrote, “I made the show, everyone made the show, everyone. Maybe he shouldn’t have bashed me if he wasn’t going to show up.”
The Observer reported that Ranallo has only been in touch with close friends including Frank Shamrock and MMA podcast co-host Bas Rutten, both claiming that he’s getting stronger and recovering. Rutten added to the speculation of JBL’s involvement in his friend’s hiatus during a series of tweets earlier this month following Ranallo’s first SmackDown absence.
he's the best, what are you talking about? THE BEST! Meaning, nobody is better! JBL? Haha, would love to meet him— Bas Rutten (@BasRuttenMMA) March 18, 2017
I'm not! I'm flaming those Ahole(s)(JBL, whatever is his name)! Not you my friend!— Bas Rutten (@BasRuttenMMA) March 18, 2017
in person, and than we talk "Mauro" wow, what a douche. Please attack me for that comment JBL, PLEASE!— Bas Rutten (@BasRuttenMMA) March 18, 2017
I mean, he was a pro wrestler, but pls, you ALWAYS take care of your broadcast partner. ALWAYS.— Bas Rutten (@BasRuttenMMA) March 18, 2017
Ranallo, on the other hand, remained mostly silent on social media during his recent hiatus before thanking fans for their support last Thursday. The commentator mentioned that his doctor advised him to avoid using social media, which many took as confirmation that his hiatus was due to his mental health battles.
I'm deeply touched by your tweets of support. My doctor wants me to stay off social media for now but I wanted to thank you. ????— Mauro Ranallo (@mauroranallo) March 24, 2017
Ranallo tweeted more gratitude on Wednesday, this time mentioning mental health directly and wishing his “WWE family another AMAZING #WrestleMania.“
JBL’s alleged reputation as a “bully” has been well documented in the past, but this may be the worst example if proven true. Even if it began as part of a storyline, there’s no excuse for triggering a colleague’s depression on live television.
Hopefully, Ranallo will make a speedy recovery and return to SmackDown Live sooner than later.
[Featured Image by WWE]