Many fans are paying more attention to the new roster changes on Monday Night RAW and SmackDown Live, but ongoing allegations of backstage bullying within WWE have recently been grabbing the headlines as well. Currently, a large number of fans are clamoring that WWE fires John Bradshaw Layfield (a.k.a. JBL) for his alleged bullying of fellow announcer Mauro Ranallo, and that was evidenced by fan reactions on this week’s episode of SmackDown Live.
WrestleZone wrote about what went down Tuesday night on SmackDown Live, as throngs of fans at Boston’s TD Garden asked that WWE fire JBL, breaking out in “Fire Bradshaw” chants as The Usos defended their SmackDown Tag Team Championships against American Alpha. Another fan, who came to the arena holding up a “JBL Bullied Me” sign, was forced to leave the building, with fans cheering him as security escorted him away.
In addition to the above fan reactions, another group of fans held up signs reading “We Love You Mauro,” showing their support for SmackDown Live announcer Mauro Ranallo, who was allegedly the latest high-profile victim of JBL’s bullying. Aside from publicly calling Ranallo out for tweeting about winning the Wrestling Observer’s Best Television Announcer voting, John Bradshaw Layfield has reportedly been blocking anyone who shows their support to Ranallo on Twitter, wrote SportsKeeda.
According to CBS Sports’ Brian Campbell, Ranallo is expected to sit out the remainder of his contract, which is due to expire on August 12. Mauro has since removed all references to his WWE employment from his social media accounts, including a March 29 tweet where he wished his WWE colleagues the best as the company prepared for WrestleMania 33.
Ranallo may be, for all intents and purposes, done with WWE, and news of his possible departure came just as former ring announcer Justin Roberts released his autobiography, Best Seat in the House: Your Backstage Pass through My WWE Journey. In his book, Roberts claimed to be a regular victim of JBL’s bullying, with the then-SmackDown main event talent going as far as asking some wrestlers to steal his passport as a prank. These appear to have seriously piqued mainstream media interest, according to respected wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer.
On this week’s edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (subscriber-only), Meltzer wrote that WWE and its affiliates in the anti-bullying Be a Star Foundation have been receiving “a number of media inquiries” regarding the JBL bullying controversy. According to Meltzer, Mauro Ranallo’s sudden absence from WWE programming and the allegations made by Justin Roberts in Best Seat in the House were the “catalyst” for these inquiries, though at the moment, neither WWE nor its affiliates have not issued any public statement on the matter.
Meltzer also stressed that he’s been getting a lot of inquiries regarding the accusations against JBL, which included more bullying stories from former WWE wrestlers. He opined that JBL’s actions, should they be proven, wouldn’t sit well in today’s wrestling environment, whereas they may have been acceptable two decades ago, before WWE had gained mainstream acceptance and become a publicly-traded company.
According to Cageside Seats, it’s unlikely WWE will fire JBL, or even issue a lighter punishment against him, for his alleged bullying of Ranallo, Roberts, and several wrestlers who worked for, or still work for the company. Meltzer, on the other hand, believes that WWE is still keeping its cards close to its chest, having noted that the company is aware of the situation, but not hinting at any potential action or sanction.
Still, most signs appear to be pointing toward WWE not firing JBL, and the controversial announcer keeping his spot on SmackDown Live. And while WWE has chosen to remain silent for the meantime, some of JBL’s colleagues, such as WWE Hall of Famers Kevin Nash and Jerry “The King” Lawler, have publicly spoken in his defense, with Lawler commenting on his podcast, per Wrestling Inc., that “you have to know the guy” to appreciate him.
What are your thoughts on the current situation in WWE? Given the repeated bullying allegations made against him, should WWE fire JBL, or at least punish him for driving Mauro Ranallo to leave WWE? We’d like to see your thoughts on the comments section.
[Featured Image by WWE]