It was recently announced that former WWE SmackDown Live commentator Mauro Ranallo will return to MMA and do play-by-play for the Rizin promotion’s Rizin FF: Sakura on Sunday in Yokohama, Japan. The event will be headlined by Tatsuya Kawajiri (35-11-2) against Anthony Birchak (13-3). For the past month, Mauro Ranallo has been recovering from an episode of severe depression after being triggered by JBL’s comments on the WWE Network Bring It to the Table show. Since returning to social media, Ranallo has been very supportive of his fanbase, responding to many tweets daily.
MMAJunkie gave details on his departure from WWE.
“In January 2016, Ranallo signed with WWE and served as the lead play-by-play announcer for the company’s ‘Smackdown Live’ show. Ranallo was a hit with wrestling fans as he was named ‘Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s’ best announcer for the second straight year.”
“However, his time with WWE recently came to an abrupt and controversial end. Although details are scarce, it’s been reported that former wrestler and current Smackdown announcer John Bradshaw Layfield, better know by his wrestling name JBL, took umbrage with Ranallo’s recognition. That allegedly resulted in Ranallo, who has been open about his past mental health issues, being bullied by JBL, which led to Ranallo’s abrupt departure from WWE.”
Ranallo was scheduled to appear at the Showtime Boxing event on April 22, headlined by Andre Berto against Shawn Porter, but he just landed the opportunity to commentate alongside former UFC star Frank Shamrock for the Rizin event. Ranallo has been vocal in showing his excitement he has for returning to MMA this weekend. He stated that the last time Yokohama Arena is where Frank Shamrock won his UFC title and the last time he called his last Pride FC card, Bushido 13.
Since leaving WWE last month and recovering, Ranallo has a full schedule for the foreseeable future. He stated that other than Japan this weekend, he will be in Brooklyn next week and the weekend after that in London, as he is “slowly easing [his] way back to work.” As of now, Ranallo informed his Twitter followers that he will only be doing boxing and MMA, which excludes any more wrestling for the time being. However, this may not be for long, as he is rumored to be the lead commentator for the upcoming New Japan Pro Wrestling expansion to the United States likely to happen in 2018.
In helping the recovery from his episode of depression, Ranallo stated that work is the best therapy for him to get better, which is why he is easing back to work and filling up dates. He was humbled on Twitter by his supporters saying that he is such a good role model for those with bipolar, and was even called the successor to Jim Ross. This comparison, rightfully so, is not the first time it has been mentioned, mostly due to the passion, excitement, and energy that Ranallo brought to the play-by-play in the WWE. This is something that many felt has been a lost art since Jim Ross left the booth full-time.
A position at UFC was also asked on Twitter to Ranallo, in which he responded, “UFC has a talented crew but never say never. I am focused on getting healthier & working just enough to keep the bills paid!” From his popularity and increased stock value, a role in UFC would fit perfectly for Ranallo. However, as he stated, his concentration right now is to ease back into his schedule, as he feels that he will be “busier than ever.” Thankfully, he is showing WWE how much losing him means, but hopefully wrestling fans can hear him once again behind a commentary booth.
[Featured Image by WWE]