Rumors of Mauro Ranallo leaving WWE have swirled big-time in recent days. The 47-year-old Canadian announcer has been absent from the last several episodes of SmackDown Live, as well as WrestleMania 33 itself. Moreover, with Ranallo having removed all references to WWE from his social media profiles, the word going around is that he’s leaving the company mainly due to a feud with John Bradshaw Layfield, a.k.a. JBL, whom many have accused of bullying his fellow announcer. That feud has been reported as the trigger for his latest bout with depression, and if all the rumors and allegations we’re hearing are true, it would seem as if WWE has a bullying problem it sorely needs to take care of.
If Mauro Ranallo leaves WWE as rumors are suggesting, it won’t be because he doesn’t have the stomach to work for such a company. In 2015, Sherdog published a piece on Mauro where he openly discussed his struggles with bipolar disorder, and how he considers himself lucky to have made it so far in the business he loves despite dealing with such a condition. Ranallo has achieved so much in his 47 years, and he’s been a big success announcing mixed martial arts, boxing, and professional wrestling. And if you consider that his latest bout with bipolar disorder and its symptoms may have been triggered by a supposed WWE “bully” in JBL, it might be that he wants to avoid potential breakdowns by choosing not to work anymore for a company that employs such an alleged bully.
For those who need a background of how the apparent Mauro Ranallo vs. JBL feud started, Wrestling Inc. cited Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter in a detailed recap of what transpired from the time JBL made some stinging comments on the March 13 episode of WWE Network show Bring it to the Table. Apparently upset over Ranallo tweeting about winning Wrestling Observer‘s Announcer of the Year award for a second straight year, JBL called Mauro out on Bring it to the Table, and was “legitimately very upset” over the tweet. And while JBL didn’t mention anything about being upset over not even making the top ten in the Announcer of the Year voting, a tweet from Ranallo suggested that he might have been.
“Jealousy is one hell of a drug.”
That said, Ranallo has been absent from all WWE programming since the March 14 episode of SmackDown Live. And while he did retweet some WWE content during his absence and thanked the WWE Universe for their support during his apparent bout with depression, he has since deleted a lot of those tweets, while removing references to his WWE employment from his Twitter and Instagram profiles. Taking stock of everything we know, it would seem that Mauro Ranallo is leaving WWE at some point shortly, and JBL’s supposed bullying may be at the center of it all.
If so, that won’t be the first time bullying incidents allegedly involving JBL would drive someone away from WWE. Many of today’s fans might not remember the name Palmer Cannon, but that was the ring name used by Brian Mailhot, who was a young up-and-coming wrestler in 2006, playing the role of a villainous television executive on the SmackDown brand. According to WrestleZone, Cannon quit the company in April 2006, announcing his immediate resignation due to brutal rookie hazing he received at the hands of several veterans, including JBL and the late Chris Benoit.
“When the hazing came to the point where Cannon almost had a physical confrontation with John Bradshaw Layfield, he made the decision to give his notice to the company and fly himself home.”
Be that as it may, it’s not just Mauro Ranallo and his potential decision to leave WWE. And it’s not just the Palmer Cannon case from 2006 either. What about those guys who survived their “rookie hazing” and had long and successful WWE careers? Sure, they survived the taunts and the pranks, but that doesn’t make them any less cruel, or any less notable.
Stories of JBL’s bullying have been going around for years, and we have to mention those claims that he bullied wrestlers such as The Miz, John Morrison, and even future WWE Hall of Famer Edge back when they were WWE youngsters. Ring announcer Justin Roberts is another ex-WWE performer who claims to have been bullied by one John Bradshaw Layfield, having made several references to it in his recently-released autobiography Best Seat in the House.
If there have been so many people making such claims against JBL, why isn’t WWE doing anything about it, nor acting too concerned about Mauro Ranallo’s hints at leaving WWE? Don’t they have the “Be a Star” campaign, where WWE Superstars, including top executives such as Stephanie McMahon, speak to children in schools and spread an anti-bullying message? Cageside Seats, citing the Wrestling Observer, said that it all boils down to JBL being good friends with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. The publication also quoted Justin Roberts, who believes that WWE’s higher-ups, no less, enjoy watching wrestlers fall victim to cruel pranks and acts of bullying.
“They like humiliating people. They like laughing at people. The way wrestling is entertainment to us wrestling fans, humiliating people was just entertainment to the bosses.”
In an interview with Deadspin, the aforementioned John Morrison (a.k.a. John Hennigan in real life, Johnny Mundo in Lucha Underground) was willing to back up Roberts’ stories of JBL’s bullying. But not all ex-WWE personalities see things that way, including ESPN’s Jonathan Coachman, who staunchly refused to address any allegations of bullying in WWE in a recent Twitter argument with the Wrestling Observer‘s Dave Meltzer.
Really, Coach? No such thing as bullying or bullying culture in WWE? It would seem that Coachman, even if it’s been years since he last worked for WWE, is still drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid, and worse, acting like a petulant child by dropping his coverage of WWE on ESPN over the aforementioned spat with Meltzer. And going back to JBL and his alleged bullying of Mauro Ranallo, Justin Roberts, and others, he hasn’t helped his cause too much either by calling Roberts an “idiot” and using his onscreen heel persona as an excuse for his comments against Ranallo. Bring it to the Table, after all, is a “shoot” program on the WWE Network, meaning one where its hosts talk about the business while out of character.
So, is Mauro Ranallo leaving WWE over JBL’s alleged bullying? A lot of us wish it wasn’t true, but it just might. And if he really is leaving, WWE should, at the very least, practice what it preaches through its “Be a Star” initiatives, investigate into the matter, and mete out any punishments that need to be meted out.
[Featured Image by WWE]