The WWE and former SmackDown play by play announcer Mauro Ranallo have now officially parted ways. Ranallo is still under contract with the company through August but he and the WWE are both acknowledging the split. Basically, we will not hear Mauro do any pro wrestling until after August. The veteran broadcaster had been with the company for 16 months and was exclusive to the Blue Brand.
Ranallo has not been on WWE television since March and this has sparked wide spread speculation to what could have made the relationship go sour. Of course, the most popular opinion was that there was some bullying taking place by JBL (John Bradshaw Layfield). Ranallo for his part denies this was the case that led to the split but a lot of people are not buying it.
Now in a situation like this I can only take the alleged victim’s word for it that this was not the reason for his departure. The WWE is not for everyone and there could be any number of reasons this relationship didn’t ultimately workout. That being said the WWE still has some work to in the world of public relations. It was not hard for anyone to believe that the place that touts its own anti-bullying campaign “Be A Star” would be place where this would go on. Especially is the principle actor is JBL.
It’s fair to ask has the WWE as an organization done enough to dig into these allegations? Especially since this story has been picked up by major news outlets like Newsweek, Huffington Post, Sports Illustrated and The New York Post. These companies are not known for their wrestling coverage and this not how you want to make to their pages. Apparently, there are claims of abuse by Layfield since he joined the company in 1996.
One former employee even put detailed some of the bullying in his autobiography. Former ring announcer Justin Roberts alleged that Layfield “would verbally abuse guys, force them to drink and even force guys like Palmer Canon to quit mid-tour”. Roberts also told of other bullying incidents that took place at the company which may speak to an overall corrosive culture. The Miz has stories of JBL hazing and even Hall of Famer Edge tells a story in his autobiography released by the WWE of being harassed in the shower by JBL.
If you do a simple search in YouTube there lots of videos from former talent and WWE employees who were willing at the time to speak on JBL bullying various individuals. Now of course some of those same people are under contract with WWE now and will not acknowledge those statements. Where the WWE is messing up is the appearance of doing nothing. While fans in arenas are yelling “Fire Bradshaw” the company appears to not be taking this serious. This is the same company that took Jerry Lawler off television while he was dealing with a domestic violence issue in his personal life. They have not taken the same precaution with a workplace incident.
To be fair to the WWE they did issue a statement saying “As part of our commitment to creating an inclusive environment, in April 2011, WWE launched our anti-bullying campaign, Be a STAR, which encourages young people to treat each other with tolerance and respect.
As a publicly traded company, that mantra carries forward in our corporate culture. As such, we fully investigate any allegations of inappropriate behavior including the recent alleged situation with John Layfield (aka JBL), despite no formal complaint having been submitted.”
Now do I question how much time they put into this investigation. It may not be out of bounds to believe that they got the result they wanted from their inquiry.
Keith B. Holt