We all know in the wrestling world, wrestlers have to deal with ribs from backstage. Whilst the atmosphere has somewhat improved over the last few years with an increased amount of younger stars backstage, there is the classic old stench of insecurity when it comes to proving yourself to be ‘macho’.
Though one man has been in the news lately of taking things way too far over the line. In fact, this person crossed the line so far, it couldn’t be considered as ‘hazing’ anymore – just straight up bullying. That man was John Bradshaw Layfield (otherwise known as JBL on WWE TV). Lately it’s been a cocktail of allegations. First, Mauro Ranallo was notably absent over WrestleMania. His good friend Bas Rutten confirmed it was due to issues with mental health. Rumour has it that JBL bullied Ranallo triggering various conditions that he previously had, which includes bipolar disorder and depression – both of which he had been a strong advocate for. This came before former WWE ring announcer Justin Robert’s new book released, which recalled a tale in which JBL stole Robert’s passport during a trip in Iraq over 10 years ago. This meant he had to go to London and get new documents from the American embassy before catching up with the SmackDown brand, as we all know WWE stops for no one.
It certainly didn’t help with Layfield’s reaction to the bad press, as he responded on Twitter by saying ‘nobody liked [Roberts]’. Though he did wish Mauro well with his health, it is not expected that he will return to TV, simply waiting out the duration of his contract. Of course there are plenty of accounts online of JBL chewing out specifically announcers and young talent. Names including Joey Mercury, John Morrison, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Joey Styles and countless others. Even the way he treats people like Peter Rosenberg on Bring it to the Table or Bryon Saxton on commentary, he may be playing the ‘heel’ character then, but it certainly doesn’t bode well for his public appearance or character.
People are saying WWE should fire JBL, and whilst I don’t think this will prompt them to do anything, I do think they should look into talking to him, because by having someone who has bullying traits backstage would surely lower moral and make the product suffer. If it is true that Mauro is leaving because of JBL, the overall product will suffer. Ranallo is hailed as one of the best commentators WWE has ever seen, and the same can’t be said for Layfield. He’s quite frankly awful at it, so in a way it is criminal for them to let Ranallo leave the company whilst JBL is sitting comfortably in the commentator’s chair on Tuesday nights. He does have tenure, and it is hard to completely remove someone with tenure.
It isn’t good for WWE’s public image either. News sites like CBS Sports and Bleacher Report are reporting on this, and with WWE’s anti-bullying campaigns like ‘Be A Star’, it certainly doesn’t look too good that a bunch of people have left WWE because of bullying. They recently released Simon Gotch because people didn’t seem to like him all that much. So before people try to counteract me with “it’s a business!” – They are certainly not above releasing people on personal merits.
What do you think? I’m personally tired of the old school ideologies of wrestling locker rooms and JBL’s lack of ability to raise his hand when he does something wrong. Ironically he attributes any form of criticism of internet hate or trolling. Ironic, huh? Let us know!
image credit – WWE