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WWE’s Missed Opportunity with Mauro Ranallo



While fans and wrestlers enjoyed the multiple festivities in Orlando, Florida for WrestleMania this year, one particular individual that had his eyes set on living a childhood dream was not present for the big event.

That person is Mauro Ranallo.

Amid much speculation from industry insiders and concern from fans, the lead announcer of both SmackDown Live and 205 Live had been unceremoniously missing from programming since early March. Ranallo, also a world-renowned MMA and boxing commentator, took a detour from the “Ultimate Thrill Ride” and began to once again travel down the dark roads of depression. During his absence, SmackDown Live host Tom Phillips took the lead commentator position. In hindsight, the 4-man booth seemed like a precautionary measure taken by WWE if something ever was to happen to Mauro. The WWE clock never stops, and Ranallo’s doesn’t either.

After fighting through his undisclosed demons as a youth, Mauro Ranallo was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 19. Almost 30 years later, his illness still haunts him. After all of the accolades within combat sports, his accomplishments seem to be the thread for which this most recent bout has manifested itself. Ranallo is a polarizing figure. He is beloved by many for his passion for the sports broadcasting business.

Ranallo’s detractors claim that he is too over the top and forces pop culture references into places that have no business on a boxing or wrestling broadcast. Specifically in WWE, fans have generally seen Mauro as a positive in an environment where everything sounds like the mind of Vince McMahon. Ranallo isn’t a robot or a follower. Containing the essence of Ranallo’s commentary in order to infuse it with Vince’s ideologies is the very reason why this partnership was never meant to last for the WWE.

“I was 33 years old and I was dead. I wanted to commit suicide…Forget it, that was it; it was the lowest I ever was in my life. The rollercoaster had to stop. I had great opportunities and my illness manifesting itself kept knocking me off the tracks. Everyone around me was so tired. No one knew what to do with me. I was sitting in a black hole that was expanding. I didn’t see a way out.” — Mauro Ranallo as told to

Recently, reports have blazed the Internet about an alleged rift between Mauro and his now former broadcast partner, John “Bradshaw” Layfield. Ranallo and Layfield have sent jabs back and forth for most of the year with the first encounter stemming from Ranallo winning the “Best Announcer Award” for 2016 from Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer. JBL’s involvement shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone as his pranks and hazes have been well documented.

Of course, there are about five versions of the truth to every story, and Bradshaw’s reputation may just be putting him in a bad position. But it doesn’t help that stories told by former employees have suddenly added fuel to the fire. A segment of fans have started a movement titled #FireJBL in hopes of WWE finally addressing the alleged bulling issues. On an episode of the WWE Network show Bring It To The Table, JBL had some unpleasant words for Ranallo. The show is part of WWE’s way to walk the lines of real and fake.

But Mauro Ranallo’s fight against bipolar disorder and depression is extremely real. For a company that prides itself on bringing awareness to various cancers, providing sick children the chance to see their favorite WWE superstar, and giving a spotlight to the Special Olympics, it’s a bit too taboo to give someone like Mauro Ranallo an opportunity to tell his story on such a huge platform. When it comes to technology, WWE wants to be at the forefront, but when it has one of the most dedicated advocates of mental health within the company, it quietly backs down. Independent organizations do some of the best charity work and it’s not forced or branded. The fact is that WWE and some of its employees continue to have these systematic issues that arise.

Before this recent breakdown, Mauro Ranallo had been keeping his issues at bay for nearly 5 years. Ranallo brought a change in commentary style that catapulted good matches to great, especially in the Cruiserweight Classic from 2016. The WWE grind is taxing on everyone involved, but for Mauro it was another challenge to embark upon. In the end, no one but him knows what truly caused this episode. The thought of hearing Jim Ross and Mauro Ranallo call a WWE match together seems like an afterthought. One thing is for sure. Ranallo will continue to fight for mental health awareness and no one can take that opportunity away from him.

Follow me @willmarelle on Twitter

Shannon is a proud product of Detroit, Michigan. He's a connoisseur of all things hip-hop and pro wrestling and often compares the two forms of entertainment. He's a feature writer for FightBooth and also a corporate nomad.

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