JBL may be three of the most hated initials among social media’s pro wrestling genre. The WWE announcer is currently under major heat with many demanding his firing for rumored bullying of fellow WWE announcer Mauro Ranallo.
The witch hunt for John Bradshaw Layfield began after MMA legend Bas Rutten made a snide remark on Twitter about JBL. These tweets came after Ranallo has been mysteriously absent with many concerned for Ranallo who suffers from mental illness. Once Rutten’s tweets garnered some attention the prosecution of JBL on social media by wrestling fans was underway.
Like many, I was angry when I first heard the story. I lost a brother to mental illness and I have always taken bullying very seriously. So I started trying to dig up a little dirt on what actually happened and guess what? I couldn’t find a thing. Unfortunately for JBL, his past behavior of documented bullying is well known among wrestling fans and he was shown no mercy on social media.
But a funny thing happened as I started to look more into the story. I found nothing, not one piece of evidence with anyone from the WWE or Ranallo himself making these accusations against JBL. Most of this “bullying” apparently came when Ranallo tweeted about winning an award and JBL ripping into him on a WWE Network television show, Bring it to the Table. That was it? That was the “bullying” over Mauro that has everyone so upset, a promo cut by a HEEL on a TELEVISION show. You’ve got to be kidding me!
Unfortunately the timing of this all coincides with the recent release of former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts’ book in which Roberts documents alleged abuse by JBL. One of the most damming things in the book is Roberts’ accusations that JBL has Roberts’ passport stolen on an overseas tour. While JBL was never found guilty of this, former WWE star John Hennigan told Deadspin.com that JBL asked Hennigan and his tag team partner to steal the passport. So while JBL was never implicated as the thief, there is certainly evidence that he at a minimum conspired to do it.
Let me say that the person who stole the passport is not only a real sick individual, but probably committed an international crime that could have sent him to jail. But I would like to question someone else on the tour to see if there is more to the story. Stealing a passport is personal, it’s not a rib or even as simple as bullying. I’d love to know the other side of the story. Had Roberts done anything to provoke this? To me, this sounds like some ridiculous wrestler’s court transgression but you have to really dislike someone to steal their passport. What happened prior to the incident between Roberts and the rest of the crew?
I keep coming back to the fact that I still can’t find any stories about JBL bullying Mauro, unless you consider cutting a heel promo on him bullying. I hate to say it but nobody is holding Ranallo hostage at his six-figure a year dream job. Ranallo has a couple of choices he could make. The first and most obvious is to stand up to the bully. Punch him in the mouth the same way Joey Styles punched him or threaten to break his legs with a tire iron like what would have happened about 40-50 years ago inside the locker room. You would certainly think a guy as close to MMA as he is could get some pointers from some of his close friends.
The second is quit. He is extremely talented and has a thriving career in combat sports outside of the WWE. He is arguably the best announcer they have and him going into Vince McMahon’s office and telling the CEO that he has no time for this childish bullsh*t and to take his job and shove it would send a strong message. He could use the media and get the message out about a company promoting workplace bullying, the same company whose CEO is married to a member of our government, and send shockwaves throughout Titan Towers.
I was a ring announcer for ECW over 20-years ago and while I was never bullied, I had a very minor hazing or ribbing. Sabu would chase me around the ring nightly and try and rip a button off of my jacket. After ripping the button he’d playfully whisper to me, “I owe you a button.” He owes me about a dozen and honestly I made no money for the gig so it wasn’t as if I had the resources to continually replace my suits. But I was given a piece of advice by several colleagues at the time and they all told me “don’t sell it”. Don’t get upset, don’t complain, just laugh it off because it’s fairly harmless and they were right. I didn’t sell it, it stopped, and it wasn’t long before Sabu was friendly and he still gives me a hug on the rare occasion I run into him today. This was nothing but would I have rather had Sabu cut a promo on me on TV as opposed to rip my suit? You better believe it.
I have never met or worked with JBL so I can’t speak on that. I can tell you that I had one conversation about doing an outside venture with him when he had his Layfield Energy business. We didn’t wind up working together but the guy couldn’t have been nicer. Granted it’s a far stretch from sharing a locker room on a nightly basis but that’s all I got.
So let’s relax and stop worrying about a situation that has been dramatized by some media and rabid fans. While the rest of social media and the “wrestling press” jump on JBL and call for his head over a promo the guy cut on a WWE Network show that thanks to this, probably got more press than it deserved, I’ll sit back and let the story play out as should you.