In a move that really seemed inevitable at this point, WWE announcer Mauro Ranallo has formally left the WWE. In a statement provided to Newsweek (Newsweek?), Ranallo was pretty straight-forward about the whole thing:
"WWE and I have mutually agreed to part ways. It has nothing to do with JBL," Ranallo told Newsweek by email. A WWE spokesperson confirmed Ranallo's exit and said he will remain under contract through August 12.
That seems pretty cut and dry, but does not end the story. The WWE and especially JBL are still under fire for the latter's alleged bullying of Ranallo. After all of the allegations came out, live crowds at a recent SmackDown Live taping loudly chanted "Fire Bradshaw" during the broadcast, fans with anti-bullying JBL signs were ejected, and the hashtag #FireJBL has trended on Twitter. Layfield himself made a public statement as well:
"Admittedly, I took part in locker room pranks that existed within the industry years ago," Layfield told Newsweek in a statement. "WWE addressed my behavior and I responded accordingly, yet my past is being brought up because of recent unfounded rumors. I apologize if anything I said playing 'the bad guy' on a TV show was misconstrued."
Because of the WWE's Be A STAR national campaign there is even more interest in this story, as they for sure do not want to be seen as taking the side of a bully in this situation. Yet here we are, hence the JBL statement. As reported on in Dave Meltzer's April 10 newsletter, it may have went way beyond just a guy playing a character on TV. And now the wrong person has seemingly payed for it. The WWE also released a statement:
"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."
All in all, a good announcer and by all accounts a professional person, is leaving this company under duress and suffering. He will move on, and now I am sure the WWE is hoping this will blow over. JBL however, will be back on commentary this Tuesday on SmackDown. Watch out Byron Saxton-he plays a bad guy on TV.