WWE Hall-of-Famer, Houston mayoral candidate, and RAW commentator for the next six weeks Booker T took to his Heated Conversations radio show to address the situation wherein Smackdown Live commentator Mauro Ranallo has seemingly left WWE, allegedly due to bullying by fellow commentator John Bradshaw Layfield. The situation recently resulted in chants demanding that JBL be fired for his reported treatment of Ranallo, who suffers from bipolar disorder. Rumors on the dirt sheets say WWE is trying to wait the situation out. Though Ranallo hasn't made any public accusations about JBL, the whole thing is a bad look for WWE, which started the Be A Star Alliance to combat bullying.
Booker T brought up the topic on his show:
"Mauro Ranallo, absent, what three weeks before Wrestlemania and then missed Wrestlemania due to certain reasons and whatnot, but right now on social media, the backlash toward a friend of mine, a colleague, JBL, John Bradshaw Layfield, a guy that I have been knowing for more than 25 years," Booker T said. "Man, it's crazy. I don't know if you saw Smackdown last week. The chants were 'Fire JBL.' That right there is a flash mob takeover. The fans are sometimes getting into the business side because of social media and everybody knows everything."
Booker T says that the wrestling business is unique, a defense commonly used to defend deeply ingrained hazing and other unsavory behavior from the industry's carny days.
"A lot of people really truly like Ranallo and what he does as a journalist, what he does as a commentator for New Japan, Showtime Boxing, Strikeforce," Booker T continued. "He's done it all. This guy's been around for a long time, and like I said a lot of people love him. But the business, the wrestling business, is different from any other entity that you're gonna encounter on this Earth. I can actually truly say that because I've been in it for 26 years and I've figured out how to make it pretty much because I lived before I came to professional wrestling. This was relatively easy compared to my past life.
Booker T attributed JBL's behavior toward Ranallo to JBL playing a "heel" character on television.
"I think with Mauro, like I said, again, I like Mauro even though he blocked me, unfollowed me on Twitter," he said. "I didn't do anything. We talk boxing all the time. But Mauro obviously had a problem with JBL and the way that he did their work. Now JBL was called a heel commentator, and that's just something that we do. That's something that's been done since the beginning of time, and it's gonna go on throughout the history of professional wrestling. One guy's gonna be for the good guy and one guy's gonna be for the bad guy. It's just part of the game."
According to Booker T, bullying isn't a term that should be applied to anything past high school.
"We've got guys coming out right now talking JBL and JBL bullying," Booker T explained. "You know, this is the way I look at this right here. I'm gonna be straight up as far as this bullying term. Let's take that bullying term and put it back in pre school, in our junior high schools, in our high schools. When you get out of high school, I think the bullying rule stops. I think the bullying rule pretty much goes away when you're a grown man and you're able to take up for yourself and throw hands, go and talk to someone and say, hey, I don't feel like I'm being treated right with this commentator here. Maybe you need to move me somewhere else or there might be problems or ramifications. But I don't think the bullying rule should fall under grown men having an issue with each other. I don't know. You tell me."
"When you get your diploma, it's over baby," he continued. "You've got people coming out like Stevie Richards. I know Stevie Richards. I would call him a friend. You have people like Justin Roberts, former ring announcer, who wrote a book about bullying. [laughs] That's ridiculous. If you had an issue with JBL, Justin Roberts, when he told you to go buy the beer or whatever and pass it out to everyone on the bus on the overseas tour, you deal with that. You say, hey man, I'm not doing that. You want it done, you do it yourself."
Booker T told a story about Brian Pillman, a notorious prankster, and though Pillman didn't actually prank, or "rib," Booker T, Booker T says he would have handled it by beating him up.
"I've been in the business twenty-six years and I've yet to be bullied by anyone. I was around the Steiner Brothers. I was around the Nasty Boys. I was around some of the great… Look here. Brian, what is his name, Flyin' Brian Pillman, one of the most notorious ribbers I've ever seen in the business, god rest his soul. If Brian Pillman would have ribbed me I would have beat the hell out of him. You'd still be hearing about the beating Booker T gave Brian Pillman, god bless his soul. Me and Pillman, we didn't have any issues."
Wrapping things up, Booker T told a story about a time he was ribbed.
"This is what happened to me once," he said. "I'm gonna tell you a little story. Brothers like to tell stories. It's a story, so don't take this seriously or anything like that. I'm having a conversation with Too Cold Scorpio back in the day. We're talking about our match. We're gonna go out here, Scorpio's gonna do this, I'm gonna do that. We're gonna go out there and have a great match. We're gonna entertain the people to the utmost. To the the highest degree. The best they've ever seen in their lives. I'm hungry. I've been on the road for 22 days. It's a long, long tour. I tell this kid, hey please, here's a twenty. Go get me a couple of hot dogs. Please. No ketchup, just a little bit of mustard on the top, and a coke. The kid says okay. He goes to get my hot dogs. Too Cold Scorpio and I continue to go over our match."
But after a while, Booker T noticed that something was amiss.
"Maybe twenty minutes go buy, I'm wondering where's this kid. I finally go out in the hallway and I say hey kid, where are my hot dogs. He said hey, I brought em to you. I set em right… they're not there. Where are they? And he tells me I put 'em right here man, I put the hot dogs right here, I put the coke right here, and I put the money right here, and all of it is gone. Now, I got a migraine headache. I'm hot. I'm mad right now. I'm real hot."
It turns out that Booker T was being ribbed. The ribber in question?
"Chris Benoit walks by me and he has mustard on his lip, and I say, Chris, did you take my hot dogs?" Booker T said. "And he says no."
Just a little harmless, non bullying fun. But maybe not the best example to use for modeling behavior. Years later, Chris Benoit murdered his wife and child before killing himself.
Check out the audio below.