Three weeks ago, WWE announcer Mauro Ranallo didn't show up to Smackdown Live, and WWE said it was because of the weather. Two weeks ago, when Ranallo didn't show up again, WWE said he was sick. When he didn't show up this week, the company didn't say anything at all, but as it turns out, Ranallo has reportedly been suffering from a bout of bipolar disorder, from which he has long been afflicted, according to Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter (where all the finest wrestling sites steal their news). Ranallo tweeted to thank fans for support, noting that his doctor asked him to stay off Twitter for the time being. But could Ranallo's suffering have been triggered by meanspirited comments from his broadcast partner, John Bradshaw Layfield?
The pair have feuded on the air in what most assumed was an in-character feud, with JBL mocking Ranallo's pop culture references and Twitter use. However, things may have taken a more serious turn when Ranallo acknowledged winning an award as best commentator from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. JBL, who prides himself on being "old school" about the business, was unhappy that Ranallo acknowledged the award because of an unwritten wrestling rule that says wrestlers who aren't John Cena aren't supposed to mention awards not given by WWE itself. Other notable backstage wrestling offenses include improperly shaking hands with The Undertaker, wearing the wrong color tie, and other petty infractions stemming from the industry's carny roots that could lead to massive backstage heat, poop in a gym bag, or even an appearance in the dreaded "wrestler's court." Possibly in response to JBL's thoughts on the award, Ranallo subtweeted, "Jealousy is a hell of a drug." JBL then reportedly went on WWE talk show Bring It To The Table and complained about the award, also making fun of Ranallo's announcing skills.
After that, Ranallo stopped coming to work, and JBL even tweeted after the first missed episode to mock Ranallo for that, noting that everyone else had made it to work except Ranallo despite the weather, though he later deleted the tweet, possibly realizing that his words were actually hurting his partner's feelings. Though Ranallo hasn't commented publicly beyond updates that he's doing better, friend and retired MMA star Bas Rutten called out JBL in a series of tweets captured by 411 Wrestling:
While JBL may sometimes act like a bully, onscreen and maybe off, he likely doesn't want beef with Rutten. Amongst the wrestlers who are rumored to have beaten up JBL for being a jerk in real life are legitimate badass Steve Blackman and even former ECW commentator Joey Styles. Hopefully, Ranallo recovers and returns to Smackdown Live soon, and he and JBL are able to settle their differences and continue working together. To that end, if these rumors are true, JBL might benefit from checking out WWE's public anti-bullying initiative, Be a Star.