Veteran boxing, MMA and pro wrestling announcer Mauro Ranallo has been approached by World Wrestling Entertainment for a possible settlement that would require him to not speak publicly about his absence from WWE, or accusations of a bullying culture within the company, according to Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer in the latest issue of his subscription newsletter.
Ranallo was the lead announcer of WWE’s Smackdown Live until a month ago. He has since been absent from TV with no explanation from the network. Ranallo was reported to be suffering from depression.
His broadcast partner, John Layfield criticized Ranallo over Twitter and in character on Smackdown while he was absent. Layfield also criticized Ranallo during a non-character interview on WWE's streaming service. Layfield has been accused of harassing, bullying and abusing wrestlers and other WWE employees during his tenure in the company, and admitted to hazing certain wrestlers in interviews.
ESPN, which devotes a section of its website to WWE coverage, did not mention the Ranallo and Layfield situation until Thursday, during a Q-and-A interview with former WWE announcer Justin Roberts, who talks at length of bullying he faced from Layfield while with the company in his new book.
The situation also was addressed during ESPN’s Cheap Heat podcast, which is hosted by WWE employee Peter Rosenberg, who blasted Meltzer and Roberts for having an agenda. Rosenberg called the allegations a witch hunt.
The reaction was similar to Jonathan Coachman’s, the ESPN SportsCenter anchor who worked at WWE for nine years and took criticism over the last week for saying Ranallo’s absence was rumor and not a story worthy of covering.
Fans continue to be outraged over the incident Fans attending Smackdown Live on Tuesday began chanting for Ranallo, while one fan was kicked out of the building for bringing a Fire JBL (Layfield) sign.
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