One of the very biggest stories in pro wrestling over the past month — possibly second only to WrestleMania and/or its bombshell ending featuring the Undertaker’s public retirement — has been Mauro Ranallo’s departure from WWE.
Ranallo — who came to WWE last year after years of wrestling fans wanting the avowed wrestling aficionado to call the product — first missed his duties as lead announcer on Smackdown in March, where his absence was initially explained as being unable to travel due to weather. Fans quickly learned that explanation wasn’t entirely on the level, and things sort of spiraled from there. Ranallo is not expected to return to WWE television before his contract runs out in August.
While we don’t know the entire story (and likely never will), the consensus belief is that Mauro (who has a long history of struggling with depression and bipolar disorder) was bullied into leaving by his color commentator, JBL. Since then, JBL’s well-known decade-plus past of being WWE’s biggest backstage enforcer and — for lack of a better term — bully has caught on like wildfire in the mainstream press.
Anyway, that’s not the point here. That’s just the backstory. The point is that on Sunday, Ranallo returned to MMA announcing by doing play-by-play for a Rizin event (funded by the company’s president, Mr. Mojo) in Japan. During the introduction of German fighter Jazzy Gabert (no doubt the favorite fighter of Steve Buscemi’s character from Ghost World), Ranallo couldn’t resist taking a (pretty damn good-natured) swipe at WWE’s notoriously strict on-air terminology.
In case he couldn’t make it more clear, he also echoed his own sentiments on Twitter later.
Oh my! What a verbal maneuver! Take heart, Rizin Universe: you’re in good hands with Mauro Ranallo.