Josh Barnett not included.
In case you hadn’t heard already, Smackdown is moving to the USA Network in early January. And as far as the changes to the broadcast go, it won’t just be a 200% increase in commercials for new episodes of Suits. It looks like more substantial changes are in the works, because it was announced yesterday that WWE’s B-show is getting a new lead commentator, Mauro Ranallo. Yahoo Sports has been breaking down the news, including the fact that Ranallo will be allowed to remain as the man in charge of Championship Boxing on Showtime.
“I have a very supportive family at Showtime and t’s unbelievable that WWE is allowing me to continue to call Showtime Championshp Boxing as well as all of my other combat sports duties as it pertains to kickboxing and MMA,” Ranallo told Yahoo Sports. “The boyhood dream has come true for me. The fact that I get to do all of my passions in one calendar year, I can’t believe it yet.”
Ranallo, a 45-year-old Canadian, has been a lifelong wrestling fan. Before working with Showtime’s boxing team, he was calling Stampede Wrestling in Calgary. If he’s making the move to Smackdown, it’s feasible that Michael Cole will be exclusively sticking to Raw once the USA Network move is complete. So, WWE is happy, Showtime is happy, but we should probably address the conflict-of-interest elephant in the room. A good number of you probably know Ranallo from his work on AXS TV’s New Japan Pro Wrestling show, and it sounds like he’s out the door there. His colleague, UFC heavyweight Josh Barnett, certainly seems to think so.
That’s the one bit of sad news here. The move to WWE should be great for Ranallo, with his deep voice and wealth of pro wrestling knowledge. Barnett, on the other hand, will have to find a new running buddy. Or maybe he could just do it himself and kill time with a segment where he runs down his Magic: The Gathering deck. No, I’m not joking.