WWE fans have called for the company to fire commentator John “Bradshaw” Layfield, better known as JBL to viewers of its programming, after fresh reports have emerged regarding the former pro wrestler’s backstage behavior.
This latest controversy has stemmed from claims made by former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts, who discusses JBL “bullying” other employees in his autobiography Best Seat in the House: Your Backstage Pass through My WWE Journey, and touched upon the former world champion’s actions in a recent Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session. “He terrorized guys,” Roberts said. “He terrorized me, and a lot of guys. He’d make life hell for a lot of guys. He chewed Miz and Morrison out after they won the titles for not celebrating enough.”
He continued: “He was eventually let go back then, and when he came back he was a lot better, but he was mostly only showing up for TV. Even now, it comes across on commentary with how he is with Byron.”
It is widely believed that JBL’s behavior has led to Mauro Ranallo effectively quitting the company, with the SmackDown Live commentator having not been seen on TV since March 14th. WWE released a statement to CBS Sports noting that Ranallo is under contract with the company until August 12, 2017, but it is believed that he won’t be returning to the commentary desk and that a conflict with JBL is to blame.
In an episode of the WWE Network show Bring It To The Table, JBL discussed having an issue with Ranallo as a result of him tweeting out the results of the Wrestling Observer Announcer of the Year Awards, which he won, with JBL not making it into the top ten. Ranallo, who is bipolar and has struggled with depression in the past, pulled out of a number of shows in order to focus upon his mental health, including WrestleMania 33.
Veteran wrestling insider Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter has also been reporting upon JBL’s behavior, suggesting that WWE won’t fire the commentator unless Ranallo’s absence from the company becomes a mainstream media news story.
If it became a mainstream media story possibly, otherwise no https://t.co/k6EaCpQlGq
— . (@davemeltzerWON) April 7, 2017
JBL has denied any wrongdoing on his part, tweeting that he wishes Ranallo the best and adding “I play a heel,” which is wrestling terminology for a villain.
No Joe, and I won't-I shouldn't commenting on Internet stuff. I play a heel. I sincerely wish Mauro nothing but the absolute best.
— John Layfield (@JCLayfield) April 7, 2017
It’s unclear whether or not WWE will speak out regarding these allegations, but with more news outlets picking up on the story, the company could be forced into a position where it has to make a public comment. Considering that the WWE has its own anti-bullying initiative, the Be a Star campaign, them allowing such speculation to continue would inevitably bring into question the WWE’s sincerity when it comes to putting an end to such behavior. With WWE fans calling for the company to remove JBL from his position on SmackDown Live’s commentary booth across Twitter and Facebook, it remains to be seen whether or not Vince McMahon and co. will respond.