You might have noticed that Mauro Ranallo – who, in my opinion, is WWE’s best announcer (and he tweeted me back once!) – hasn’t been part of Smackdown’s 19-man commentary booth recently. His first absence was on the 14th March episode, which WWE explained was because of the fierce snowstorm in the area. But then he missed the following week’s episode. And then this week’s go-home show too.
The real reason appears to be Ranallo’s long-running battle with depression. Mauro was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder aged 19. And, as anybody who’s had experience with the illness knows, it’s not something you cure – it’s a condition you deal with your entire life. There are good days and then, suddenly, there’s a hole from which you can’t get out.
Going by Ranallo’s recent tweet, it appears he might be missing Wrestlemania too:
— Mauro Ranallo (@mauroranallo) March 29, 2017
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter notes that Ranallo’s absence coincides with “building” tension between him and his Smackdown broadcast partner JBL. Apparently, Mauro recently tweeting about winning the Wrestling Observer Announcer of the Year award is a “political mistake” in the wrestling industry, as you should only publicly acknowledge awards given by your promotion, and that JBL was “legitimately very upset”. JBL then made a series of comments about Ranallo, mocking his commentary style on WWE’s Bring It To The Table special, and in a since deleted tweet about the first Smackdown show Mauro missed: “I made the show, everyone made the show, everyone. Maybe he shouldn’t have bashed me if he wasn’t going to show up.”
Whatever the situation is, go over to Mauro Ranallo’s Twitter page and tell him he’s the freaking best, and we’re all behind him.
This week’s go-home episode of Smackdown Live was up 2% from last week, drawing an average of 2.698 million viewers. That’s way up from last year’s pre-brand split, pre-taped go-home episode, which drew 2.328.
This Sunday will see Roman Reigns – The Guy who gets overwhelmingly negative reactions on WWE TV – take on The Undertaker – one of the most popular characters in the company’s history. Reigns has gotta turn heel, right?
Probably not, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. “As of late, [Reigns] is selling more merchandise than any full-timer, given Cena’s status as a part-timer. And that’s not going to be changing as Cena gets more and more outside offers…Right now, with Cena leaving…[Reigns] is the most over guy based on merchandise sales.”
This means it’s unlikely WWE will turn Roman heel, as they haven’t positioned anyone else to bring in that sweet, sweet babyface merch money.
And according to Triple H, WWE don’t have to turn him, because he’s a heel already: “Isn’t he already the biggest heel we have? If 70 percent of that crowd is booing him, then he’s a heel. We’re just presenting him to you in a different way that makes you hate him.”
Right now, Goldberg is arguably WWE’s most accepted babyface, being booked tremendously well despite his in-ring limitations.
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter has reported Goldberg’s current WWE deal ends at Wrestlemania, with Bill’s final contracted date being his Universal Championship defence against Brock Lesnar (which kind of spoils the result). Goldberg joins the string of high-profile WWE wrestlers who will disappear shortly after Wrestlemania – including Undertaker, John Cena and Chris Jericho. Wrestlemania…Showcase of the Part-Timers.
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But Bill has teased he might have a few more future matches in him with his Instagram post thanking the fans and WWE for his latest run:
View this post on Instagram
Call it luck…. hard work……or fate. Still trying to grasp the moment from last night. Thank you to all the fans who've welcomed me back during this run. Truly an honor to have my family along for the ride this time! #humbled #grateful #priceless #familyfirst The biggest #thankyou goes out to my wonderful wife who's put up with me during this time. Also quite important is that none of this would've happened without the @wwe giving me the opportunity. #thankuall #teamgoldberg BTW , if you think I'm throwing in the towel you know nothing about me. Expect all hell to break loose at #wrestlemania no matter what I'm going out on my sword! If I got 1 or 50 left I'm bringing the heat!!!! #bankonit