Oli Davis rounds up the biggest professional wrestling news in his daily WrestleTalk column…
Easter is a time for families to come together over chocolate eggs. And something about resurrection.
Families, resurrection – in professional wrestling terms, that pretty much describes The Brothers of Destruction, but Kane’s Happy Easter message and photo on Twitter makes absolutely zero reference to his Deadman half-brother The Undertaker.
— Glenn Jacobs (@GlennJacobsTN) April 16, 2017
I guess there’s the whole Undertaker burning Kane’s family alive and permanently scarring his face thing. But whose family is perfect?
Certainly not the office environment of WWE. Lead Smackdown Live commentator Mauro Ranallo hasn’t been on WWE TV since early March because of depression, and it looks unlikely that he’ll return before his contract expires in August. Ranallo is a well-known sufferer of bipolar disorder, which he was first diagnosed with aged 19, and WWE’s reported bullying corporate culture, specifically the actions of Mauro’s Smackdown Live commentary partner JBL, apparently caused this most recent bout of depression.
All but confirming reports he’s done with the company, Ranallo is now taking announcing jobs outside WWE. The first of which being last night for Japanese MMA promotion RIZIN, broadcast live on the FITE TV app. Ahead of the show, Ranallo took a shot at Smackdown Live’s 19-man commentary booth on Twitter:
I'm so excited to be back! The fact it's ONLY a 2 man booth makes me even happier! ?? https://t.co/xKApkrbgMR
— Mauro Ranallo (@mauroranallo) April 15, 2017
And then, on the actual broadcast when introducing Jazzy Gabert, Ranallo made fun of WWE’s infamous ban on the phrase professional wrestling:
“Professional wrestler – and boy does it feel good to be able to use that term again – turned mixed martial artist The Alpha Female!”
Not done there, when promoting his on-air role for this coming weekend’s Andre Berto vs Shawn Porter fight on Showtime, Mauro tweeted:
— Mauro Ranallo (@mauroranallo) April 16, 2017
Ranallo’s WWE contract expires on the 12th August, a date the company seem to be preparing damage limitation for, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter: “Ranallo’s contract doesn’t allow him to give unauthorized interviews on WWE and the belief is that WWE is working hard to come to a settlement that would include an agreement that he not publicly talk about the issue.”
The Mauro situation appears to be so irreparable with WWE, that Vince McMahon didn’t even try moving JBL and Ranallo away from each other in last week’s Superstar Shake-Up. Instead, the only announcers who made the switch were David Otunga to Raw and Byron Saxton to Smackdown.
But Otunga won’t actually be making his Monday night commentary debut for another six weeks. Mr Jennifer Hudson is starring as “edgy DEA agent James ‘World’ Lawson” in the new movie Katrina. Rather than just making it a much-more preferable two man booth, or even getting Mauro to fill in to save face, WWE have announced that Booker T will join Michael Cole and Corey Graves on Raw for the next month and a half.
Talking to The Roman Show, however, Booker might want it to go a tad longer:
“I bring my own style. I don’t speak like they do. I speak for the people. I think it’ll be refreshing. I am going to be there for six weeks for now, but you never know.”
Nothing against Booker T, but WWE have a perfectly good Jim Ross sitting right there. JR returned to the company for Wrestlemania 33, calling what appears to be The Undertaker’s final match. This was not a one-off appearance, as the Wrestling Observer Newsletter are reporting the new two-year deal is for him to work between 30 to 40 dates for the company. This is, sadly, quite a way shy of the 52 date schedule needed to call weekly TV.
Check back on Flickering Myth every day for round-ups of the biggest professional wrestling news…