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Apr
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Bullying is shameful, and not just when children do it

 
by Dr. Kazmir
04/10/2017 05:08 pm ET

Follow me on Twitter: @mk1157

Growing up as a child, I was bullied quite a bit. I wasn’t the biggest or strongest child, and children can be cruel.

This is why when I got older, I quickly realized the importance of teaching children not to be bullies at an early age. The idea is to prevent those children from growing up to become people who use either physical size or a position of power to torment those who may not be as strong.

So you can imagine my horror when I read about the situation going on right now in WWE with announcer Mauro Ranallo.

In case you are not aware, Ranallo was an announcer on the Smackdown brand and a few weeks ago, he suddenly vanished from the airwaves. Wrestling fans began to wonder where he was until stories began to emerge about behind the scenes drama that claimed Ranallo as a casualty.

Long story short, Ranallo has documented mental health issues, suffering from bi-polar disorder for nearly 30 years. He has been very public about this fact and everybody knew it. Ranallo began his career announcing wrestling at the age of 16 and his dream had always been to announce for WWE. Last year, that dream came true when WWE signed him to announce for their Smackdown television show. Ranallo did such a good job on the show, that he won “announcer of the year” in Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the top source of wrestling news in the world.

Ranallo was proud of this award, so he tweeted about it. That was when all the problems reportedly began.

According to multiple reports, Ranallo’s Smackdown broadcast partner – and former WWE wrestler – John “Bradshaw” Layfield (JBL) thought that celebrating an award won in a wrestling newsletter – which was strictly a no-no back in the days when people in the wrestling business were still trying to maintain the illusion that everything that happened in the ring was real – was a terrible offense. He began to pick on Ranallo and generally make his life a living hell into he essentially drove him to become so miserable that he more or less had a mental breakdown.

This was all more or less confirmed by one of Ranallo’s best friends, MMA legend Bas Rutten, who tweeted about it.

If this were an isolated incident, that would be one thing. But it isn’t. Do a quick google search on JBL and you will find a massive collection of articles and interviews with wrestlers documenting countless stories of Layfield’s bullying of other WWE employees over the past two decades.

One recent example is former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts, who documented an incident in his book about Layfield constantly bullying him, including one time when the former WWE champion arranged for Roberts’ passport to be stolen on a trip overseas, causing him a cornucopia of issues. Layfield denied this on Twitter, but former WWE star John Hennigan (formerly John Morrison in WWE and currently Johnny Mundo in Lucha Underground) corroborated Roberts’ story, while claiming he had been bullied by Layfield as well. In addition, another former WWE wrestler, Mike Bucci (formerly Simon Dean in WWE and Nova in ECW) chronicled in a shoot interview stories of Layfield bullying Roberts.

Again, a quick google search reveals far more than just Roberts, Ranallo, or Hennigan as victims of Layfield. This is a pattern of behavior that has persisted for many years.

In the old days of the wrestling business, hazing and bullying was prevalent. But that was the old days. WWE is a publicly traded company and while practical jokes are one thing, physical and mental abuse cannot and should not be tolerated.

Problem is, Roberts says in his book that they are not only tolerated, but encouraged. And Layfield’s continued presence in WWE along with Vince McMahon’s refusal to reprimand him for any of the abuse he has dished out sure seems to back up Roberts’ point.

The “Be a Star” campaign is an anti-bullying organization that counts WWE as one of its partners, but it is clear that WWE does not practice what it preaches on this issue. Be A Star needs to hold WWE’s feet to the fire and threaten to end its relationship with WWE if this stuff isn’t nipped in the bud immediately.

In truth, though, they shouldn’t have to demand anything. McMahon should put a stop to this culture of abuse simply because it is the right thing to do.

It is time for Vince McMahon to send John Layfield packing and convey the message that these shameful practices will no longer be tolerated in his company. And while I respect the fact that he took his father’s successful regional territory and built it into a global empire, if a mentally-ill announcer getting tortured into giving up his dream job isn’t enough for McMahon to take action, then it says quite a bit about McMahon’s character, and not in a favorable way.

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