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New report says JBL’s WWE exit has been in the works since 2016

As soon as John Brandshaw Layfield announced he was leaving his role as color commentator on WWE SmackDown LIVE, fans wondered about connections to the bullying allegations which surrounded Mauro Ranallo’s absence from the company this past Spring.

A report from Pro Wrestling Sheet (covered in Cageside’s latest Rumor Roundup) which indicated JBL informed WWE he wouldn’t be signing a new deal in May - shortly after the Ranallo situation started - furthered speculation about a connection between the two.

But a new story from’s Justin Barrasso says that Layfield told WWE he was planning to leave as far back as October of last year. That’s not only well before Mauro briefly parted ways with the company, but Barrasso goes on to state JBL “was not the primary person of interest behind the Ranallo situation” and that he “served as the scapegoat” for a situation which had more to do with Mauro being frustrated by a culture of bullying he believed Vince McMahon cultivated within WWE.

Travel was a major factor in Layfield’s exit, per this report. JBL began booking his own travel so he could show up on Tuesday in the city where SmackDown filmed each week rather than join the rest of the roster on Sunday, as WWE wanted. He did this for a couple months before being confronted about it, and put in his notice a short time after that.

Barrasso also states Layfield’s announcement was effect immediately, so he will not be on the Sept. 5 episode filming in Sioux Falls, South Dakota this week.

What’s the real story behind his departure? We’ll likely never know.

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