Here’s what we know:
Corey Graves subtweeted (meaning he did not tag or mention anyone by name) some criticism of Mauro Ranallo’s play-by-play work during TakeOver: WarGames this past Saturday. Ranallo - who is an advocate for mental health care & causes, open with his own bipolar diagnosis, and previously took a brief leave of absence from his job as SmackDown’s lead announcer due to a depressive episode, then returned to WWE as the voice of NXT - deactivated his Twitter account that night.
Graves worked Sunday’s Survivor Series PPV. Mauro did not. Mauro has not commented, and WWE’s Michael Cole explained Ranallo’s absence during last night’s broadcast by saying he “blew his voice out” on Saturday, but would return on Wednesday for the regular weekly edition of NXT.
Here’s what’s being speculated and/or reported:
Corey’s tweets and Ranallo’s missing Survivor Series are related, presumably because criticism from a colleague triggered a downturn in Mauro’s mental well-being.
Here’s what’s being argued by fans upon catching up on the above (which includes me, as I am not a journalist nor do I have any inside sources with Graves, Ranallo, or WWE), and my take on the arguments:
Corey is bullying Mauro - No, he’s just criticizing him. There aren’t any personal attacks, or incendiary language.
Corey’s not wrong - Maybe not, it’s a matter of opinion. Personally, I find Ranallo’s pop culture references to be a bit much at times, but I don’t think he prohibits his commentary partners from contributing. Mauro’s enthusiasm and knowledge make up for any bad habits in my book.
Corey’s just working - To what end? It wasn’t for “brand warfare”, since his tweet was flattering toward Beth Phoenix and Nigel McGuinness. To promote his After The Bell podcast? Perhaps. It wouldn’t be the first time Graves ran an angle with another announcer to pop a number for an audio show. This would require Mauro to be in on the work, however.
Corey’s being a hypocrite - Certainly seems that way. He’s spent a lot of time lamenting the negativity of social media, and calling out people in the business for tweeting grievances instead of dealing with them head on. But in the instance, he’s contributing to the former and seems to be doing the latter.
Corey may have already tried to address these issues in what Triple H would describe as a mature and professional way and gotten nowhere - Okay, but what does raising them publicly, in a roundabout way, accomplish? Is Graves Ranallo’s boss, or mentor? Did Cole, or Haitch, or Vince McMahon ask him to criticize Mauro on Twitter as some kind of motivational tactic?
Mauro shouldn’t be on social media, or an announcer, if he can’t handle criticism - There’s a difference between a fan sending mean tweets, or an outsider critiquing the product, and a colleague making negative statements about your work online. Even if Mauro didn’t have a Twitter account, he could still learn about the criticism and be hurt by it. It’s also easy to say “just ignore it”, but it can hard to do when you’re in a profession which relies on social media - and evaluates personalities by their presence there - more and more.
There are also implied power dynamics at play. It’s not unreasonable to assume Corey is someone management thinks highly of. He’s a very public face of the company, who’s appeared on multiple WWE properties in a wide variety of roles throughout his career. That someone who might have the bosses’ ear would suddenly decide to slam your work for the entire world to see would cause anxiety in anyone.
Mauro is “playing the victim card” - First, unless you suffer from mental illness, don’t tell people who do how they should react to things. Second, how so? Did he make a big dramatic exit from anywhere on Saturday night? For all any of us know, he just asked for Survivor Series off. When rumors and reports flew about other WWE employees “bullying” him prior to his last hiatus, Ranallo took the high road, either not commenting or directly refuting allegations. That’s not how people “play victim”.
While I was writing this, Graves tweeted at Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer, inferring that Meltzer’s report that Ranallo missed last night’s show because of his tweets was a lie, and that he would explain how if Meltzer reached out to him.
@davemeltzerWON, you uninformed, false narrative pushing liar.— Corey Graves (@WWEGraves) November 25, 2019
My phone works. You’re a “journalist,” right? You can find my number.
But that doesn’t change my overall take on the situation. And I doubt that whatever Corey’s justification is for his tweets (which he could just provide to the world without getting Meltzer or any other website or journalist involved) would either.
And that’s this:
While they weren’t bullying per se and may have just been Graves’ honest opinion shared with an audience who values his perspective as a “straight shooter” with behind-the-scenes access, they were still shitty. He should have considered how his tweets would look to the public, and how they could affect his co-worker - especially since his participation in criticizing Ranallo would invite even more negative feedback from fans, and could be seen as implying others backstage at WWE aren’t happy with his work.
It’s certainly everyone’s right to share their perspective without regard to how it will impact others. But it’s also everyone’s right to judge your behavior when you choose to be inconsiderate.