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Mauro Ranallo talks leaving the ‘mentally grueling’ WWE

Shortly after WWE began pre-taping much of their television programming as they adjusted to producing shows during the pandemic, Mauro Ranallo exited the company.

His eventful four-plus year run as a play-by-play man started on SmackDown and ended on NXT. Midway through the run, he briefly departed the company amidst reports he’d been bullied by JBL. Ranallo denied the Hall of Famer was the reason for his exit; whether his treatment behind-the scenes exacerbated it or not, Mauro’s well-documented and self-disclosed mental health issues did play a part.

A little more than three months later, Ranallo started at NXT. His time there was mostly smooth sailing, but involved public criticism from fellow announcer Corey Graves that resulted in another controversy. Mauro returned, but not long after he started recording commentary from his home on a team with the also-remote Beth Phoenix and Tom Phillips as an in-arena announcer, he left for good.

Ranallo discussed his time in WWE in a new interview with Post Wrestling’s John Pollock. Mauro expressed a lot of gratitude to Vince McMahon, Triple H, and Michael Cole for the opportunity to work one a dream job and expand his following in the process. But without naming names, he was frank about the challenges he faced:

“WWE is one of the most mentally grueling places, and that’s not necessarily a criticism by any means. There’s a reason Vince McMahon has built a multi-billion dollar empire. Is it perfect? Not by any means, but neither am I. I chose at a late age in life, 46, to go to WWE. When they courted me, it was a dream come true. I wanted to work for WWE as a play-by-play announcer because I thought it would be not only an affirmation of my accomplishments and my achievements and who I am as a broadcaster, but because of the connection I had with pro wrestling going back to the very beginning of my life...

“I thought Jerry Lawler and Byron Saxton and I had instant chemistry, but they made the changes they felt they had to make. It’s their company. I have proven I can work with almost anyone as a broadcaster, but yeah, there were many times I was like, ‘What is going on here?’ A four-man booth - an eight-man booth. There was a picture someone had on Twitter, there were literally eight people on headsets. I get it, but that’s not what I want as a commentator. I get these stressful situations, I get the changes on the fly - it’s just the system there. But for me and my mental health, even moving to NXT where - when we were live, it was the best experience I could ask for, and that’s a testament to what Triple H and everyone down in NXT has done.

“I just felt, for my own mental health, and it was becoming more and more apparent, doing the show even from home... it was to the point that I would have panic attacks in the morning of the recordings in the last few months. And, with all due respect, I didn’t like what was happening, who was involved - all respect to all announcers, but I also believe in chemistry. And maybe I was the problem. On show day, I’m not a great guy to be around because I’m completely f-ing focused. I’m prepared and I expect everyone else to be the same. And so there was another reason - I’m a play-by-play announcer. I think I’m one of the better ones in business, and I don’t need - I need to be left alone at times.

“So I want to thank WWE for everything. They have improved my standing in the world, they have allowed me, I believe, to get other opportunities. The fanbase and their treatment of yours truly, the support of my documentary - there will never be, and I know this business feeds off it, the tell-all, the shoot interview. The shoot is this: it was, like my life, filled with highs and lows, trials and tribulations. Sometimes, you know, when the dream comes true it doesn’t necessarily remain a dream, sometimes you’re not supposed to meet your heroes. I am blessed that I met everyone. I am so thankful I got to work with one of the most creative minds, one of the greatest promoters ever in Vince McMahon. Did we see eye-to-eye? No. But I think there was also a respect he had for me and one I have for him. He has his vision and I have my vision, and NXT was my vision. And unfortunately, like everything else, it just became too much for me... and thankfully, with not being on the weekly grind like I was with WWE, both mentally and otherwise, I have time to do something I really want to start doing more, and that’s a show like the Maurologue [his new podcast].”

You can listen to all of Pollock’s discussion with Ranallo, which includes talk of calling the recent Mike Tyson/Roy Jones Jr. exhibition, here.

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