wrestling / News

Backstage Update on Mauro Ranallo and Corey Graves Incident, WWE Viewing Corey Graves as the ‘Victim,’ More Details on Ranallo’s Exit and Return in 2017

November 29, 2019 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Mauro Ranallo Suicide

– Today’s edition of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter has an update on the current situation in WWE involving NXT announcer Mauro Ranallo and WWE announcer Corey Graves stemming from comments Graves made on Twitter criticizing Ranallo’s performance during last Saturday’s NXT TakeOver: WarGames broadcast. The Newsletter also had more additional details regarding the incident leading to Ranallo’s previous WWE exit back in 2017, only to see him return later that same year to join the NXT broadcast team.

Regarding Ranallo’s absence for NXT this week, WWE was reportedly told a day before the show that Mauro Ranallo wouldn’t be doing commentary for the broadcast. The report notes that Graves may not have been aware that Mauro Ranallo has not been doing well lately dealing with his mental health issues when he made the initial offending tweets.

The Observer Newsletter report maintains that Ranallo quit the company in 2017 over comments JBL made burying Ranallo on TV. Newsweek was said to be preparing a “major article” on Layfield. However, WWE and Ranallo would later reach a settlement, where Ranallo denied Layfield as being the cause of the issue, publicly absolving him. Also, Ranallo publicly cited that the weekly Smackdown schedule was too demanding and the main cause of his WWE exit at the time. The Observer states that while the JBL segment on Bring It To The Table was a “breaking point” for Ranallo, the award-winning announcer is said to have had bigger issues with others in the WWE hierarchy.

The report did not mention who that could be. That said, the Observer notes that while JBL going off on Ranallo on the air was “highly unprofessional,” there were people “higher on the food chain” within the WWE who approved of JBL’s actions.

The Observer does mention that during Ranallo’s first few weeks on the job in WWE, WWE Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler gave Ranallo the nickname of “M.R.,” which is also seen as a derogatory slur meaning “mental retard.” After it came up, Lawler quickly stopped saying it on the air.

Ultimately, Ranallo signed to return to WWE as an announcer for NXT in June 2017 for TakeOver shows and TV tapings. The Observer states that the weekly schedule for Smackdown was not the real issue, since NXT also went to a live weekly TV schedule this year, and Ranallo did not appear to have an issue there. Additionally, there was no talk of having Ranallo work a reduced schedule on NXT after the show moved to a live weekly broadcast on USA. Instead, the issue is that in NXT, Ranallo would reportedly be stationed away from the people who made his WWE experience a “toxic” environment for him. In NXT, Ranallo is overseen by Triple H and Michael Cole, who the Observer notes Ranallo never had any problems with. Cole and Triple H were the two people instrumental for getting Ranallo into WWE.

Over time, Ranallo did have to work with the problematic parties again, including JBL. Though, it’s stated that JBL, on his part, attempted to make amends to Ranallo.

As previously reported, sources claimed Graves posted the comments on Twitter as a way to build on the brand warfare between NXT, Raw and Smackdown for Survivor Series, and planned to mention the comments during a match segment during the PPV broadcast. Also, Graves stated during After the Bell that he tweeted the comments “with the intention of just stirring up a little controversy, maybe have something fun to talk about on TV or here on the show.”

In response to the idea Graves posted his comments to push an angle, the Observer states that Mauro Ranallo had no idea that Graves made his comments in an effort for a Survivor Series angle, which didn’t come out until some days later after the incident. Some are skeptical over the explanation, and it does come off like a WWE spin job to excuse Graves’ comments.

Additionally, while Graves reportedly apologized to Ranallo’s best friend and agent, Frank Shamrock, he has yet to actually apologize to Ranallo. The Observer hints at a source indicating while this incident should have WWE management trying to “reel” in Graves’ behavior, it seems to have higher-ups in WWE seeing Graves as the “babyface” of this debacle “and even the victim.”

Graves stated the following earlier this week on WWE After the Bell:

What’s up, everybody? Welcome to After The Bell, I am Corey Graves. A ton to get to this week as we do every week but before we go any further, on a personal note, I needed to address something. This past Saturday, during the ‘Takeover: WarGames’ event, I sent out a tweet. It was an unpopular opinion, as I often do with the intention of just stirring up a little controversy, maybe have something fun to talk about on TV or here on the show. It was maybe not the most professional way to go about things, and it was never meant to offend or disrespect or disparage anybody. That was never my intention. If it was taken as such, I apologize deeply. That was not my intention. I would never intentionally cause anybody undue stress, especially a co-worker. So, I apologize.”