We’re a week removed from WrestleMania 33 and what a great week it was for wrestling. There were two great shows on Saturday night (ROH and NXT), a great WrestleMania, an exciting RAW and Smackdown with some big debuts and nice returns, and even Impact Wrestling was good.
Yet by and large, most talk among hardcore fans and wrestlers sites was not the great week of wrestling, but rather a renewed interest on Smackdown announcer JBL and his bullying ways.
The most recent controversy started when Mauro Ranallo missed Smackdown a few weeks back, and JBL had bashed him on Bring It To the Table. Mauro has apparently been dealing his bi-polar depression, with an episode likely brought on by JBL’s bullying.
Even more attention turned to JBL when Justin Roberts’ book, Best Seat in the House (review coming soon), came out. In it, Justin describes his ordeal of facing bullying from folks on the Smackdown brand back in the early and mid 2000’s, and chief among them is JBL.
JBL has a long history of being a bully, not unlike others from his era (Bob Holly and Bill DeMott for example). From The Miz to Blue Meanie to Joey Styles and to so many others, one doesn’t have to look far to find someone in the wrestling industry that has been bullied by JBL.
In the case of Blue Meanie, JBL got what was coming to him in the form of a stiff chair shot to the head from Stevie Richards that left Bradshaw busted open. Joey Styles knocked JBL out after putting up with a week of bullying, leaving the much larger JBL with a black eye and a laceration.
Bullies need to be put in their place, and when they aren’t they just continue on. Unfortunately, too many people don’t put JBL in his place, and so the bully does what the bully does.
With all of that said, I’m just a wrestling fan. I don’t see anything that happens behind the scenes, and without hard evidence (video or audio), anything that gets said about JBL or he’s accused of doing is just speculation to me. Sure, where there’s smoke there’s fire, but without seeing what happens it is hard to place an event in its proper context.
What many feel as bullying or hazing, JBL could very well see as a playful rib. Without being knocked on his ass and told to cut it out, he might not be able to see it any other way. That’s not an excuse or defense of his actions, by the way.
As a wrestler, I always liked JBL. I liked him in 1995 when he was Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw. I liked him as one of the New Blackjacks, when he was in APA, and yes I enjoyed his singles run as JBL including his WWE Championship run. There was a time I even thought he was s decent heel color commentator.
Unfortunately, it’s time for JBL to go. If Hulk Hogan got black listed from WWE for some supposedly racist comments made in private, then there is absolutely no excuse for keeping a known bully employed. Especially when said bully brings nothing of value to the table anymore.
JBL is not a good commentator anymore. He is actually a negative the majority of the time. In fact, I’d say his work over the past three years or so has been downright terrible. He should go for that reason alone.
But right now, JBL is caught up in the middle of a controversy that in no way looks good for WWE. As a public company, WWE cannot afford to let a serial bully continue to run rampant. It’s a disaster waiting to happen if he does it to the wrong person. Either someone gets his actions on tape and releases it, or someone gets tired of it and seriously hurts him. Either way, it’s not going to be good for WWE when it hits the fan.
Due in large part to JBL, it looks like we’ve seen the last of Mauro Ranallo in WWE. This should anger any wrestling fan. Mauro Ranallo was by far the best announcer WWE has had since Jim Ross. Like Ross, Ranallo brought passion, knowledge, and excitement to the product.
JBL brings nothing to the product but groans. Any promoter or businessman worth his salt should much rather have Mauro Ranallo sitting at an announce table over a guy like JBL. That Mauro is out and JBL stays is a complete travesty and a shame and shows what kind of carny product Vince McMahon wants to run.
For that matter, it’s a shame that Jerry Lawler got kicked to the curb on Smackdown so that JBL could take his spot. The team of Ranallo/Lawler was the best since Ross/Lawler, and was really flowing smoothly once Lawler settled back into being a heel color commentator.
WWE should be no place for bullies. It’s sad that a 50-year-old man would need to act like a college student in a fraternity and “haze” people. It’s not cool, it’s not funny, it’s just stupid. It’s the kind of stuff the new crop of superstars could EASILY end if they’d banded together (like many did to get Bill DeMott fired).
JBL isn’t Jerry Lawler, and he most certainly isn’t Bobby Heenan or Jesse Venture. If he were to go today, I don’t know a single person who would miss hearing his commentary. In fact, if we tuned into Smackdown Tuesday night and saw a new announce team that didn’t include JBL (and Otunga too for that matter, but that’s just because three man booths suck) I suspect there would be a lot of rejoicing.
Regardless, for WWE, this whole thing regarding JBL’s bullying isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. He’s time to let him go.