Monday, June 26, 2017

Mauro Ranallo Returns, And All Is Hell

Ranallo's back, but is it better than ever?
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Mauro Ranallo announced last week that his hiatus from WWE would not be permanent, and that he would return to be the new voice of NXT. Sure enough, he replaced Tom Phillips in the play-by-play chair for the latest round of tapings. Everything seems hunky-dory in his narrative of WWE employment, but regardless of whether or not Ranallo is good at his job (and I think he is, absolutely), the return still has a certain stink on it. Namely, no one learned a damn thing of any worth, and the company's toxic culture of bullying will continue to rampage unchecked as long as the root causes are allowed to fester and curdle.

Obviously, the rot in WWE starts at the top. Vince McMahon and Paul "Triple H" Levesque both seem, by all accounts, to be macho dicks at best and cruel taskmasters at worst. Which is to say, WWE may never fully get better unless McMahon's grandchildren are kinder people. It might be a tough task to ask them to have a "come to Jesus" moment and get rid of all their consiglieres, but while throwing the subordinates under the bus would be a cowardly move, it might make WWE a better place to work for people. Instead, McMahon and Levesque did the "easy" thing and just separated Ranallo from his primary bully, John Layfield.

To wit, Layfield should have been fired 20 times over by now. His triggering of Ranallo's latest episode of mental health problems should not have been allowed to happen, much like Bill DeMott should never have been allowed to rack up the amount of victims he did before he was let go from his post as head developmental trainer. Then again, at least DeMott got fired. I guess having a sweet gig on Fox News where you parrot awful economic talking points you read from some Austrian rag that Oompa-Loompa-in-Chief Donald Trump takes time out of his busy schedule of self-martyrdom and violating the emoluments clause to recognize helps. Regardless, Layfield's continued employment with the company in the backdrop of Ranallo's rehiring means no one learned a goddamn thing about anything.

It's a dedicated public relations move made to give the company and its chief actors, namely Levesque and Stephanie McMahon, the veneer that they give a shit. Meanwhile, the corporate reasoning behind Ranallo's return appears to be allowing Levesque to play "good cop" to his miserly old father-in-law and cashing in on Ranallo's soon-to-be nationwide celebrity as the play-by-play commentator for the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor boxing match. It's as transparent a play for goodwill as any, but hey, it's alright, Ranallo gets to come back and announce for a company that I can only assume is his number one place of employment. Hell, he gets to come back to work the boutique premium brand, where he doesn't have to tour like he did for Smackdown and where he and Nigel McGuinness and bounce nerd facts off each other. It's a dream scenario for him.

And yet people will try to posterize Ranallo for coming back, like the Layfield bullying wasn't bad. Why else would he come back? Well, I can't begin to understand how someone who isn't me and whom I don't know personally would react to money and favorable conditions being offered to him. Was the bullying Ranallo received "gentle" or "not severe enough?" I don't know and personally, I don't care to make the distinction. The man has been brutally honest and transparent with his battle against mental illness, and it was bad enough that it got his friend and legit mixed-martial arts legend Bas Rutten wanting to cram his fist down Layfield's throat. You can't judge the man for living his life and following his passion, and the one thing I do know about Ranallo is that pro wrestling is in his bloodstream, for taking what amounts as a weak "we're sorry" payoff. Don't blame victims. Always put the pressure on the aggressors.

Especially in this case, the aggressors are trying to play it off like nothing ever went wrong in the first place. This whole situation stinks, and it will continue to stink until Layfield is nowhere near a WWE event or office in any capacity, and McMahon and Levesque are dragged kicking and screaming towards suppressing their inner jock bully asshole. The latter may never happen, but it's always good to have stretch goals, right?