Former WWE SmackDown and current NXT announcer Mauro Ranallo recently spoke to Sports Illustrated where he discussed his difficulties coping with bipolar disorder, his experience and difficulties he faced while working for SmackDown Live, and his relationship with the company. Here are some highlights from the interview:
On working with a busy schedule for WWE SmackDown:
“With WWE, the biggest issue was the weekly travel for SmackDown. I also had a job with Showtime Championship Boxing, and now Bellator MMA, so I was busy almost every weekend and the fact that I had to be on the road with SmackDown Live, which was a dream job in live TV on the USA Network, was going to kill me. Literally. My close friends saw how it was affecting me, and it just came to a head. There were other issues, and they’ve been dealt with, and honestly, I’ve never had a better relationship with WWE, especially Paul [Triple H] Levesque and Michael Cole, two people who are instrumental in me being the voice of NXT. The amount of support I’ve received from everyone, and I mean from Vince McMahon to Stephanie to Shane to the entire locker room, it’s incredible.
When they first approached me about coming to WWE, I even joked, and in every joke there is a morsel of truth, that I’d take their offer even if it were calling NXT. They said no, they wanted me to launch SmackDown, and I said that was amazing. I’m a wrestling announcer and a wrestling storyteller. Because of my experience with MMA and boxing, I’m all about the story being told in the ring. With NXT, you get a solid hour of just that, and yes, you get the promos and the character-building.
Also, I have to say this, at this stage of my career, I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do. Not many people can say that before the age of 50. So I want to give back, and I’ve already been put in a position to help the other announcers and the young talent. I love watching the underdogs and I want to give them every opportunity to succeed with my lyrics, as it were, to their music in the ring. NXT has been a godsend and, honestly, WWE could not be more supportive and I love the fact that they are beginning to take more focus on mental health.”
On his current relationship with the company:
“I do want to say this: my relationship with WWE has never been better. There were many little things but it was my mental health that was deteriorating at a rapid pace. I needed to get off the road. The other issues have been dealt with, and it’s not my intention with this documentary to go into my relationship with the WWE. They have indeed been incredible in allowing not only Paul Levesque to be involved directly [in the documentary], but allowing the use of footage. It’s mind-blowing to me, just bringing me back to NXT, knowing about my issues. That could be the headline of the Showtime story. You hear about mentally ill people being dangerous to society or dangerous to themselves, unstable and unreliable. That’s the biggest reason I’m making this doc: I’m a high-functioning individual working my dream job.”
You can check out the interview here.