Recently on Heated Conversations: Hosted By Booker T, WWE Hall Of Famer Booker T weighed in on the ongoing issue involving Mauro Ranallo's apparent WWE departure on account of problems with SmackDown Live commentator JBL.
"Right now, the backlash towards a friend of mine, a colleague, 'JBL' John 'Bradshaw' Layfield, a guy that I have been knowing for 25 years… Man, it's crazy. I don't know if you saw SmackDown just last week, the chants were, 'fire JBL' and that right there, this flashmob takeover from the fans sometimes, getting into the business side because of social media now and everybody knows everything." Booker T acknowledged, "the wrestling fans have never been so close to the business than they are right now in 2017 and I'll tell you it's a good thing. It's a great thing because, as sports entertainers, we need our fans. We do. We definitely need our fans, but as far as the hashtag, #FireJBL, I'm like [podcast cohost Brad Gilmore], it should go away. We should move on. Men fight! That's what we do!"
Booker T implied that the rift between JBL and Ranallo centered on things JBL did in his role as a heel commentator and that the professional wrestling business is unique and difficult for some people.
"A lot of people like Ranallo. A lot of people really and truly like what he does as a journalist, what he does as a commentator for New Japan for many years, what he does for Showtime [Championship] Boxing, Strikeforce. He has done it all. He has been around for a long time and, like I said, a lot of people love him. But the business, the wrestling business is different from any other entity that you are ever going to encounter on this Earth!" Booker T continued, "I think Mauro, and I say again, I like Mauro even though he blocked me or unfollowed me on Twitter. I mean, I didn't do anything. Do you know what I mean? We talked boxing all the time, but Mauro obviously had a problem with JBL and the way they did their work. Now, JBL is what is called a heel commentator. That's just something we do and that's something that has been done since the beginning of time. It's going to go on throughout the history of professional wrestling. One guy's going to be for the good guy. One guy's going to be for the bad guy. Or just vice versa. It's just part of the game."
With respect to bullying, Booker T is of the opinion that bullying is a term that only applies to youths.
"I'm going to be straight up as far as this 'bullying' term. Let's take that bullying term and put it back in preschool and our junior high schools and our high schools. When you're out of high school, I think the bullying rule stops. Do you know what I mean? I think the bullying rule pretty much goes away when you're a grown man and you're able to take up for yourself and throw hands or go and talk to someone and say, 'hey, I don't feel like I'm being treated right with this commentator here. Maybe you need to move me somewhere else and put me on another show. Otherwise there could be problems therefore ramifications.' But I don't think the bullying rule falls under grown men having an issue with each other."
Booker T recalled that he was never bullied during his professional wrestling career and insinuated that it is because he would have stood up to alleged bullies.
"Look, I've been in the business 26 years and I have yet to have been bullied by anybody. I'm going to tell you right now, I was around The Steiner Brothers; I was running Nasty Boys," Booker T reflected. "'Flyin' Brian Pillman, one of the most notorious ribbers I've ever seen in the business, God rest his soul, if Brian Pillman would have ribbed me, I would have beat the hell out of him. You'd still be hearing about that beating. People would still be talking about the beating Booker T gave Brian Pillman."
According to Booker T, the beef between JBL and Ranallo should have been kept behind-the-scenes.
"When something is done on television in front of the world, it's open season. And we're talking about bullying right now. If it's something that's done in the back, if I'm being disrespected there, I feel like it should be handled a little bit different as opposed to going on social media and talking about it. That's first and foremost to me." Booker T asked, "is it something that should be public to the public? I mean, if you worked at McDonalds and you [were] mad because you [were] on the fries and you wanted to be doing the burgers, are you going to go on social media and say, 'boss ain't letting me go over and do the patties, man. I want to advance now. I want to do patties.' Are you going to go on social media and talk about that?"
Moreover, on the subject of social media, Booker T suggested that MMA veteran Bas Rutten's tweets in defense of Ranallo were "childish".
"Childish. That's exactly what it is. It's childish. It boggles my mind as far as people going to Twitter and social media as their first line of defense."
During the podcast, Booker T recalled that he had a negative first impression upon meeting JBL for the first time over 26 years ago.
"JBL, I wondered about him myself, I said, 'this redneck'. Do you know what I mean?" Booker T continued, "a brother out of the hood, you walked up on JBL, your first thought, your first impression was, 'I don't like this guy. I'm going to be a little standoffish. I'm definitely not letting him in my world or anything like that.'"
While Booker T had a negative first impression of JBL and admitted the former Justin 'Hawk' Bradshaw will push buttons, the former GI Bro claimed that JBL is not racist or malicious in any way.
"JBL does not have a racist bone in his body. He doesn't have a malicious bone in his body. As far as being a little bit over the top, as far as pushing guys' buttons, yes! Do you know what I mean? JBL is quick to push buttons."
Finally, Booker T opined that the situation should have stayed in the locker room and went on to say that he hopes it is resolved soon.
"What [are] the true facts as far as this saga goes? I mean, who's right and who's wrong in a situation like this? There [are] two sides to every story and we've got to look at it that way." Booker T said, "I think it is locker room talk and that's where it should end. As far as social media, as far as JBL/Mauro Ranallo, who was wrong? I don't know if anybody was wrong or right in this situation, but I hope it gets resolved and I hope that it gets resolved very, very soon."
Click here to listen to the show. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit Heated Conversations: Hosted By Booker T with an H/T to WrestlingINC for the transcription.
Yumi Matsu contributed to this article. Got a news tip or correction? Send it to us by clicking here.