In August Mauro Ranallo departed WWE after spending nearly five years as one of their top play-by-play commentators. He's still involved in broadcasting and recently commentated the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. boxing exhibition and Ranallo discussed his decision to leave WWE in an interview with POST Wrestling.
"I wanna thank Triple H who sent me a very nice text message after the Tyson PPV," revealed Ranallo. "WWE is one of the most mentally grueling places and that's not necessarily a criticism by any means. That's one of the reasons Vince McMahon has built a multi-million-dollar empire. Is it perfect? Not by any means but neither am I.
"I chose at a late age, 46, to go to WWE. They courted me and it was a dream come true. I wanted to work for WWE as a play-by-play announcer because I thought it would be, not only an affirmation of my accomplishments and achievements and who I am as a broadcaster, but because of the connection I had with pro wrestling going back to the very beginning of my life."
Ranallo said pro wrestling was something that he and his family bonded over when he was younger. He also remembers his best friend – who passed away at 19 – who told Ranallo that he couldn't wait for him to one day work for Vince McMahon.
"So, making WWE was very special to me for many reasons. Now, I thought Jerry Lawler, Byron Saxton and I had instant chemistry but they made the changes they felt they had to make. It's their company. I've proven that I can work with almost anyone as a broadcaster. But yeah, there were many times where I'm like, 'What is going on here?' A 4-man booth, an 8-man booth; there was a picture on Twitter where there were literally eight people on headsets," recalled Ranallo. I get it, but that's not what I want as a commentator. I get these stressful situations and these changes on the fly as it's just the system there. But for me and my mental health – even moving to NXT when we were live, it was the best experience I could ask for and that's a testament to Triple H and everyone down at NXT.
"I just felt, for my own mental health, and it was becoming more and more apparent doing the show even from home. I know, God bless his soul Jim Cornette and many people, 'How the hell can this guy quit a high-paying, high-profile gig of which there are so few in this world? And he could do the show from his home, remotely, how could he leave?' It was to the point I would have panic attacks in the morning of the recordings the last few months."
Ranallo pointed to the personnel changes in commentary played a role in his departure as he said he believes in chemistry. He also admitted that, perhaps, he was the problem as he expected his level of focus and preparedness to be reciprocated by others.
"I'm a play-by-play announcer and I think I'm one of the better ones in the business. I need to be left alone at times. So, I want to thank WWE for everything. They have improved my standing in the world and have allowed me, I believe, to get other opportunities. The fan base, and their treatment of yours truly, their support of my documentary. There will never be… and I know that business feeds off, 'Oh, that's a tell-all and a shoot interview!' The shoot is this, it was like my life – filled with highs and lows and trials and tribulations – sometimes when the dream comes true it doesn't necessarily remain a dream. Sometimes you're not supposed to meet your heroes but I am blessed I met everyone," stated Ranallo.
He said even though he didn't see eye to eye with Vince McMahon at all times, he has nothing but respect for Vince and his thankful for all of the projects WWE allowed him to be a part of.
Because of the pandemic, NXT had a remote three-man booth for their broadcasts which Ranallo isn't a fan of. He talked about how the stress of that expedited his departure despite the efforts of WWE and their production team.
"WWE's production value speaks for itself. They've got the most talented crew and their production value is amazing. They made it work," Ranallo said before discussing many of those incredible people behind the scenes.
"They're geniuses and incredible, but yeah [it was] highly frustrating. I believe that's what really started to trigger my issues. I had many issues and I'm pretty sure I may have traumatized Beth Phoenix at times. We tried to make it work but it's almost impossible, especially a three-man booth. I'm a traditionalist and I want two-man. At times, I think I can do it by myself but I think a two-man booth is the ideal situation. That's why I have so much fun with Josh Barnett doing New Japan Pro Wrestling.
"It definitely led to my struggles with the way it was set up. I did travel for Showtime in August to the Mohegan Sun bubble and they made sure we wanted to do it with all of the testing and protocols. Yes, I was nervous and I'm still nervous. But I felt comfortable there and I think maybe, in Florida it was much a hotspot. I just couldn't travel to Florida and WWE, again, facilitated that. They brought me back to earn a living which I will always be grateful for.
"But that was a part of it. It could have worked even better but it's just what it is – a perfect storm of long days and tough on me mentally."
He added that even though he was working just one day a week for WWE, it was mentally grueling and it got to him. Ranallo didn't think he was giving his best work so he decided to depart WWE after five years.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit POST Wrestling with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.