Mauro Ranallo worked as the lead commentator for SmackDown Live from 2015-17, but he had to take take a leave of absence after battling depression, and he'd later part ways with the WWE.
Ranallo, of course, wasn't out of the WWE for long. He was brought back two months later to join the NXT broadcast team. Ranallo and the WWE were able to agree on a new deal, and he's been happy in his new gig on the NXT brand.
There was speculation that Ranallo had left the WWE following alleged bullying from John Bradshaw Layfield, his coworker on SmackDown. But in a recent interview on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani (h/t Pro Wrestling Sheet), Ranallo opened up about the real reason why he opted to leave the blue brand.
“I was on the road every week. You add MMA and boxing and kickboxing to it. The road travel destroyed me. So, rumors and all this other stuff, what happened, honestly — and Ariel, you know how honest I’ve been in this thing — I had a breakdown in the Chicago O’Hare airport on my way to Pittsburgh to do SmackDown Live.
And again, Frank Shamrock… God bless him … Bas Rutten, man. Guys who fought each other are my biggest supporters. But, I had to phone them and I said ‘I’m done. I cannot do this anymore. It’s going to kill me.’ And I thought I was done with the entire company.
As much as there’s two sides to every story, the actual truth from me was my mental health wasn’t going to allow me to maintain that schedule much longer.”
It's worth noting that Ranallo had previously shut down the rumors that he was bullied by JBL, who was allegedly nasty to many superstars during his WWE career. There definitely appeared to be tension between the duo, with JBL blocking a number of Ranallo supporters on Twitter.
Ranallo added in the interview with Helwani that the NXT schedule is much less demanding and has suited him better. He's extremely content where he is, while Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton continue to hold the fort on SmackDown Live.
The 48-year-old Ranallo, who signed with the WWE in 2015, is extremely popular among the fans, while other commentators have come under fire for their lack of style. Losing Ranallo for a brief period was an irreplaceable loss for the WWE. Thankfully, he was able to come back on something that better suited his needs, and Ranallo continues to bring an excellent voice to the NXT shows.