WWE fans this week are demanding that SmackDown Live commentator John “Bradshaw” Layfield, a.k.a. JBL, be fired after a number of allegations of workplace harassment have surfaced.
This was all sparked by the release of a new book by Justin Roberts and by the apparent departure of SmackDown Live commentator Mauro Ranallo, and in the past week, a number of old and new stories about JBL have been spread across the Internet.
A lot of accusations are getting thrown around, but how many of them are actually true? What do we know for sure about JBL’s behavior backstage? Here’s a look at all of the allegations so far.
1. In His Book, Justin Roberts Alleges That JBL Constantly Harassed Him Backstage
Former WWE commentator Justin Roberts recently released a book called Best Seat in the House, which tells the story of his 12-year WWE career. In it, Roberts says that JBL and others constantly bullied and harassed him backstage, saying that JBL would throw his bags around and call him names.
“[E]very day I saw him, he asked me why I was still alive and told me to go kill myself,” Roberts says in the book.
Roberts also alleges that there was an incident in which JBL was being interviewed by a high school kid, and when the high-schooler dropped his notes during the interview, JBL asked the child’s mother if she had any children who were not mentally challenged.
Roberts expanded on all of this in his Reddit Ask Me Anything, saying that JBL “terrorized” people backstage.
“He terrorized me, and a lot of guys,” Roberts said. “He’d make life hell for a lot of guys. He chewed Miz and Morrison out after they won the titles for not celebrating enough.”
Roberts talks about bullying from people other than JBL in the book as well, in general painting a picture of a total madhouse and toxic work environment.
2. Justin Roberts Says His Passport Was Stolen Backstage Once & Johnny Mundo Has Since Suggested That JBL Was Responsible
One element of the JBL bullying saga that’s been a bit confusing is the incident surrounding Justin Roberts’ passport.
In his book, Best Seat in the House, Roberts says that while he was working for the WWE and was on tour in the U.K., someone stole his passport out of his bag. A lot of WWE fans have just assumed that JBL is the one who took it, but Roberts did not actually accuse him of that in the book. Rather, Roberts doesn’t name a specific person as being responsible for the passport theft, and it sounds like he never found out who it was.
In his Reddit Ask Me Anything, Roberts simply writes, “My passport out of my bag, and the next tour I guarded it with my life. On the flight back, Orlando Jordan told me he would watch my back and I should go to the gift shop. I didn’t take his advice.”
But retired wrestler Johnny Mundo recently suggested that JBL was probably the one behind this, as he says that JBL once told him to steal Roberts’ passport out of his bag.
“JBL was one of the main event guys at the time, and I don’t remember exactly what Justin Roberts did to become the target for the hazing of this specific oversea trip, but JBL asked me and Joey to snag Justin’s passport,” Mundo told Deadspin.
However, Mundo says that he didn’t actually steal Roberts’ passport as JBL encouraged him to do.
Roberts also told Deadspin that he was once in a meeting with Vince McMahon himself in which McMahon jokingly referenced the passport incident as if it were not a serious matter.
“I was sitting in the production meeting, Vince [McMahon] is running the meeting, and when it ends, he’s the first to leave,” Roberts told Deadspin. “I was sitting there, and as he walked by me, he just whispered to me: ‘Don’t forget your passport! Ha-haa!’ and walked away. That’s when I knew there was no sympathy in that company. This stuff is encouraged.”
On Twitter this week, JBL said he did not steal Roberts’ passport, adding that Roberts is an idiot who everyone hated.
3. Mauro Ranallo, Who Suffers From Bipolar Disorder, Has Been Absent from the WWE for Weeks & This May or May Not Be Related to JBL
SmackDown Live commentator Mauro Ranallo has been absent from the show for several weeks, and there has been speculation that this is JBL related.
Ranallo suffers from bipolar disorder, and it has been confirmed that his absence both from SmackDown and from social media in general has been because he has been suffering from depression, with Ranallo writing on Twitter in March that his doctor has advised him to stay off social media. This tweet has since been deleted, and Ranallo has now returned to Twitter.
In recent weeks, Bas Rutten, Ranallo’s friend and cohost on the podcast Rutten and Ranallo, has posted a number of tweets suggesting that the Ranallo situation has something to do with JBL, and he has repeatedly referenced JBL in a negative light.
Recently, someone tweeted at Rutten asking why he doesn’t just come out and explicitly say what happened between Mauro Ranallo and JBL. Rather than saying “nothing happened between them,” Rutten said he can’t say more because of a non-disclosure agreement.
The inciting incident to all of this may have taken place in March, when Ranallo won the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s reader award for best WWE commentator, and Ranallo tweeted about being happy about this. JBL proceed to brutally mock Ranallo on the WWE Network show Bring it to the Table, saying that Ranallo is obsessed with pop culture references and has a problem because he spends too much time on Twitter.
In a recent edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer suggested that comments made by JBL are likely the reason that Ranallo has been absent. However, this seemed to mainly be speculation on his part.
JBL said on Twitter last week that he wishes Ranallo the best and that his comments about Ranallo can be explained by the fact that he’s playing a heel character on television.
The latest update about the Ranallo situation came when Ranallo removed all references to the WWE from his Twitter bio, suggesting that he may soon be leaving the company. CBS Sports later reported that Ranallo is not expected to return.
4. Mark Henry, Shawn Daivari, Matt Hardy, Renee Dupree, Ivory & The Miz Have Also Accused JBL of Bullying
Over the years, a number of other WWE employees have accused JBL of bullying, and now these old accusations are beginning to resurface.
In a 2013 interview with Jay Mohr, Mark Henry said that he had issues with JBL; this answer came when Henry was asked if there’s anyone in the company he wishes he had had a feud with.
“When I was young…he used to pick on me,” Henry said of JBL. “Ribbing is a part of wrestling. You know, that’s the way they show kind of a fondness for you, they play practical jokes on you, they put your wrestling gear in plastic bags and throw it in the back of the showers and turn the showers on. [They] empty all your luggage out and put water in your luggage, and just stupid stuff. They hazed me, and I wanted to fight everybody.”
Henry went on to say, though, that he now respects JBL a great deal.
Shawn Daivari backed up these JBL bullying accusations in an interview, saying that JBL bullied Muhammad Hassan constantly, though he said that a number of other WWE employees harassed Hassan too.
“It was totally unprovoked, and it would never happen today,” Daivari said, noting that the WWE was like the wild west back then.
Matt Hardy in an interview talked about JBL bullying as well, saying that JBL once instructed him and Jeff to drive drunk and throw beers at street signs. When Matt and Jeff did not do this, JBL allegedly told them to go to hell, and the Hardys later found their bags missing from the locker room. They did end up getting their bags back, however.
Matt Hardy went on to say that JBL instructed them to damage Monkey Boy’s car.
Another wrestling personality to accuse JBL of bullying was Rene Dupree, who said that JBL is an “asshole” and that he called him a “French faggot” every single day.
Ivory, whose real name is Lisa Moretti, said in an interview that JBL was “so mean” and that would beat the snot out of people backstage.
Finally, The Miz was famously bullied by JBL both in front of and behind the camera. According to What Culture, JBL would constantly insult The Miz in the locker room in front of the rest of the wrestlers, trying his best to humiliate him.
The Miz has talked about this and confirmed that JBl was a bully, though he has said that JBL was also occasionally nice towards him.
“It’s funny with JBL. In front of all the boys back in the day he would always be making fun of me or saying, ‘Miz, I look forward to your amazing work. You’re a gift from God,'” Miz told The Baltimore Sun in 2010. “But whenever no one was around, he would come up to me and say, ‘You’re doing a good job.’ He’d always give me a little pat on the back. Most people think he was really, really bad to me and this kind of stuff and, granted, there were times but there were also times when he sat me down and said, ‘Listen, you’re doing a good job. This is what you’re doing wrong. This is what you have to do to get to the next level.’ So he has helped me as well.”
JBL has openly admitted that he did indeed harass The Miz backstage
According to WrestleZone, JBL said, “Did I haze the Miz? Hell yes! A lot of people want to talk about me and my hazing. Yes I did. I make no apologies about it what so ever.”
5. Dave Meltzer Says He Has Spoken to 15 Other People With Similar JBL Bullying Stories
These are the stories of people who have gone on the record about JBL, but there are reportedly over a dozen others who have shared stories off the record.
Wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer said this week that he has been approached by 15 other people with similar stories as Justin Roberts’.
“Justin was the only one without any interest in going back who would speak publicly,” Meltzer said. “The rest were just thanking me because they went through the same thing. It’s way worse and well known that I had imagined. Only one of them knew Mauro, only their own experiences.”
On Wrestling Observer Radio this week, Meltzer said that he has talked to people who have seen bullying in the past couple of years.
“People who didn’t know Mauro Ranallo but it happened to them, or they’ve seen it happen, and very very upset about that it still goes on, some of them who had to deal with it,” Meltzer said. “These aren’t stories from 15 years ago like Justin Roberts or eight years ago or whatever it was, however long he was in the company. I mean, these are people who they were there in the last couple of years. In most cases, they’re people who I don’t even know how they got in touch with me in the sense of I don’t know them, never knew them, don’t know how they got my cell phone number, but they did.”
Meltzer also said on Twitter that he has been contacted by former commentators with stories about JBL’s alleged bullying.
On Wrestling Observer Radio, Meltzer goes into great detail about what he calls JBL’s 16-year track record of bullying, with Meltzer saying that he knew he couldn’t stand by and not talk about this and comparing it to not standing up to help a handicapped kid from getting attacked in school.
Meltzer did say that he thinks that bullying is a larger problem within the WWE and that it’s not just JBL but that some disciplinary action should be taken against JBL as a result of all of this.