SmackDown Live commentator Mauro Ranallo has been missing in action for two weeks.
Ranallo has been working as a wrestling commentator since he was 16 years old. In recent years, his voice has become indelibly associated with SmackDown Live, and he provides commentary for the WWE’s Tuesday night show alongside John Layfield and David Otunga.
Here’s what you need to know about WWE personality Mauro Ranallo.
1. He Grew Up on a Farm in Canada
Mauro Ranallo was born on December 21st, 1969 on a farm in British Columbia, Canada.
According to a profile of Ranallo in Ring Magazine, he was raised by Italian immigrant parents on a six-acre chicken farm. He says that he used to practice conducting interviews with the animals on the farm.
Ranallo has two younger brothers. In February 2016, his brothers and cousins came down from Canada to see him perform on SmackDown Live.
He said in a 2016 Reddit Ask Me Anything that from a young age, he visualized almost the entirety of the rest of his life.
“At the age of 5, I visualized without knowing the definition of the term, my entire life,” he said. “I don’t know why it happened. I truly believe we are all born with a path, a gift, a purpose. I was drawn to the sound of voices. My best friend was a transistor radio, listening to announcers. I always like entertaining people, making them laugh. Because I was so shy, even though it’s diametrically opposed, I liked being the class clown.”
2. He Started Sports Commentary When He Was 16
Mauro Ranallo has been working as a sports commentator since he was 16 years old.
As he explained during an interview with Ring Magazine, he got started with All-Star Wrestling, a wrestling show in Canada. In 1986, the company held a show at his school, and wrestling promoter Al Tomko was so busy he asked Ranallo if he could announce the rest of the matches that night.
“…I ad-libbed my way through it,” Ranallo said. “Afterward, he asked me my name, and the next thing I know, I’m an on-air personality.”
Ranallo was hired by All-Star Wrestling and continued working on that show until it ended production three years later. He subsequently began work as a disc jockey for a radio station.
3. Michael Cole Reached Out to Him About Working for the WWE
Mauro Ranallo was hired to the WWE at the end of 2015. He said that this opportunity actually came about after Michael Cole followed him on Twitter.
“I noticed that Michael Cole, who is the voice of WWE and calls Monday Night RAW, followed me on Twitter and I was like ‘that’s kind of strange or odd but cool in the same sense,’” he told Fox Sports. “I thought maybe he was a boxing or MMA fan, whatever, I thought it was kind of interested. Next thing I get an email from Michael Cole and he’s asking me if I’m interested in exploring employment opportunities with WWE.”
Ranallo says that he felt extremely blessed to have this opportunity come up.
“…I was over the moon because anyone who knows me and know my story, sports entertainment has always been my first love,” he said. “It’s where I started my career at the age of 15.”
When Michael Cole contacted him, Ranallo was working as a commentator for New Japan Pro Wrestling.
4. He Suffers From Bipolar Disorder
Mauro Ranallo suffers from bipolar disorder.
In an interview with Sherdog, Ranallo said that on his worst days, he has yelled death threats at his family and threatened to commit suicide.
“I would go through these unbelievable mood swings,” Ranallo said. “I would come into the house with a smile and ask how everyone is doing and then close my bedroom door and suddenly, ‘I’m going to [expletive] kill you.’ It would scare everybody.”
He says that he was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1989, when he was 19 years old.
“I was like, ‘[Expletive] you, you’re crazy,’ I told the doctor. I’m not crazy,” he said. “Then I started seeing things. I wasn’t getting out of bed. I wouldn’t shower. You see the patterns, and these things become apparent. Then you realize that there is something wrong with you. You let it take you over, and sometimes I did.”
He said in a 2016 Reddit Ask Me Anything that there have been periods of time in his life when he didn’t think he could sustain a successful career with bipolar disorder.
“There were many times I didn’t think I’d be able to have a life or a career, but taking those steps all of us are more than capable of having functional lives,” he said.
He added that therapy, exercise, meditation, and positive affirmation have helped him.
5. He Has Been Battling Depression
On the March 14th episode of SmackDown Live, Mauro Ranallo was not present, and it was stated on air that he could not make it due to the weather. However, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported the next day that this was not actually the reason for Ranallo’s absence.
On the March 21st show, Mauro Ranallo was again not present. This time, it was stated that he could not make it due to illness.
Ranallo, who is usually quite active on Twitter, has not tweeted anything since March 14th.
This week, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that the real reason is that Mauro Ranallo is battling depression. Meltzer reported that Ranallo has not spoken to people he’s known for years since before March 14th, although Meltzer said that two of Ranallo’s close friends say he is okay and is resting up.
Ranallo told Ring Magazine that he was sent into a deep depression when he was 19 years old and a very close friend of his died of a heart attack. He also said that he has had suicidal thoughts, although he has never attempted suicide.
“The biggest challenge is there are many days I feel like a fraud,” he said. “I’ll be honest. Then I think I helped myself get to this point in my career. Everything I thought of came to fruition. What I’m doing now is what I always thought I would do as a child. I still can’t look at myself and see positives. I will say that I like myself more now than I ever have.”