Mauro Ranallo on bipolar disorder: “A blessing as much as it’s a curse”
Mauro Ranallo is widely regarded arguably as the greatest combat sports commentator of all time, breaking into MMA broadcasting as the lead play-by-play man for the now defunct Pride Fighting Championships in 2003.
Ranallo over the years has built a reputation for himself as the undisputed “Voice” of Mixed Martial Arts, having been the ultimate sound bite to some of the sports greatest moments.
Despite never getting a shot to work for MMA’s top organization, the UFC, Ranallo still managed to gain major notoriety and maintain his status as the best commentator in combat sports outside of it. After establishing himself in a successful run in MMA, Ranallo began branching out into other areas of combat sports such as professional boxing, and kickboxing, earning occasional opportunities to call major events for organizations like GLORY Kickboxing, and Showtime Boxing.
It’s safe to say, Mauro Ranallo has been at the height of combat sports broadcasting for a long time, but Ranallo didn’t just stop there as lately he’s been able to make a name for himself in the world of professional wrestling.
Though he had early experience calling matches for the legendary Stampede Wrestling in his home country of Canada from 1999 to 2000, Ranallo’s biggest break in pro wrestling would come 22 years later when he signed on with the world famous WWE in December of 2015 as the lead commentator for the company’s 2nd biggest network show Smackdown Live in January of 2016.
In his early run, Ranallo made an immediate impact as his over-the-top enthusiasm, and hip catch phrases like “MAMMA MIA” that he’s most known for, injecting captivating life into the show. Upon witnessing this, fans and pundits alike crowned him as the “Voice of Smackdown Live”.
Now with momentum on his side, having made such a incredible impression in the organization, Ranallo was all over WWE programming, receiving opportunities to call WWE’s annual Cruiserweight Classic as well their weekly premiere show for the Cruiserweights, 205 Live.
He also was able to provide commentary for WWE’s yearly marquee PPV shows like the Wrestlemania 32 pre-show, Summerslam, Survivor Series that same year, and in early 2017 on their secondary PPV’s Backlash, Elimination Chamber, and the Royal Rumble.
In the midst of a fantastic roll in WWE, things started to come crashing down for Ranallo, beginning on March 14th 2017 when all of a sudden he became noticeably absent from Smackdown Live.
Not knowing the severity of the situation at first, WWE simply described it as a result of him having “traveling issues” as their was a huge north american snow blizzard happening at that time.
A week later, Ranallo was again absent from the show, WWE this time deemed him ill. Later it was revealed that the actual reason for Ranallo’s absence from the show was from suffering depression after alleged verbal bullying from fellow Smackdown commentator John Bradshaw Layfield known as JBL in WWE.
This allegation became visible on a episode of one of WWE’s main programs on it’s internet-based WWE Network, Bring it to the Table. On this particular episode, Layfield proceeded to mock Ranallo after seeing a tweet he sent out for winning the Best Announcer Award from Wrestling Observer for that year. It was then the world knew of Ranallo’s biggest problem, Bipolar Disorder.
After taking some time away from WWE for a while to deal with his diagnosis, Ranallo recently returned to the company, signing a brand new multi year contract as the play-by-play man this time for it’s exclusive 3rd brand show NXT, that sees him working it’s weekly TV and Takeover shows. Since the revealing of his Bipolar Disorder in 2017, Ranallo has become more open and transparent in discussing the history of his problem, going as far as being an ambassador for the illness to spread awareness.
In helping to further his cause of making the illness more aware, Ranallo will be debuting a documentary film of himself called Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller which will air tonight at 9:00 Pm ET on Showtime. The film will give both pro wrestling and combat sports an inside look at some of Ranallo’s most darkest, vulnerable moments while highlighting man behind the voice, and in Ranallo’s estimation, that’s exactly how he wants it which is why he put a lot of commitment into the film to display just how terrifying the effects of the illness can be on him in order to get of rid the stigma.
“We’ve reached a certain level of understanding,” Ranallo said during a sit-down in Silver Lake last week. “We seem to get what it is to a degree. Well, I want show you exactly what it is. … I do want to make this very uncomfortable, very raw, very compelling. But also, I want people to come out of there going, ‘Wow, Jesus.’ Like, holy crap.”
Being at the peek of his broadcasting career, Ranallo felt it was the perfect time to tell his story in hopes of helping others who dealing with treacherous problem. With the help of close friend Haris Usanovic, (who produced the film) has been documenting the high and low periods of Ranallo’s life for years.
“It’s a chance to do something that I think is unprecedented in terms of this kind of story, in terms of someone willing to showcase everything about my life and my struggle as it were,” Ranallo said. “But because I’ve now achieved a certain platform with Showtime, WWE and Paramount Network, the time was right.
“It’s becoming more obvious that people are beginning to understand that, wow, we have to start doing something because people are dying really for no reason. That’s the case. Talking about it can save a life. If people actually understood that, we’d be in a better place than we are.”
However among his many achievements as a Combat Sports/Pro Wrestling broadcaster, Ranallo feels his work is still undone as he expressed desires of venturing into other endeavors outside of his career and much anticipated documentary.
“What’s left for me, I’m definitely going to become more active in this field now that this documentary launched,” Ranallo said. “Maybe even do a mental health podcast where I talk to athletes, but also actors and just every day people. And that to me is really what I want to focus on. Not that anyone can be male version of Oprah [Winfrey], but I want to do feel-good stuff. I want to do more positive work.”
Ranallo’s schedule is plenty full these days with splitting time between WWE, Bellator MMA, and Showtime Boxing, not one to complain, Ranallo is gratified of the rigorous workload saying it “keeps me alive.”
Ranallo credits his limitless electric energy and unique creativity in drawing his interest to wanna call pro wrestling during his teens.
“It was mania,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons and that’s why it’s a blessing as much as it’s a curse. Because I wouldn’t be where I am without being bipolar. And yet, I’m almost not alive because of bipolar.”
And it’s all of those personal struggles he wants to show in this film, as up close and intense as possible.
“I don’t care about me being vulnerable or embarrassing situations,” Ranallo said. “Or really being naked — literally naked. It’s no skin off my back if it can help someone.”
How do you feel about Mauro Ranallo’s bipolar disorder?
Don’t miss Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller tonight on Showtime at 9pm ET.