The new Voice of Smackdown!
Jerry “The King” Lawler and “Beige” Byron Saxton have new company at the Smackdown announce table Thursday nights. Canadian-born Mauro Ranallo made his successful debut to the program January 7th, 2016.
Ranallo brings a rich sense of seriousness and authenticity to WWE television that was – and in regards to Monday Night Raw, still is – severely lacking.
Raised in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Ranallo began announcing at age 16, and has amassed an impressive resume during his career.
From All-Star Wrestling out of Vancouver, to Stampede Wrestling in Calgary alongside Bad News Allen, to KVOS-TV’s Top-Ranked Wrestling, Ranallo has kept his finger on the pulse of sports entertainment.
Before signing with WWE this past December, he also was an analyst on Right After Wrestling [now called Aftermath] and last year became the voice of New Japan Pro Wrestling alongside Josh Barnett.
Aside from sports entertainment, Mauro has experience in legitimate fighting sports, which add to the credibility of his words on WWE programming.
Ranallo provided commentary for Muay Thai and kickboxing events and for King of the Cage (TSN’s mixed martial arts show). He became most recognized for his role as the voice of PRIDE pay-per-view events, paired with MMA legend Bas Rutten, then Frank Trigg.
Showtime picked up Ranallo and he became a mainstay on Strikeforce, Showtime Championship Kickboxing, Glory Kickboxing, and Invicta Fighting Championship MMA.
With a credible play-by-play announcer joining the Smackdown table, WWE has regained a crucial element missing from its announce team. His contributions have also allowed for a better, more balanced division of roles among announce personalities.
Since getting over with fans during the Attitude Era (largely due, in part, to his catch phrase “Puppies!”) Jerry Lawler has played the role of veteran face announcer, abandoning the comedy heel role he embodied so well in the 1990s.
Byron Saxton has been ill-defined and gimmick-less since his debut on WWE television. Lacking the competency for play-by-play, and lacking the personality to be colour commentator, Saxton has floated between spineless corporate mouth-piece, baby-face mark, and neutral sportscaster.
Now with Smackdown moving to a new network and Ranallo taking more of a neutral role on the team, Lawler has begun to once again stand out as a heel, which is where he does his best work.
With Lawler taking point on the heel side, Saxton has been able to focus on what his strengths are. Namely, getting over the emotional and psychological mindsets and motivations of the characters. His youthful enthusiasm beautifully counteracts Lawler’s gruff, old-fashioned attitude and Ranallo’s staunch objectivity.
The addition of Mauro Ranallo to WWE is a move in the right direction for the company. His presence and input will hopefully change many of the restrictive policies which have stagnated McMahon’s product in modern times.