WWE is bringing in experienced boxing, MMA, and kickboxing announcer Mauro Ranallo to serve as the new play-by-play voice of SmackDown prior to its move from SyFy to USA Network on January 7th, according to a report from Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated. Ranallo has a plethora of experience calling both combat sports and pro wrestling, and is largely thought of as one of the better commentators in the industry.
Ranallo told Deitsch that WWE broadcaster Michael Cole, who also takes care of broadcast talent development for WWE, reached out to him a month ago to gauge his interest in joining WWE. WWE was impressed by Ranallo’s skills, including a video of Ranallo’s calling a mock fight between Floyd Mayweather and Warren Buffett.
Ranallo will continue his work with GLORY kickboxing (currently airing on Spike) and Showtime boxing, but will be a full-time WWE staffer, appearing backstage at both Raw and PPV events in addition to his work on SmackDown. It’s still unknown who Ranallo’s color commentator (or color commentators) for SmackDown will be following the switch to USA Network.
This seems like a slam dunk for WWE – you’ve got an experienced, well-liked commentator, who is an outsider to the company at the same time. WWE has mainly been relying on the same crop of announcers for years, and bringing in someone like Ranallo that knows what he’s doing in calling wrestling but isn’t too entrenched in WWE’s product just makes perfect sense.