Smith Hart comments on the Ranallo/JBL controversy

Apr 15, 2017 - by Steve Gerweck

Smith Hart via Facebook:

A controversial issue that has made headline news as of late, seems to be the debate/saga surrounding Mauro Ranallo and John Layfield. As many may or may not know, we used Mauro as a commentator for Stampede wrestling in Calgary in his early days after he got started in BC for All Star Wrestling, and for a considerable amount of time, Mauro and my dear niece Jenny (sister of Natalya, daughter of Jim & Ellie) were a long-term item.

I have avoided this controversial issue as of now, due to the personal family matters that lay at my relationship with Mauro, but due to the traction and dirt sheet gossip that has consumed this issue, I felt a need to chime in.
I feel the biggest issue with this whole controversy beyond anything is the stirring of the pot of the numerous Dirt sheet gossip queens like Dave Meltzer. A friend recently provided me a link to Dave throwing a tantrum on this issue on his own podcast. In his tantrum, he squealed that he felt WWE was outdated and beyond behind the times, because they don’t recognize his superfluous awards system. Quite frankly, Dave’s ego has exploded as clearly anyone with a fraction of a brain, can see WWE doesn’t need Meltzer, it is Meltzer that depends his entire career on the existence of WWE. The ego to assume his awards and opinions have earned enough merit to warrant discussion on WWE TV is absolutely ego-maniacal. While smaller Indy promotions may depend on Meltzer for exposure and publicity, if Dave Meltzer retired today or never covered WWE again, not only would it not impact WWE a fraction negatively, I would argue that their business would double as would the income of many of its talents, as Dave’s lies and gossip have done more irreparable harm to wrestling than all other dirt sheet gossip queens combined.
Dave further lamented that he said if WWE doesn’t implement some discipline against JBL for this issue, that he hoped for harm against the WWE. This is a vengeful comment for someone who clearly feels his opinions supersede WWE’s business. But the short-sighted absurdity of it astonishes me. Without WWE in business Dave would be on welfare begging for bread crumbs. UFC already has the much more credible Ariel Helwani and the remainder of the wrestling business doesn’t have enough sustainability without WWE being in business that he would have no one reading his opinions on shows that sell 50 tickets. And since he has spent his entire adult life making a career out of selling his opinions of WWE as ground-breaking news, he has no credibility or real life experience to ever get another job outside of working at the counter at McDonalds or as a Wal-Mart greeter the rest of his life.

At the heart of this entire issue is the passive submissive over-entitlement of today’s society, that when anyone does anything or says anything that offends them, they need to complain and cry until everyone apologizes. Its not that long ago that guys like Mr. Fuji, Curt Hennig, Davey Boy Smith, Johnny Valentine or even my father Stu were a part of this business and the ribbing nature that JBL is accused of turning into bullying ran rampant across the business. Do you ever wonder how these over-entitled sissies would have faired in a locker room with Johnny Valentine. Quick answer, they would have been sent home crying on the first day.

Frankly, what those complaining don’t seem to understand is the grind of being on the road. Wrestlers in the WWE spend anywhere from 200-300 days a year on the road away from their families. It is not a normal lifestyle by any stretch of the imagination. It is not much different than the type of environment of being in a high school boys football locker room. If WWE’s corporate culture was to crack down on this level of behavior then you would see a higher level of over-entitled wimps cracking under the pressure and going home ala CM Punk. Without the ability to blow off steam, this level of lifestyle is not sustainable by anyone. So if the talents don’t blow off steam, with some fun, they cant be on the road full time. If they cant be on the road full time, they don’t make a full time living. If they don’t make a full time living the WWE cant sustain business. And if the WWE cant sustain business the business as a whole crashes. If WWE’s corporate culture cracked down on all ribs and said no more practical jokes or hazing as gossip mongers like Meltzer have dubbed it, then a line would get drawn in the sand that make it all business and no fun. No off time with friends, no family time and no road fun with the boys. That is a dangerous recipe.
To those that would quit or wish to leave their supposed dream job because they got ribbed clearly don’t have the passion for wrestling that they claim. This is the fantasy camp argument I have made hundreds of times. Today’s generation seems filled with individuals who grew up as fans/ marks of the business. They worked through the indies basically able to write their own ticket and have whatever they wanted because there is no business structure on the indies whatsoever. Then they get to WWE and not only do they not get to main event Wrestlemania against their best friends (CM Punk), they get teased by the bigger kids in the playground. So since these issues were not part of their fantasy, instead of continuing to live their “dream job” they quit and go home. I never heard my brother Owen think about quitting when he was put in the Blue Blazer outfit and nobody ever quit a job over any hazing done by Curt Hennig or Mr. Fuji. I guess that’s the difference between true passion and fantasy camp.

While I don’t have a personal relationship with JBL to speak of, I have no reason to believe he has done or said anything that exceeds any rib that came before him. And while a great number of souls have spoken out against JBL such as Blue Meanie, Todd Grisham, Joey Styles, Justin Roberts, John Morrison and Simon Dean, many more such as Ron Simmons, Teddy Long, Bruce Prichard, Jim Cornette, Jim Ross, Vince McMahon and even my own mother Helen have always spoke glowingly of him. JBL is the sole reason WWE was ever able to go over seas for the Tribute to the Troops shows. JBL raises money for disadvantaged youth in his community. JBL is a humanitarian and gentleman from my perspective. And while JBL isn’t a fraction of the commentator that Mauro Ranallo is he is an incredible talent and team player who has earned his spot on the WWE roster.

Lastly I feel the distinction needs to be made that while WWE may have been Mauro’s dream job circa 2000-2005, the 2017 Mauro Ranallo has much better offers and higher goals and more money on the table. WWE was simply a bucket list item for Mauro that has now been accomplished. WWE needed Mauro more than Mauro needed WWE. And frankly WWE clearly doesn’t need Mauro that much. It hasn’t been Mauro complaining publicly about this issue. Only the gossip queens have publicly complained as Mr. Ranallo honestly has more dignity and bigger fish to fry.

I encourage anyone to please comment, give an opposing view and tell me what you think.

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