WWE originally contacted Mauro Ranallo in late 2015 after he had just been the announcer for the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao boxing match for Showtime. Mauro was reportedly told that he should be himself, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, because they wanted SmackDown to have a different feel and come off more like a sport. However, a few months into Mauro’s stint as SmackDown announcer, Vince McMahon apparently wanted him to be “more like Michael Cole.”

Vince McMahon seemed to continue to be frustrated with Mauro’s announcing style later on, and adding Tom Phillips as a fourth man was a clear sign of that. McMahon apparently did not like Mauro’s “hip hop references,” according to Dave Meltzer, or how he referenced Japanese wrestlers or the names of moves like “ushigoroshi.” However, Meltzer says that it’s doubtful that anyone actually told him to stop doing these things, because if he was actually told, it’s very likely that he would have stopped doing them.

Mauro Ranallo also apparently became the butt of jokes backstage, with some finding him “weird” and some possibly just feeling jealous or intimidated at his “insane knowledge,” Meltzer says.

However, other sources told him that it was common for the “cool kids” to tease a lot of the non-wrestling talent, especially ring announcers and other commentators. They said Byron Saxton also had been getting hit with a lot, and if he was Ranallo, he would have likely “exploded.” However, Saxton was also apparently told early on to no sell everything no matter what, at least when it comes to on-air ribbing. The “naive punching bag” had essentially become his gimmick (which was good imo since it made him a lot less bland), but WWE has now apparently turned JBL into a face commentator in response to all the bullying stuff. WWE did continue the gimmick by having Kevin Owens berate him when he joined in on commentary on SmackDown this week, though.