Is the WWE Encouraging Bullying?
Fans of WWE professional wrestling have grown accustomed to watching competitive matches featuring their heroes of the ring talk trash while squaring off against their bitter rivals.
According to a former company employee, however, workplace bullying between co-workers is taking place out of the ring—and it’s being encouraged.
Former WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts, who recently published his autobiography, Best Seat in the House: Your Backstage Pass through My WWE Journey, alleges he suffered abuse at the expense of several of his co-workers during his time with the organization.
The name garnering the most attention in regards to these accusations is John “Bradshaw” Layfield, a SmackDown Live commentator and former wrestler, who has recently come under fire due to an alleged history of bullying wrestlers and associates.
According to Heavy.com, Roberts reveals in the book he was constantly harassed and bullied by Layfield and others while backstage.
“Every day I saw him, he asked me why I was still alive and told me to go kill myself,” Roberts says in the book.
Roberts also claims that Layfield, who was once being interviewed by a high school student, asked the child’s mother if she had any children who were not mentally challenged, when her son dropped notes during the interview.
While Roberts further elaborated on Layfield during a Reddit chat, SmackDown Live commentator Mauro Ranallo, who suffers from bipolar disorder, has been absent from the program for a few weeks—and some are saying that it’s related to Layfield openly mocking him for winning the the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s “best announcer” award. Even though Layfield, like most wrestlers, are usually in character when appearing in public, his comments towards Mauro are still being considered mean-spirited in the eyes of Mauro supporters.
Roberts also mentions in a Deadspin article that one particular moment involving WWE CEO and Chairman Vince McMahon, made him realize the bullying in the organization ran much deeper than Layfield. A few weeks prior, Roberts “lost” his passport while on a European tour. While nothing was ever proven, there were rumblings Layfield was behind the incident in some capacity.
“I was sitting in the production meeting, Vince [McMahon] is running the meeting, and when it ends, he’s the first to leave,” Roberts recalled. “I was sitting there, and as he walked by me, he just whispered to me: ‘Don’t forget your passport! Ha-haa!’ and walked away. That’s when I knew there was no sympathy in that company. This stuff is encouraged.”
With so many people coming forward confirming Layfield’s actions over the years, it’s quite unfortunate to hear that a successful organization as the WWE tolerates this kind of behavior. That being said, it just goes to show you that bullying takes place in many forms and on many levels—regardless of the corporation or capacity.
Many wrestling fans believe that Layfield should face disciplinary action. We will keep you posted on this story.