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UPDATE: WWE issued a press release Monday morning officially announcing Mauro Ranallo as “the new voice of Smackdown” when the blue brand shifts to USA Network starting Thursday, January 7 at 8:00 p.m. EST.
WWE did include Ranallo’s current pro wrestling broadcasting for AXS TV’s New Japan broadcasts. They did not say whether he will be allowed to continue the current pro wrestling gig. Sports Illustrated reported that Ranallo will continue to handle boxing and Kickboxing TV announcing as part of his current deal.
From the press release: “Ranallo is the only sports broadcaster to call every major combat sport on national television, including boxing, kickboxing and MMA, as well as helping to launch New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV.
“Prior to joining Showtime, Ranallo was the voice of the Pride Fighting Championships, and spent six years in Toronto where he hosted Canada’s first TV show dedicated to MMA while also hosting a daily combat sports radio show. Ranallo lives in Los Angeles where he is a social advocate for mental health, an avid hiker and voice artist for commercials, books, and film.”
ORIGINAL REPORT SUNDAY NIGHT
WWE will have a new lead announcer on Smackdown when the show moves to USA Network in January.
Long-time announcer Mauro Ranallo will be the new lead, according to a report by Sports Illustrated.
The story does not mention Ranallo’s current pro wrestling broadcasting for AXS TV’s New Japan broadcasts.
“Although I’m sad I won’t have my partner on #NJPWonAXS, big congrats are in order to @mauroranallo & his new gig at Smackdown for WWE,” tweeted MMA fighter/pro wrestler Josh Barnett, who called New Japan shows with Ranallo.
Ranallo will be on Smackdown and PPV broadcasts, according to the report. He will also continue his current boxing work for Showtime and GLORY kickboxing through his WWE deal.
SI talked to Ranallo, who said that he was contacted by Michael Cole about a month ago to audition for the lead role on Smackdown. Ranallo won the audition by selling a make-believe fight between Warren Buffett and Floyd Mayweather.
“This was an opportunity I did not think I would get at this point of my career and I jumped on it,” Ranallo said. “I have been a lifelong fan of the product. Michael said that when Vince (McMahon) saw the Warren Buffet video, it seemed to cinch it. They believed I could sell the entertainment part.”
Ranallo said he’s not sure if Booker T and Jerry Lawler will remain color commentators with him.
WWE is scheduled to make a formal announcement on Monday.