John Bradshaw Layfield, aka JBL, announced on his official Twitter account he was leaving the SmackDown Live announce table to dedicate more time to at-risk youth and communities in Bermuda. Here are his words:
“After much consideration, I will be stepping back my weekly role as Smackdown Announcer to dedicate more continuous time on the work I have done since 2010 with at risk kids and communities. My new schedule will allow me to continue to be a part of the WWE family and also continue my work that I feel is the most important thing in my life. I will continue my 20+ year relationship with WWE and will appear on such marquee shows as Tribute to the Troops, WrestleMania, amongst others.
With the help of Beyond Sport, I founded Beyond Rugby Bermuda in 2010–which has been recognized as one of the world’s best charities for work with at risk, gang focused, youth intervention. Beyond Rugby Bermuda won the 2014 NACRA Fair Play Award out of 7,000 programs and 17 countries for its work with at risk kids. I was named as a Beyond Sport Global Ambassador–an organization backed by all major sports leagues in the U.S.
I’m proud to say that in addition to being Smackdown’s longest reigning WWE Champion, I inspired WWE’s Tribute to the Troops over 10 years ago. WWE has been my partner in all my philanthropic works and this new deal with WWE ensures that will continue. WWE has made my dreams come true and helped me become a global name. And now, WWE is helping me use that name to make a difference. “
JBL has been a part of the SmackDown commentary team since the WWE draft in July 2016. He was most recently part of a 3-man team that included Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton at the Blue announce table. No news yet on when JBL is going to step back and on who is going to replace him.
This is a real surprise, mostly after the bullying allegations involving former SmackDown announcer Mauro Ranallo earlier this year. If JBL said WWE addressed his behaviour and he responded accordingly, the spectre of this story never left JBL’s shadow. Mostly when Mauro Ranallo was announced to come back to WWE as NXT lead announcer, so very far away from WWE weekly live television programs and, of course, JBL.