Smackdown LIVE will have a new addition when it airs Tuesday night from the DEnny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Corey Graves will take over the spot on the broadcast left vacant by John Bradshaw Layfield when he announced he’d be leaving the post to pursue a new opportunity as a Beyond Sport Global Ambassador.
Layfield said in a statement that his new position doesn’t mean he’ll be completely absent from WWE TV, but it will allow him to work with at-risk kids with a much more flexible schedule. He said he was inspired to take on the new opportunity through WWE’s Tribute to the Troops over a decade ago.
“WWE has been my partner in all my philanthropic works and this new deal with WWE ensures that will continue,” he wrote. “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 tweeted a wish of encouragement to Graves following the news.
So, with JBL out as a commentator, Graves will step in. Not only will be be on Smackdown, Graves will also keep his gig as a commentator on RAW alongside Michael Cole.
The WWE tweeted an official announcement September 4, saying Graves will be removed from recordings of 205 Live and replaced by Nigel McGuiness on commentary.
JBL’s removal from commentary is a long time coming for some WWE fans after revelations of past bullying surfaced in April.
Fans called for JBL to be fired after numerous former superstars and on-air personalities came forward with stories of the former wrestler picking on them. It was sparked by the release of a book by Justin Roberts and the departure of then-Smackdown Live commentator Mauro Ranallo.
In his book, Roberts, a former WWE ring announcer, said that JBL and others bullied and harassed him backstage, one time throwing his bags around.
“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 wrote in the book.
On a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” thread, Roberts said that JBL was known to “terrorize” people backstage.
“He’d make life hell for a lot of guys,” Roberts said on Reddit. “He chewed Miz and Morrison out after they won the titles for not celebrating enough.”
Ranallo, the man who recently called the Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. boxing match, suffers from bipolar disorder and was notably absent from WWE TV due to his declining health and depression. He wrote on Twitter in March in a now-deleted tweet that his doctor advised him to stay off social media.
Despite the bullying accusations, the WWE stood behind JBL and didn’t make any changes to its on-air personnel.