Maria Kanellis Talks Getting Her Break, Working For WWE, Her WWE Release & More

Maria Kanellis Talks Getting Her Break, Working For WWE, Her WWE Release & More
Raj Giri of recently interviewed the "First Lady of ROH" Maria Kanellis. In part one of the interview below, Kanellis discussed getting her break in the business, working for WWE, her WWE release and more.

Make sure to check back tomorrow for our second part of our interview, where Kanellis discusses signing with ROH, turning down TNA, problems in WWE and much more.

WrestlingINC: You started off your career with the Diva Search, how did that come about?

Maria Kanellis: I was watching Monday Night Raw and they were advertising for it. [Laughs.] Honestly, everybody asks me this question and everybody thinks that I just came from a model search. But, me and Michelle McCool were the only two that self-entered online -- not from an agency -- we just loved wrestling. So, I entered online and I made it to the next round. The only reason I knew I made it to the next round before they told me a week after was that I saw my picture on Monday Night Raw when I was watching the show.

WrestlingINC: Had you been a wrestling fan for a long time before that?

Maria: Yeah, I've been a wrestling fan. I probably got back into it when I was 16, 17. But I was a wrestling fan since I was a little girl. I used to watch it with my dad and my brother.

WrestlingINC: Who were some of your favorites growing up?

Maria: I loved 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper. I love the guys that can talk. I'm a big fan of The Rock, but I'm also a fan of Coach. I just thought Johnathan Coachman did such a great job -- every single time he was there with somebody, he just really brought out the personality of anybody he was interviewing.

WrestlingINC: When you got the call, what was that like having been a fan and getting that opportunity?

Maria: It was insane. The most insane thing in the world. I was screaming and jumping up and down. At the time, I was in Louisville, Kentucky, coming back from living in my car down in Miami, Florida. So, you can only imagine how I was feeling going from living in my car down in Miami, Florida to coming back to Louisville, Kentucky. I just had done "Outback Jack," which was a reality show, and I got the call to do World Wrestling Entertainment. It was insane.

WrestlingINC: After the Diva Search, you went to OVW. What was that experience like?

Maria: It was two and a half years that I was down in Ohio Valley Wrestling. It's been a big part of my life now in the sense that I love that period of my life so much. It was like my college years. I didn't go to college other than here and there in my failed attempts to go to school. So, Ohio Valley Wrestling was my college years.

WrestlingINC: So, you started your run in WWE in 2005, can you describe that run?

Maria: Oh, my gosh. It was a mix of everything. I was 22-years-old, I never experienced anything like that in my entire life. The first time I was on live television, was the first time I'd ever been in front of a live crowd that size. Just getting over that in itself was insane. I didn't come from the independents, so wrestling was all new to me. I was training down in Ohio Valley Wrestling at the same time I was on the road. I was training with Fit Finley.

I didn't get as much time in the ring as I would have liked. It's funny, because now I'm getting more time in the ring then I ever did when I was in WWE. I'm learning a whole lot more. But, it was insane. It was wonderful, it was one of the greatest experiences in my life. I considered WWE my family for a long time. They gave me my start, really.

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