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

WrestlingINC: You were involved in a lot of high profile angles and matches during that time.

Maria: I didn't have the craziest matches in the ring, but I certainly got to work with some of the best. I got to work with Ric Flair. I got to work with John Cena when he was just coming into his own. I got to work with Santino when that character was just started. I got to be in the ring with Umaga, Orton, Carlito. It was insane. Insane times.

WrestlingINC: What was it like being at your first WrestleMania at WrestleMania XXIV?

Maria: That was insane. Ashley Massaro showed up so late that day, she was sick. So, I was flipping out. It was tremendous. But I watch that match back now, and I'm like, 'Oh, my gosh. I could have done so much better. Please, just let me have that moment back because I would kill it now.' Compared to the person I was then to now -- it's like night and day! [Laughs]

It was great for what it was, but I wish I could have that moment back because this time around, I would do something completely different with that match.

WrestlingINC: What were some of your most memorable memories from your WWE run?

Maria: Winning the [Diva of the Year Slammy] award was amazing. I would definitely say when Michelle McCool first started becoming a bad guy -- oh, my gosh, it was after the match and she just kicked the crap out of me. That was amazing. Michelle is one of the greatest workers ever but no one got to see it because we just didn't have enough time.

Definitely working with Santino -- oh, my gosh. It was just getting funnier and funnier every single week. Ric Flair bumping off a kiss. Wow! That was definitely something. When I did Playboy. I was getting pyro when I was coming out. One of my favorite matches was against Natalya, it was my last singles match on TV. Working with Victoria, oh, my gosh, she is just amazing. When I came back after two years of being out of the wrestling ring, that was the only person I wanted to work with. [Laughs.]

WrestlingINC: How did you get the gig on Celebrity Apprentice? Was that through WWE or did they contact you?

Maria: No, I did that myself. They like to claim it. I walked up to Donald Trump and said, 'I want to be on your show.' He said, 'You want to be on my show, Celebrity Apprentice?' And I said, 'Yes, I do.' I continued to calling every single day until I got an interview. Then, from there, they gave me the interview and I heard nothing for months. I continued e-mailing every single day saying, 'I want this job. I'm going to be on this show.' They let me have it and I did it.

WrestlingINC: Do you think there was heat on you for doing it on your own?

Maria: You know what? If there was, I don't care. If they were paying me millions and millions of dollars, that'd be one thing, but they weren't. So, for me, as great as WWE is and I love them and adore them for everything they did for me, at the same time, I didn't make enough money to support me and whatever family I have in the future. So, I had to start making decisions for myself.

WrestlingINC: So, when you made that decision and you told them, what was their reaction?

Maria: Oh, they loved it because they love Donald Trump. If it was any other show, they probably would have been upset but they love Donald Trump.

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