Wrestling INC: So we had interviewed you last year and since that interview I know that earlier this year you were talking to WWE about possibly returning. How did those talks come about?
Maria Kanellis: I sent them a bunch of my stuff that I have been doing over the last year and I don't know if that was in place or what they had in mind when they first initially called me up, or if it was just another idea completely, but they called me. They called me in January. We were excited. I loved working with Jane [Geddes] up there. I had a good rapport with WWE and then a month later I got a phone call saying they weren't moving forward with it and moving forward with my contract.
It was really strange to me because there was no conflict whatsoever that led up to it. So I thought that was rather weird and wasn't necessarily the normal way things go down in business. But then at Wrestlemania weekend I saw a lot of my close friends and I heard the whole story. I really, truly believe that karma will end up taking care of everyone and it's just sad that the Bella twins did that to me and to a couple other girls as well. [They] spread rumors about me. I don't exactly for sure what went down with the other two girls but it's sad. I pity them. I pity their insecurity and at the end of the day I'm so thankful for it because I'm so happy at Ring of Honor and everything that we're moving forward with that I'm just glad things went down the way that they did.
Wrestling INC: About your heat with the Bella twins, is it both Bella twins that you don't get along with?
Maria: I had never had a problem with Brie before this all happened. But from what I am told it was both of them saying that I was bad for business, that I wasn't wanted there. But the funny part about it is that I have a lot of friends still in that company and that's how I know what I know happened. No one has ever said that I'm bad for business. If anything I'm very, very good for business, have always been. I've been around for almost 10 years. I don't do drugs. I don't get in trouble. I do everything I'm supposed to do and I go beyond that. The fact is, is all you can do is look at yourself in the mirror and know if you're okay with that reflection coming back on you and I love my reflection coming back at me when it comes to my morals. I'm not worried about my life. I'm more concerned about them.
Wrestling INC: How did the heat with them get started? I mean, did you guys not get along when you were with the company?
Maria: No, it was very random. Me and Dolph Ziggler were very close friends. We have been for a long time before the twins ever arrived and one time I was dancing with Dolph at a party we were at. So we were all hanging out, having fun and dancing. I was dancing with him. I was dancing with the girls. I was dancing with the other people that were there. So all of a sudden when I'm dancing with Dolph I get a tap on the shoulder and it's Nikki Bella going, "what are you doing?" And I said, "uh, dancing with my friend?" And she's like, "oh, he's with me." I said, "okaaaay, sure."
I never heard that from anybody. I didn't know that I was doing something so wrong with dancing with friends. But, ever since then it's been very strange between us, but still, I would do good business. They could call me up and if I wasn't under contract with Ring of Honor and asked me to work with Nikki, I'm sure that I could have the greatest feud going back and forth with her. Why? Because I'm a business woman and that's what I do. It doesn't matter, my personal feelings. At the end of the day this is a job and I like to do very well at my job.
Wrestling INC: And so you haven't spoken with them or anything since this whole thing happened, right?
Maria: They called me, I was busy. I sent her a text back. I said there's nothing really to talk about. I know what the story is and God bless you for it. I hope everything works out. There's no real reason to talk to her. She's not worth my time. She took something from me and it wasn't a man, or it wasn't a piece of candy, it was a contract. It's my career and I think for me, that's probably the worst thing you can do, is mess with my money. I'm not going anywhere. I'm in wrestling. I'm staying in wrestling and I'm sure our paths will cross again.
Wrestling INC: Why do you think they prevented your return? Do you really think that they felt it was not good for business? Or do you think it's something more there?
Maria: Something more there, because it wasn't just me. There was three of us all together that lost our contracts. We all three had been talking to WWE for a while. I'm not going to name names. It's not my choice. It's not my business to name names, but three of us lost contracts. So, I think it's insecurity. I think it's jealousy. That all comes out. You see it on the Total Divas show. You see it when you're watching Monday Night RAW. You see it. It is what it is.
I'm a grown woman. I don't deal with that high school crap and I have no interest in doing it. I would never stop somebody from getting a job. I might not like somebody, but I would never do that. That's paying my house payment. What are you doing? You don't do that to somebody. It's not like you're stealing a best friend where there's two people that are making that decision to be insulting. You're taking away a contract. I only can take care of myself. That's all I can do. I'm not going to mess with someone's money.
Wrestling INC: Was this contract for a short term deal or a full time return?
Maria: No. It was a three year contract. It wasn't like, "oh, we're going to bring Maria in for one show." No. It was a three year contract.
Wrestling INC: So do you think a return is possible as long as the Bellas are there?
Maria: I don't know. In wrestling people leave and come back all the time. That's the name of the game. No one's ever going to like everybody. Everybody can return at some point. Everyone has that possibility.
Wrestling INC: Do you think that their input had any effect on Mike Bennett's tryouts earlier this year?
Maria: Who knows? You never know with that kind of stuff. I hope not. I really hope not. But still, it's bad how things went down. It's really silly. I always say it, I'm sleeping with a million dollars, or a hundred million dollars every single night. He's money and eventually he will be money on WWE. That's just how it goes and I truly believe that.
Wrestling INC: You mentioned other divas. I know you've had heat in the past with like, Kelly Kelly. Have you patched things up with her?
Maria: I've apologized to her in person. I've talked to her. There's no reason to hold onto past events, especially when they were five years ago. It's silly and I've grown up since then. It has to do with being young and we all make mistakes when we're young. That's fine. I don't want to hold onto that. There's no reason to.
Wrestling INC: It's also been almost two years since you've been with ROH. What's that experience been like?
Maria: I can't believe it's almost been two years. I think about that and it has flown by. I love it. I love the guys that are there. Last night was probably one of the funnest experiences I've ever had hanging out with a bunch of wrestling friends. It was incredible. I danced. I had fun. I drank. It was incredible. That group of guys, it's a bunch of people working towards one goal, and that's to be the best wrestler on the planet. That's what every single one of those guys wants to be, but it's friendly. It's friendly competition. It isn't oh, I'm going to stab you in the back because you looked at me funny. No, it's we're going to go out there and put on the best matches possible.
Wrestling INC: I've always meant to ask, who came up with the First Lady of ROH tagline?
Maria: Me and one of Michael Bennett's best friends were all sitting around talking and eating dinner and someone said why don't you become the first lady since you really are the first lady at Ring of Honor? They've never had someone like you. I was like, "I kind of like that." And plus, I know all about Miss Elizabeth being the first lady. I've always looked up to her, I think she's amazing. So, First Lady of Ring of Honor it is.
Wrestling INC: You've been wrestling a lot since you left WWE. Would you say you wrestle in the ring more since you left?
Maria: No. When I wrestled with WWE it was every single weekend there was an opportunity to wrestle. Now I may wrestle a couple times a month, if that. Even though I didn't wrestle that much on TV for WWE, a lot of times I was in matches on the weekend at the house shows and all the non-televised events. Even though it seems like I wrestle more now, I probably still don't even come close to how much I wrestled then in the WWE. But I do have more fun now. I'm a heel and that's awesome. I don't know if I'm any better than I used to be, but I'm certainly having more fun.
Wrestling INC: TNA's women's division has gone through a lot of change. They've really taken a hit this year. Is that something you think you'd be interested in, going to over there? I know you've been asked that in the past.
Maria: Yeah, I've been asked. I mean, TNA contacted me twice this year to come and work for them, but I'm happy where I'm at and I'm happy with Ring of Honor. I think that's a company that's on the move and I like to see that. I like to be a part of something that, even though it hasn't been on television that long, it has so much history. So many incredible talents with the guys that went through there. I love being a part of that.
Wrestling INC: You mentioned ROH being on the move and TNA, it's been reported that they've kind of been, not doing so great financially. Do you keep up with TNA and their product?
Maria: I don't. I haven't watched TNA for a long time. I'm in school full time right now. I only go two days a week, but I go for 17 hours. So it's like, I'm so busy with that and on top of that homework and Ring of Honor. And I also work for a company called Pay the Fan. I have two movies coming out this year that I'm promoting. I don't really have time to watch TNA. I don't think I've watched WWE in maybe a month. So I don't know what's going on. I hear rumors of things, but unless you hear it form the horse's mouth, I'm not sure of what's happening. I think it was a tremendous loss to lose Mickie and also lost Victoria. I think that those two women probably compelled the women's division of wrestling as a whole back for the last ten years or so. They're just incredible. I think that's a big loss to wrestling in general, not just in female wrestling, but all wrestling.
Wrestling INC: You mentioned the acting projects you're doing. So you've got two movies coming out this year?
Maria: I have a movie coming out this year. I completed another film. I think it's coming out late this year, it might be the beginning of next year depending on how the first film release goes. Army of the Damned is the name of the first movie coming out. I'm in he SWAT team. I play a very bad ass chick, but you'll have to watch the movie. I can't tell you too much more about that. It's coming out in the end of October. It's going to be on Redbox. You'll be able to watch it on DirecTV. You'll be able to see it, I believe it's going to be on iTunes as well. It's going to be out there.
Wrestling INC: And the other movie's called A Bet's A Bet, right?
Maria: A Bet's A Bet, yes. And that's a compilation of a whole bunch of tremendous actors and actresses. So, I've been very blessed to do both of those films. I think people will be surprised with the second film, which I can't give you details but there's definitely a big surprise in there. But, I think I'm going to be filming a couple films with them next year. I like acting. I love creating. Someday I'd like to be a producer/director. So you never know. I'm not going to stop. I'm just going to keep on entertaining.
Wrestling INC: Do you have any other projects or anything that you'd like to plug?
Maria: Sure. I work for a company called paythefan.com. It's a fantasy football league and you can compete against me. And if you win, you can get paid. It's awesome. Look it up. Paythefan.com. There's a video of me talking about Pay the Fan. It's easy. Even if you belong to another fantasy football league you can join this one as well.
We [recently] did the NOH8 Campaign and it was incredible seeing that all come together! This was something that I wanted to do for the last five months. I contacted them and said hey, would you want to do this. They said yes, of course. And so we were trying to figure out a good date to come together and do this. And then they came out. Tons of wrestlers did it. We had a great turn out during the day of just people coming in off the street to do the NOH8 Campaign. The photos were tremendous. You saw one of them on my Twitter and on the NOH8 Campaign Twitter as well. The guys were excited about doing it! I mean, Martini dressed up all in white. He looked like a million bucks. Other guys did it. I was wearing a white dress. All the people just came, creatively, to do these photos for a great cause. Ring of Honor is just so diverse and so loving. It was the perfect wrestling company to do it.