Recently on The Smarks & Stripes podcast, current WWE Superstar Mike Kanellis opened up about requesting his release from WWE. Kanellis explained why he feels he is not getting opportunities with the sports entertainment juggernaut. Also, Kanellis shared that he understands why his request for a release has not been granted.
On the subject of Kanellis requesting his release from WWE on October 14, 2019, the former Mike Bennett indicated that it was more of a personal challenge for himself rather than displeasure with the company.
"For me, it was all personal," Kanellis stated. "It had nothing to do with the company. Since the minute I got to WWE, they've treated me great; they've treated my wife great; they've treated my daughter great. They've treated me great. When I came out and said that I had an addiction, there was no negativity from anybody - it was just constant support.
"And so, for me personally having been almost two-and-a-half years sober, it got to the point where I started reflecting on my past and what I did and it became very hard for me to almost sit and reflect on the fact that I blew four years of my life doing drugs and now I felt like my mind is clear, my head is clear, and I just wanted to work. I just wanted to wrestle. I just want to work. Like, I feel like I could do and have my best matches right now and it's extremely difficult when there [are] so many people on the roster and you just don't get that opportunity."
Kanellis claimed that he would be happy to find himself involved in an ongoing WWE storyline, but just has not been getting the opportunities.
"I'm not mad at anybody and if WWE called me tomorrow and said, 'we're going to put you on TV,' I'd do it," Kanellis said. "I'm not mad. I just want to work and I just want to work a lot. I want to be able to go home and tell my daughter that 'daddy put in the time, daddy put in the effort,' and it's incredibly difficult for me to go on social media and preach that you have to work hard,' 'you have to work your ass off,' and then not do it myself. And so, I'm a worker and I've always been a worker. And I'm at a point where I just want to work, and work, and work. And I'll go wherever that opportunity exists."
When asked why he is not getting opportunities in WWE, the two-time WWE 24/7 Champion explained that there are so many talented performers on the WWE roster and that they are basically guaranteed spots as long as they continue to perform well and avoid injuries.
"Well, I think, honestly, again, I should go back to it, there [are] so many talented guys on the roster right now," Kanellis said. "So I mean, and I'm not saying I'm not and I'm not saying I wouldn't be a good fit, but what I am saying is if those guys are getting the opportunity and they are doing their job, and they're successful at it, then they're not necessarily going to look for next man up because there's no need. You hope that it's next many up - you don't hope that someone goes down [with an injury] - but you hope that you're ready if someone goes down. But [pro] wrestling right now is just loaded with talent. Like, I see people talking about it. It's the best I've ever seen in any company, on the independents, on any national company, it's just loaded. Like, everyone is just really friggin' good right now."
Kanellis added, "and I just think that's why I think my opportunity hasn't existed."
According to Kanellis, he understands why WWE will not grant his release and provided a sports analogy to illustrate his point that there is value in one organization preventing talent from migrating to a competing organization.
"As far as [WWE] not giving me my release, I think it's like anywhere," Kanellis pondered. "The [New England] Patriots aren't going to release someone they think the [New York] Jets are going to pick up. And I think we have to think of it like that. It's not negative - that's just how it works! It works in sports and it works in [pro] wrestling."
Listen to the show here or via the embedded player below. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit Smarks & Stripes with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.