As previously noted, current WWE Superstar Mike Kanellis recently appeared on the Smarks & Stripes podcast. Among many other things, Kanellis, who requested his release from WWE back in October 2019, talked about whether he should have gone to NXT before debuting on WWE’s main roster. Additionally, Kanellis shared his thoughts on his remaining goals in WWE and his experience on WWE 205 Live.

During the interview, Kanellis was ambivalent about whether a run in NXT would have made for a smoother WWE main roster debut, as a stint on WWE’s black and yellow brand could have afforded Kanellis more of a following; however, NXT may not have helped, given that Kanellis was simply in a bad place when he signed with WWE.  

“I think about this a lot,” Kanellis admitted. “I always constantly go back and I think to myself, ‘well, had I’d just gone to NXT, maybe things could have been different,’ but then, I think, like, ‘yeah, but they pushed me right to the main roster, which was really cool – there [are] not many guys they did that with.’ Yeah, so I wear that as a badge of honor, where I was like, ‘yeah, maybe I came out and it was cold, and I fell flat on my face,’ but, again, I started – maybe I sound like this friggin’ guru – I don’t know. I don’t really care.

“I started taking so much personal responsibility and accountability for my actions and some people might say, ‘well, WWE screwed up my debut.’ Maybe, but I look at it as I screwed up. I came to WWE and I was out of shape and I wasn’t prepared. I was addicted to drugs. Maybe they lost faith in my right out of the gate and I had to earn it back. So I wish it went better. Maybe in retrospect I should’ve gone to NXT, but I wasn’t ready period, so I don’t know if NXT would’ve made things any better.”

Kanellis divulged that he would love to hear that WWE is ready to do something with him, but the two-time WWE 24/7 Champion is prepared to sit out the remaining years of his WWE contract.  

“If WWE were to call me tomorrow and say, ‘we’re going to put you on TV and we want to work you.’ Great! I’ll show up and I’ll do my job. If they say, ‘nope, you signed for 5 years, so you’re going to sit at home,’ okay, cool. I’ll own that.” Kanellis said, “I’ll figure out something else to do with my life.”

According to Kanellis, his goals has always been and remain to headline WrestleMania and be a world champion. ‘The Miracle’ claimed that he would like to be a positive veteran presence in the locker room and put over Roman Reigns as WWE’s locker room leader. Also, Kanellis suggested that coaching might be in his future.

“Yeah, I mean, for me personally, I want to headline WrestleMania. I want to be a world champ. That has always been the goal and that’ll continue to be the goal, but I think as I get older, and maybe not as I get older, and maybe now, maybe I can help people out now.

“I think I can truly be – I don’t want to say a locker room leader because you save that for the top dogs. Roman Reigns is the locker room leader. That dude is the man. I’m never going to take that spot from him. If you ever want to be a locker room leader, that’s the dude to emulate. But truthfully, like, maybe I can just be someone that other guys come to talk to. Maybe I could go to NXT and be a coach or honestly I just like giving back at this point in my life. And maybe I’ll get over it, but I don’t think I will because I feel like I was given a second chance in life.”

With respect to Kanellis’s 205 Live run, Kanellis who previously tweeted that he loves WWE 205 Live, stated that he loved doing the show because the 205 Live roster is exceptionally talented and would get a lot of time for their matches. To Kanellis, the cruiserweight going on after SmackDown Live was a great opportunity to awaken dead crowds.

“I absolutely loved 205 [Live] because all of the guys on that roster are so underrated. Like, it’s ridiculous. Having matches with Tozawa, and Tony Nese, and Jack Gallagher, these guys were top indie guys and they’re so good!” Kanellis continued, “on RAW and SmackDown [Live] you get 5 or 6 minute matches, maybe if you’re lucky. And so, you can’t really show what you can do, and as a performer, it’s really not that exciting to go out and do a 4 or 5 minute match because you’re kind of hamstrung about what you can do. On 205, we were getting 17, 18, 20 minute matches. It was just awesome! And not only that, but I always used to tell the guys, a lot of guys would complain, ‘yeah, but you’re going on after SmackDown, so the crowd doesn’t really care,’ and I was like, ‘true, they don’t care, but we’re essentially playing with house money. If we go out there and the crowd is quiet, we can just come to the back and be like, ‘oh, the crowd sucked!’ But if we go out there and many times, the crowd gets into it and chant ‘this is awesome!’ And then you get to come back and be like, ‘look, we just made that dead crowd stand on their feet. I’m Ric Flair for crying out loud!’ So it’s just a really cool experience.”

Check out the podcast 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.