Mike Bennett spent three years in WWE and he, along with everyone else, would likely describe his run as unfulfilling. He held the 24/7 Championship a couple of times but besides that never had another single championship match and really wasn’t involved in any major storylines.
Bennett’s time in WWE came to an end in April 2020 when he, along with his wife Maria Kanellis, was a part of the “COVID Cuts.” Bennett reflected on his time in WWE and explained why what he imagined it to be wasn’t what it was in reality when he joined the Wrestling Epicenter.
“You have this perception of what you want something to be and then it is not that at all. And, again, if you’re going to point fingers, point them at me. I had that perception,” admitted Bennett. “I grew up watching it on TV. I had the perception of it being the Wonderful World of Oz and it was just a man behind the curtain. I love that analogy because it is true [laughs]! If someone is at fault, it is probably me because I traveled that Yellow Brick Road. I believed in that Yellow Brick Road. I believed in that magical land of Oz and it just… It didn’t exist.
“Some people go and they are okay with it just being a man behind the curtain. And, some people go, ‘No, I want the Land of Oz and I know it exists somewhere out there and I’m going to go find it.’
Bennett was billed as Mike Kanellis in WWE as writers gave him the last name of his wife, Maria. That was also part of his gimmick as it was seen that Maria was the one wearing the pants in their marriage. Bennett talked about if taking her name bothered him and why his views on it changed after a while.
“At first, it didn’t really bother me. I looked at it like, ‘Alright, this is going to be a way to draw heat or to get people upset with me.’ Like, ‘Oh my God, if you take your wife’s last name, you’re less of a man!’ But I didn’t mind the name Kanellis at first,” said Bennett. “As I’ve gone past it, I would say it was done because there was a perception that I wasn’t man enough or I wasn’t tough enough because I was always tied to my wife. So, as I’ve gone past it, I’ve realized it probably was a jab at me. But it didn’t really bother me. I’m a professional wrestler. I wear underwear for a living [laughs]. It is not going to bother me if you tell me my last name is Kanellis. I’ve done way worse!”
Both Mike and Maria have been vocal about their WWE release and the displeasure in the way it was handled. Maria even went to Twitter to call out WWE for releasing her just two months after giving birth and after they told her that having another baby wouldn’t be an issue.
Mike also called out WWE and said their creative for him “sucked.” He was asked if he has any regrets on how he and his wife handled their releases.
“No, I told the truth. I’m an open book. I’m never going to lie just so people like me. People always ask me, ‘Are you ever going to not talk about WWE?’ I don’t talk about WWE. When I’m with my wife, my family, my friends, I don’t talk about it. It is not important to me. But, if people ask me a question, I’m going to give them a truthful answer. I’m not going to sugar coat it because it offends wrestling fans or it offends WWE fans. I’m going to tell the truth,” stated Bennett.
“Maybe that is because I am a recovering addict because when you’re an addict, you spend so much time doing drugs and living a lie that when you finally get to the point of recovery, you realize the truth is so much easier and freeing. You can phrase it as taking shots and I see how people see it as that but I’m just answering honestly. And, when I see things like taking away people’s Cameos, I think that is bogus! When I see billionaires trying to stop people who made them those billions from making money, I think that is wrong and I’m not afraid to say it. I am sorry if that offends people. I don’t really understand why it offends people! Like, Vince McMahon’s not going to hire you. He’s just trying to make money off the backs of other people. If that bothers you, I’m sorry. I don’t know what to tell you. The truth hurts.”