In an appearance on the Wrassingh Show, ROH’s Maria Kanellis was asked why she never crossed paths with Karl Anderson in WWE like she had in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Turns out Maria isn’t sure either, only offering a guess that it wasn’t done because it wasn’t a WWE idea.
“I sat in Vince’s office and asked him,” Maria revealed. “I think so far, as far as I can tell, if it isn’t WWE’s idea, they don’t like to run with it. So since this was a story from before they didn’t want to use it and that’s okay. Maybe Karl and I will work together in New Japan again? Maybe next year of Wrestle Kingdom? Who knows, we’ll have an opportunity to go back to it so maybe it’s the best that we didn’t do it in WWE and wear it out.”
“I just think that WWE has their own thoughts on everything. Sure they knew that Mike and I had a name, Karl and Doc had a name, AJ had a name. They knew that Kevin (Owens) had worked with Mike before and then EC3 had worked with Mike and like Drew and Mike had these great matches in TNA and Bobby and Mike had worked in it. They knew all of that. I just don’t think they cared and that’s fine. Whatever, they got their own stuff going on.”
Overall Maria found that WWE squandered several opportunities with both her and her husband, Mike Bennett.
“Do I think it’s a missed opportunity? Of course! Of course!” Maria said. “You had someone like my husband, who can wrestle anybody and be this amazing heel or amazing face, has this tremendous story of recovery and just a positive outlook. [Mike] will do and work his ass off and they didn’t use it.
“Then you have somebody like me that ‘okay, I could be a baby face, I could be a heel. Do you need me to wrestle? Do you need me commentate? Do you want me to announce? How about manage somebody? Do you want me to, you know do the tango and juggle? I will figure it out!’ And like, they didn’t want to use me either so it was a great three years of taking a reprieve from working you know like. I don’t know. I don’t know what the thought process was!”
Maria was asked if it was possible for her or Bennett to approach someone on the creative team in order to get their ideas heard from Vince. Maria said she tried that, but that path also brought a different kind of roadblocks.
“That’s what you try and do, but it doesn’t always work that way either,” Maria said. “There’s a lot of stories that they tell you like, ‘oh we’re gonna have you work with this person and this person and it’s gonna be great,’ and then it doesn’t happen, ‘Oh! we’re going to have you work with so and so and this is going to be great!’ And it doesn’t happen.
“They just string you along and it’s like, ‘I’m getting older and my face is starting to go like this and it’s just not, it just wasn’t a great experience. For me, it was fine! Like for me, I became 24/7 champ! I was the first pregnant 24/7 champ, like I was able to still maintain some semblance of me and my strength. My poor husband was used as a pawn and they were just like, ‘here you’re now, the fool!’ Like it was just not, it wasn’t very respectful at all.”
One of the final angles Maria and Bennett did in WWE revolved around Maria’s second pregnancy. Maria claims there were no problems with this angle, until it became apparent that WWE had no clue where to take the story.
“We were fine with it at first because we thought it was going somewhere,” Maria said. “Like we thought it was going to be, I was going to be the pregnant champ and then he was going to take it off me and then he was going to go on this run of winning matches and like really starting to solidify his place in WWE. But then, for some reason, it just all stopped short.
“It’s very confusing to me and he was supposed to turn on me into this big baby face, I was gonna go away as like the crazy pregnant lady and that was fine for me. And then I was gonna come back and sometime around WrestleMania and be like I’m sorry, I was just crazy because I was pregnant and that was cool with me because I thought it was funny. I thought Mike could have a singles run but just didn’t happen.”
A popular theory is that the storyline was done in order to punish both Maria and Bennett for the pregnancy. Maria doesn’t believe that to be the case, mainly because she didn’t know she had told WWE during contract negotiations that her and Bennett were planning on expanding their family.
“There are several falsehoods with that,” Maria stated. “First and foremost, I didn’t know I was pregnant when I signed with WWE so I couldn’t have told them. When I came out with the fact that I was pregnant on live television, I was probably only about eight and a half to nine weeks pregnant, so like, I did not know when I signed. Also, I had talked to WWE about having another baby because when we were in contract negotiations, I gave them two different options.
“I was like ‘okay, you guys can either sign me to like a legacy, paid per appearance deal, which is less money, less appearances and you can just keep me under contract and I will have a baby, and I’ll do less because I was gonna get pregnant. Or you can sign me to the full time deal but I’m planning on having another baby and I’m getting to be almost 40 so it’s going to happen soon.’ So, they had options – they could have signed me either way. There actually was a third option, which was bring me in as like a producer/writer and keep me backstage. Then even the farther along I was pregnant, I could keep coming until a certain time when my doctor said no more flights. But then I could have come back earlier too.”
According to Maria, WWE wasn’t keen on any of those alternate options and decided to keep her on a full time deal. As such, Maria isn’t sure why WWE would want to punish her for a decision they made.
“They didn’t accept that option,” Maria said. “What they decided to do was to bring me in full-time full talent contract and that was their decision, not mine. I gave them the other options, so if it was a way of getting back at me, I’m sorry that talent relations didn’t inform WWE of what our family planning was but at the end of the day, it really is none of their business. If anything, pregnancy is a disability in the United States, it’s considered disability so federally, it should be treated as an injury in an independent contract so that doesn’t matter at the end of the day.
“I didn’t have to tell them what my family planning was, but I did! WWE could’ve chosen to fire me, they could have signed me to a paid per appearance deal, a lesser contract, a producer/writer deal or even working down in NXT, or they could have signed me to a full-time deal. They chose to sign me to a full-time deal. So whether or not the information was relayed from talent relations to Vince McMahon or the management, I don’t know. Maybe it was a punishment but at the same time like that’s not my fault.”
You can listen to the full interview below.