In an appearance on the Wrassingh Show, ROH’s Maria Kanellis talked about her first run in WWE from 2005-2010. This included a stint as a backstage interviewer for WWE, and it’s experiences she still is quite fond of.
“I loved it!” Maria exclaimed. “I had one of the greatest jobs in the world! I worked with everybody. A lot of people, they’re like ‘oh, well did you feel like you were left out because you didn’t always wrestle?’ and no. I got to work with The Rock, John Cena, Ric Flair, DX, numerous times. And then I got to work with Santino and watch paint dry with Jeff Hardy. Like I have had a very interesting career because of my beginnings.”
Going into the job Maria found herself to be quite nervous. According to her, with the nervousness came the excitement, which Maria feels worked to her benefit in the role.
“I was a nervous wreck, especially at the beginning,” Maria recalled. “But I always like to say that I’m not nervous, I’m excited and a lot of times that excitement worked to my benefit because it just came up as bubbly and fun. And that’s, you know, even though some people say like ‘oh that part of your career, you were this ditzy girl’ and in a lot of ways that character hid the fact that I was nervous.”
Coming out of that role Maria became known for her “ditzy” character in WWE. To this day she’s amazed that it got as much traction as it did with fans.
“I just figured I would figure it out and I did, and I never expected it to get the reaction that it did,” Maria said. “I mean, so many people loved it so many people had so much fun with it. They asked me to bring it back and I do cameos and sometimes in cameo videos they’re like ‘can you do the Ditsy Maria character?’ Of course! Like it’s still fun for me to do that you know?”
Maria pointed out that she had regretted using the character in the past. But as time has gone on, Maria has come to appreciate the character and what it meant for her career at the time.
“No,” Maria answered when asked if she had any regrets. “I mean, I think there was probably a part in my life where I was growing and I didn’t see the value of it, and it was probably right after I left WWE the first time. But then you grow and you learn and then you have an appreciation and I have fond memories of it now. So like, it doesn’t matter if I, you know, went through a phase where I didn’t love the character. What matters is how I feel about it now and I love that character in a lot of ways because it was so fun!”
One thing that wasn’t fun was WWE’s reaction to Maria making a musical EP called Seven Sins. The record would be released following Maria’s own release from WWE in February of 2010, and she believes WWE’s attempts to control her project have continued on to other talent since in how they’ve handled talent deals with third party affiliates.
“WWE has been, they’ve always been that way about your personal projects,” Maria said. “And now it’s really starting to come to light with Twitch, with Cameo and all of that kind of stuff. But even back then when it came to my music or me trying to go and do acting things or even going on auditions, WWE wanted to have control over that. And I just, I wasn’t interested in that, especially with how much they wanted to pay me!
“I hadn’t had a raise in five and a half years, so I asked for a raise and then they didn’t want to give me one! So like, it was just weird that I was working just as much as the top guys were, but I wasn’t even paid one tenth what they were. For me it just wasn’t reasonable, like you shouldn’t stay in a relationship that is so one-sided and that’s how it felt for me was just them taking from me while I wasn’t getting enough in return. I mean, it just wasn’t a favorable time in my life financially or just like personally.”
You can watch the full interview below.