Former WWE star and current Ring of Honor talent Maria Kanellis stopped by the Wrassingh Show this past Sunday to talk wrestling. Maria revealed she had been a fan of wrestling ever since she was a kid, and recounted one story about flashing one of the greatest tag teams in WWE history.
“I was!” Maria answered when asked if she grew up a fan. “I watched it with my brother when we were kids. I broke my brother’s nose while doing wrestling moves on him when we were little little kids and then I got back into it when I was in high school. I went to a show when I was like 19 years old and um there was a big window where the Hardy’s were and they were doing a signing. So my boyfriend at the time, put me up on his shoulders and I flashed the Hardy Boys because I was just so excited to be there!”
Maria’s heyday as a wrestler in WWE took place during her first run from 2005 to 2010, whereas she mostly served as a manager to her husband, Mike Bennett, during her second WWE tenure. When asked who she clicked with best as a wrestler, Maria revealed she worked best with three fellow performers.
“I had a lot of chemistry with Beth’s Phoenix,” Maria said. “I loved tagging with Mickie James. I also had a lot of matches with Michelle McCool, so I had a lot of great chemistry with several of the girls. Everybody was pretty safe. The only time that things weren’t safe was when we were forced to wrestle in our heels or our bikinis or we didn’t have the proper gear. So that was the most dangerous part during that time. It had nothing to do with the girls I was in the ring with, it had everything to do with what WWE management wanted us to wear.”
Later Maria discussed who exactly helped pioneer the Women’s Evolution in WWE, something that is continuing to evolve to this day. According to Maria, there are so many important women in WWE history that you can’t pinpoint any specific ones that led the movement.
“So I don’t think that you can pinpoint it on a few girls,” Maria stated. “I think that you’re gonna have to look way back in time to really start the evolution. Alundra Blayze, who I had a really long conversation with the last time I saw her, was telling me about how she was just trying to get her name put on the card. Her name wasn’t advertised and that was a big win for her, just to get her name advertised. So, when we start talking about the history of women’s wrestling, we need to stop focusing on these most recent facts! We need to look past that and go farther into the past.
Like Molly Holly was a tremendous wrestler, but she gets thrown into like this whole, like ‘we hate the Divas’, and that was when it was all switching into the Attitude Era and then they overlooked the fact of how good she was in the ring. And again, if she was placed into matches that were shorter, it’s not her fault, she was very talented. Unfortunately, the WWE management was not talented enough to understand that women’s wrestling could be viewed as respected and could be viewed as important. So for me, there are too many to name but I would definitely say that there are, from every single era, there are women that have added to this industry and have created opportunities for others.”
You can watch the full interview below.