Maria Kanellis Speaks Out – ROH, Mike Bennett, & More
The “first lady of ROH” and leader of the ladies division of Crossfire Wrestling, Maria Kanellis stopped by Kayfabe Wrestling Radio to discuss Best in the World 2012: “Hostage Crisis” and the Crossfire Wrsetling event August 4th. In a nearly 30 minute interview, she talked about Sunday’s ROH “Best in the World” PPV, her “arm candy” Mike Bennett, her RF video seminar “Sharing my Knowledge” on female character and career development, returning to the ring as an in-ring competitor and what spurred that, bringing in Jillian Hall to face Jessicka Havok in Crossfire Wrestling, fighting labels, the history of female wrestling and the hope for today’s female wrestlers, the status of her singing career and much more.
On her involvement with Ring of Honor and the crowd at the 10th Anniversary event: “Oh my God. It’s such an amazing thing to now be part a part of Ring of Honor. That crowd has just been with them for years and years and years and now we’re building an even bigger fan base. I find it so incredibly honoring to be a part of something that’s been around for so long and so many people have been through. That crowd is just insane, and I love every moment of it.”
On returning to in-ring work: “Well, Mike (Bennett) is the one that did it, because I was nervous about getting back in the ring. He really changed my opinion about a lot of things; I was feeling a bit insecure about getting back in the ring especially when there are all these tremendous indy wrestlers out there that can do so much more in the ring than I can. He said ‘you just have to keep back at it, and if you want to change that opinion and get better in the ring, then go do it. Rather than wishing you would have for the rest of your life, go out and do it; have good matches, try for some championships, see what you can do with this.’ And it doesn’t matter to me if it’s in front of a hundred people or 20,000 people, what matters to me is that I get to do something I love and I get to get better at it.”
Her ‘tough love’ towards Jessicka Havok within Crossfire Wrestling: “Of course, we all need moments where we’re knocked off our pedestals; it makes us better. This is a high-profile match (with Jillian Hall) for her and she can think I have something against her or she can think of it as an opportunity to showcase her skills. For me, I think it’s going to showcase her skills and I only want to put on the best women’s wrestling possible. That’s why I became the Creative Director, so I can do just that. She has an attitude and I try to control that attitude; a lot of people in the past have had attitudes, but they can be the best workers in the world; I’ve heard stories about Shawn Michaels, back in the day, or I’ve heard stories about CM Punk and their horrible attitudes, but they’re some of the greatest workers in the world and you can’t deny talent and I won’t deny talent just because personally a person gets under my skin ”
What female wrestlers she likes and would want to learn from: “There are so many: Molly Holly, oh my god, amazing. I love her work, I love it so much; definitely her. Trish Stratus would be another one, I watched her on Tough Enough and I just think she’s incredible, she just connects with the crowd so well. Lita is another one. There’s so many girls out there that are just amazing; if it was Sara Del Ray, I’d be there in a heartbeat because I admire her so much.”
The past of female wrestling and the change in the modern female climate: “There are so many women (back then) that just really paved the way for what it is today; when the guys went off to war, the women were working their tails off in the ring just trying to entertain everybody that was left behind. These women wrestled crocodiles, they wrestled with lions; they were so tough. The rings back then were a bit different back then than they are today; they were even harder back then than they are now and they just really put it all out there. They were considered part of the circus and then they went on to do more and more with it; I really that hope someday, people can learn about those women. They are the ones that I really look up to; all the women of the past I find them incredible workers, but there are workers, more recently, like Melina, like Michelle (near the end of her career), Beth Phoenix, oh my god, they’re incredible. I can’t wait until A.J. starts working in the ring, I hear she’s amazing; everyone on the indies talk about how great she is. Women are so underappreciated, but I feel like it’s changing; there’s more and more opportunities there and people are interested. It’s been such a male dominated business for so long but they (the fans) want a taste of something a little different.”