Maria Kanellis Bennett Comments On Her On-Air Growth In Wrestling, Re-Establishing Herself In ROH
Maria Kanellis Bennett is having fun growing up in the wrestling business.
Maria Kanellis Bennett recently spoke with WrestleZone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard and spoke about her return to Ring Of Honor and how it shows a personal evolution of her on-air persona.
Maria is now in her 17th year in the wrestling business, which includes two separate runs in both WWE and Ring Of Honor. Maria worked for ROH for four years between 2011-2015 and developed a “First Lady of ROH” gimmick, which was an evolution of the ‘ditzy’ character she started out with in WWE. Now, she returns to ROH as a board member and on-air proponent of the ROH Women’s Division, which followed a second WWE run that saw her showing a more serious side. Maria spoke about how her character has evolved and how it’s led to an extended career in the wrestling business, noting that it’s been a crazy and fun ride.
“Yeah, it’s like we’re all growing up together. You’re seeing me grow up everybody! [laughs] And that’s really, at the end of the day, that’s what it really is. I came in as a very young girl and I played a very ditzy character and I grew from there and then it’s transitioned again and again. I’ve been asked many times as of late, like how have I been able to evolve and stick around in wrestling this long,” she noted, “and I think because I don’t take myself too seriously. It’s like, ‘well, we did that, okay that’s cool’ and then we’ll move on from whatever that character was.
“I also, I don’t hate the years—I don’t hate the fact that I’m getting older and wearing the tiny little lingerie doesn’t look the same as it did when I was 22. That’s okay, it’s cool,” Maria explained. “My husband thinks I’m better now so that’s all that matters at the end of the day as far as that department. So, yeah, we should all just enjoy this ride together, it’s crazy but it’s fun.”
Not only has she shown growth as a character, but Maria also returned to Ring Of Honor as a solo performer rather than teamed with her husband, Mike Bennett. The two were linked in The Kingdom during her first ROH run (as well as in IMPACT Wrestling and her second WWE run), but they explained why it was important to establish themselves as separate acts this time around.
“Mike is very interested in doing a singles run as well as his work with OGK, because he’s getting to that point in his life where he wants to see what he can do and if he can still keep up with the guys. I know he’s very interested in the Pure Title and it’s those challenges and it’s about growing. It was important for us to work separately,” she stated. “I wanted to work with the women’s division and as much as I love working with OGK—and I’m sure I’ll end up doing something with them at some point—but right now, my focus is on the women’s tournament and on the women’s division. So, yeah, I think after spending almost a year together in quarantine because of COVID, working separately has been lovely but that’s relationships and that’s working together. We worked together for a long time, now we’re going to do something different, then we’ll work together again, so that’s just how it goes.”