In an interview at the Two Man Power Trip Podcast, former WWE superstar Mike Bennett shed some light on his and his wife Maria Kanellis’s tenure in WWE.
In WWE, Bennett wrestled as Mike Kanellis, and after a brief period of spotlight leading to a rivalry with Sami Zayn, was used as a bit-part enhancement talent. Since leaving WWE, Bennett has already challenged for the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship, albeit unsuccessfully, against longtime Champion Nick Aldis.
About taking his wife’s last name, Bennett said: “It didn’t bother me because I knew how the company worked. I knew trying to take my own name would be an issue because they want the rights to everything and they clearly can’t have rights to somebody’s real name.”
“But when they told me it was Mike Kanellis, my first thought as a worker is that it is really good heat because I know a lot of people will be upset that a man took his wife’s name. It really didn’t bother me because in my head, a name is a name and I will let my talents speak for itself and if this is a way to get heat from the crowd instantly right out of the gate, sure, no problem, I’ll do it.”
Bennett was bothered WWE did not use his character’s last name into a storyline. “But, they decided not to do anything with it and it turned into nothing. I took her name because I’m less than her and she is the bigger star. There was no story behind it and it became a novelty act. We are going to give you her name because that will really be funny, ha, ha, ha, but we are not going to do anything with it.”
“If there was a story and a purpose and a reason behind it which is what I was told from the beginning, great, let’s do it. But if you just drop it and do it for shock value, it becomes lame and stupid and nobody can run with that,” he added.
Bennett Also Spoke About Their Release
About their release, Bennett mentioned that it was he, and not Maria, who asked for a release. “I wanted my release, she did not want her release. We were adamant that we were two separate talents and you should treat us differently. Not only that, but she had more experience with that company. She was there for almost 6 years before the second time and then 3 years on the second run, so that’s almost 10 years of service.”
“To release a woman who is on maternity leave after giving 10 years to a company and then just fire her in the middle of a pandemic? I’m sorry. I think that’s a real lousy thing to do to a person,” Bennett added.
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