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Former WWE Diva turned First Lady of Ring of Honor, Maria Kanellis, joins us to talk about her first wrestling match in two years since her WWE release. This weekend, Kanellis faces fellow former Diva and current TNA star, Tara, in New York on her 30th birthday, no less. Maria talks to us about the match, why she’s returning to the ring and her training for her ring return.
The First Lady of ROH dishes on how her ROH appointment came about, the differences between working in ROH and WWE, the reactions from the notoriously tough ROH crowd, and her response to fans who questioned her passion for wrestling & assumed she’d quit the business after her WWE release.
Maria also tells us about her recent backstage visit to WWE and what happened when she spoke to Vince McMahon and John Laurinaitis, the very people who fired her two years ago this week.
Working in ROH vs working in WWE: “I’m much more relaxed! I’m very relaxed at Ring of Honor. I don’t feel the pressure that I did at WWE. But I’m also, so I think that a lot of it comes with maturity and being comfortable in your own skin. I’m more confident in myself than I was when I was in WWE. That goes with being outside of WWE and starting to see the world through different eyes. Now coming back into wrestling and being like, ‘You know what? This is where you have fun’, and I just want to have fun with my wrestling career now. I don’t want to be stressed out or worrying about where’s my next storyline. I don’t want to be worrying about all that stuff.”
Why she’s returning to the ring: “There was a lot of things I wanted to accomplish that I didn’t get to accomplish before. I never really felt like I was that great in the ring, and then I also felt that I didn’t get a whole lot of time to be in the ring. My goal is to go out there and do the best that I can, and if I get out there and I’m like, ‘Okay, this is it for me and I’m not going to wrestle anymore’, that’s one thing. Or if I get out there and I’m like, ‘You know what? I really want to continue moving forward with this part of wrestling’ then that’s what I’m going to do. But there was so many things I wanted to accomplish in the ring and so many things I loved doing in the house shows that I never got to really show off on WWE TV.”
“I never won a championship and that was a big thing for me. I didn’t want to win the greatest championship in the world and I didn’t need to hold it forever, but just winning it by a fluke would’ve been nice, just to say I was on that great list.”
“There’s just a lot of things I want to accomplish in the ring.”
Being backstage recently at a WWE Raw taping: “I stood there and talked to Vince for probably 10-15 minutes, just shooting the shit. I talked to him about the new network. I told him that I thought the show was great as of late, I really enjoyed last week’s episode. I talked to him about, ‘How’s the family?’ and ‘Give Linda my best’. At the same time that I’m not there, it’s still part of my family. Sometimes I don’t like the things that John Laurinaitis does but at the same time, for a long time I was on the road with him all the time. He’s the one that initially called me and sad, ‘Maria, we want you to go down to OVW’, so you still have to have an appreciation.”
”At the end of the day, wrestling’s still a business and I try to remember that every day when I do anything with wrestling.”