ROH superstar Maria Kanellis was the latest guest on the Wrestling Inc. Daily to discuss the promotion’s upcoming women’s tournament, and how the former WWE 24/7 champion hopes to have more female representation throughout the industry. Highlights from the interview can be found below.
Talks about wanting more female representation throughout wrestling:
“It does in the sense that there aren’t many of us, but they do exist. Madison [Rayne] was doing a great job with writing over at Impact. Gail [Kim] is the foundation of the women’s wrestling division over there. I know that Brandi [Rhodes] was starting to do a lot with Heels. There is a movement of creating more roles. It started with the commentary positions, and now it’s starting to broaden out. I mean Renee [Paquette] really revolutionized what it was to be a female commentator in this industry, and she broke down barriers in that sense and gave more of a voice that has transitioned to a voice backstage.”
On the upcoming Women of Honor tournament:
“The biggest thing is giving the fans what they want. Giving them back an experience that they want and one of the biggest things that the fans wanted back was the women’s division, and unfortunately, last year, there was supposed to be a women’s tournament that got canceled. And it was really hard for the women that are a part of the division [and] are still a part of the division because that was the next step. The next part of getting a brand new Women’s Championship and having a bigger platform. That was the next step for Ring of Honor, and it didn’t happen. And then it was fighting with COVID restrictions, bringing in more people to have this women’s division and just not rushing it back because we want to do it right. We want there to be opportunities for the women that have been a part of the Ring of Honor family for a while but also for newcomers to come in. So now those opportunities are happening, and since January, we’ve been bringing in new talent and having matches with them. I wouldn’t necessarily call them tryout matches, but yes, tryout matches because this is a way of seeing these women live and in person once again. And with Women’s Division Wednesday, now the fans are going to be able to see that as we ramp up for the tournament.”
Says that Paul Heyman called her one of the most creative minds in wrestling:
“That’s very kind of Paul. I think that this is just the next step in my career. I think that after having 17 years in this business, and trying to be a sponge, and listening to some really great mentors, taking all of that knowledge and giving it to other deserving women that are trying to find their place in this industry, so in that sense, in kind of a motherly role, I’ve held that for a while. I don’t know if you know this, but my two other children are Matt Taven and Mike Bennett, so I’ve had the role of Mama Bear for a while. Now it’s just on a bigger scale, and this is what I love to do. Everybody always asks me, ‘Did you ever want to win the Divas Championship?’ or ‘Did you ever want to win the Women’s Championship?’ And sure, it was in the back of my mind, but the more important thing for me was to create more opportunities for others. So if I was this babyface that was okay with losing back in 2004 – 2006, then there were other opportunities for these great heel competitors to form. People like Michelle McCool and Beth Phoenix using me as the sympathetic babyface really helped bolster the entire division at that time. I like the role of a stepping stool for others.”