Maria and Mike Kanellis started off well in 2017, they soon fell down the ranks owing to Mike’s run to the rehab, and Maria’s pregnancy. Upon their return, they were more or less limited to the undercard, and a surprise re-signing with WWE for a five-year contract seems to have come with its benefits.
We are finally seeing more of the two superstars on the main brands, and they have been getting a lot of television time under Paul Heyman’s Raw.
Since we hope that their push isn’t short-lived, we’ve compiled a list of ten things you probably didn’t know about Maria and Mike Kanellis.
10. Maria Helped Paul Heyman Book In OVW
After being a part of the WWE Diva Search, WWE signed on Maria even when she did not have any training in wrestling. This led to her being sent down to the Ohio Valley Wrestling developmental territory to get the training and experience which was required for her to become a major superstar.
During that time, Paul Heyman was booking Ohio Valley Wrestling and Maria was known to speak highly of Heyman’s abilities. This wasn’t just a one-way thing, as even Heyman was impressed by what Maria could do on the mic, and also outside the ring.
Hence, Maria took full advantage of working with Heyman and even contributed booking ideas to him, proving how far she had come. Even to this day, Heyman is known to speak highly of Maria and what she can do for the company which has led to a major push for her on Raw as soon as Heyman has taken over.
9. Maria was initially involved with a heart-throb WWE Champion
Paul Heyman wasn’t the only man who was impressed with Maria, as a former WWE Champion was also impressed by her and the way she worked and looked.
That man was none other than one of Paul Heyman’s best clients CM Punk who was also signed to WWE’s developmental territory in 2005. During the time Punk was in OVW, so was Maria, and the pair soon started dating.
While Maria was quite new to the business and the world of internet fans, Punk was already famous a former Ring of Honor Champion and the news of the relationship spread relatively fast.
Both superstars became one of the most well-known wrestling couples but they decided to split in 2007. Even after their relationship ended, Maria would continue to praise Punk in interviews and talk about how she was sure that he was one of the most talented guys in the locker room and would become one of the best of all time.
8. Kanellis didn’t win her first championship belt until 2012
She has been wrestling for well over a decade now, starting with her WWE career in 2004, the diva never managed to win gold in her initial stint with the company.
This took her to Ring of Honor where she searched for gold for a couple of years but was unable to find any to put around her waist. It wasn’t until 2012 that she managed to win her first wrestling championship.
Maria competed in a tournament to determine the inaugural Family Wrestling Entertainment (FWE) Women’s Champion and won it on February 25, 2012. Her reign did not last too long as she lost the title to Winter only a month later. She managed to regain the title later on. Apart from her championship victories in FWE, Maria is also a one-time TNA Women’s Knockout Champion.
7. Mike Kanellis operates a wrestling school
Mike has been friends with wrestler Matt Taven for a long time. They have wrestled on several different wrestling promotions together throughout their careers, and have won the IWGP Tag Team Championship and Ring of Honor Tag Team Championship once each. In April 2014, Matt and Mike opened a wrestling school in West Warwick, Rhode Island together. The school is in the XWA Event Center called the XWA Wrestling Kingdom. The center hosts many different weekly and monthly wrestling events such as Thursday Night Throwdown (TNT) and Wrestlution from the Xtreme Wrestling Alliance which is affiliated with their wrestling school.
Famous WWE and indie superstars such as Warbeard Hanson and Flip Gordon have also been part of XWA which shows that the students of the wrestling school get to rub shoulders with some big names in the business.
Cody Rhodes has gone far enough to say that it’s hands down, the best wrestling school he’s ever had the pleasure of working with.
6. Maria has tried her hands at various other businesses
While Maria rose to fame thanks to the Diva Search in 2004, she has tried her hands in many other fields. In 2004, she was a contestant on the reality show, Outback Jack and made it to the final three before being eliminated.
During her time in WWE, Maria continued to model for many brands and magazines and even posed for the cover of the April 2008 issue, with an accompanying nude pictorial. After leaving the WWE in 2010, Maria gave her vocal cords a run and even released an EP called Sevin Sins which was released as a U.S. iTunes Store exclusive on April 13, 2010. Maria was also a contestant on the Celebrity Apprentice, which premiered in March 2010 and was placed fifth out of fourteen contestants.
In 2011, Maria starred in online comedy web show Funny or Die, and during the same year, she launched her perfume line called Signature. In September 2011, Kanellis launched her DVD line in conjunction with Code Red DVD called Maria’s B Movie Mayhem. She also owns and operates an event design company called Wonderland Event Productions.
5. Mike defeated Sami Zayn in his first televised match in WWE
Mike and Maria haven’t been getting the best bookings from the creatives recently, but it wasn’t always like this for these two lovebirds. Mike debuted in WWE on June 18, 2017, at Money in the Bank along with his wife Maria who returned to the company.
In the following weeks, Mike and Maria would continue to be interrupted by Sami Zayn which led to a rivalry between them and setting up Mike’s first match on SmackDown on July 18. Mike surprisingly went on to win the match as a heel after interference from Maria. While they had a rematch at Battleground which Zayn went on to win, Mike only managed to have four matches on SmackDown before he had to go to rehab which put a hold on his WWE career. Upon his return in mid-2018, Mike was primarily featured on Main Event and lost all his matches on WWE Raw before moving to the 205 Live brand.
4. Maria’s Playboy photoshoot had a lot of input from her
Maria was spotted as a model at a very young age and was asked to pose for Playboy when she was just nineteen years old. While the prospects seemed tempting to her, including a possibility of landing some major contracts, she thought against it in fear of embarrassing her sister.
Fast forward to 2008, and Maria was once again in the spotlight as she decided to pose for the cover of the April 2008 issue which was accompanied by a nude pictorial. What made her posing different from many others was the fact that she chose her own wardrobe for the pictorials. Not just that, she even made the black hooded jacket she wore in one of the photos herself to add that extra touch to it.
Maria now remains the last active female from WWE to have posed for Playboy as WWE transitioned into the PG Era not long after Maria’s photoshoot.
3. After her initial stint with WWE she went back to school
Maria had a long and relatively prosperous career in WWE even though she never won any major competitions or championships. Even after leaving the company, Maria continued to carry on her passion for wrestling and jumped many wrestling promotions to make a name for herself.
Even with a lot down on her resume, Maria decided that the best was to secure her future was to get a bachelor’s degree to fall back on. In 2013, Maria was announced as one of the recipients of WWE’s Talent Scholarship while being a part of the Ring of Honor roster, which she utilized to obtain a degree in Sports, Entertainment, and Event Management from Johnson & Wales University, graduating in May 2017.
After making it through the first stage, Maria plans to continue going to school and is interest in securing a master’s degree in business administration so that she can continue trying her hands at different businesses.
2. Maria and Mike Kanellis starred in a movie together
In 2017, the couple starred in a movie together called Saving Christmas. Saving Christmas is a Christmas comedy-drama film, about a middle school student who decides to prove that Santa Claus is real using his intelligence and gadgets.
The movie stars Edward Asner, Brooke Langton, and Patrick Muldoon, and was directed by Tim DeNucci. Maria played a small role in the film as herself, while Mike did the same under the character name Max Miracle.
The movie did not do too well and Common Sense Media gave it one star out of five. Even the fans did not like the movie much, and it has a below-average rating of 4.3 out of 10 on IMDB.
1. Maria and Mike Kanellis: Both won the same title
Between 2005 and 2010, Maria was one of the top Divas of WWE who was usually at the forefront of the division. This helped her pair up with many top male superstars and remain in the spotlight for most of her career.
However, Maria never managed to win any gold in WWE which may come as a shock to many of her fans. Even though she wasn’t the best wrestler in the ring, she could still carry a match forward and made up for her wrestling moves with her mic skills and acting on screen. Similarly, Mike has been with the company since 2017 but the talented superstar had not won a single championship with WWE until July 29, 2019. The day was very special for the couple as they managed to win their first individual championship with the biggest wrestling company in the world one after the other on the same episode of Raw.