On Sunday 16th June, it was reported by Pro Wrestling Sheet that Mike and Maria Kanellis signed a new 5-year contract with WWE, and on this weeks 205 Live, it appeared that Mike was walking off the show, leaving Maria at ringside wondering what her husband was doing.
Despite this being clearly kayfabe, there had been previous discontentment from the pair- especially with the lack of screen time that they have been given since joining as a pair in 2017. As regular lower card stars, it’s obvious to many that WWE simply doesn’t know what to do with them, however they’re wishing to keep them on their roster as members of their diminishing 205 Live show.
On Wednesday 16th January 2019, Pro Wrestling Sheet also reported that the pair had asked for their releases from the company, though they later denied this claim. With WWE seemingly worried about losing more superstars to the increasingly popular Indy scene and AEW, it’s no surprise that they ended up staying- voluntarily or not.
Going further back into their career, it’s clear that where the rumours started up, and the crowd lost interest in them, their win/lost ratios would seemingly backfire on Mike Kanellis. When they joined WWE, Mike Kanellis debuted against Sami Zayn on Smackdown, however the lack of interest in the couples “loved up” gimmick was soon evident, A’s for a long while afterwards Mike seemed to lose most of his matches against various people.
When we look into their careers before this, Mike was a very prominent member of the Indy scene, regularly making appearances on Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling, and Maria was a top-level women’s wrestler for many years during the 2000’s. So why don’t they go back and enjoy the Indy scene?
There are many possible reasons for the 5-year extension, though the most glaringly obvious reason is the steady monetary income. Many WWE wrestlers who have gone to the Indy scene have had to end up living paycheck to paycheck, and the ones who make it big- although get lots of attention by social media and the press, are actually few and far between. When you think that the likes of Jack Swagger, Darren Young, Carlito and more recently the tag team Big Cass & Enzo Amore all left WWE to join the indies, it’s clear that it doesn’t work for everybody, and this could have potentially happen to Mike and Maria Kanellis if they left WWE.
The steady income is more important when you consider that as since 2018, they’ve been parents to their daughter Fredrica Moon Bennett, and for many people- the security of having a guaranteed amount of money each month outweighs the flexibility and uncertainty of exactly how much they’ll earn on a weekly or monthly basis when they’ve got to feed their child.
Another reason comes down to the actual level in their abilities as wrestlers. Although Mike Kanellis is able to perform a wrestling match, he’s not exactly to the levels of other Indy born stars such as Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, and Maria hasn’t performed in a wrestling match for several years. The current position that they’re in is potentially easier as they can continue to grow within the 205 Live roster, and who knows what will happen in the next 5 years? Mike might eventually get a big push and end up a champion, and who knows- Maria might become the best manager since Paul Heyman. The point is, this contract at least guarantees them the time to hone their skills in a familiar territory, where they know the politics and the environment that they’re in.
What it all boils down to is the fact that this topic definitely has differing opinions. Some feel like they are wasting their time in WWE, whilst other believe it’s a great opportunity for them. I’m personally on the latter bandwagon. This is an unusually long contract signing, and although this can be perceived as WWE’s way of trying to keep as many bodies as possible, for both Maria and Mike, this can be seen as a way of WWE saying that they’re happy to keep them- a luxury that some don’t get at the end of their contracts.
The latest 205 Live episodes are certainly an eye opener into what could be in store for the couple over the coming weeks, lets hope that this means more screen time and exposure for them to prosper.
You can find me on Twitter @n0cturnalowl. Thanks for reading.