Former WWE Superstar Mike Bennett has reflected on his WWE tenure in a recent interview with The Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling podcast. He also vented his frustrations with Vince McMahon concerning how his wife, Maria Kanellis, was treated by the company.
Bennett explained how it didn’t bother him when WWE decided he would debut with his wife’s last name. He noted how he was aware that trying to use his own name would be an issue because of how WWE wants to own the rights to everything.
“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,” Bennett explained. “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.”
He did, however, have an issue with WWE’s lack of follow-through. He stressed how they didn’t deliver a payoff with the decision, ultimately turning the gimmick into a “novelty act.”
Mike Bennett On How Vince McMahon & WWE Treated Maria Kanellis
Regarding Vince McMahon, Bennett stressed how Vince would always be nice to a person’s face. However, “[…] some of the things he’s done lately, it is hard for me to wrap my brain around. It’s hard for me to be ok with the way he treated my wife.”
Bennett explained how he asked for his WWE release as he was ready to go, noting how he asked for it 8 months before the coronavirus pandemic. He stressed how he wanted to go. Maria, however, didn’t.
“As far as getting released, I knew I was getting released. I wanted to go. My wife didn’t,” Bennett said. “We talked to them time and time again about firing me but not firing her. 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.”
Mike Bennett argued how WWE releasing a woman on maternity leave after years of service during a pandemic was a “lousy” thing to do to a person.