Superstars draw inspiration from the WWE Universe on a daily basis. It’s what motivates them to keep going when they’re feeling extra beat up. But when Maria Kanellis began looking for a post-WWE career, she took inspiration from the often-unsung heroes that make shows like Raw and SmackDown possible.
“Being a part of these giant spectacles, you see everything that goes into it, the production aspect, the planning for there to be 10 or 20,000 [fans],” Maria said. “It’s what inspired me to want to do more.” Read More
Out of thousands, Maria was one of eight finalists selected to take part in the televised competition on Raw during summer 2004. The experience of being out in front of the WWE Universe is something that will stick with her forever.
“It was absolutely surreal,” she told WWE.com. “There are so many people [in the crowd] that you don’t see faces at first, it’s just this mass of humanity. It’s a mutual excitement, they’re so happy to be there and you’re so happy to be in front of them.”
Though she was eliminated from the competition around the halfway mark, Maria knew sports-entertainment was the perfect fit for her. She eventually received a developmental contract with WWE. The beauty knows that certain qualities got her the deal. Read More
The WWE Universe eventually recognized Maria for her dedication to the squared circle, voting her Diva of the Year at the 2009 Slammy Awards. Though her acceptance speech was cut off by an angry Batista, she realized how big an honor it was.
“It was humbling,” Maria said. “I had been out doing ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ so I figured the fans had forgotten about me, but they didn’t. I was definitely overwhelmed.”
Recently, a good deal of her time was spent getting ready for her wedding to independent wrestler Mike Bennett. The two were married earlier this month in a ceremony she helped plan.
“[Planning the wedding] was absolutely fantastic,” Maria said. “I’m going into event management, so it’s something I’m passionate about. I’ve been learning the ropes of what I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life.” Read More
Maria: Classic photos
Maria: Current photos