Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis were let go from WWE less than two months after having a child.
When the duo re-signed with WWE in mid-2019, many scorned fans took to social media accusing the two of plotting without WWE's knowledge. However, Fightful Select reported that WWE was fully aware of the couple's intents to extend their family, something Bennett confirmed when speaking with us this past week.
"It was absolutely talked about," he said. "Every contract negotiation we went in there, because we actually at one point were talking about Maria just back in a creative role, not even coming back as a wrestler or a manager or any kind of on-screen talent. Maybe coming back and doing stuff with the girls down in NXT or helping be on the writing team. Because that’s what she loves to do now. She just loves helping, using her mind to help other people succeed. When we started talking to them, we said, “Look, we’re getting to that point where I’m 34, Maria’s 38, we want to have our kids when we want to have our kids.” When we talked to them they were great. They were like, ‘Yeah, that’s not a problem at all.’ We told them. They 100% knew and they still offered us those contracts. I think it’s mostly fans that think that’s why they were mad at us. There was no heat backstage. No one yelling at us. No one screaming at us. It wasn’t like “Oh, my God, I can’t believe you did this.” It was business as usual. Now, if they said stuff behind our backs, they did. But, I don’t have a clue. That’s one of the reasons we signed, too. We were like, “Oh, you’re cool with us…?” They [said], “Of course.” They’re a family company. They took good care of us while we were there. They just did nothing with us creatively and that sucked.
As mentioned, the two had hopes that Maria could help out with WWE creatively while she was taking time off for the pregnancy. For themselves, they had a distinct idea on how to introduce their own characters to WWE years before they re-signed.
"We had pitched an idea early on that we wanted to do this idea where she kinda controlled me. In the sense where I was her bitch. I was so enamored by her and I was so infatuated by her, but she was the only one that could trigger me to make me win matches. So, it was this sense of like I would go to the ring, let’s say I’m working Ali or something and Ali just starts kicking the crap out of me, kicking the crap out of me, finally I roll out. She calls me over, she just slaps the shit out of me, and then I roll in the ring and I just lose it on Ali. I turn into this violent, aggressive psychopath. We pitched ideas of like walking backstage and an extra is back there and he looks at Maria, and then Maria whispers something to me, I run back and throw him through a fuckin’ window or something. When she doesn’t make me snap, I’m this complete whipped little bitch. But, when she does I’m this psychopath [not] to be missed with. I actually thought they were going to run with it at that point because there was a lot of good feedback. A lot of things just go the way of the dinosaur. It just didn’t happen. But, that was one of my favorite ones that we pitched. Let alone me and Tony were pitching, we wanted our names to be the Dad Bods in NXT. Which, I think they were gonna run with, too. ‘Cause they started us that last time on 205 Live, but after that it was done," Bennett told us.
Something that did work out for the couple was their incredible theme song. It garnered polarizing reactions from those who heard it, and that's what Bennett wanted.
"I loved it. I absolutely loved it. Because, again, I’m an old school wrestling mark and the first thing I thought of was, “This is going to piss people off.” That’s how I think. It’s the instant reaction as a heel is, “How can I make people hate me?” That was all Maria’s idea, by the way. When we were going back and forth with WWE before we debuted, she had actually talked to Billy Corgan and he had pitched the idea of, “I just see you guys coming out to this love ballad,'" said Bennett.So, when WWE reached out to us and were like, “What do you think for your music?” Maria said, “Love ballad.” I was like, “Huh? What? What are you talking about?” She was like, “Trust me on this.” We got to Money in the Bank, they brought us into the truck and were like, “Alright, listen to it. If you hate it, then we understand and we’ll figure something.” They played it and I remember just dying laughing. They were like, “Do you hate it?” I was like, “No, I fucking love it. This is amazing. Let’s run with that.” People seemed to love it. I just think it’s great. So much heat. It was such a good song. It sounded like a Bon Jovi song from the 80’s. It was great."