Maria Kanellis is right where she hoped to be.
After being released by WWE in April 2020, Maria took some time away from wrestling before returning to Ring of Honor and breathing new life into the women's division. ROH tried to get the women's division off the ground again prior to the pandemic, but COVID forced plans to change.
Under the leadership of Maria, the division was able to crown a new Women's Champion and is in a healthy spot to end the year.
Speaking to Renee Paquette on Oral Sessions, Maria discussed her initial talks with ROH.
"The time came where they called me and were like, 'we have this idea for you' and I was like, 'Okay, I have an idea too. You guys don't have a women's division.' They said, 'that's our idea.' They had the idea of me coming in and producing a women's division and I wanted to come in and produce a women's division. Then, it was just timing. Once I knew that was happening, I was like, 'Okay, this is what I'm going to focus on,'" she recalled.
Maria was re-introduced to the ROH audience in December 2020, kicking off a new era in the women's division.
Speaking about her goals for the division, Maria said, "I would really just like for it to not be like a special event every time women have matches, I would just like it to be part of the show. I would really like whole characters. We get into these boxes of 'women can only be strong or only weak.' I want to get out of that habit and really try to tell my girls to 'tell me more of your story, let's get it out there and more of the person you are because the person you are is amazing, it's just a matter of letting everyone know.' That's another piece of it. Right now, we just have the Women's World Championship. I would like to get a (Women's) Tag Championship out there. I'd also like to have a (Women's) Pure Division because pure wrestling is becoming such a huge thing as far as the men are concerned. I'd like to bring more of that with the women's division, we have a lot of good women for that. I would like to have an all women's show at some point that is a pay-per-view. We do have an all women's right now with Women's Division Wednesday, I want to keep that going. I'd like to have two or three matches a week rather than one match a week. There's a lot of different things out there. The biggest thing, to me, is to make the women's characters more whole and more well-rounded."
When asked which women display well-rounded characters, Maria replied, "There are several women who are doing that. Trish Adora is fantastic. She has done a fantastic job or telling her story and also being a badass in the ring. She has a cause and she's able to keep that out there while she's building this amazing career. Willow [Nightingale] is probably one of the best promos out there because she's just Willow. It doesn't matter if you're talking to her backstage or in the ring, that's just who she is and it's more real to me than it's ever been as far as her promos. I really like that. I'm also trying to blend reality with wrestling. Not so much that it takes away from the matches, but to where, when you're watching the show, it's almost like you're watching your Twitter or Instagram feed where it feels like the camera should be there and my camera operator who does the backstage segments is fantastic with that. It's something we're focused on."
Trish Adora has signed with ROH while Willow Nightingale competes for multiple companies including ROH, MLW, and Beyond Wrestling.
Maria also noted in the interview that she wanted to help produce the WWE women's division during her last run, but was shot down.
"I'm really happy. I feel like, for the first time, I'm doing the job that I was meant to do. I fought for this job for a long time. I asked for it in WWE the last time I was there, I was told no. This is the job I wanted. I wanted the job of producing female talent, producing a division, and really telling their stories. For me, it's so fulfilling," she said.
ROH crowned a new women's champion at Death Before Dishonor with Rok-C capturing the title.
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