Mike Kanellis opens up about his WWE release request.
In an interview with Smarks & Stripes, Kanellis detailed why he requested his release.
"It was all personal. It had nothing to do with the company," he said. "From the minute I got to WWE, they treated me, my wife, and my daughter great. When I came out and said I had an addiction, there was no negativity from anybody, just constant support. For me, personally, having been almost two and a half years sober, it got to the point where I reflected on my past and what I did. It became very hard for me to reflect on the fact that I blew four years of my life doing drugs. Now, I felt like my mind was clear, my head was clear, and I just wanted to work. I just want to wrestle. I feel like I can do and have my best matches right now. It's extremely difficult when there are so many people on the roster and you just don't get that opportunity. Everybody wants to come at me negatively -- I'm not mad at anybody. I'm genuinely not. If WWE called me tomorrow and said, 'We're going to put you on TV,' I'd do it. I'm not mad. I just want to work and I want to work a lot. It's incredibly difficult for me to go on social media and preach, 'You have to work hard, you have to work your ass off,' and then not do it myself. I've always been a worker. I'll go wherever that opportunity exists."
Kanellis continued, "There are so many talented guys on the roster right now. I'm not saying I'm not or that I wouldn't be a good fit. What I'm saying is, if those guys are getting the opportunity and doing their job and are successful at it, then [WWE] won't be looking for 'next man up.' There's no need. You hope that you're ready if someone goes down. Wrestling right now is loaded with talent. It's the best I've ever seen in any company. My opportunity hasn't existed. I'm 34; I have 10 or 12 years left in me. I don't want to waste them."
As of this writing, Kanellis has not received his WWE release. Kanellis, along with other superstars such as Sin Cara and Luke Harper, have gone public with their release requests this year, but all three remain under contract. Oney Lorcan, who reportedly requested his release as well, is also still under contract.
When asked why he believes WWE keeps him under contract despite not using him, Kanellis stated, "Like anywhere, the Patriots aren't going to trade or release a player that they think the Jets are going to pick up. We have to think of it like that. It's not a negative, it's just how it works."
WWE did release Shawn Spears (formerly Tye Dillinger) from his contract after he publicly requested his release earlier this year. Spears would quickly sign with All Elite Wrestling. ACH (formerly Jordan Myles) is also no longer under WWE contract after pubicly quitting, saying he would not work for a racist company.
During a recent NXT TakeOver media call, Triple H was asked about superstars going on social media to requests their releases. Triple H noted that superstars should "handle business like professionals." You can view his full comments by clicking here.
In response to Triple H's comments, Kanellis said, "I get it. I have a brand. He has a brand. I have no negativity or animosity. I also think we live in a different time. We live in a social media time that we all have to adapt to that wasn't necessarily there in the past. Companies in general and CEOs and anyone are learning that there is a power in social media that wasn't there before. I have a great relationship with Triple H. I've brought up my issues. I get it. I understand why people might be upset, but me personally, I got too much going on. It doesn't bother me."
Kanellis was involved in a storyline where his pregnant wife Maria taunted him by saying he was not man enough to be the father. The storyline was dropped after Kanellis' release request.
If you use any of the quotes above, please credit Smarks & Stripes with a h/t to Fightful for the transcription.