At Money In The Bank on June 18th, 2017, Mike Kanelis made his debut with his wife, Maria Kanelis. It’s the first time that I can recall a WWE wrestler taking the last name of is wife. Yeah, that’s right, Mike Kanelis is actually Mike Bennett. You may have heard of him.
Bennett has been wrestling since 2002 and popped up on the radar while wrestling for New England Championship Wrestling where he wrestled from 2003 to 2010. During that time, Bennett had wrestled on WWE Heat and had a tryout with TNA. Neither of those times he got signed. Bennett focused most of his time in NECW and Top Rope Promotions. While competing for TRP, Bennett was presented as a top guy successfully defending the heavyweight title against guys like Stevie Richards, Mr. Kennedy, and Kenny Dystrka.
Eventually, Bennett signed with Ring Of Honor (ROH) in August 2010. At the time, ROH had plenty of high flying and hard hitting wrestlers. So, when Bennett was introduced he quickly stood out to me for being more of an old school act. He really worked a WWE style of wrestling. Bennett would often appear on TV claiming to be the next ROH World Champion and was determined to win the title within a year of his run. He never won the title. In fact, he never won a singles championship in ROH. The inability to win the title damaged his credibility for me while he was in ROH. Personally, I was never a big fan of Bennett’s.
By the end of 2010, I had watched Bennett live at a 2CW show where he fought future Kingdom teammate, Matt Taven. After the show, which was 2CW Nightmare Before Christmas, I found myself being far more impressed with Taven than I was with Bennett.
His ROH run consisted of him failing to defeat Jay Lethal for the ROH Television Championship, having a trilogy of matches with Lance Storm, which Bennett won the series two to one. Bennett was victorious in Jerry Lynn’s final match with ROH at Final Battle 2012. It seemed like no matter what ROH did with Bennett he couldn’t break out of the middle of the pack.
By the end of 2013, Bennett had broken away from his manager “Brutal” Bob Evans and ventured off into his own. He was unable to win a ROH World Championship tournament and found himself in a feud with Kevin Steen (Owens) over who had the more effective piledriver. It was a battle between a regular piledriver by Bennett and the Package Piledriver that Steen used. Steen would win the feud at Final Battle 2013 in a stretcher match that denied Bennett from ever using the piledriver again.
In the summer of 2014, Mike Bennett aligned himself with Adam Cole, Matt Taven and Matt Hardy to form the Kingdom with Maria Kanelis as their manager. Bennett would win his only championship in ROH when he and Taven won the ROH Tag Team Championship at the 13th Anniversary Show on March 1st. They held the titles until December when they lost to War Machine at Final Battle. The following day after the loss, Bennett and Maria left ROH.
After his departure, Bennett worked for NJPW where he won the IWGP Tag Team Championships with Matt Taven. They held the titles from April 5th, 2015 to July 5th, 2015. Both title changes involved Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows.
Along with Maria, Bennett made his debut for Impact Wrestling on January 5th, 2016 going by the moniker “The Miracle.” Bennett probably got the biggest push of his career to start his run feuding with Drew Galloway and won the feud. Bennett transitioned into a feud with Ethan Carter III and managed to end Carter’s unpinned streak on April 26th, 2016. Carter hadn’t been pinned since his debut on October 20th, 2013. Less than a year after ending such a long streak, Bennett wasn’t with Impact Wrestling.
Bennett won the Impact Wrestling X-Division Championship on June 21st, but only held it until July 5th when he lost it back to Eddie Edwards in an Ultimate X match. Bennett turned his attention back to the Impact Wrestling Heavyweight Championship but wasn’t able to defeat Bobby Lashley for the gold. Bennett brought Moose into Impact but Moose refused to help Bennett cheat to win and they began to feud. The feud would see Bennett lose to Moose at Bound For Glory.
Following the event, Bennett and Maris started a feud with Cody Rhodes and Brandi Rhodes. The trend of Bennett losing feuds continued as he lost the feud to Cody. Bennett’s final feud in Impact was against Moose and failed to win the Impact Grand Championship losing to Moose at One Night Only: Live! That would be the final appearance for Bennett and Maria in Impact.
Now, Mike Bennett is in WWE. For years I had heard rumors that Bennett was on WWE’s radar but forever reason he never signed with the company. Now, he’s married to a former Playboy Playmate and former WWE wrestler, Maria. I would have to think Bennett taking Maria’s last name is rib on Bennett. I really don’t believe that WWE has any interest in making Bennett a top act in the company.
The Power Of Love gimmick seems to be something that can get a good heel reaction. His feud with Sami Zayn hasn’t been met with much fanfare and as per usual, WWE has already started to book Bennett 50/50 with Zayn preventing him from getting any momentum. Bennett is someone that I’m not all that excited about having in the WWE. I don’t even think there’s a match I’d be all that interested in seeing. I’m hopeful that the character develops strong and they can make them the Smackdown version of Miz/Maryse, but they’d be in danger of being second rate and that never works out well.
What are your thoughts on Mike Kanelis entering WWE? Are you excited for his arrival and expect big things?
Thanks for reading.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.