Mike Bennett wrestled all over the world with that name prior to entering WWE. Then Vince McMahon’s company gave him the same last name as his wife. This would have been an issue for some people, but Mike Kanellis understood the situation.
Bennett, who has since returned to ROH, spoke to Wrestling Epicenter about WWE switching up his name. It didn’t bother him at first, but then he started to draw heat for being “less of a man.”
He has come to the conclusion that it was probably a jab at him, but he has also learned to get over that as well.
“At first, it didn’t really bother me. I looked at it like, ‘Alright, this is going to be a way to draw heat or to get people upset with me.’ Like, ‘Oh my God, if you take your wife’s last name, you’re less of a man!’ But I didn’t mind the name Kanellis at first.”
“As I’ve gone past it, I would say it was done because there was a perception that I wasn’t man enough or I wasn’t tough enough because I was always tied to my wife. So, as I’ve gone past it, I’ve realized it probably was a jab at me. But it didn’t really bother me. I’m a professional wrestler. I wear underwear for a living [laughs]. It is not going to bother me if you tell me my last name is Kanellis. I’ve done way worse!”
Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis are both back with ROH now, and they have their own names as well. Bennett is currently injured, but he still has a lot to prove. He intends on doing a lot more in the company where his return felt like a homecoming.
WWE can have many reasons for changing up a Superstar’s name. Mike Bennett was okay with taking his wife’s name for a while, because it really could have been a lot worse.
Thanks to Wrestling Inc for the quote