Ring of Honor’s comeback following its acquisition by Tony Khan, owner of AEW, has been genuinely remarkable. The weekly episodes that air on HonorClub on Thursdays have been crucial in promoting fresh talent as well as highlighting established favorites in the wrestling world. This week’s program does this with a scheduled 6-man tag bout between The Infantry, with Trish Adora as a new addition, against The Kingdom, with Maria Kanellis Bennett. Yes, you read it correctly: THE Maria Kanellis is returning to the ring!
Let’s take a step back and look at Maria Kanellis’s career if you don’t know who she is. Maria made her professional wrestling debut in 2004 when she competed in the Raw Divas Search. Despite the fact that she did not win the search, she was hired by WWE. Her career took off after she began contributing to and performing in Ohio Valley Wrestling. During that time, she worked as a backstage interviewer and wrestled in a variety of matches, including a spite match against Kurt Angle. The time spent in the WWE came to an end in 2005.
Her second wrestling gig was with Ring of Honor, where she gained the moniker “The First Lady of Ring of Honor.” Maria would live up to this moniker not only in the ring, but also in her numerous contributions to both the writer’s room and the locker room. This contract with Ring of Honor expired in 2015.
After 2015, there was a run in TNA/Impact from 2015-2017 where she did, at one point hold the Knockouts Championship. Once Maria departed TNA, she was briefly back in WWE appearing on both Smackdown and 205 Live. The last time Maria wrestled was in 2019 where her and her husband Mike Bennett were defeated by Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins on an episode of Monday Night Raw. In April 2022, Maria went on to found Women’s Wrestling Army, an independent all women’s wrestling promotion.
With the rebranding of Ring of Honor, Maria has reclaimed her position as ROH’s First Lady. She’ll show us this week if she’s still got it in the ring. Will you be tuning in to see the action?!