Mike Bennett arrived in WWE in 2017 with the gimmick of an embarrassing wuss who – if you can wrap your head around this concept – loved his wife. He loved his wife so much that he even took her last name, debuting in the company as “Mike Kanellis” like some beta male. Pathetic.
A few months into his run, he and Maria announced they were expecting one baby for every victory Mike had earned (one). But just as the couple were poised to get *really* insufferable with their PDA and procreation, Maria was taken off TV. A few months after that, Mike checked into rehab for alcohol abuse.
He returned the next spring and was instantly put over by Mark Henry… in a manner of speaking.
Besides being elimination fodder in huge battle royals, WWE’s resident wife guy was relegated to the likes of Main Event and 205 Live for the next year.
And that’s when Bennett lived up to his old nickname, “Miracle”. In a move nobody saw coming, both Mike and Maria were signed to new five-year, $2.5-million contracts in June 2019.
Whether it was paranoia that the newly-formed AEW might sign the couple away, or just an irrational attempt to finally get a return on his investment after paying for their rehab and maternity leave, Vince secured the Kanellises until at least 2024.
Maria and Mike soon showed up on Raw to challenge the power couple of Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins. Or, as Maria put it, “Me and my bitch take on you and yours.” In what I’m sure was a coincidence, Paul Heyman had started as head writer for Raw that week.
In a mixed tag match that night, Seth Rollins had Maria’s b… better half well under control, even dragging him over to the Kanelliseses’ corner and puppeteering Mike into tagging his wife…
…at which point, Maria grabbed the mic to inveigh against her husband’s uselessness as both a housekeeper and a protector…
…before dropping the bombshell that she was pregnant again.
With Maria unable to participate in the mixed tag match, Mike was fair game for Women’s Champion Becky Lynch…
…who immediately made him tap out to the Disarm-Him.
After Lynch and Rollins’s victory celebration, Maria stuck around to really let her pathetic husband have it, incredulous that he could actually have fathered her children when he was less of a man than Becky Lynch. “So maybe the next time,” said Maria, “I’ll ask Becky to impregnate me.”
Disturbing visual aside, do you think WWE might have been angry at all with the Kanelliseseses for having another baby?
The next week, the only thing the couple was arguing about was who loved the other one more. But Maria interrupted the moment of marital bliss to demand that Mike fetch her some ice cream and pickles. I guess she figured he spent so much time in catering that he’d know whether they had any left.
After a brief spat or two about low-fat ice cream, Maria asked Mike whether he would impregnate her again if she weren’t already pregnant.
Of course he’d impregnate her, assured Mike, right then and there if he could (although Heyman didn’t hold enough sway to actually make this happen).
But Maria was clear that Mike would never impregnate her again. “In fact,” she continued. “I’m not so sure if you’re the one that impregnated me this time,” which is a terrible thing to say on so many different levels.
She should have said, “I’m not sure whether you’re the one who impregnated me this time.” Read Strunk and White, please.
Two things were clear from this segment:
1) WWE wanted to bury Mike Kanellis as thoroughly and in as many respects as possible, and
2) Paul Heyman wanted to set a Monday Night Raw record for most utterances of the word, “impregnate” in a single segment.
The next week, Maria was angry with Mike again. In fact, it says so right here on the Network:
In yet another of his failures as a husband, Mike had snuck out to a party backstage instead of rubbing lotion on Maria’s belly to prevent stretch marks.
Otherwise, she, the breadwinner of the household, could lose her modeling career, and loser Mike sure couldn’t support a family himself.
Keep in mind that Mike Bennett now says he didn’t feel that this angle was intended as punishment for, say, revealing Maria was pregnant immediately after they had both signed a lucrative long-term contract.
The plan, as Mike understood it, was for him to be humiliated for the next several months to gain sympathy, then redeem himself by the time Maria went on maternity leave… or while she was on maternity leave… or when she came back from maternity leave, maybe? The end game wasn’t exactly clear.
Maybe Paul Heyman did have Mike Bennett’s best interests at heart, but he’s still just a cog in the machine. At the end of the day (or, as it often happens, 7:59 PM on Monday), what ends up on TV is up to the notoriously fickle Vince McMahon.
Besides, if Mike ultimately was going to come out on top in this storyline, whom was he supposed to beat? His pregnant wife (at wrestling)?
No, he lost to her.
See, after a huge dog pile on 24/7 Champion R-Truth, Mike Kanellis was the guy who happened to come away with the belt…
…but Maria immediately ordered him to lie down and lose it to her. He had little choice, as she had threatened to kick Mike right in his vagina. No, seriously.
And he did.
Mike did win the belt back surreptitiously at a bogus OB/GYN appointment the next week…
…only to lose it immediately to R-Truth and never hold it again.
Then came the gender reveal party. Somehow, they managed to pack the room full of friends and well-wishers, despite Mike being a pathetic failure whom no one could ever love…
…and despite Maria being a domineering… word-she-called-Mike-backstage-with-Seth-and-Becky.
The first big reveal was that they were having a boy…
…and the second big reveal was that Mike wasn’t the father. Mike was stunned, somehow forgetting that Maria had already told him to his face weeks ago that she doubted he was even the father.
So who was the dad? Ricochet. The real-life superhero denied the accusation, but Mike was having none of it. For once, Mike Kanellis stood up for himself, challenging Ricochet to a match…
…and getting his ass kicked in under a minute.
But Ricochet, Maria then assured Mike, was not actually the father. She just hoped he would be a man for once, and he couldn’t even do that right. So who was the father?
Swole Freddie Mercury? I mean, Rusev?
This time, Mike gave up and refused to fight, instead congratulating the Bulgarian Brute and trying to run away. “This guy’s a loser,” said Cole. So great was his lack of respect for Mike Kanellis that he mispronounced his name for his entire run on Raw, calling him, “Ken-Alice”.
But Rusev wouldn’t let Mike Kanellis off the hook; he wanted to exact revenge on Mike for being married to the woman Rusev had impregnated.
“He’s a beta cuck,” said Corey Graves. I guess that made Rusev a cuck-socker.
After a long chase and beatdown, the bell rang, and Kanellis promptly tapped out, losing his second match in a single segment.
Rusev wouldn’t immediately dispel the rumor that he had fathered Maria’s baby…
…but the truth came out eventually that, no, Rusev hadn’t slept with Mike Kanellis’s wife, but his own wife was sleeping with Bobby Lashley. WWE couldn’t have two cuckolding storylines going on at once…
…so after Mike tapped out to Chad Gable in twenty seconds (and Corey Graves made an easy joke about his sexual stamina), he and Maria were taken off television once more.
To the surprise of no one, WWE had succeeded in making Mike Kanellis look like the most pathetic guy to walk the face of the earth, but then gave up on booking his redemption arc.
It’s sort of like how Chavo Guerrero lost to Hornswoggle over and over and over again, then finally showed compassion by defending the little guy against Chris Masters…
…but then reverted right back to being a bumbling heel once Vince discovered Masters could do the pec pop.
Soon after, Mike publicly asked in vain for his release, but WWE had other plans for him.
In March 2020, he wrestled a handful of matches on 205 Live, but it wasn’t long before WWE at long last made Mike Kanellis’s dream a reality.
The dream of being released from his contract, that is. WWE needed to make their numbers look good during the COVID-19 pandemic, so they fired dozens of employees and contracted talent. They even fired his wife Maria, who had just given birth. Talk about bringing families together!
So is Mike Kanellis (né Bennett) the biggest loser you’ve ever seen? Well, he did get paid six figures to spend time with his wife, take parental leave, and get sober, all in exchange for performing in some dumb TV scenes that barely even made WWE any money.
Sounds to me like WWE’s the real beta cuck.