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Maria Kanellis shares early John Cena memories: ‘He was nervous and I was nervous’

Maria Kanellis-Bennett expresses her excitement to see how far WWE superstar John Cena has made it in Hollywood.

Maria Kanellis spent plenty of time with John Cena on the road and is thrilled to see how far the former WWE champion has made it in Hollywood.

Cena is in rare form, recently starring in The Suicide Squad, F9 and Vacation Friends, plus upcoming roles in the television spin-off Peacemaker and more. Kanellis got the main event rub when she headlined the Feb. 6, 2006 episode of WWE Raw, teaming up with Cena against Edge and Lita. There was also an on-screen romantic element to Kanellis and Cena’s storyline. Looking back at her time working with Cena, Kannelis is supremely proud to see the strides he is making in Hollywood.

“It’s crazy. John always had such motivation,” she tells Cageside Seats’ Shakiel Mahjouri. “I used to end up eating breakfast with him a lot on international tours because they would have like breakfast set up downstairs in hotels. I was always up early because I wasn’t a drinker. He was always up early because he was going to the gym. And so I ended up sitting down with him for breakfast. He’s just a lovely human and always so motivated. Thinking back to those first interviews when I know he was nervous and I was nervous because we were so young, just like figuring it out. To see him today, I’m just I’m really happy for him. I am.”

Reflecting on the Meltzer Driver bump she took for The Young Bucks during a previous ROH run. Kanellis says what she remembers more clearly is A.J. Styles’ foot clobbering her during a triple superkick.

“You know what? I don’t remember that so much. I remember the triple superkick,” Kanellis says. “For some reason, I still feel that because A.J. got me so good on the top of my head. His heel just got me and I went [acts as if she’s fainting]. Who knows the Bucks could have got me too. But just A.J. [hit me with his] heel.”

While Kanellis headlined WWE Raw with Cena, she also competed in outdated bra and panties matches. While the popular match type is now maligned by some, the former Playboy cover star took no issue with the matches.

“I was fine with it. I never had an issue with it,” she says. “I mean, sure, looking back at it, I’m like, ‘Wow, I did all that. OK, cool.’ But at the time I didn’t have a second thought about it. I was a bikini model. I came from the modelling world. So it was just one more thing that I was having a lot of fun doing. Was I pissed every time they were like, ‘Oh, your matches got cut down from eight minutes to two.’ Yes, I was pissed. But as far as those kind of matches, no, I just wanted to be taken more seriously when it came time to wrestle.”

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