Maria Kanellis is someone who likes to keep busy. She is the co-presenter of the post WWE Raw show on Afterbuzz TV, is booking the women’s matches at Crossfire Entertainment and is also valeting alongside her beau Mike Bennett as “The First Lady of Ring Of Honor“. However, all of those jobs do not require her to step into the ring. That void in her life was filled last night as she returned to in-ring action for the first time in a shade over two years at Family Wrestling Entertainment where she became the first ever FWE Women’s Champion – and she did it on her 30th birthday.
No doubt, Maria has a mind for wrestling. Though she came into the industry through the much-criticised WWE Diva Search back in 2004, she worked hard to understand how and why things happened, applied the knowledge and became a star in her own right. So popular in fact, that she won the fan-voted 2009 Diva Of The Year Slammy Award – much to the chagrin of WWE itself, who had not been pushing her on TV – but was quietly released from the company on February 26, 2010, one day after her 28th birthday. Her final match for the company was a loss alongside Matt Hardy and The Great Khali to the Hart Dynasty, comprised of Natalya, David Hart Smith and Tyson Kidd, broadcast on WWE Superstars the previous day.
Still, the former Playboy cover girl has projects outside of wrestling too. She released an EP – she even pointed out that one of the reasons why WWE let her go was because they would not allow her to pursue outside projects such as making music – was a hit on The Celebrity Apprentice, launched her own perfume, hosted a series of DVDs called Maria’s B-Movie Mayhem and also makes an acting debut next year. Like I said, she likes to keep busy.
Last night, Maria took part in a one-night, four women tournament to crown the first ever FWE Women’s Champion, with the other three talents being TNA Knockouts – Tara, Brooke Tessmacher and Winter. She outlasted them all to win the title, though it wasn’t without some shenanigans. PWInsider was on the scene, and with their report, we’ll break down the women’s action at FWE No Limits from St Paul’s Hall in New York City after the jump…
Winter v Tessmacher started the evening off in what was described as a “short but decent” opener. The former Knockouts champ took control early, but Tessmacher fought back with fast-paced offence before being cut off and worked over with chinlocks and chokes. Brooke fought her way into the match after Winter missed a corner charge, connecting with forearms, a Polish Hammer and the Stinkface, but a flying bodypress attempt was where she came unstuck – Winter caught her, delivered a gutbuster and scored the pin.
Tara sang Happy Birthday to Maria before their match, but then turned heel by attacking the birthday girl, and proceeded to work her over in the corner. Maria responded much like Tessmacher did in her match with Winter by using speed-based moves like armdrags and headscissors, with the action spilling to the floor, where Tara established herself as the true antagonist by ripping on New York on the microphone, then told Maria to smile as she beat on her back inside the ropes.
A double clothesline saw Maria mount a comeback by nailing some more clotheslines and a top rope bodypress for the near-fall, however Tara cut her off and earned a two with a TKO before going for the Widow’s Peak.
Here’s where it got weird.
Winter – also a heel – ran out and grabbed Tara’s leg as she went for the move, causing the two to have an argument. During the discussion, Maria recovered, rolled Tara up and scored the victory and advanced to the final to face Winter. One must presume that Winter preferred to wrestling Kanellis in the final rather than Tara, presuming that Maria would be more of a soft touch and she would have an easier time getting the win and claiming the championship.
In the final, Maria slapped Winter’s hand away after she offered it at the start of the match, with the less experienced Kanellis out-wrestling her opponent at the start, but was tripped from the outside after Winter escaped for a breather, and the Brit took over. Using chokes, chinlocks and cheap strikes, Winter wore down Maria and cut her off as she tried to fight back. But eventually, Kanellis had had enough, fighting back with forearms and clotheslines, but let her exuberance get the better of her, as a punching flurry in the corner saw her countered into a Snake Eyes.
At this moment, Tessmacher came out to distract the ref, and while that happened, Tara snuck back into the ring, nailed Winter with the Widow’s Peak – presumably signifying a face turn before the end of the show – while allowed Maria to get the three count and become the first FWE Women’s Champion.
– Lee Burton