The debate on whether the term “Diva” is hurtful to women wrestlers still cycles from time-to-time in the WWE universe. Diva Dirt’s Kristen Ashly got to speak to Maria Kanellis, who gave her thoughts on the term, and how she refuses to trade “Divas” for “Women”.
Kanellis has worked for Ring of Honor, Chikara, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and Impact, but her real home is with WWE.
Kanellis signed with the contract after placing fifth in 2004’s Diva Search, and was highly noted after giving Carmella DeCesare, another participant, the finger.
Kanellis would be assigned to Ohio Valley Wrestling, WWE’s developmental territory, before taking her place on the main rosters. While at Raw and SmackDown, Kanellis lost a filling when she was slapped by Trish Stratus, and participated in a lot of memorable matches, including several Diva Battle Royals.
Kanellis remembered her time in the Divas Division fondly, but recognized that a change was coming, and was needed and wanted.
“I am a fan of the Divas Championship. I will not pull punches because of that. Real change happened during the Divas Era. Because that’s when the early fights happened. That’s when you, as fans asked for change. Now the Women’s Wrestler Era is solidifying that change.
I just hope along the way we can be more that women’s wrestlers. We can be just talent.”
Though most of her time was spent as a heel manager to her now husband Mike Bennett, there were times when it was clear Kanellis was being used to promote a fantasy.
The wrestling veteran talked about how sex appeal and talent can go hand-in-hand.
“And the flip to that is I also want to be pretty, sexy, and a fantasy to another demographic. I want to entertain in that way.
It should not be all or nothing. I do not want to trade “Diva’s” for “Women’s”. I want it all. That’s the next fight.
But really, its already changing, so keep fighting. The hardest thing I’ve ever done in this business is ask the question of equality. To fight for it. Because you have to believe you are talented enough for it.”
Kanellis would add that generations of women in wrestling have fought, and are fighting, everyday for the equality and opportunities they deserve.
“My generation was, that is why we asked. The generations before were incredibly talented, too. That was a different time and they had even harder fights. The generations before asked for other things, like just getting on the posters. Seeing their names in lights. It’s a long fight. It takes every generation. And it takes, YOU, the fans.”
Kanellis, herself, took part in the Battle Royal at the very first all-women’s pay-per-view WWE Evolution, after returning to 205 Live to manage her husband, once again.
Finally, Kanellis commented on the wrestling fans who consider “Diva” still a dirty word in women’s wrestling.
“Just know that there are people that barely remember the Divas, except for it being a bad word. It’s not their fault. It’s just timing.”
Do you agree that “Diva” and “Women” can still exist hand-in-hand? Or do you think that “Diva” is still a term the wrestling universe shouldn’t use?