Maria Kanellis sees a lot of WWE legend Lita in AEW star Ruby Soho

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Former WWE and current Ring of Honor (ROH) star Maria Kanellis (Picture: Ring of Honor/Mike Adams)

Maria is a big fan (Picture: Ring of Honor/Mike Adams)

Maria Kanellis has heaped praise on new AEW signing Ruby Soho and compared her to WWE legend Lita.

The Ring of Honor star, whose Women’s Championship Tournament comes to a head this Sunday (September 12) at Death Before Dishonor XVIII, admitted she sees a lot of the iconic Hall of Famer in Ruby and she had similar feelings watching Lita for the first time.

She exclusively told Metro.co.uk: ‘Ruby, seeing her come out just reminded me of how cool I thought wrestling was when I was in high school. It reminded me of watching Lita. And Lita would come out and I always thought to myself, “I wanna be just like that!”

‘And when Ruby came out it was like, yeah, I wanna be just like that! I wanna be as cool as she is!’

Maria first met Ruby – known as Ruby Riott during her run with WWE before she was released a few months ago – in Beyond Wrestling, and she’s loved seeing the rising star ‘coming into her own’.

It’s an amazing time for the wrestling business, with AEW making waves after signing Soho, CM Punk, Bryan Danielson (formerly Daniel Bryan) and Adam Cole in recent weeks, while Maria’s own work with ROH’s expanding women’s division also helping reignite her passion.

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All Elite Wrestling (AEW) star Ruby Soho (Riott) makes her debut at All Out

Ruby recently debuted at All Out (Picture: AEW)

WWE legend Lita

Maria is reminded of Lita (Picture: WWE)

‘Not for me personally to get in the ring, but to be a part of it, and to be a part of this wrestling industry. There’s so many good people in it and it’s so exciting right now,’ she smiled.

‘To see all these things happening in the last few weeks and then to watch Rok-C and Miranda [Alize] really grow as wrestlers and performers and really cement themselves in the Ring of Honor locker room.

‘It’s been fun for me to see and it has reignited so many passions that I had before.’

Sunday’s ROH pay-per-view sees Rok-C and Miranda battle to crown the inaugural ROH Women’s World Champion, but it also features a bout pitting Maria’s husband Mike Bennett and his partner Matt Taven against The Briscoes.

Bennett has enjoyed a real career rejuvenation since rejoining ROH last year, and his wife has loved seeing him thrive.

Former WWE and current Ring of Honor start Mike Bennett

Maria is so proud of her husband Mike Bennett (Picture: Ring of Honor/Mike Adams)

‘He was always the entertainment wrestler and now all he wants to do is pure matches. I’m like, can your body even move in that position?! Now, he has these matches with [Jonathan Gresham] and Tracy [Williams], going out and doing all these incredible indie matches,’ she beamed.

‘It’s so funny, watching the PWI 500 came out – and that’s a big deal! I think Mike was 300 or something like that, but he was noted in four other guys’ matches that were above him. “They’ve had notable matches with Mike Bennett”, or “They had a great match with Mike Bennett at this company”.

‘So even though Mike is still building his credibility and name back up, I really feel like he’s an essentially part of wrestling community. I see big things for him coming up!’

Both of them have found a home back in ROH after a difficult time being released from WWE early in the pandemic, and she feels like she’s found the right role for her at this stage of her career as the head of the division.

‘When I talked to Ring of Honor and they offered me this position, this is more in line with me now,’ she explained. ‘I’ve been in the industry for 17 years now – I don’t wanna go out there in my underwear anymore and dance around, that’s not what I wanna do!

‘It was great for the time and I learned a lot along the way but at the same time, I feel like this role is much better suited for me as a 39-year-old mom of two kids.’

Regardless of her changing position in the industry over the years, there has been one constant which has been Maria’s desire to please people wrong – and that fire is still burning.

‘People tell me I can’t do something and I’m like, “What?! I can’t do it?! Let me just ram this down your throat that I can do it!” I am angry every day,’ she said.

‘I have always been like that, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing as long as you can find a way to harness that anger or harness that motivation.

‘So, that’s what drives me. And now I have two beautiful children that everyone said I couldn’t have because I am a wrestler. So, now I wanna prove that, yes, I can have them and provide a beautiful life for them.’

*Watch Ring of Honor: Death Before Dishonor XVIII this Sunday (September 12) on Fite TV.

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