The new signing made his debut alongside his wife and fashion consultant Maria Kanellis during TNA’s debut on Pop TV. This came after the two fulfilled their contractual obligations with Ring of Honor after a successful run in The Kingdom. Bennett, 30, recalled staying up at night thinking about their professional futures in December, and says they felt wanted by TNA.
“It was one of those things where it just felt right,” he said. “I know when Maria and I decided to leave Ring of Honor we were doing great and on top. It just felt better to leave on top than to slowly die like everything else. It’s human nature. It’s how things work. We felt it was time for a change. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do because I was leaving two of my friends, Adam Cole and Matt Taven. That sucked, and I hated it. But leaving felt like the right thing to do. At that time TNA was calling and saying they had these great ideas. Everything just felt right.”
“The Miracle” name also coincidentally fit perfectly: It was a moniker he used at age 16.
“I was talking to [creative team member] Dave Lagana, and he asked what I thought about the name ‘The Miracle,'” Bennett said. “He didn’t know the history and randomly thought of it. Sometimes fate has a way of sticking its head out. You just have to grab it. Then once he showed me the ideas for the vignettes, the wheels in my head started to spin about what I could bring to the character ‘The Miracle.’ It was going to be a different Mike Bennett than in Ring of Honor.”
Bennett’s vision for his fresh persona fell in line with the big movement and talk of free agents. He sees himself as a savior of sorts who can create momentum after making the proverbial impact. Bennett gathers inspiration from various sources in life and entertainment; the admitted Kid Rock fan appreciates the veteran musician’s confidence and swagger He also gets feedback from his better half.
“I trust Maria more than anybody else,” Bennett said. “I did a lot of study, watching old wrestling promos. I watched a lot of ‘Jake the Snake’ Roberts promos and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin promos. One promo that stood out was Chris Jericho, when he came to WWE. It was what we were going for, but with a different spin on it. I wanted to take that energy and make it my own. I think in wrestling we all take from the past and make it our own and continue on with it. ‘The Miracle’ vignettes were similar in a sense to the Y2J countdown, which worked out perfect.’”
The preparation paid off — Bennett and Kanellis pulled off one of the best introductions in TNA history.
“I have been wrestling for 15 years, so I’ve become extremely jaded,” he explained. “Not in a bad way — but I’m realistic. I take everything with a grain of salt. Everyone telling me they wanted to make this a big deal and something special. There is the thought in my head not to get too excited. Once we went out there, we felt that it was no joke. Then I watched it back and it came off better than I had hoped. To me it was awesome. It was great. From the production to the writing and everyone involved, we made it something special.”
A welcoming locker room has helped ease the transition, too. It didn’t hurt that he knew many on the roster from his travels on the road. Making the move to TNA even better is the fact he gets to enjoy the next phase of his career with Kanellis. They have enjoyed a successful relationship inside and outside the ring, which is impressive considering the track record of pro-wrestling romances.
“What has really made us work very well is we tell everyone we are not a ‘wrestling couple,’” Bennett said. “We are couple first, and professional wrestling happens to be our occupation. When you hear ‘wrestling couple’ the first thought is, ‘They aren’t going to survive. It’s not going to happen.’ We’re not a wrestling couple. What it really boils down to is respect: Her respect for my career and my respect for hers. And then it’s our collective respect for our respective careers. I’m fully aware of what she has accomplished and has done and where she is at. She is fully aware of where I’m at. I don’t have the line of thinking of, ‘Oh, all these people are asking for her autograph and not mine.’ That’s not what I am.
“She is this woman who has been at the top and on Celebrity Apprentice and been on television in front of millions and millions of households around the world. Collectively, it comes down to respect. I think she is probably my biggest inspiration in wrestling. I go to her for everything. I ask her about everything from wrestling moves to promo. People would be blown away with her wrestling knowledge. She is one of the smartest people I ever met.”
Bennett is also grateful to the former WWE diva for seeing something in him he may not have been able to bring out otherwise. The emerging talent even goes as far as to say Kanellis saved his career.”
“I literally started from the bottom six years ago,” Bennett said. “There were times I was trying to keep to myself. People were booing me because they were bored and because I felt they didn’t want to see me anymore. There were times I wanted to give up. Then I met her and the way she would pick apart my matches and promos and give me help. She told me I would be something special. I just had to change and adapt and stop being stuck in my ways. Once I did that, things turned around. Having her come into my life and show me who I could be and finally making steps toward that definitely was a difference-maker.”
The 30-year-old is getting good vibes as member of the TNA team as it launches its next chapter on Pop TV. ‘The Miracle’ already has big plans in mind working with the heavy-hitters of the company.
“I really think there is something special with me and EC3,” he said. “I think the fans want to see it. I can feel it with the crowds; sometimes you just know. The little interaction we had so far, all I’m thinking in my head is there is something special here. You younger guys who have somewhat of a name that TNA can make into household names. They have such a great feel right now. Pop is invested. TNA is invested. The guys are invested. I really think from a fan’s perspective you can’t not be excited.”
The congregation is already assembling in support of ‘The Miracle’ with service taking place Tuesday nights on Pop TV. Bennett and Kanellis are looking forward to a strong 2016, spreading their message and creating a buzz within the industry.
“Right now we are focusing on TNA and figuring out our life,” Bennett said.
“When you work for a company for six years you get into a routine how things work. Then when you go somewhere else you have to figure out how the schedule works. A lot of figuring out is what is going to put us in the best spot as wrestlers and entertainers. We are also focusing on real life issues such as paying bills, our relationship, house and all that stuff. That’s where our focus is now.”
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Photos Courtesy: TNA Entertainment