Playboy.com's WWE Diva Week: Maria Kanellis

By Playboy.com Staff

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Playboy.com's WWE Diva week concludes today with the 2007 photo shoot and interview with diva Maria Kanellis, fan favorite and stone cold fox.


The celebration of RAW’s 20th Anniversary continues with WWE Diva Maria Kanellis' 2007 pictorial. To catch up on Playboy.com's WWE Diva week, in which we’ve brought back such famous Playboy photos and interviews with Chyna, Torrie Wilson and Christy Hemme, click here. 

This one’s my favorite: Marla Kanellis says, pulling aside her tight jacket to reveal a small brown dot on a gorgeous shoulder. The WWE RAW star is talking about the freckles sprinkled all over her body — and the games people play with them. ‘Every single time, a guy will say he’d like to connect the dots,“ she explains with a mischievous grin. “How adorable is that?”

As the auburn-haired beauty pulls her jacket back on, we wonder aloud how long a session of connect-the-dots would last. “It depends on the evening,” she says coyly. “We could get at least two hours out of it, but all night long would work too.”

Maria is World Wrestling Entertainment’s kinder, gentler star — sort of. Onstage the 26-year-old’s sweet temperament and girlie-girl looks make her a fan favorite, but she has yet to win a title fight, and she’s taken a few hard knacks from bigger, badder wrestlers. “I’m still getting my butt whupped,” she allows, "and still learning. My next goal is to become the women’s champion, even if only for a day.” An intense look sweeps over her face. The girlie-girl thing goes only so far.

Today Maria is visiting WWE’s New York outpost in midtown Manhattan, causing a commotion the instant she enters the elevator. In some paral­lel universe her attire may be work-appropriate. After all, she’s wearing a fitted jacket, tailored black pants and high-heeled pumps that could conceivably hang in an executive’s closet (if the executive were really hot). But the corporate look is subverted by Maria’s revealing bodice and single black lace glove.

Wrestling fans met the Illinois native in 2004, during the RAW Diva Search competition. Soon she was backstage, interviewing RAW wrestlers in her cute and clueless style. (Note: the hot but ditzy act? Don’t buy it. More on that later.) But what Maria really wanted was to wrestle, so she spent one and half years in Kentucky, working on her chops (and drops and kicks). The process of learning how to “whup butt,” as she puts it, looks a lot like getting your butt whupped. Blood and bruises are common. If you can’t bear to see your pretty face out of joint, ladies, wrestling’s not for you.

Maria whips out her iPhone to show us a photo of herself sporting a very bloody lip. “I landed face-first while wrestling Beth Phoenix. The crowd thought I might win that one,” she sighs. “I thought so too. Didn’t happen.”

Read the rest of Maria’s interview on Page 2.

When Maria takes the stage for WWE RAW it’s to the tune of Zebrahead’s “With Legs Like That.” With her red-tinged hair tousled, green flecked eyes pleading and pert lips always slightly apart, she seems larger than her lean five-foot-seven frame. And though she looks almost fragile next to other WWE women, there is no doubt this girl can take care of herself.

The source of her beauty is hard to place until Maria describes her background as “half Greek, half hillbilly,” she says with that irresistible grin, “I’m a little Grecian goddess hillbilly.” She grew up in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Ottawa, Illinois. She says her dad possesses a “Greek temper” that can manifest itself when “fans show up at my parents’ house and he answers the door with a shotgun, just like when I was in high school.” Growing up, she was known as a lead foot. “In high school I drove a 1994 Camaro Z28 with a stick shift. It was a sassy grass green, and it invited attention. I got stopped nine times,” she says, batting her eyes, “But I got off eight.”

Her enthusiasm for cars remains unabated: “I got an Ashton Martin Vanquish up to over 100 miles an hour on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive.” She’s especially fond of Dodge Vipers. “They’re mean,” she says, “which is why I like them. They’re sort of like that bitchy girl you just gotta love.”

Maria lives outside Chicago, but she’s on the road 300 days a year, hitting arenas around the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. Last December she made her second visit to Iraq with the WWE. She has also been to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Her younger brother served in Iraq. “We have a lot more stuff to talk about now,” she says.

It’s impossible not to note the contrast between Maria’s bumbling TV persona and her steady focus in real life. No hair twirling, super quick with a comeback – she’s hardly the ditzy chick she plays on TV. Maria grins knowingly, “Everybody has ditzy moments,” she says, “and it’s a play on that. But you can fake a lot of stuff when you act like you don’t know better. Girls do it all the time.”

Nor is she high maintenance. Her lone requirements are Starbucks and a gym. She’s happier with her body today than ever. “Appearing in Playboy is my little party to myself for becoming a woman,” she says. “I’m not a little girl anymore. I’m going to do what I believe rather than what somebody else says I should.”

Here’s something we’ve always wondered: Do female wrestlers have catfights off-screen? “Actually, I work with the most extraordinary women in the world,” she says, “strong, unique and gorgeous. And they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty.” Considering what they wear in the ring – and what gets torn off – how do they avoid wardrobe malfunctions? “Boob tape!” she trills. “Our secret. The Tiggers are crazy sometimes. Mine are all-natural, so they move around a lot.”

Tiggers?

Huge grin. “I call my boobs Tiggers because they bounce and bounce and bounce.” Then she demonstrates, bouncing in her chair. “Hey, Tiggers!”

On the WWE website, Maria writes a column about the seven dos and don’ts of fashion. She’s game when we ask her to apply the idea to romance.

How should a guy approach her? “Do give me your name and be genuine. Don’t give me a line. Don’t say: Nice shoes. Wanna fuck?’” She pauses. “Though I might laugh. It depends on how serious you are. Give me a good joke and I’ll talk to you all night long.”

What should a guy wear on a date with Maria? “Do wear a belt and shoes that match and jeans that fit your butt. Don’t wear white socks – unless that’s all you’re wearing.” She laughs suggestively.

And if a guy should find himself, shall we say, in the ring with her? “Do go behind,” she says with a hearty laugh. “Hair pulling is good, biting is fine, but don’t make me feel stupid. If you’re better at something, that’s cool – teach me.”

On March 30 expect to see Maria on pay-per-view in WrestleMania XXIV in front of 70,000 fans in Orlando’s Citrus Bowl. “I’m really hoping to have a title match,” she says. “I’ve never won one. That’s okay. You’ll see. I want to win a title.” Fierce grin. “You’ll see.”


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