WWE Superstar Mike Kanellis was recently interviewed by 411Mania to talk about several professional wrestling topics. During the show, Kanellis opened up about his struggles with addiction and making those struggles public, the dangers of being addicted to prescription medication, his current state, and advice for those struggling with the same.
Here are the highlights:
Going public with his addiction struggles: “You know, it’s interesting because it wasn’t an easy decision. But honestly, to me, the harder decision was coming clean to my wife and my family. Because those are the people that I basically lied to most of that time period. And so that was honestly the most difficult decision or the most difficult thing I had to do. And then I realized like, we — in wrestling in general, the wrestling industry can have such a negative connotation to it.
“And there’s so many negative stories. I wanted to use my voice and my platform to bring some sort of positive light. To be, you know, I didn’t want the correlation between wrestling and drug abuse. I wanted a positive thing. I wanted people to see. ’cause the guys I work with now are not like that anymore. It’s just a different time. It’s not like that at all. And I wanted people to see that we’re all family men women now, family men and women. We all have kids, we all live healthy lifestyles.”
“And Maria was like, ‘This is an important story to get out,’ because I have a voice, I have a platform. And with my social media following, I can use this to help people that might just be like, ‘Oh, well if Mike went through it, I can go through it.’ And I’ve had people tweet me and be like, ‘The Instagram you put out got a conversation between me and my wife, and now I’m going to rehab tomorrow.’
“And I’m just like, ‘Holy crap, this is bigger than a career. This is bigger than wrestling.’ It’s just using my name and my platform for a more positive influence, I think.”
The dangers of being addicted to prescription medication: “Yeah man, and I was just like that. I mean, people just assume it’s safe because like you said, a doctor gives it to you and you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s fine.’ Mine started when I dislocated my knee, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s incredibly painful.’ So here’s this to take care of it. And then it’s like, ‘Okay, my knee’s feeling better but well, crap.
“My back hurts now from the last match. So, ‘Oh you know, maybe I’ll take a couple more.’ And before you know it it just, you spiral out of control. But you never — we justify it to ourselves, because we’re like ‘Oh well, the doctor gave it to us, so there’s no way my doctor would steer me in the wrong direction.’ And so all of a sudden, you’re just like, ‘But the doctor prescribed it’ for your knee, and now you’re taking it because you have a headache, or you have a pulled muscle from a match.
“And then all of a sudden you just can’t stop. And I think especially nowadays, with everything that’s going on in this country, it’s very important to shed some light. And I want people to look at me and be like, ‘If he can do it, and now he can raise a family and travel the road, and do all this stuff, I can do it too.’ And that’s kind of what my message is. I want people to use me.
“And I have people message me, that I try to reach out to as many people as I can and tell them to direct message me. Because sometimes just telling someone, or just having a voice that you can bounce stuff off of, it helps so much.”
His current state: “I feel ten times — I never felt as good as I’ve felt right now. I watch back some of my matches, and then I watch myself now, and I’m like, ‘Oh geez.’ I move way better. I get up better, I fall down better. I feel like everything I do in the ring is just better. I feel like I’m more flexible, and that’s just, you know, I’m putting in the time now. I’m preparing myself.
“I think I took a lot for granted, and to be brutally honest I think I took a lot of my runs before in different companies for granted. And I always say this: getting to WWE and falling flat on my face was the best thing that ever happened to me. Because it really made me be like, ‘No, get your a** in gear. You have an opportunity here now that you worked 16 years for and you may never get it again.
“So get your a** in gear.’ And that’s all I’ve been doing. I’ve been studying tapes, I’ve been working my ass off at the gym, I’ve just been going, going, going.”
Advice for those struggling with the same: “You know what, honestly, I think that the thing to do is just don’t be afraid to talk to somebody. And don’t think you’re gonna get fixed overnight. I think the hardest thing that so many people go through is you say to yourself, ‘Well it took me this long to get addicted, so I can’t imagine how long it’s gonna take me to get over this.’
“And it’s so cliche that the whole, you know, everyone always says one day at a time, one day at a time. But if you’re just taking it baby steps, eventually it snowballs into something bigger. Because if we just look at the endgame, and this is the whole ‘process over outcome’ thing came for me. Because we always look at what our goal and what our endgame is. And when you look at that, it feels so incredibly far away and seems so incredibly unattainable.
“But if you just focus on what you’re doing day to day to get to that endgame, whether it’s a goal you’ve set for yourself in life, or a job, or a relationship or whatever, or whether it’s trying to get clean from an addiction. You focus on what you need to do that day. So for me, if I want to be considered the best wrestler in the world, what do I need to do today. All right, I’m not on the road with WWE today. So what can I do to better myself today. I can go to the gym, I can email ideas to this person and that person.
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