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May 30, 2008

Q&A with Santino Marella

I’ve been interviewing pro wrestlers for well over a decade, and almost every one has been a “shoot.” Yesterday, however, I conducted a phone interview with Santino Marella, and it was one of the rare occasions when the subject did the entire interview in character. From the moment he greeted me in his exaggerated Italian accent, I knew I was in store for a fun conversation. Just keep in mind as you’re reading his responses that he is saying it in his “Santino Marella voice.”

I’m a big fan of Santino’s Casa on Do you pick the topics for the segment? And do you write the material or do you collaborate with writers?

I don’t pick the topics. I work with some writers, but we work together and they give me some freedom.

Has there been any talk of you bringing Santino’s Casa to TV as a regular segment?

There are some – what do you call it? – preliminary talks, but I guess they they want to see how the Casa develops and evolves, and maybe one day you’re going to see Santino’s Pit or something.


Speaking of Santino’s Pit, what it’s been like working with Roddy Piper, and what’s going to happen with this Cousin Sal?

You see, I was a Hulkamaniac growing up, so I know what Rodney the Piper is capable of, OK? And I was also a fan of Mr. T. So, although I respect Roddy Piper for his legendary accomplishments, he’s always been on the other side of the court, so to speak. Now, this Cousin Loser Sal – is this a joke for me? I’m a world class athlete. I beat Umaga in the past. This guy is like swatting a mosquito. But I’m not going to knock him off quickly or make him submit quickly. This is absolutely a lesson. I’m sending a lesson to Hollywood: You stay there, and we are going stay here and come there! Basically, this is going to be legal torture. He’s going to have to change his panties when I’m finished.

You obviously have great comedic timing. Do you have any background in comedy or are you just naturally funny?

People always told me when I was growing up that, “You are so funny person; you should be in movies and comedy and all this.” When the teacher in class tells you to stop being a class clown, there’s no job for this – ha, I guess there is.

I know that you have an MMA background and that you did a shootfighter gimmick when you were in developmental. Was it hard to make the transition from that type of character to a comedic character?

Not really, because there is a dichotomy within Santino Marella. Santino Marella can pretty much destroy anyone he meets. But there’s also that comedy component. So, at this particular time, I’m doing this component. Hopefully, one day the two can become one, and then I’ll be more dangerous. I’ll still be entertaining and pretty much be the best thing ever next to sliced bread – and I don’t mean Brian Kendrick’s finishing move. Because that’s called Sliced Bread – did you know that?

Sliced Bread No. 2, right?

Oh, it’s No. 2? Maybe you know more than me (laughs).

You mentioned your character becoming more dangerous. Do you really see that happening? Because I think the character would be more over if the character was more of a threat in the ring.

I think that’s just a natural evolution, because the more popular a character becomes, people want to see him competing for something worth competing for. In order to do that, they must allow my real ability to choke people, armlock people, leglock people and smash people on their heads. It must – this is a good word – permeate through the character. You like that word – permeate?

Yes, that’s a good word. Luckily, I have my dictionary here. Looking back at your WWE debut, it seemed like the idea was to create an instant babyface star with your win over Umaga. Why do you think that didn’t really get over?

Let me put it to you this way, Kevin. People like chocolate bars, right? What’s your favorite chocolate bar?

Uh, I guess I’m partial to Snickers.

OK, so I say to you, “Kevin, wake up, time to eat a Snickers. Oh, you like it? Have another Snickers, Kevin. Hey, don’t slow down with those Snickers – have three more.” Kevin, how long is it going to take before you don’t like Snickers?

I guess I’d get sick of them pretty quickly.

There you go. You can’t force-feed somebody. They must desire Snickers. Currently, you like Snickers because it’s your choice to go eat one. So now that Santino Marella is people’s choice to go indulge in him, it’s more popular.

I think you had the best gimmick in the company – being paired up with Maria. What was it like working with her?

Maria was a very nice chapter. We appreciate the opportunity to be together; we had lots of fun. She has very soft skin and smells nice. But, at the end of the day, Maria is just a chick. You know, I love Maria, but for people like me – I’m not sure about you, Kevin – they come and go like nothing. I am the true meaning of international playboy.

Can you talk about the infamous incident in which Jim Cornette slapped you because he thought you were laughing at an inappropriate time when you were in OVW?

Jim Cornette is a loser. Jim Cornette is an insecure person. And controversy creates cash, so maybe one day, Jim Cornette, I’m going to wrap that cheap tennis racquet around you neck. I’d like to have a cage match with Jim Cornette. I’ll put that out on the Worldwide Web right now. Jim Cornette is a misunderstanding person. Look, I’m watching wrestling in the audience – make it very clear – just in the audience. My daughter is sitting in front of me. Boogeyman turns to us, [and] I think, “OK, he’s going to do me a favor because maybe he knows I’m a student in this OVW school, so he’s going to scare my daughter for me, and treat my daughter to an experience.” So I’m happy. If your daughter is going to get an experience like this, you’re going to be happy as a father, right?

Sure, I would be.

Of course, there you go. So you are just as guilty as me then, Kevin, so Jim Cornette would have slapped you, too. Do you deserve it? No, because you are a good person. So anyway, this loser took advantage of a situation because he knew I would not hit him back because I was a student. He freaked out and he slapped me several times. I did nothing because I think to myself: “I am not American citizen. I don’t have green card. If I punch this guy, shatter his face the way my punches can actually do, then I’m going to be kicked out of the country.” You can’t just show up somewhere and start breaking skulls, Kevin. It doesn’t work like that. But now that I’m in a position to challenge him to a cage match, I make an official challenge to Jim Cornette for the first time, right now, right here.

OK, we’ll see if he answers.

Of course not. He’s a coward, Kevin.

You have a pretty interesting story as to how you got into pro wrestling. Can you talk about that?

I was under the understanding that you go to Japan, and you do good and then people notice you and bring you to America. So I went there with my vast judo background and my fighting ability. I have to really stress that I am a very, very serious fighter – it’s not comedy. So, I go there and I beat up lots of people, things are going great. I’m doing MMA and working for a good company called Battlearts. I don’t realize that you have to leave the country every 90 days. So, I made one mistake. I don’t leave the country for 94 days, and they say, “I’m sorry. You can’t come back.” At first it was for five years, but the law changed and it was for one year. So, here you are a young man, all the talent in the galaxy, trying to make it in this business and all of a sudden your plans just do a 180-degree turn. So, I have to reformulate my game plan, and we went to United States for school and it worked out pretty good.

There is more of an MMA influence in pro wrestling these days. Do you see the business continuing to move in that direction?

As a business, no. Some of the in-ring techniques? Probably. I saw one match where CM Punk was fighting like from the guard. It’s happening. The more it does, the better for me, because that’s where I come from.

The One Night Stand pay-per-view show is coming up Sunday. You aren’t on that show, correct?

Currently, I am actually not booked for that show. But I will be watching that show very carefully because there are some matches that are of particular interest to me, namely Randy Orton and Triple H. It’s no mistake that Randy Orton is my friend. So the more power he has, the better for Santino Marella. There’s just going to be some good fights. I want to see the girls. That’s going to be a good one, too.

Santino, I can honestly say this is one of the most entertaining interviews I’ve ever done.

Thank you, Kevin. It was a real pleasure for you to talk to me.

Photo courtesy of WWE

Posted by Kevin Eck at 6:02 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Q&As


I'm sure a HHH-Santino feud will happen any day now.

"You like that word – permeate?"
Every time he ended his line with a question, his funny accent came to my mind. Great interview Kev!

This is the total opposite of a Scott Steiner interview where it needs to be transcribed to text in order to understand what he's saying. I wish this was available in audio. Hell, video while we're at it!

Good stuff and watch out for Cornette.

One of the great mysteries to me is, how the holy hell did Santino Marella get a WWE contract? And it seems that he got it through very under handed means.

Now most of us who actually pay attention, are aware of a little incidient where Jim Cornette slapped the taste out of one of HIS students mouth at an Ohio Valley Wrestling show. That student was Anthony Carelli, the man we know as Santino Marella. Mr. Carelli did not, I repeat, did NOT have a WWE contract of any kind prior to making an unforgivble mistake during an angle involving Marty 'The Boogyman' Wright. So Cornette did what was done at lot of wrestling schools, and took things with an old school approach, which was to beat a lesson into someone. That's right, a 50+ year old man slapped the man we know as Santino around.

Now, Jim Cornette was fired from his position as a consultant from the WWE, but because he co-owned OVW, the WWE asked him to step aside, which was basically a paid vacation so they could put Paul Heyman in charge (and boy did he screw things up royally down there with his hide the mistakes approach)

So how does all this tie to Mr. Carelli getting a WWE contract? Well the head of talent at the time is a real 'Dynamic Dude' who lied to Cornette and OVW about an apperance of Randy Orton, John Laurinaits (From what I understand, Laurinaits tried to blame Tommy Dreamer for his own mistake). Because the WWE had a contract with OVW, they could sign any of OVW's students to a contract and Carelli was signed and Laurinanits and the WWE got Cornette out of OVW (Which was never owned by the WWE and was contracted only to give the WWE talent a place to learn).

But regardless, Santino Marella got a contract at the expense Jim Cornette. Santino did not get signed based on his ability, cause heavens knows he makes Bruno Sammartino look like Ricky Steamboat.

Okay that was pretty entertaining. I actually like him a bit more after reading the interview than from watching RAW.
(I can't believe I wrote that)

All due respect to you Kev , I'd rather read a Steiner snipet than a full interview with Santano, Santino , ... whatever . No knock meant on you big guy :)

@ fred ortiz //

"But regardless, Santino Marella got a contract at the expense Jim Cornette. Santino did not get signed based on his ability, cause heavens knows he makes Bruno Sammartino look like Ricky Steamboat. "

Who the hell cares?? Dude, you should spend more time doing valuable stuff in life instead of writing things like you just wrote in your loooon, dull, pointless post. That way, you would be doing something that actually has a point. Because frankly, nobody cares about what you wrote.

It's not like somebody's gonna fire the guy just because you said he got his job for getting slapped by cornette, right?
I'm not saying you shouldn't write comments here, you should. But why write something like that?


Kevin , just a random observation not to be taken too seriously , but today ( Friday ) , I as a TNA fan feel a bit slighted with the timing of the posting of this interview . I may not be the only TNA fan that feels this way .
On Friday mornings we look forward to "our'" little bit of the limelight as it is the morning after broadcast . Yet today we log on and get a Tito Santana , er, Santino Marella (that was for us old-timers) interview .
I could understand if it was one of your boyz HBK or HHH . (How 'bout a HBK rebuttal to Steiner ?? ) .
I'm the first to admit , and I'm sure many TNA fans in their heart of hearts would agree WWE puts on a better show , has more talent etc . BUT we like our brand of wrestling . Some people like red . Some people like green .
I'm sure it's just my over-reaction ... or your cable went out again :)

Fred Ortiz, quit being a wannabe insider. All the stuff you posted is from dirt sheets and rumour mills, try going outside and getting a life, loser.

Santino's a hoot! Very good on the mike on Raw/ I hope he continues to gain some momentum.

Kevin , here's a suggestion for an interview - Traci Brooks . You know of course it would be to promote women in the business , you know . Now that's one I'd like to see ... I mean read . you know .

To all those having a go at Kev for this blog entry should take stock. With Hogan and Steiner recently it has been a bit serious and the right call to put up Q&A with arguably the funniest guy in Sports Entertainment lighten the load. Good timing or coincidence. Either way it made me laugh and I will never tire of 'Rodney the Piper'!!

anthony carelli aka santino marella does not have a wwe contract.

he is still an indy wrestler but wwe book him on a weekly basis.

Santino is the best, along with Jericho, Edge, Regal (well, was...), Melina, and Victoria are easily the only things that make WWE tolerable right now.

Give me a 20 minute Santino interview over a 20 minute Orton-HHH "face off" segment any day!

I'd be happy to see the day Santino becomes a main-eventer.

First, I would like to know how this moron gets a WWE contract. Wait this is the cartoon world of wrestling. I understand now.
Secondly, I love how this moron has the nerve to challenge Cornette. Cornette has underwear that is older then this moron. You know what big man you need to challenge someone more your age.
I don't know how anyone can stand to watch this moron or anyone else in the WWE. Jim Cornette has more class than RAW, SD and ECW talent combined. These goofs would not have made in the "Ole School" days.

Cornette slapped Santino only because he knew Santino couldn't hit him back. You're right, in the "ole school" days Santino would have flat knocked Cornette out, but he's a professional and handled it as such. Look I'm a big Cornette fan, but to say the man has class is a joke. He's a hot-headed wannabe bully, and he was fired because of it.

If you don't at least smile every time you hear "Rodney the Piper", you are a bitter, bitter person and I pray for you.

See also: "KYJ" and "Open a can of @$$ whip"

The "Ole School Days". What decade are you stuck in? If Cornette is that much of a class act...why is he in TNA? Last I checked WWE wished they never got rid of him because of between Russo, Jarrett (WWE rejects), and his advice they are currently the ratings kings...behind the hit show...A.M. RAW!

Jim Cornette is a waste of space i hate the man he cant act he dont no anything about wrestling he reminds me of teddy long against all the heels in the buisness tyring to screw them over but out of wrestling he a complete loser slapping a man in from of his daughter what kinda man is he if you can even call him a man and someone said he is old school thats what would have happened in the old school days you dont see undertaker hbk hhh slapping guys around they help the new guys not slap them around

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
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