On Sunday night at the non-televised WWE live event in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, longtime WWE mid-card comedy figure Santino Marella (Anthony Carelli) announced his retirement from the sport.
Santino revealed that he is currently dealing with a third serious neck injury and as he enters his 40s, has decided that it’s time to hang up his Cobra-designed sock for good.
Anthony Carelli debuted on the WWE main roster with the gimmick name of “Santino Marella” during the April 16, 2007 edition of RAW in Milan, Italy.
Marella, whose name was a tribute to the late Robert “Gorilla Monsoon” Marella, was selected by Vince McMahon from the crowd to face WWE Intercontinental Champion Umaga. Marella would go on to win the match in a major upset, thanks large in part due to an assist from Bobby Lashley, and would capture the I-C strap his first night in the company.
Santino had some early championship-level success in WWE, including two runs as Intercontinental Champion, a solo run as United States Champion and one run as one-half of the Tag-Team Champions alongside tag-partner at the time, Vladimir Kozlov.
After his early run in WWE, the Santino character gradually morphed into a comedic persona, one that captured the hearts of WWE fans across the globe. Many WWE Superstars in the past have been stuck with lame comedy gimmick-characters, most of which would be about as unfunny as you could imagine, however with Santino, things were different.
Santino seemed to be based off of the character Jack Black portrayed in the film, “Nacho Libre,” which was a Lucha Libre-based comedy from the mind of the man who brought you the “Napolean Dynamite” film.
And he made it work.
Many would have taken that character and most likely have it run its’ course within a year — tops. Not Santino.
Santino got more mileage out of his goofy character than almost anyone else who would have been put in that spot could have hoped for. There was just something about his style of comedy that didn’t come off as typical, lame WWE-style comedy.
The dude was actually really funny.
Outside of his humor, Santino was actually an underrated talent in the ring. It may have been due to the fact that as his style progressed as the Santino character took off, that the majority of his usual spots in matches were blatant comedy spots. Regardless, the dude could go in the ring and was said to be respected by his peers for having that kind of talent.
In recent months, Santino had been paired with a NXT Diva who was called up to the main roster known as “Emma.” The story line was that Santino was in love with this goofy girl, and she was basically oblivious to that fact. It resulted in some funny moments, but ultimately wasn’t going anywhere.
His female partner-in-crime made headlines last week after she was arrested for shoplifting an iPad mini-case at Wal-Mart in Hartford, Connecticut, prior to that evening’s RAW. This incident led to her release, although in a surprising turn of events, the WWE Diva was re-hired just hours later.
While she has yet to appear on WWE television since the incident, despite having her job back, she will only be featured on television if the creative team comes up with something for her, as up until now, she had only really worked mixed-tag matches with Santino, or one-on-one Diva matches with Santino at ringside.
As Santino rides off into the sunset, he is likely going to enter the world of mixed martial arts on some level, as he is the owner of a beautiful MMA facility in Canada. He has claimed to have some MMA fighting experience in the past, although his name doesn’t come up in any of the major MMA databases, such as Sherdog.com’s “Fight Finder.” Either way, he has a definite love of the sport and looks to switch his focus into running his gym.
It goes without saying that Santino will be missed. Just because WWE’s best comedy character is calling it quits doesn’t mean WWE will give up on attempting to do comedy. With the most talented comedic performer on the roster hanging up his wrestling singlet, it’s going to be painful to endure whomever takes over his role as the resident comedy character in the company, as it’s almost a guarantee that they won’t be nearly as funny or talented as the master of “The Cobra.”
Thanks for the laughs, Santino!
What are your thoughts on Santino Marella’s WWE run and retirement announcement from Sunday night in Toronto? Leave your feedback in the “Comments” section below. You can also hit me up on Facebook at Facebook.com/MattBooneWZR and/or on Twitter @MBoone420.