Santino Marella Talks Comedy In Wrestling, Creating The Cobra,& More

Santino Marella and Chris Van Vliet
Santino Marella and Chris Van Vliet

Santino Marella sat down with journalist Chris Van Vliet recently and discussed comedy in wrestling, the Cobra, and his work with Battle Arts now.

Santino Marella Interview Highlights

Santino Tells The Story Of Telling WWE He Could Speak Italian, Despite Not Really Speaking Much Italian:

“I get a phone call and it was Mike Bucci, who was Nova with ECW and he knew that my background – my Dad’s from Italy and Anthony Carelli is my real name – and he just called to see if I could speak Italian. I was Boris Alexiev, the Russian Fighter guy and when I used to work in downtown Toronto, I’d worked there for one year for a company called New Ad Media, you know the washroom ads? That company, in event marketing. So I’d be in rush hour traffic every morning for a year and I had a cassette, ‘Tourist Italian,’ I always wanted to speak better Italian so I would listen to this cassette and just it would play ‘click, other side click click’ and it’d be on in the background, sometimes I’d pay attention but it was always playing.

So when they called, Mike Bucci called and said ‘hey Boris, it’s Mike Bucci here, sitting here with some writers, can you speak Italian?’ and I’m like ‘yeah, sure’ and a month earlier Dusty Rhodes had called a guy who was playing a character named Fearless Jack Bull and said ‘Jack Bull, Dusty Rhodes, can you ride a motorcycle?’ and he goes ‘No’ because he thought someone was ribbing him because everyone does a Dusty impression, right? And he goes ‘Well, can you learn to ride a motorcycle?’ and he goes ‘No’ and he goes ‘Ok, well thank you very much for your time,’ and then he looks down on his phone and sees a 203 area code and has a coronary.

So they laughed about it, Dusty Rhodes came down to speak to OVW and said ‘If anybody ever asks if you can do anything, the answer is ‘yes’ and then you better learn how to do it.’ So, ‘Can you speak Italian?’ *ding* Dusty in my head, I say ‘Yeah,’ they say ‘Can you say some words for us?’ and I just repeated a couple of phrases from this tape that I would listen to and I believe it was ‘Voglio mezzo chilo di formaggio’ which means ‘I want a half kilo of cheese.’ Like the most random expression and then I said ‘My name is Anthony Carelli, where is the hotel?’ or something like that and then I could literally see them looking around at each other going, ‘sounded good, yeah, ok yeah that’s good, we’re going to fly you out tomorrow to Italy'”

On Having Longevity In WWE

“I was 5ft 10 and I debuted at 33 years old so I was kind of defying the odds, did not want to ruffle any feathers. Actually, the reason I think I had longevity with the company was because I was grateful from day one.  Yeah, I wanted to be a badass, I trained to be a badass, and I fought, I did worked shoots in Japan and in OVW I was stiff and a lot of judo, and that’s what I trained for but I was also capable of being this comedic character. So, it was an honor and a privilege to be Santino and after awhile it was just what I did, you know?”

On Debuting the Cobra on RAW

“I remember I went to RAW and Ricky Steamboat was my producer and he’s like ‘you’re going to go over tonight,’ I think it was against Heath Slater, ‘ Vince wants to see the Cobra.’ I was like ‘Vince knows about the Cobra?’ Because I only did it on live events. It was getting good reviews and the producers were writing down the audience is reacting, it’s funny.’  Later I found out that it was the perfect finisher, you can do it at any time, to any sized person, and then I saw another article recently how statistically speaking it’s one of the effective finishers of all time.”

On Possibly Going In The WWE Hall of Fame

“I do have a specific genre. So, as a comedic wrestler I can say yeah, I would see myself being in the Hall of Fame someday but not now. I guess it has to be more nostalgic, maybe down the road. But in general, I was never a heavyweight champion, I didn’t have WrestleMania single’s matches and that kind of stuff but for being a comedic wrestler, I can see it happening.”