With news breaking that Santino Marella is retiring from the WWE as an active competitor, it gave me a chance to go back and consider what his legacy will be in the WWE. He did originally have a more “serious” character, when he came out of the stands to win the Intercontinental Championship from Umaga in Milan, Italy. It wasn’t much longer (roughly six weeks) until he dropped the title and made a short-lived heel turn.
The problem with Marella’s heel turn was that he was naturally charismatic and funny. He tried to mock Stone Cold Steve Austin around the time The Condemned came out, but he was doing it in his trademark broken English. This wasn’t Rusev-style broken English, this was slapstick — a parody — thought, they were expecting him to garner heel heat.
Once the crowd started enjoying his shtick, it was all gravy from there. The WWE has always (and will always) have a place for humorous characters. They can’t have 30 Randy Orton’s out there (nor can they have 30 of John Cena). Just like the world needs sanitation experts, professional wrestling needs the goofy character that keeps things light.
Take a look at this video of Santino and some of his funniest moments in the ring:
What’s next for Marella? He’s an ideal fit for a mouthpiece role. It could be as a commentator, a backstage interviewer or even as someone’s manager. The fact is — Marella was never more than average in the ring. His value has always been in his presentation and his charisma. Allowing him to serve as the general manager — think when Mick Foley did it — would be a great fit.
No matter what he does, the WWE would be best served to hold onto him. Kids seem to enjoy his work and he could be an overseas ambassador if they wanted to use him in that capacity.
Thanks for all the laughs, Santino. Here’s to hoping there’s a lot more to come.