February 4, 2008
La Vita Ť Bella for Santino
By KENAI ANDREWS - SLAM! Wrestling
At the World Wrestling Entertainment Fan Axxess Tour, Santino Marella comfortably soaked in the adulation of the crowd, and welcomed them with a humorous promo before signing autographs in a special two-hour session.
It was a performance that prompted tour manager Hillbilly Jim to joke, "I think many of the fans here are Santinoís relatives."
Santino Marella is another Canadian wrestling success story. Yes, really.
It wasnít that long ago, that Marella, whose real name is Anthony Carelli, was training in WWE developmental territory Ohio Valley Wrestling before getting the call of calls every wrestler hopes to get.
From the beginning, one could say he was a shooting star, bringing to the table a full featured mixed martial arts resume complimenting his wrestling abilities.
Not a shabby start.
"I was born in Mississauga, and of course have an Italian family heritage. I was a wrestling fan as a kid and my father took to me to a lot of the shows," Marella said in an Axxess interview with SLAM! Wrestling. "Iíve been doing judo since the age of nine and wrestled since high school, winning a few tourneys like the Region of Peel Secondary School Athletic Association (ROPSSAA) along the way.
"My shoot background helped in the sense that I knew some things like how to take falls, which made it easier."
His cheeky "Santinoís Casa" segments along with his spots with WWE Diva Maria have been praised by many fans as entertaining.
"Maria is great person," he said, smiling. "We feed of each otherís energy."
He stands 5-foot-10 and comes across as a low-key guy who has a fire burning inside.
"Wrestlers like The Dynamite Kid, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Bret and Owen Hart influenced me; I think you can see the pattern there," Marella explained. "Those guys were around my height and helped inspire me to believe I could make it like they did. Because the stories of guys starving, guys sleeping in cars, itís a very real thing."
Judging by his sold out autograph signing at Axxess, that shouldnít be a problem for Italiaís finest.
Because life is always beautiful for Santino.
Kenai Andrews believes life is beautiful, too.
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.