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Santino 'blindsided' by WWE release, says he almost won World title

Santio Marella

By Gary Mehaffy, special to

Considering the amount of professional wrestlers there are (and have been) in the world, very few make it to WWE. Of those who make it to WWE, very few win titles. Of those who do, there aren't very many who win titles on their first day in the company.

One of those who did was Santino Marella.

Many WWE fans remember the "Milan Miracle" and the subsequent years that Santino spent in WWE (mostly as a joke cracking midcard act) and many will have their favourite Santino moment.

In this Wrestling Observer exclusive interview, we meet Anthony Carelli, the man behind the Santino persona.

During the interview, we discussed:

- His recent release by WWE and how it blindsided him

- How close he came to being the SmackDown GM in the upcoming brand split

- Whether he got any heat for winning the IC title on his first night in the job

- Almost winning the WWE Heavyweight Championship

- Jim Cornette slapping him in OVW and why he decided against retaliating against an "old man"

- Setting up the BattleArts Academy and training kids and adults in wrestling and judo

- Appearing on his own show on the WWE Network

- Life after neck surgery

- Life after WWE...and much, much more.