Santino Marella Looks Back On WWE Raw Debut

Santino Marella has remembered how his "WWE Raw" debut came about, with his character created ahead of WWE's show in Italy.

Marella, during a recent interaction with "Developmentally Speaking," recalled the origins of his Santino Marella character, and how having Italian ancestry helped in him getting the gimmick. Marella stated that former WWE Chairman Vince McMahon wanted someone with Italian origins from WWE's then developmental territory, OVW, ahead of a "Raw" show in Italy in 2007.


"So Vince [McMahon] had an idea for someone to debut in Italy and he asked somebody to look at the developmental roster and see if we have any Italian people there," recalled Santino. "So my shoot name, of course, Anthony Carelli is Italian and they called me and they asked me if I could speak Italian and I could speak a little. I could say a few things, I wasn't fluent by any means but, you know, fake it till you make it, and I flew down and like the next day I flew to Italy."

Prior to him becoming Santino Marella, the former WWE United States Champion was playing a Russian character called Boris Alexiev in OVW, which he had to drop after getting the Marella character.

"I was driving to Elizabeth Town, Kentucky, and I was Boris then, 48 hours later Boris was like ... I felt sad. I felt like Boris died, I felt like it betrayed him because Boris got me hired and then Santino came along and that was the end of Boris," said the former WWE star.


Marella's debut came on April 16, 2007 in Milan, when he was picked out of the crowd to face Umaga, the then Intercontinental Champion, and won the title on debut. He spent two years in OVW before being called up to the main roster, and had almost a decade-long run in the promotion before leaving in 2016.