Inside The Bizarre Feud Between Santino Marella And Jim Cornette

Former WWE talent Santino Marella (real name Anthony Carelli) and Jim Cornette have had their fair share of memorable exchanges over the years despite the two barely crossing paths in the wrestling world. As a matter of fact, Cornette and Carelli only have seen each other physically in-person on two occasions: once where Cornette slapped and then kicked Carelli out of Ohio Valley Wrestling, and again at a convention 12 years later that saw both men getting the boot.

Their first interaction got Cornette fired from OVW (which Cornette later considered a blessing in disguise) and the second one started as a peace offering before turning hostile. As things currently stands between the two, it seems that one man is up for burying the hatchet, while the other has little interest in reconciliation. Let's take a deeper look into one of the wilder rivalries in wrestling that took place entirely outside of the ring, and that all began back in 2005.

Carelli says it was all a misunderstanding

According to Carelli, it boiled it down just to a miscommunication. At the time, Carelli, an OVW trainee, had his young daughter (now wrestling in "NXT" as Arianna Grace) with him at ringside, and she was frightened by the appearance of the supernatural wrestler known as the Boogeyman. Carelli says the Boogeyman's makeup was melting under the lights, which aggravated Cornette, as the adult fans were laughing at what was supposed to be a scary character.

"He thought I was laughing at the Boogeyman, but I was enjoying watching my daughter be terrified," Carelli said on an episode of "Monday Mailbag w/ Mike Chioda. "That was a misunderstanding."

When he was told to come backstage, Carelli thought he would be receiving praise. "I come back and [Cornette's] like, 'You think this is a joke?' And he came up and gave me the little paint brushes [slaps] and I just kind of stopped and looked at him and I'm like, with my eyes, trying to make it very clear that you are very lucky that we're in this situation right now, and I'm not going to say anything."

Carelli found himself up in WWE eventually, starting with the Milan Miracle in 2007, and talks about earning his spot rather than it being given to him after the slaps from Cornette.

"That's one of the things that Cornette likes to say is that they gave me a job so I wouldn't sue or something like that, but that's just ridiculous," he said.

Cornette says Carelli had no respect

To Cornette, it was Carelli's lack of knowledge and respect for the business that got him booted from the building that day. Cornette backs up what Carelli said about Boogeyman's act erring more so on the side of comedy than terror, and after a long promo, Boogeyman left to fright another day, heading through the section of the crowd that contained the beginner's class that Carelli had recently joined.

"This f*cking prick," Cornette said referring to Carelli on his podcast back in 2016, "is not only sitting there in front of the rails so the Boogeyman can't get by, but he's leaned up against the wall with his legs crossed and kind of sideways like he's somebody important."

Irate, Cornette demanded Carelli be brought backstage and asked him why he didn't move out of Boogeyman's way, preferably in a fearful manner. According to him, Carelli said 'Nobody told me I should run from him."

"I gotta be honest, I might not have should've slapped him," said Cornette, who claimed that at the time he was under a microscope from WWE higher-ups, particularly John Laurinaitis, which wasn't conducive to running OVW. "At that moment, I saw John Laurinaitis' face in front of me."

"I was sick and tired of them micro-managing our company, and now I've got to clear an angle past a f*cking guy in the amateur class that hasn't even made it to the roster?" Cornette said. "So when he said 'Nobody told me,' I responded by saying, 'Well did I tell you I was going to do this?' And I slapped the sh*t out of him."

A voicemail With venom?

Years later, in 2014, Carelli had to get some scary neck surgery done, and while he was just a few bone spurs away from serious damage, the procedure was a success. There was no guarantee that Carelli would ever wrestle again, but he recalls receiving a scathing voicemail from Cornette, who Carelli claims received his number from a friend.

"I check my message, and it's 'Santino, this is Jim Cornette. I heard you had neck surgery and you can't wrestle anymore! Well I'm here to tell you that I couldn't be happier that you can't wrestle anymore cause you never deserved to be in there,' and I'm literally with the bandage on, and I'm thinking, this guy's leaving a message like that when I just came out of surgery, what a piece of sh*t, like a genuine piece of sh*t."

Cornette doesn't deny that the voicemail ever happened, but he says he has no recollection of doing it.

"He said it with such conviction that I started thinking, 'Did I do that? I have no memory of this,' and then I thought, 'Could I have been at a fan fest,' right? And somebody said, 'I got Santino Marella on the f*cking phone here?' ... Whether I thought it might be Santino Marella or not, I don't remember doing it."

An attempted truce in Detroit

The story picks up again in 2017, when Carelli recalls getting a phone call from Scott D'Amore. He wanted Carelli to go to Detroit for a fan convention, and Carelli who was intrigued by a certain name that would also be in the Motor City.

"He goes, 'Cornette's going to be there,'" Carelli recalls. "I go, 'Cornette's gonna be there?' I go, 'I'll go.'"

"We go to Detroit and we're sitting around and I go, 'There he is'," Carelli continued. "He knows I'm there, but he's not seeing me, you know? He wants nothing to do with it.'"

As it turned out, Carelli was leaving the bathroom when he crossed paths with Cornette, who appeared to be by himself — though a video surfacing of the incident proved otherwise. Carelli said he offered a handshake to call a truce, but Cornette ran him down verbally before going in to accept the handshake, anyway.  Cornette recounted what he said to Carelli on an episode of the "Jim Cornette Experience" shortly thereafter.

"I was miserable, so you did me a favor, but you didn't mean to do me a favor," Cornette recalls saying. "You were a jabroni in the beginner's class calling the office to get heat on me, stooging, to get a spot. So you didn't mean to do me a favor, so I can't give you credit for, it so we don't have anything to talk about. I shook your hand, we're done." Carelli backs that story up, but says he no longer had any interest in shaking hands.

The aftermath

"I said, 'Listen man, you know what you f*cking did is wrong,'" Carelli told Chioda and co-host Paul Bromwell. "I go, 'How can you call me a f*cking joke? I was a comedic character, and you should know out of anybody, when you're given a job, when you're given a role, you execute you're f*cking role. You do your job, and that's the job I was given.' I said, 'You know what bothers me the most? I didn't have a chance to learn from you, cause of what you did, and apparently you know some stuff about the business.'"

Cornette continued to insult Carelli, and that's when Carelli said he was ready to settle this any way Cornette preferred. "And then that's when he got all, 'Ah help, this guy's trying to start something.'" The two were separated and then kicked out.

"I went to shake his hand and put it behind us, because we have a lot of mutual friends, and when he speaks about wrestling, I often agree with the sh*t he says," Carelli said. "And he's obviously had some personal problems, right, but his point of view is pretty close to mine, and if I saw him today, I'd still have a beer with the guy, you know?"

That probably isn't much chance of that happening any time soon.

"There's no law on the books that says that I have to like this guy, and there's no law that says that he has to like me," Cornette said in 2017. "If you don't want the answer, motherf*cker, don't ask the question."

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