Santino Marella Interview

081024_santinoIt was NZPWI’s privilege on Thursday to speak to the WWE Intercontinental Champion, Santino Marella.

Due out here with Raw in July next year, Marella, aka Anthony Carelli, reveals Auckland is a place he’s always wanted to visit.

Marella made a splash with his WWE debut, defeating Umaga for the Intercontinental Championship in his very first match, for which he was plucked from ringside by Vince McMahon. Since then, he has made his mark on the flagship brand with his trademark of insulting all and sundry in his cartoonish Italian accent.

Marella took time out to speak to NZPWI Editor Kirsty Quested, who was anticipating a chat with the man behind the character following her arrangement with WWE. So what happens when you’re expecting Anthony Carelli but you get Santino Marella? Read on and find out!

***

Santino Marella: How are you?

Kirsty Quested: I’m great, how are you?

Oh, I’m doing fantastico.

Will the July tour be your first trip out to New Zealand?

This will be my first trip, absolutely. I’ve always been a fan of New Zealand, and actually, Auckland as well, because the Commonwealth Games, I remember watching them on TV. And it looked like a beautiful place, so I wanted to go there.

081024_santino2Your debut in WWE was unique, taking away the Intercontinental title from Umaga in your very first match. What were your thoughts at the time about how your character was coming in?

It was very interesting night. I mean, man, everything happened so fast. Life changed… like, I was actually conscious of the fact that… your life just changed forever buddy… I hope you’re ready, hold on tight, here we go! And it’s been crazy ever since, you know?

The character of Santino Marella, very much the comedy heel… has that been a planned thing, or did it evolve naturally?

It evolved very naturally. You know, they say every good character, the real person must be there. Like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Undertaker, Batista… you meet these people, you realise man, this is like the guy on TV. And, that’s like me! Big mouth!

Have there been any other comedic wrestlers that you’ve drawn inspiration from?

Ohhhh… I like the physical comedy of Mr Perfect. Roddy Piper was very influential. There’s so many guys that have a good sense of humour; Bobby “The Brain” Heenan was so funny. I guess you kind of, without noticing, take a little bit from everyone.

Do you find that you have any frustrations at playing a comic character, just in terms of being taken seriously later on?

Nope. Not at all. I have an intense Judo background, and when the time is right, and I’m able to unleash my skills, people are going to accept it, they have to accept it, because it’s real.

Do you think that in your case, the character has made the man, or the man has made the character? Like, what do you bring to Santino and what does Santino do that helps you?

Well, I bring Santino to life. I mean, on paper Santino’s not much. But I definitely bring him to life, because like I said, I am Santino. And Santino helps to pay the bills.

You’ve had a lot of really fun heat with the likes of Steve Austin, Roddy Piper, Jimmy Kimmel, even Snoop Dogg on one occasion. What’s it been like getting to dish out insults to those guys?

It’s um… it’s actually interesting, because everybody’s… if you’re at that level of entertainment, you’re obviously, you have a good perspective, so to be able to go out there and have fun with everybody, and entertain people, and people love to see people from two different worlds colliding, you know to see people they see from one show on another show, even sometimes, when somebody guest stars on another show, it’s just great to see them together, so… and everyone so far has great chemistry, great attitudes. I look forward to doing much more of those kinds of things.

Is there anybody else you’d have liked to have a go at? Or anyone you wanted to have a go at, but you weren’t allowed?

Um… hmm. I don’t know, right now I’m on the defense. I’m on top, kind of. Everyone’s gunning for me. So I guess I have to beat the number one contenders, you know?

Yeah, so there’s nobody out there at the moment that you think could do with getting a piece of Santino’s mind?

[chuckles] In wrestling or in Hollywood?

Anywhere! Anywhere.

Yeah I’d like to get that Will Ferrell, I think it’d be fun to do something with Will Ferrell, you know? And there’s a few people out there that I’d like to have some fun with… maybe David Letterman, he’s a funny guy. When it comes to wrestling I still have to get my hands on Jerry “Stupid” Lawler, and some of these young punks over here, Cody and Ted DiBiase, they’ve got the right attitude but… OK fine, I’m jealous of their youth, OK? Fine!

081024_santino_bethWell, speaking of that, you’ve been paired up with two Divas who are quite the opposite of each other, Maria and Beth Phoenix; how’s it been, working with those girls?

Ah, both girls are very professional, both girls are chicks, you know, they come with their goods and bads, they a little bit crazy, but, you got to love them, you know? You can’t live with them, can’t live without them, right?

I’ll have to beg to differ with you on that one. You can’t live with ‘em.

[laughs]

There’s often debate around mixed gender matches; how do you find it, taking on Beth in the match that kickstarted this angle?

Um… that was interesting match, I think. You have to approach with a very open mind and enjoy the entertainment value. It’s… you know, we have to remember that, we’re all supposed to get along in the end, you know?

But I didn’t mind it at all. Maybe some macho guys were a little bit, felt bad for me, because I got pinned, but I don’t care. Now I pin her.

[laughs] Who are you hoping that the fans choose for you at Cyber Sunday?

Oh, good question! You see I have some unfinished business with Roddy “The Piper” but I would like to smash the Honky Tonky Man because I’m gonna beat his record. What better to pair it up with, than to beat him as well?

Fair enough. Well Santino, thank you so much for your time, we really appreciate it, and we’re really looking forward to seeing you out here in New Zealand next year.

I’m looking forward to coming, that’s for sure.