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Wrestling / Santino Marella

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Anthony Carelli (born March 14, 1979) is a retired Italian-Canadian professional wrestler, mixed martial artist and judoka, better known by his ring name Santino Marella. He is currently signed to Impact Wrestling as its Director of Authority and also best known for his time in the WWE, where he is a two-time WWE Intercontinental Champion, former WWE Tag Team Champion with Vladimir Kozlov, and former WWE United States Champion.

Santino announced his retirement at a live WWE event in Toronto, Ontario, on July 6, 2014. This came on the heels of a third neck injury.

Tropes associated with Santino:

  • Accidental Misnaming/Malicious Misnaming: Santino, he does both all the time, which had led to such names as John Chenna, Sheamoose, KYJ, Baptista, Ray Mastrio, Rodney The Piper, Fiz, Melanie, Jimmeny Kimmel, Fredrick The Entertainment and The Honkey Donkey Man on the accidental side. On the Malicious side he's given us The Manimal, Julia Styles, ("Go fetch me a bowl-a of EXTREME VERMICELLI!"), Goldilocks, Lameass, and Jerry "Stupid" Lawler. Incidentally, this was turned on him when he met Chris Jericho.
  • Ass Kicking Pose: Wrestlers used to just laugh at or ignore Santino's bend wrist elbow in palm pose until he dropped William Regal with the cobra. Since then, wrestlers have rightly feared it.
  • The Artifact: Marella's judo background was a staple of his early pro wrestling days, when he wrestled in Battlarts and later as a shootfighter in OVW, but although it became less and less apparent as his WWE career went on, it still occasionally manifested as an arm flip or quick shoulder throw in his most technical matches.
  • Big Ol' Unibrow: It started out minor and a sign of evil when he turned heel but started letting it grow out while he dated Maria, making it comedic.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: During his second run as intercontinental champion is where he really picked up these tendencies and kept them up until his prolonged feud with Sheamus, whom Santino became afraid of.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Of the Malicious Misnaming variety. During his promos regarding Stone Cold Steve Austin (See Bullying a Dragon below), he misquoted the latter's iconic Catch Phrases like "Open a can of ass-whoop", "Stomp a mud pie", and "...And those are the bottom lines..."
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs/Costume Copycat: Heading into the Cyber Sunday PPV in October 2008, Santino was the WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion and was intent on beating the Honky Tonk Man's streak with that title. On the October 20th Raw, he walked to the ring to cut a promo on his three possible opponents, the Honky Tonk Man, Goldust and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, wearing a HTM wig and carrying a guitar, Goldust's facepaint and Piper's kilt. "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan walked out to confront Santino for disrespecting his generation, and apparently hit a Berserk Button by calling Beth Phoenix Santino's "boyfriend." Santino took off the wig and kilt, which he threw in Duggan's face before hitting him with the guitar. Santino busted his own mouth open in the process.
  • Buffy Speak
  • Bullying a Dragon/Too Dumb to Live
    • On the September 3, 2007 Raw, he was cutting a promo when ECW's "Hardcore Icon" The Sandman came down to the ring. Santino said, "Oh my God, you're jealous because I make-a love to beautiful Maria and you (in re: Sandman's Singapore Cane) ... you make-a love to your stick!," and Sandman hit him over the head with the cane.
    • On the October 22 and October 29, 2007 episodes of Raw, he actually cut promos mocking "STONE COLD" STEVE AUSTIN and his movie The Condemned. Austin showed up on the November 5th show, and after correcting Santino's mangling of Austin's CatchPhrases, Santino said that he couldn't put himself through watching the movie again. Of course, Austin stunned him, then gave him one hell of a beer bath.
  • Bus Crash: Barely avoided a literal instance of this trope. He was Demoted to Extra after losing the Tag Team titles along with Kozlov (who was later 'future endeavored') and was recently involved in a pretty brutal wreck. Despite how that image looks, he suffered a separated shoulder and that was about it.
  • Calling Your Attacks: COBRAAAAA!!!
  • Cherry Tapping/Finger Poke of Doom: Subverted: The Cobra looks like a Finger Poke of Doom at first, until you realize it's a high velocity poke to the throat. Maybe it won't knock a guy out, but stunning him for three seconds is actually quite plausible.
  • The Chew Toy: Even when things go right for Santino, they often don't go right enough not to end up being very painful for him. Such as his girlfriend Emma. He loved her but she had a tendency to (accidentally) hurt him.
  • Chick Magnet: Has a different valet/Implied Love Interest every couple of years, it seems. First Maria Kanellis, then Beth Phoenix, then Tamina Snuka, and then Emma.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In his own words:
    "On April 10th there's going to be a 25 Diva Battle Royal to determine who will be crowned Miss WrestleMania. I tink I know who's going to be the winner... Santino Marella! You see last week, when Mickie James assault me, I went to Vickie Guerrero an I demanded to be included. Why should I not be included, because of my genitalia? That's sexual discrimination! So I was told if I beat Mickie James with one hand tied behind my back I will have the opportunity to prove that I am man enough to be Miss WrestleMania!"
  • Companion Cube: The cobra puppet he uses for his Finishing Move.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: He may act like an idiot, but he's actually surprisingly skilled in the ring when the WWE actually lets him loose. In a real life sense, he is a trained amateur wrestler, judoka and mixed martial artist with a supposed 6-1 record, so nobody should allow himself to be deceived by his comedy gimmick (in fact, his first gimmick ever back in OVW was a martial artist).
  • Defeat Means Friendship
    • Vladimir Koslov found humor in beating him up. Santino suggested they form a tag team but they didn't officially become one until Koslov had spent a lot more time beating him up.
    • The Usos have gained some level of respect for him. They at least like him better than JTG.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: After getting an unexpected pin fall victory on Sheamus, Santino became the target of an angry Sheamus. His attempts to make peace in turn, just made Sheamus angrier still.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: He lost his title because his, erm... snake was too focused on the pretty girl at ringside...
  • Distracted by the Sexy: His— er... The Cobra's reason for making him lose the United States Championship.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: He wrote and sang a jingle for a commercial promoting his wrestling school and gym, Battle Arts Academy.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Santino may have been a sideshow joke of an intercontinental champion, but he did have a point about how important the title should be versus how WWE treated it.
    "You see, Goldilocks is merely champion of one country, the Nited States. Santino Marella is the champion of all the landmasses that protrude above the sea level, also known as continents. Which means Santino Marella is the champion of PLANET EARTH!"
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Had a Russian martial artist gimmick in OVW as Boris Alexiev. Even in WWE he started out as a much more serious character, known for feuding with Umaga; his comedy heel turn came about because people did not buy it.
  • Elvis Impersonator: For one night in Memphis.
  • First-Name Basis: He is almost always referred to by his first name. In fact, he is often ONLY referred to by his first name.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Both Beth Phoenix and Tamina were his enemies before he started dating them.
  • Funny Foreigner: Italian who speaks fluent but misappropriated English, has a very inflated opinion of himself, oversells, has a uni brow, a very over the top entrance theme...
  • Husky Russkie: His old Boris Alexiev character.
  • I Know Karate: In a straighter example than many others, Boris Alexiev boasted in promos of being trained in "judo, sambo, wrestling and kickboxing," and he wasn't afraid of showing it on the ring. In real life, Carelli is really a Judo black belt, a seasoned amateur wrestler and a Mixed Martial Arts trainer.
  • Important Haircut: Got rid of the weird-looking rat tail just as he began making the transition from Joke Character to Lethal Joke Character.
  • Joke Character: After losing the intercontinental championship back to Umaga, this was largely Santino's fate, even when he won the intercontinental title again and set out to break The Honky Tonk Man's especially when he set out to break that record.
    • Lethal Joke Character: That being said, he still managed some impressive wins under his belt, especially turning what looked to be a Squash Match against Tensai around by body slamming a man at least twice his size and then dodging an attempted diving splash to pin Tensai while he was stunned from the impact.
  • LARGE Ham: Oh, yeah. And most times, it's hilarious.
  • Leotard of Power: His most common wrestling attire.
  • Lethal Joke Item: The Cobra. It seems like a goofy Shout-Out to Mr. Socko, but if Santino hits you with it then nine times out of ten you're going down for the three count. The fact that it's a jab at the throat probably helps.
  • Malaproper: It is not just names he gets wrong. Santino also bungles basic phrases. "Are you angered at him?"
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: As Boris Alexiev in OVW. He even had a manager aptly named "Mr. Strongko."
  • Mud Wrestling: What his "Pig Pen Match" with Vickie Guerrero eventually degenerated into. Excuse us, Santina's pig pen match. Then again, for all that was done, Chavo Guerrero might have been better off being the scheduled opponent.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • His "International Superstars" tag team with Carlito Colón, the two really not having much in common, with Carlito emphasizing a need to keep cool and Marella being anything but.
    • His following team with Vladimir Kozlov is another odd friendship, being one guy a dead serious Russian shooter and other a crazy Italian loser. Actually not as odd as you could think, in a sort of meta sense: both Kozlov and Marella are real life martial artists, and Marella's first wrestling character was a Russian fighter.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: No matter how bad, chaotic or series events got on any given show Santino Marella was on, he always remained his goofy self.
  • Power Stable
  • Punch Parry\Brawler Lock: The Cobra vs Mister Socko at the 2012 Royal Rumble.
  • Red Herring Shirt: The seeming jobber who wound up beating the big scary Wild Samoan Umaga.
  • The Resenter: He broke up with Maria and sided with Melina and Beth Phoenix against her after she posed for Playboy.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Especially "Santina", who was supposed to be female but also supposed to be a grown female.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: In a battle royale event, after saving himself from being eliminated by Triple H and John Cena, he attempts to clothesline them both...resulting in his immediate fall to the floor. After he gets back up, he decides the best course of action is to grab himself by the collar & waistband, and eliminate himself. The in-ring action stops for nearly a minute as everyone is too busy either laughing, or trying to figure out if that actually just happened.
  • Shout-Out: Santino's name is one to Gorilla Monsoon, whose real name was Robert Marella.
    • His old gimmick, Boris Alexiev is possibly one to Boris Malenko, Dean Malenko's father who was also portrayed as Russian and was a trainer for guys involved in the shoot style wrestling promotions in Japan that Carelli once wrestled for as Joe Basko.
  • Signature Move: A running headbutt drop, with a salute.
  • Silly Walk: And always with a lap around the ring.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Santino is a fighting clown on a good day, and a lovable loser otherwise. His entrance theme is a dramatic Italian rock opera piece about a man promising to honor the ancestors that paved the way for him.
  • Straight Man: Beth Phoenix, Kozlov and Tamina served as this to him.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: What Santino devolved into during his feud with Maria Kanellis, blaming the presence of WWE divas on him not being a part of the Money In The Bank Ladder match and telling them all to go home.
    Melina: Santino, when was the last time you wrestled at WrestleMania? You escorted ME to the ring!
  • Theatrics of Pain: Part of the reason some fans consider Santino too much of a joke to hold the US Championship even after he's shown his wrestling ability is because he convincingly sells every single piece of damage he receives during a match, for the rest of the match, which is something basically nobody in the WWE roster does anymore, making him seem weaker than everyone else.
  • Those Two Guys: With Vladimir Kozlov.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Right around when he teamed with Kozlov. Then in February '12, he wins the Battle Royal to get Randy Orton's spot for Elimination Chamber, gets down to the last two wrestlers in the Smackdown Chamber (The other being Daniel Bryan) and weeks later wins the US Championship against Jack Swagger.
  • Wedgie: Gave one to Ricardo Rodriguez before eliminating him from the 2012 Royal Rumble.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: As "Santina".
  • Worked Shoot: He challenged Jim Cornette on a radio show after Cornette had been released by WWE for slapping him and Santino had been called up to the Raw roster. note  No one really bought it, Jim Cornette being an old man whose slap probably did not even hurt him and whom no one would applaud Santino for actually fighting. It was more likely in response to the constant Take Thats that TNA, who Cornette went to work for, gave WWE.
  • Villain Has a Point: Despite being an obnoxious heel at the time, his frequent Take Thats against The Condemned during 2007 were actually quite merited, given the film's largely negative reception among critics. It helped that he sang an absolutely hilarious Villain Song note  regarding it, too.


Video Example(s):


Distracting the Cobra

Santino Marella charges up the Cobra to finish off Antonio Cesaro, but Aksana has other ideas.

How well does it match the trope?

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