Superstar Spotlight: Santino Marella
I thought this week would be the perfect opportunity to congratulate the new United States Champion. Santino has been on fire this month and gets one of the biggest pops out of anyone on the roster. Santino was looked at as a joke entrant in Smackdown's Elimination Chamber match, but he put on a good performance and had a few people, including myself, believing he might actually pull off the upset. I think suspending disbelief might be one of the biggest things missing in today's "Reality Era", but Santino might be the best at doing it, just like he did at last year's Royal Rumble.
Before he became the "Milan Miracle", Santino was known in some circles as the guy that got bitch slapped by Jim Cornette in OVW. For those of you who don't know the story, Santino was watching the "scary" entrance of the Boogeyman and laughed at it (because his daughter was with him and he thought it was part of the show), but Cornette didn't think it was funny. Cornette yelled at him when he went backstage and slapped him because he said Santino was being disrespectful. After that, Cornette got fired and Paul Heyman came in and gave Santino a Russian shoot fighter gimmick and called him Boris Alexiev. He had a few short Television title reigns and then he debuted on RAW when he was hand picked out of the crowd and (got help from Bobby Lashley) beat Umaga for the Intercontinental Title.
Santino was named after Gorilla Monsoon (Robert Marella) and got a fake background story, but he ended up turning into a heel comedy character with a few small feuds. He confronted Roddy Rowdy Piper on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and had an entertaining run with Beth Phoenix as Glamarella, but he ended up with some Gooker-worthy moments by portraying his "sister" Santina and winning a Miss Wrestlemania Battle Royal. Not only that, but they continued the Santina gimmick and had him feud with Chavo and Vickie Guerrero which culminated in a Hogpen Match. I'm all about comedy and having it in the right spots, but that whole mess just crapped all over the talented Divas and I'm sure Santino was just doing his job. Santino got another boost of sorts when he teamed with Vladimir Kozlov and won the WWE Tag Team Championships after recuiting Kozlov for weeks.
Santino had a singles run after his girlfriend Tamina was drafted to Smackdown and Kozlov was released, but he didn't do anything of great mention. He took some time off after a car accident, then came back and continued a mini feud with Vickie's stable and beat Jack Swagger with the help of the Muppets. Up until this year, Santino got cheap wins and was part of some backstage segments, so you might be asking what the big deal is. He's over. That is the deal, plain and simple, and these days it is what gets guys like him, and to an extent Zack Ryder, noticed. He has talent but it is not ever showcased because of the character he played, and that is fine to portray him as a guy still learning. I think it would be insulting to just overhaul him as a bad ass who can fight in a few weeks. There have been times where he has learned new moves and suprised himself that he is getting better.
Santino's Foreign Exchange is one of the better YouTube shows because it stays true to Santino's character with goofy and deadpan humor. I think putting him in the Elimination Chamber was a good move, and giving him another title reign shows the company is behind him and thinks he is talented. Let's face it, Swagger did nothing with the title, and Santino sells a bunch of shirts so I think it makes sense to put him in the middle of the midcard. I hope he stays out of the GM fight because they can find a few other guys without matches to do that, but a few months with a good title reign can only help. Santino can still be a goofball but he is continuing to show off his in-ring skills and I hope he stays on this path because he one of my favorite parts of the WWE right now.
Share your thoughts in the comments section below and follow Bill Pritchard on Twitter @bpritchard152 .
Have a news tip? Attended an event and want to send a live report?