Character Progression #7 – Santino Marella

With the announcement of Santino Marella’s retirement, I figured this was a great time to return to my Character Progression series. How has Santino Marella made an impression and developed as a superstar over the years? Time to take a look back at the goofy, ridiculous, and successful career of Santino Marella. I will be jumping around a bit as Santino does experience some lows in his career with no direction, but I will be sure to cover all the highlights and championship reigns of the lovable goofball that is Santino Marella.

“The Milan Miracle”

Suck it Dorothy, my red shoes got me gold.

Suck it Dorothy, my red shoes got me gold.

The debut of Santino Marella was very unorthodox. Vince McMahon’s favored superstar, Umaga, was the Intercontinental Champion at the time. They were giving a fan the chance to win the title. Santino was staged as a fan during a trip over to Italy, during one of WWE’s tours abroad. With the help of Bobby Lashley, Santino Marella scored one of the biggest upsets in WWE history by winning the Intercontinental Championship. Santino Marella narrowly retained the title for three months before losing it back to Umaga. After losing the Intercontinental Championship, Santino started to get arrogant and he turned heel shortly after.

I enjoyed this introduction for Santino Marella. It was spontaneous and fit well with the story progression going on at the time. Plus, who didn’t love those red shoes.

The Ladies Man

Better love story than Twilight

Better love story than Twilight.

Santino Marella’s focus transitioned from championship gold to keeping his girlfriend Maria all to himself. He became jealous and possessive. His villainous nature also extended towards Stone Cold Steve Austin for a short time, as Santino repeatedly mocked Stone Cold and his upcoming movie; The Condemned. Santino’s jealousy eventually resurfaced during Maria’s Playboy cover release. This culminated at WrestleMania XXIV, when Jerry Lawler and Snoop Dogg attacked him during the Playboy BunnyMania Lumberjack Match.After an unsuccessful run at the Tag Team Championships with Carlito, Santino Marella’s love life gained attention again with the pairing of himself and Beth Phoenix. Now titled Glamarella, Beth Phoenix and Santino Marella captured the Women’s Championship and the Intercontinental Championship respectively. The duo eventually fell through.

This was my favorite run that Santino ever did. He is a great jerk villain and his many dating angles were entertaining for various reasons. My personal favorite was Glamarella. They were in love, IN LOVE!!!!

Santina Marella

How did Miss WrestleMania not make the Diva Countdown?

How did Miss WrestleMania not make the Diva Countdown?

With a failed relationship, a failed attempt to break the Honky Tonk Man’s Intercontinental Championship record, and acquiring the record of fastest elimination in Royal Rumble history, Santino set his sights on a new prize, Miss WrestleMania. He tried to enter the Battle Royal on multiple occasions, but fell short each time. At WrestleMania XXV, he showed up in disguise as Santina Marella, Santino Marella’s twin sister. She defended her title against Beth Phoenix at Backlash, but lost it to Vickie Guerrero on Raw. Santina Marella would become Miss WrestleMania once again when she defeated Chavo Guerrero and Vickie Guerrero in a Handicap Hog Pen Match at Extreme Rules. She would be fired by Donald Trump during his reign as Raw’s new owner.

I love/hate this version of Santino. I loved it for the comedic aspect, as it successfully turned Santino back to a face and made him a very entertaining comedic part of WWE. The bad side is that it made a mockery of the Diva Division, by turning a potentially awesome and honoring Battle Royal at WrestleMania XXV into a huge joke.

International Partnership

Run with me Kozlov, run with me.

Run with me Kozlov, run with me.

Santino Marella had a short run with Carlito for the Tag Team Championships, but his first real threat to the champions was with Vladimir Kozlov. They challenged for the titles on multiple occasions, but didn’t win them until December 6, 2010. Santino and Kozlov held onto the titles until March 28, 2011, when they lost them to Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel of The Corre. While teaming with Vladimir Kozlov Santino Marella tarted a relationship with Tamina for a short time, almost won the 40 Man Royal Rumble, and even led a winning team against The Corre at WrestleMania XXVI.

Interesting tag team, and a good way to keep Santino Marella relevant. Still don’t agree with him being the last man eliminated at Royal Rumble.

United States Champion

Greatest Canadian-Italian US Champ ever.

Greatest Canadian-Italian US Champ ever.

Santino Marella would form a team with Zack Ryder shortly after WrestleMania, but his next major accomplishment was winning the United States Championship from Jack Swagger. He had feuds with The Miz, Ricardo Rodriguez, and Cesaro. Santino also competed in the World Heavyweight Championship Money In The Bank Ladder Match and captained Team Teddy at WrestleMania XXVIII. Santino Marella dropped the belt to Cesaro on the SummerSlam pre-show.

This was the where Santino’s progression of his character ended. He reached some great high points in his career, but he was thrown from one story to the other without any real purpose.

Comedic Master

Why have you betrayed me cobra? WHY???

Why have you betrayed me cobra? WHY???

The United States Championship would be Santino’s last title he won, but he would remain a main stay on the roster as WWE’s go to joke man. He was typically found doing “funny” backstage segments or joking around with the more serious characters. His last big progression was being paired with the goofy Emma. Their friendship unfortunately didn’t last long as Santino got severely injured and announced his retirement.

This was a good fit for Santino. He had been a great comedic talent for many years, and keeping him as their go to comedy man allowed other talented superstars to rise, while allowing Santino to shine. 

Santino’s career has been an impressive one. He may not have become an incredible world champion, but he entertained millions of fans. He won championships and made memorable moments. Hopefully Santino Marella will remain as an on-air talent, and continue to entertain his fans with his goofy antics in the future.