Santino Marella revealed the series of events that led to his WWE debut where he would score a pinfall win over Umaga and capture the Intercontinental title.
On a 2007 episode of Raw in Milan, Italy, Marella was handpicked from the crowd by Vince McMahon to face Umaga in the ring with the Intercontinental title on the line. After some help from Bobby Lashley, Marella won the title to the surprise of many.
In a recent episode of "Chasing Glory with Lilian Garcia," Marella spoke on how he got the opportunity to go to Italy with WWE. Marella said he got a call while competing in OVW, WWE's developmental promotion at the time, and was asked to confirm if he really was of Italian descent.
That conversation eventually led to what was essentially an impromptu tryout over the phone, trying to see if Marella really can speak Italian before heading over to Italy for his main roster debut. Marella admitted that when he was asked to speak Italian, he was actually speaking from an Italian audiotape that he memorized and that was good enough for WWE to send him to Milan and capture his first title in WWE.
"It was nuts. I was in OVW and I was this character Boris, this Russian character, and I was driving to a live event and my phone rings. It was Mike Bucci and he's like, 'Boris! You're like Italian right?' I was like, 'Yeah, yeah...' If anybody ever asks you if you can do something, just say yes and figure out how to do it. So they called and I couldn't speak Italian very well. So whenever I drove to downtown Toronto, I used to put in a tape, an audiotape of tourist Italian because I always wanted to speak more Italian. I memorized the whole tape and I didn't really speak Italian, but I could speak from the tape. When they called and asked if I can say something in Italian, I just said 'I want to buy a half-kilo of cheese' in Italian because it was on the tape. I could tell they were looking around and were thinking it sounded pretty good. I said another phrase and they were sold. Then, they flew me to Italy and then that happened on TV," Marella said.
After that memorable debut on Raw, Marella would go on to wrestle for the company for several years, capturing the United States, Intercontinental and Tag Team titles. Marella's WWE tenure ended in 2017 and after initially retiring, Marella has started wrestling on occasion. Recently, Marella was announced for an upcoming Bloodsport show on September 14 under his real name Anthony Carelli.