Santino Marella, who has been sidelined much of this year due to a neck injury, revealed in a rare out-of-character interview with Live Audio Wrestling that he is targeting a return to WWE by early September. Highlights of the WWE Superstar's interview promoting his Battle Arts Academy that is set to open in Ontario are as follows:
His return that he's pegging for next month: "September, early September. Whether it’s the 2nd or the 9th, I don’t know. I’m hoping it’s the 9th, because it’ll be a homecoming for me, born and raised in Mississauga. I would love to hear my music start, and just see the faces of these Torontonians going berzerk. One, because they appreciate the comedy. Two, because there are actually a lot of Italians in Toronto. Plus, I’ll have family and friends in the audience, and that will be a real special moment for me."
His neck injury and full explanation of why he's been gone: "My neck was bad in March; I had a procedure done called a facet rhizotomy, where they do these injections, and there’s a little axillary nerve that comes off. I basically had several things wrong with my neck; bulging discs, herniated discs, stenosis, degenerating discs, but the one thing that was bugging me at the time was arthritis. Out of all that, arthritis doesn’t even sound cool.
"My neck has been fine basically since that procedure, and I did the whole European tour in April and it didn’t hurt at all. But then when I renegotiated my contract a year ago, I wanted a little bit of time off just to heal my entire body, spend a little time with my family and live a little bit of life. When you’re successful and you’re doing well, you’re really five days a week, six days a week. Sometimes you won’t be home for two or three weeks. I missed a lot of things; I missed a lot of birthdays and baptisms and weddings, and all that kind of stuff. I just wanted to be home a little bit. I tell my friends, “You know what’s better than being Santino Marella around the world? Being Anthony Carelli in Mississauga.
Background of Boris Alexiev character: "I got to OVW. Rip Rogers, on my second day, calls me “Boris.” And I’m like, “Boris?” Some guy looks at me and goes, “Yup, that’s your new nickname.” I’m like, “Boris? He just called me Boris, and now I’m Boris?” So then everyone called me Boris, and I had this epiphany while I was falling asleep one night. I’m like, “Wait a second, I’ll be Boris. I can be this Russian special forces trained fighter. I get to do all my Battlarts style wrestling, and I could incorporate my Judo, and stuff like that. So then Boris was born. Paul Heyman was the guy that took me aside and said, “Hey, we want you at OVW TV next week.” I was freaking, I’m like “Oh my God, this is happening. I’m gonna be on OVW TV!” I couldn’t sleep for days. And then, Boris was this animal killer. I brought the character to life, beyond a shadow of a doubt. When my music hit, there was absolute terror and fear in the OVW arena. Somebody was gonna get their butt whipped, and I came out and I delivered on a daily basis. I even had to apologize to people beforehand, “Sorry, brother. This is not gonna be fun.” It was just a demolition of whomever was in the ring."
"That was the character that got me hired, got me noticed. The agents came to OVW; I wasn’t signed, and they saw this character, like, “Wow.” It was something new, something fresh. Of course, being 5’10”, 220 lbs, it wasn’t something that could translate to the big leagues with guys like Chris Masters, Kane, Umaga and everybody."
The audio interview is available here.