Despite being a jobber for the bulk of his career, Santino Marella is considered a legend of the WWE.
The Canadian-turned-Italian superstar debuted in 2007, coming in from the crowd as a fan and leaving as the Intercontinental Champion. With the help of Bobby Lashley, he impressed the Milan crowd by beating Umaga in his debut match, in an all-time great WWE moment.
Over the years, Santino Marella would have many more memorable moments. He came runner-up in the 2012 Royal Rumble match, almost shocking the world before he was thrown out by winner Alberto Del Rio.
He did it again the following year, but this time in the Elimination Chamber. He got a near fall on Daniel Bryan toward the end of the match, nearly pinning him to become the World Heavyweight Champion.
This is also where Bryan became the only man to kick out of The Cobra, Santino’s finishing move.
Sadly, Santino Marella was forced to retire from the WWE in 2014, with an injury forcing him to walk away from the ring. He returned for one more match three years later, but remained retired from wrestling for good after that point.
Santino Marella’s Last Match
Before retiring, Santino Marella’s last match in the WWE was a house show match. In it, he teamed with Emma in a mixed tag team match. The duo faced off against Fandango and Layla, winning the bout as they had done for the rest of the tour.
His last televised match in the WWE was a short, sharp and unimpressive loss of WWE main event. Rusev made quick work of the former United States Champion, making his tap out after 25 seconds with a dominant performance.
He would retire soon after due to neck injuries and be released by the WWE soon after.
However, he would return for one final match in the WWE, just not in the way you would have expected.
Santino Marella appeared in the 2020 women’s Royal Rumble match. Yes, you heard that right.
The Milan Miracle dressed as his infamous “Santina Marella” character – pretending to be his sister – in order to ender the match. This was a callback to WrestleMania 25, where he entered an won an all-female Battle Roya, much to the chagrin of many fans.
However, his appearance in this match was much less impressive. The Italian superstar entered at number 29 in the match, but lasted barely over a minute. He also threw himself over the top rope in one of the funniest spots in the match, adding to his incredible canon of work.
He has wrestled the occasional indie show, but for all intents and purposes, he is retired from wrestling, due to a neck injury Santino Marella sustained whilst working for the WWE.
A Neck Injury Forced Santino Marella To Retire
Santino Marella was forced to retire from wrestling in 2014, while in the midst of a storyline with former NXT star Emma.
The pair were engaged in a “will they, won’t they” storyline in the WWE, with the tension about whether they’d end up together pushing the story along.
Both played awkward characters, who would not profess their feelings for one another. Each accompanied the other to the ring and acted as their valet at ringside, although the story was never fully told due to Santino’s neck injury ending his career.
In a recent interview with The A2theK Wrestling Show, Santino Marella revealed that a neck injury and the accompanying fusion surgery, was the reason he had to retire from pro-wrestling.
He revealed a series of errors, including a botched removal of a screw in his neck that forced his WWE career to be over. Whilst he admits that he could, if trained properly, return to the ring, the risk on his neck his too high, and he is happy to stat retired.
It was my neck surgery. So I had my first cervical fusion. I had a double cervical fusion right off the bat. The goal was to come back and then a few months after, they noticed that one of the screws was coming out. Then at the end, at the three-month mark, one screw had completely come out, and one had come halfway out.
So they had to go back in and take out the titanium. I think going back in the second time, kind of messed things up, cutting through the scared tissue. I just never got well enough to a point where I can come back and wrestle on a full-time basis. I can have a match here and there, but not to do it properly, on a full time basis.
While he no longer wrestlers, in 2023 Santino Marella did return to the business. Whilst he still runs his Battle Arts Academy, he also signed to Impact Wrestling (formerly TNA) as their new Director of Authority.
He has made a big splash in his new role, adding some much-needed comedy to the brand. He has reunited with many former WWE superstars in this return, including a heart-warming moment backstage with former tag team partner Vladmir Kozlov.
Did you know Santino Marella’s daughter now wrestlers for NXT? Click below to read more about her, or scroll down to the comments to tell us your favourite moments featuring The Milan Miracle.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.