Santino Marella made his WWE debut in Italy and won the Intercontinental championship that very same night. During a recent interview with Chris Van Vliet, Santino (who is from just outside Toronto, ON, Canada) says WWE’s creative team called him when he was working in OVW and asked him if he could speak Italian. Santino recalled telling WWE he could speak the language, even though that wasn’t necessarily the truth.
“I get a phone call and it was Mike Bucci, who was Nova with ECW and he knew that my background – my Dad’s from Italy and Anthony Carelli is my real name – and he just called to see if I could speak Italian,” Santino said during the show.
Santino would continue to say he didn’t speak Italian at the time but did have a cassette tape of “Tourist Italian” that helped him repeat enough Italian that it convinced WWE’s creative team he could speak the language.
“I just repeated a couple of phrases from this tape that I would listen to and I believe it was ‘Voglio mezzo chilo di formaggio’ which means ‘I want a half kilo of cheese.’ Like the most random expression and then I said ‘My name is Anthony Carelli, where is the hotel?’ or something like that and then I could literally see them looking around at each other going, ‘sounded good, yeah, ok yeah that’s good, we’re going to fly you out tomorrow to Italy’”
Santino Marella Becomes The Milan Miracle
Santino also said during the interview that he learned from Dusty Rhodes never to say he was unable to do something and that is why he told WWE he could speak Italian.
“A month earlier Dusty Rhodes had called a guy who was playing a character named Fearless Jack Bull and said ‘Jack Bull, Dusty Rhodes, can you ride a motorcycle?’ and he goes ‘No’ because he thought someone was ribbing him because everyone does a Dusty impression, right? And he goes ‘Well, can you learn to ride a motorcycle?’ and he goes ‘No’ and he goes ‘Ok, well thank you very much for your time,’ and then he looks down on his phone and sees a 203 area code and has a coronary.”
“Dusty Rhodes came down to speak to OVW and said ‘If anybody ever asks if you can do anything, the answer is ‘yes’ and then you better learn how to do it.’”
The full interview with Santino Marella and Chris Van Vliet can be viewed in the player below: