Santino Marella, who we last saw accompanied by his “little friend” the Cobra at the RAW Reunion, admitted that he initially was “shocked” when WWE let him go.
As a recent guest on Lillian Garcia’s podcast Chasing Glory, Marella spoke about the events that led to his in ring retirement and his leaving the WWE.
Santino had an 11 year career with WWE. Though he wrestled his last match in 2014, for about two-and-a-half years, the WWE still found things for him to do backstage. He wasn’t officially released till May of 2016.
According to Santino, he knew that his neck would eventually end his in ring career as even when he was in University he had been having trouble.
“I knew it was coming. I saw specialists years ago that said you don’t need surgery yet. I had heard it at University; it had affected my judo career as well. The whole career I was protecting it and physio and traction and stretching it out while on the road,” shared Marella.
Marella did eventually have surgery and had been expected to come back, but there had been a problem with the screws on a titanium plate that was placed on his neck. Because of this, three months afterwards, they had to go in again and take the plate out.
After he told WWE what was going on, they initially talked about keeping him on in a non-wrestling role. The time he would need to take off would just be added to his contract.
“I was off for like two years and my contract would have been expired by that time but I figured, okay, I have two years because I was off for two years and that is what they told me. And then one day they called and said that they weren’t going to exercise their option to extend it so my contract will be up next month. It was crazy,” he said.
Despite the shock, Marella said the transition from WWE performer to not working for the company was actually “pretty smooth”.
“I was ready for it and prepared. The gym was up and running. It was a pretty smooth transition where I got a job on Sportsnet almost immediately for The Aftermath in Canada, working on my national presence in Canada because a lot of Canadians didn’t know I was Canadian,” he said.