WWE Elimination Chamber 2012 Results: Santino Marella Can Be a Serious Threat

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2012

One of the biggest stars from the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view has to be Santino Marella.

Throughout the night, he had been the focus of goofy, Rocky-style skits, so going into the actual elimination chamber match, few probably had him as a legitimate contender for the title.

Then, lo and behold, he pins both Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett en route to almost knocking off world heavyweight champion Daniel Bryan.

It's one of the few times that Santino has actually been taking seriously by WWE booking and made to look like a strong competitor.

Just like the 2011 Royal Rumble, the fans were hot wondering if he was actually going to win such a high-profile match.

If the WWE was smart, they would build off this momentum and begin turning Santino into an actual wrestler rather than simply using him for a comedy spot on every Raw or SmackDown.

Ever since Bobby Lashley essentially handed him the Intercontinental Title in 2007, it's hard to argue that he has ever really been taken seriously as a wrestler.

Sure, he's held the IC title twice and been a tag team champion, but those title wins and subsequent defenses were mostly done through smoke and mirrors rather than booking Santino to make him look really strong.

One of the biggest problems with WWE today, and over the past few years, is that there are so few real stars. Guys like Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, the Miz, Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett are great competitors, but they aren't really at the star level, like CM Punk, John Cena and Randy Orton.

If ever there was a time to switch Santino from comedy prop to wrestler, now is that time.

Don't get me wrong, he can still be the comedic character that he excels at, but it's time that fans got to see him wrestle in matches that go longer than two minutes.

Two or three years ago, he had the look of a WCW-era Chris Jericho.

Jericho was unquestionably funny in 1997 and '98. He would come out and verbally belittle. He was the kind of insecure, petulant heel that would try and find a back door out of any challenge.

It was hilarious to watch Jericho's promos, but at the same time, he was booked to be a strong competitor. Regardless of the character he played, fans could take nothing away from his in-ring ability.

That's the difference with Santino. Unlike Jericho, he never made the transition from comedian to wrestler.

WWE seems perfectly content to simply have him go out into the ring or stay backstage, do a couple minutes of comedy and be done with it.

With the right booking he could be built into a main-event player. Santino obviously has the crowd on his side, as evidenced by the heat between he and Bryan last night.

Now it's just up to creative to actually make him look like a strong wrestler.