Often times we see a great wrestler become misused. They never get to show their true talent as a wrestler, an entertainer or even both. As wrestling fans, we've also grown accustomed to seeing someone make a big splash upon their debut and fall into obscurity.
Due to his comedic character over the past few years, many people may have forgotten about Santino Marella's debut. In 2007, the late Umaga was on a war path in the WWE. At the time of Marella's debut, Umaga was undefeated and the Intercontinental champion. Managed by Armando Alejandro Estrada and backed by Mr. McMahon, Umaga looked to be unstoppable.
The WWE was in the middle of an overseas tour during an episode of Monday Night Raw. This night, they were emanating from Italy.
Coming down to the ring with Umaga and Estrada, McMahon was in one of his "giving moods." His gift tonight was for a fan in attendance who would receive a Intercontinental Championship shot against then undefeated Umaga. A man we came to know as Santino Marella was that lucky fan.
When Marella hopped that barricade to join Umaga for their match, the immediate thought was this was just another angle to show Umaga as an unstoppable force. However, Marella pulled off the biggest upset of the year and ended Umaga's undefeated streak, and Marella won the Intercontinental Championship.
After winning the gold, he began a program with Chris Masters before dropping the title back to Umaga after holding it for three months. Marella's last serious program came after he and Maria ended their on-screen relationship and he began to tag with Carlito. Then, the comedy started.
Marella really made his name by being part of comedic duos with both Beth Phoenix and Vladimir Kozlov. During that time, Marella really brought some comedy to the WWE but was never seen as a legitimate contender inside the squared circle.
However, this past February rolled around, and things seemed different for Marella. When an unfortunate injury forced Randy Orton out of the Smackdown! Elimination Chamber, General Manager Teddy Long held a Battle Royal to determine Orton's replacement. To the world's surprise, Marella won the match and entered the Chamber match.
Much like winning the the Battle Royal, no one thought Marella could win the Chamber match itself. And although he didn't, he was the last man eliminated.
Santino Marella has been a workhorse in the WWE for the past five years. He's entertained fans in and out of the ring with his comedy and mic skills.
With the educationally evolved fanbase the WWE now has these days, WWE is letting Marella show off his incredible in-ring work and realize the fans appreciate it.
Marella has recently been rewarded for his work in the WWE with the United States championship. Not only did he win the title from Jack Swagger, he defended it against Swagger in a pretty decent cage match last week on Smackdown!.
Marella is nowhere near ready for the top of the WWE. However, he has been great in the midcard and he is more than deserving of the United States Championship. He's great on the mic; he's incredible in the ring and he is by far one of the most fan-loved and appreciated wrestlers on the roster today.
As always, the only thing that can ruin Marella's run is improper booking.
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