WWE's resident funnyman Santino Marella may not seem like the likeliest candidate to open a MMA and pro wrestling training facility, but it's a reality that is coming to fruition rather quickly.
Marella (real name: Anthony Carelli) looks to be setting up his post-WWE career up as well as potentially playing a hand in the future of the business.
The former Intercontinental, United States and tag champion is far more talented in the ring then his gimmick leads fans to believe. Before playing a buffoon with an affinity for sock puppets, Marella was a shoot fighter.
There are flashes of that part of his life in the ring but it is usually sandwiched between physical comedy bits. In an interview with The Sun, Marella said, "I did judo for more than 20 years and had the opportunity to travel the world competing for my country of Canada."
Watching him do his goofy shtick on WWE Raw, it's hard to imagine him teaching prospects how to fight, but it's a different story for fans who saw him play his original gimmick. Marella first wrestled for Ohio Valley Wrestling as the Russian fighter Boris Alexiev.
This persona showcased his excellent striking and submission ability. That, along with what he's learned as a WWE star over the last six years and his extensive experience, will make him a teacher with plenty of knowledge to pass on.
Marella has been tweeting updates on his Battle Arts Academy since April and his latest tweet shows that the construction is moving right along.
Ladies & Gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to announce the construction of Battle Arts Academy! Stay tuned.. twitter.com/milanmiracle/s…— Santino Marella (@milanmiracle) April 19, 2013
Battle Arts floors are poured!Walls are next! twitter.com/milanmiracle/s…— Santino Marella (@milanmiracle) May 12, 2013
From the looks of these photos, it certainly doesn't seem to be some rinky-dink operation. Marella has clearly invested a good chunk of money into this. The Toronto center will open on July 1 (h/t PWMania.com). No word on if Marella plans to take time off from WWE to be a trainer there.
Canada, long a hotbed of wrestling and wrestling training, has a new institution on the way.
Prospective students will see more Alexiev than Marella, more MMA than Cobra. They would be wise not to bring up Santino's run as Santina Marella or else suffer a triangle choke.