Santino Marella was a recent guest on Chasing Glory with Lilian Garcia and the former WWE Intercontinental Champion talked about the feeling during the ‘Milan Miracle’ moment when he debuted in Italy. Santino says he had always been an attention seeker, but his WWE debut ultimately changed him forever because he got the ultimate ‘center of attention’ moment.
“I was actually talking about it to Shane McMahon a couple of weeks ago. You both believe in things like the energy that people have and the power of attention. When you’re in an arena and the seats are all designed, they’re all converging on one focal point and you’re that focal point. The kinetic energy from that attention, I swear it changed my molecular… I’ve felt different every single day, even when I’m not competing. It altered something, you’re so fully supersaturated with that kinetic energy that stays with you forever.
When I was in high school, my buddies used to joke and call me ‘Center Stage’. After that moment, never really had that desire ever again. I was so fully and completely fulfilled that I don’t have to be the center of attention anymore. I was the ultimate center of attention for that moment.”
Prior to being called up, Santino spent time in OVW as Boris Alexiev, a shoot fighter gimmick. He talked about how hard he worked to make it wrestling, noting that it came “down to the wire” and he was broke before he got signed the next day.
“I knew I was good at [wrestling], I didn’t want to be the guy, I have some students who don’t know that they’re bad, I don’t want to be that guy. I think I’m better than anybody at this, I think I’m really good at this. Then you have to believe in yourself and say that you’re going to do it. So yeah, OVW, I was there for two years. It’s a nine and a half hour drive, so I could only go from time to time. So you just pushed it and pushed it and pushed it and I trained like three times a day. I trained with Rip Rogers in the morning and Al Snow at night. Again, I was away from home. My daughter would come with me for a month, and she came down to Louisville for a month. She was always involved in the process so she saw what it took to make it.
But there were no guarantees and the clock was ticking. I remember, I was spending my savings to survive because I couldn’t work in the U.S. If you get caught working in the U.S. without a work permit, you’re gone right? Five or ten years or something. I was running out of money and running out of money and Paul Heyman put me on OVW TV and I was the only unsigned guy on TV at the time. The eyes were on me and it was just a race against the clock. Am I going to run out of money and have to go home before I get signed? I remember cashing retirement savings and I ran out of money. The next day I got the call, it was crazy, right to the wire. I even borrowed $400 to get some food right before I got signed. People always said ‘It must be so cool fulfilling your dreams.’ and I say ‘Fulfilling your dreams is cool, but avoiding disaster is even better.’”