Former WWE Superstar Santino Marella recently appeared on Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette, where he talked about what WWE Hall of Famer Edge asked him prior to his WWE RAW debut.
Santino Marella said:
“When I debuted, I was 33-years-old.” “I remember I was in the locker room, and Edge was there. He’s my age, right. He’s 33.”
“He’s like, ‘How old are you, man?’ I’m like, ‘I’m 33.’ He’s like, ‘You’re already old.’ I said, ‘Well, sorry, I got a little distracted. I kind of detoured, you know?'”
Santino Marella then talked about how he started in the WWE and how his call-up came to be.
Santino Marella said:
“Paul Heyman one day was watching our class practice from up in the bleachers, like The Phantom of the Opera. He was watching me, and you know, I was doing really well, and I was grasping everything.”“He was like ‘Boris, [his character’s name at the time] get in the ring and do five defensive pins.’ So, I go to the ring. I was the kind of guy that like demonstrated to the class what was happening.”
“After practice, I was walking to my car, and he goes, ‘Excuse me, Boris, I’m thinking of starting you on OVW TV. I’m like my first break. He was like, ‘We have this idea…’ they knew of my Judo background – my shooter background. When Rip [Rogers] gave me the name Boris, I was like, ‘What, Boris? That’s a horrible name.’ So for two years of my life, in a different city, I was a guy named Boris. People at OVW still call me Boris. That’s how they know me. I had this eureka moment. I go, well, my coach was Don Kolov, and there wasn’t a Boris Kolov, so I asked my coach if I could use the name. He gave me his blessing, so I was Boris Kolov. So then, Paul Heyman was like, ‘I want to change it to Boris Alexiev,’ cause Vince McMahon was always a big fan of the Russian heavyweight, powerlifters – Olympic lifter Vasily Alekseyev. As soon as he told me, I was like, ‘that’s good.’ I was doing something totally different from everyone else, and that’s the name of the game: stand out.”
“Arn Anderson would come down and send out the report. I got a good report; I was the only non-contracted guy on OVW television. There were some rumblings that contracts were coming. [I was told], ‘They’re watching you, they’re watching you.’ One day, Danny Davis was practicing, and he goes, ‘Boris, have a good day today.’ I’m like, ‘don’t mess with me, man!’ A week before I came in, I’m like in tears, and I’m like, ‘Danny, tell me, am I doing the right thing, man? I’m away from my child.’ At this particular stretch, I hadn’t gone home in five months. And then, I got the call, and Mike Boche was like, ‘Hey Boris, how’d you like to work for the WWE?’ I [went] home and I knelt down at my daughter, and I’m like, ‘mission accomplished. Boom!’ It was awesome, man!”