Santino Marella is far from the most famous wrestler to ever grace a WWE ring, but at the height of his decade run with the company, he was a very popular superstar.
Marella was released earlier this year due to nagging injuries and the pseudo-Italian announced that he would be retiring from the squared circle shortly after.
The 42-year-old - and actually Canadian - spent two years in Ohio Valley Wrestling from 2005-2007 and this was before NXT was the WWE's in-house developmental programme.
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Before he was a former two-time Intercontinental champion and one-time United States champion, Marella was cutting his teeth in OVW where a certain Paul Heyman, recently exiled from the SmackDown writing staff, was guiding some of the young talent.
The mastermind behind ECW helped bring through the likes of CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Lashley among many others during his time in Ohio, but the Milan Miracle never forget how Heyman tried to help him in his early days with the company.
Speaking on Colt Cabana's 'The Art of Wrestling' podcast, Marella revealed just how clever Heyman is.
"When I was Boris Kolov, after Rip Rogers gave me the name Boris, now that's just my nickname. Like, 'Boris? What the hell? I've got to work with that?' All of a sudden, in the middle of the night, I go, 'my coach was Dan Kolov. I could be Boris Kolov.' And I think there wasn't that combination of Boris' and Kolovs yet."
Carelli added, "and when I became Boris Alexiev, Paul Heyman gave me that last name because there was a famous Russian powerlifter, Alexiev, and Vince was a big fan, so he wanted to have the association. And if Vince hears 'Alexiev,' he'll have a positive image in his mind, which was brilliant on Paul's [part]. I love him."
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