By Perry Lefko
Amid chants of “you still got it” and “Hall Of Fame,” Mississauga’s Anthony Carelli, who wrestled in the WWE as Santino Marella and won several championships, came out of retirement Sunday night for one final match in the main event of Destiny Wrestling’s Summer Heat at Battle Arts Academy.
Carelli, who owns Battle Arts, a multi-faceted gym that includes a program to train wrestlers and boxers, teamed up with Chavo Guerrero Jr., another WWE alumnus, against a team that included RJ City, Stonee Rockwell and Scott D’Amore.
Marella and Guerrero won by pinfall.
It was an emotional moment for Carelli, who was forced to retire from pro wrestling in July, 2014 following a series of neck surgeries. Prior to Sunday’s match, he hadn’t wrestled in four years.
Carelli took a series of bumps and falls in the match and performed many of the comedic physical routines he did as a wrestler, including doing the splits, walking around and pretending to play the trombone and pulling out his Cobra sock puppet.
“It’s sure nice to not be on the receiving end of that Cobra, which I’d been on about 1,500 times in my career,” said Guerrero, who filled in for Albert Del Rio, who was unable to attend because of legal issues.
“I appreciate you guys saying I still got it, but that match really hurt my neck and I can’t do this (anymore),” Carelli said. “But I got to wrestle in my building, my ring, in front of my friends and family.”
Among the people in attendance were his wife, Anna, who had never seen him wrestle professionally, and his father, Frank.
“I finally got an introduction as being from Mississauga,” added Carelli, who was born and raised in Mississauga and built Battle Arts to help young people achieve their dreams to become champions and enjoy physical fitness and athletics.
“Now I have a chance to go out on my terms,” he said. “This is probably it, so you guys witnessed it. Thank you for letting me do this.”
Carelli can be seen regularly on Sportsnet’s Aftermath, in which he is a regular panelist.