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Santino Marella makes WWE Elimination Chamber 2012 a night to remember

It's one day after the WWE Elimination Chamber 2012 pay-per-view event and while there was plenty to dislike with the show, one man managed to save the entire night and help deliver what, to my eyes, has been the "Match of the Year" so far.

Santino Marella provided thrills galore in the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match, alongside Big Show, Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett and World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan.

Most of us complained openly when Randy Orton suffered a concussion and Santino was chosen as the man to replace him in the Chamber match. The collective thought seemed to be that the match lost the one man who had a real shot at winning and his replacement was just a comedy jobber who hasn't ever really accomplished much of anything in his WWE career.

None of us could have possibly known how the night would turn out.

In the aftermath of the match last night, that nearly saw Marella overcome the odds and win the Big Gold Belt, quite a few folks were calling for him to drop his comedy act and the powers that be to give him a more serious push with an emphasis on his in-ring work and ability to get over with the crowd, as he was last night.

I couldn't disagree more.

Santino is funny. That's why we like him. He's our funny guy on Raw and Smackdown and our funny guy was actually going to be in a Chamber match with a chance to win the title. We didn't really think he could do it but we were kind of pulling for him anyway.

Then they started the show with him doing Rocky skits and we laughed at the cute but harmless fun. Here's our funny guy, being funny and all.

Then he entered the match and we marked out for him like we always do because that's our funny guy, doing his thing. We kind of thought the idea of him winning would be cool but didn't imagine it could ever actually happen. Then when he started doing well and staying alive and even eliminated the Intercontinental champion, we were downright crying for his victory. Our funny guy wasn't just our funny guy anymore, he was our funny guy who could wrestle and he was actually in there getting it done in the ring. He was giving his all against these title holders and main eventers who are supposed to be so much better than he is.

Then Wade Barrett was taken out and we couldn't help but think it: "Oh my god, our funny guy might win. He might actually do it."

And then it stopped being about the potential fallout of the match, about how storylines might be affected and how his winning would change things. We stopped caring about how it would mess up plans for WrestleMania and potential feuds or angles or programs and all that other crap.

Right there and right then, our funny guy, Santino Marella, was close to winning that match and we badly, badly wanted to see it happen. Not because it would be a good swerve, not because we didn't like Daniel Bryan or Wade Barrett or Big Show or Great Khali or Cody Rhodes, not even because this whole thing sort of felt like a joke after Randy Orton's injury, but because you know what?


The fact that he can actually wrestle and showed that he could put on an entertaining underdog style match against a fellow underdog who is actually champion in Bryan was just icing on the cake. That's something we could analyze and appreciate later on.

But then and there, after Santino hit the Cobra -- no matter how goofy that is as a finishing move -- for the next few seconds, we couldn't help but get swept up in the tide, the emotion of the moment and how big it was and could have been. At that precise moment, nothing was more important than the referee slapping the mat three times and awarding our funny guy the world heavyweight title.

Sadly, Bryan kicked out and went on to finish the match in even more spectacular fashion. He reversed the pinfall attempt into the LeBell Lock and we knew this was probably the end. Our funny guy fought valiantly but ultimately, he couldn't pull through. He postured up, teasing that he would break the lock and we hoped beyond hope he would be able to do so.

Alas, it was not to be.

Bryan got more heat at that point than any other superstar who is supposedly better than Marella could give him. He was boisterously booed because he foiled our funny guy from realizing the dream.

In the end it all works out okay. Santino goes back to being our funny guy and making us laugh on Raw and Smackdown whenever called upon. It's what he's good at, after all.

But for one night, he made us all forget everything and gave us something to remember, a night we'll never forget at WWE Elimination Chamber on Sun., Feb. 19, 2012, at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

That's our funny guy, Santino Marella.

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