Of the eight people released from their WWE contracts last Friday, May 6, Santino Marella was probably the one most of us assumed was most prepared for the news.
The former Intercontinental champion announced his in-ring retirement a while back, and has only made one-off promotional appearances for the company over the past year. Plus, he runs a martial arts gym in Toronto, and appeared to the world to have moved on from sports entertainment.
That wasn't necessarily the case, as you can hear in the above clip of his interview with Another Wrestling Podcast.
Whether it was a realistic option or not, Santino says his conversations with WWE before the release were about ways to use him as something other than a wrestler, so the "future endeavor" caught him off-guard:
Yeah, I guess I was shocked, because there was always talk about when I come back I was gonna take a non-physical role, like maybe there was a little chatter about being a GM and I even suggested perhaps a manager if anybody needed one. But yeah, I guess they changed their mind.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the mixed messages it sounds like he was getting, he says he now feels liberated by the release:
It's interesting, it's a strange phenomenon you know. A little bit of "wow, it's over" and then like "wow, that was awesome" you know "what's gonna be next" worried and then this sense of kind of freedom and just this weight, because, you know you commit. And you're a part of the team and you're... I don't want to say the own you, but they kind of own you. There's certain opportunities you'll have to let go cause you're with them, so now I don't have those obstacles any more.
This is in line with Marella's quick Twitter reaction last week - thankful to fans and WWE for the opportunity - but with the benefit of time, perhaps realizing he has more opportunities now without WWE than he did with them.
Surprised that Santion was surprised?