Current Impact Wrestling authority figure and WWE legend Santino Marella could be "lacing up the boots" sometime soon after a series of brutal injury setbacks.
Marella, the former two-time Intercontinental Champion under the WWE banner, has found himself as the new face of power on Impact Wrestling as their Director of Authority.
In an exclusive interview with Daily Star, the judo black belt confirmed he "can wrestle" but not "full-time" and reflected on his new position in the industry.
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Marking his return to Impact back in January, Marella – who formerly performed with Impact under his real name Anthony Carelli – has already worked the screen with the likes of Bully Ray, Josh Alexander and Dirty Dango.
Speaking exclusively about the comedy-turned-commanding wrestling persona, Marella said: "It's nice to be back, especially with a company like Impact and I get to be Santino, but more the original article.
"I actually wanted to do that [authority figure] near the end of the WWE run, and wanted to be like a general manager. I've always played the character. It's fun. Eventually someone's gonna get in my face and I'll have to lace up the boots and teach them a lesson.
"In the meantime, I'm just enjoying being on the road again, sitting in a locker room, sitting in on production meetings. I love television. It's where I belong."
Mentioning a potential return to the ring, Marella noted he can "still wrestle" and, although it would not be a full-time return, it could certainly be on the cards following two neck surgeries in 2014 and 2016.
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The former United States champion said: "I can wrestle. I just can't wrestle full time. My body has taken a lot of injuries and things are compensating for something else. A tight hip here, a sore ankle there. It adds up.
"I'm constantly trying to fight it, you know, I'll try and do an ice plunge and I stretch, I'm meticulous with my water intake to make sure I'm hydrated and all this magnesium and these supplements, just to break even."
The 49-year-old added he "just wants to be comfortable" now that he has entered fatherhood, adding: "I've got to be able to get down and play with them."
But for many in the industry, the veteran of the ring said that "mindset is everything".
Marella explained: "If you have a family you're constantly having to battle with whether or not you're doing the right thing by being on the road, you know, you should be there, you should be at home with your family, especially when you have small kids.
"It's a real mental struggle. It was for me. I'm also grateful that the Impact schedule is a little lighter because my daughter's one and my son is four. If I have to miss any more time at home than absolutely necessary, it'll drive me crazy.
"Impact is a very good balance. A lot of talent can go work the Indies, and if you're young and you wanna hustle, man, the potential is unlimited for how much you can go and earn.
"Before Covid was like, I was working seven days a week, felt like for like a year. I just couldn't say no. I've learned to say no."
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