WWE Superstar Santino Marella - real name Anthony Carelli - has announced that his in-ring wrestling career is over after suffering his third neck injury.
Rather than forcing a comeback, Marella has decided to take up a position out of the ring with the company, although his exact role is unclear as of yet. The comedy persona that Marella has been playing during his seven years with the WWE has seen him gain fans, despite a lack of success in recent times, and this character could continue on-screen in a manager or announcer role.
Marella, who debuted in 2007 after responding to an open challenge from Vince McMahon to take on Umaga, won the Intercontinental Championship on his first night after entering the ring from the crowd. From there, Santino had a varied run in the WWE, while being a constant fixture in the mid-card. As well as a stint as the United States Champion, Santino almost (infamously) won the Royal Rumble - a decision which would have gone down as one of the boldest in WWE history, but without too many disparaging comments from fans.
In a video posted to YouTube of Marella's speech, a clearly emotional Carelli is seen breaking kayfabe at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, Canada. Addressing the crowd, Marella claims the Toronto show is what he "looks forward to all year". He continues: "I really wanted to perform in front of you guys and I apologise that I was unable to."
Marella rounds-up his speech by claiming "I'm one of you guys" before making his way backstage to the sound of cheers and a standing ovation.
Watch the video of Santino's retirement speech:
After starting his WWE career in his scripted 'hometown' of Milan, Italy, there's a certain charm about the fact that Santino ends it in his actual home country, Canada.