Santino Marella recently spoke with The Rack on Thursday night. Here are some highlights from the interview.
His Battle Arts Academy: “It’s a hybrid place, and what I mean by that is multiple facilities all under one roof. We have a full MMA training center; we have striking and grappling every day at both the recreational levels and the professional levels. We have professional wrestling, strength and conditioning programs. We have a smoothie bar and retail store in the front; we have nutritionists and professional trainers, everything really. And also with kids classes and after school programs, it’s awesome.
It was a little bit delayed, construction was delayed. I wanted to open in July and thought I had ironed out all the bugs, before I went back out on the road with the WWE, but you know everything takes a little longer than it’s supposed to so just as I was scheduled to go back out on the road is when we opened. So, I went home for a couple of days and tried to catch up and just implement our policies and procedures and made sure everyone was following the procedures put in place. So that’s the kind of stuff; I’m in touch when I’m on the road with everybody here, making sure everything is running smoothly and that people are happy.
One thing we did is that we have awesome trainers, so I know that the quality of our coaching and training is going to be top-notch. We have Mr. Ishikawa, from Japan, who came here just to be an instructor here; he’s amazing. We have an awesome women’s kickboxing instructor names Nichelle Laus, who has competed for 13 years and was a police office and mother of 4. We didn’t just get a kettlebell instructor, we got Tony Wallace who is called ‘The King of Kettlebells’. Everybody we have here is just top-notch and the facility is absolutely beautiful; it came out just brand new and it’s well thought out and designed. There’s very little wasted space and it’s bright and open; the reviews that people give when they come in is that they love it. So, we’re happy.”
His goals for the Battle Arts Academy: “We have a lot of goals, that’s one of our things here. We want to produce top fighters, but we also want to have an awesome kids program and what is equally important to us is just recreational level fitness; we want people to come here and get into the best shape of their lives and be the most confident they’ve ever been. We want our high school level athletes to improve their performance with Olympic weight lifting and boot camps and strength and conditioning. We’re doing a reality show here; we want people to break that barrier and have their first ever amateur fight in the octagon and prepare for it. It’s a lot of mental and spiritual training here and what I mean by that is the fighting spirit has to be trained so that when you reach your limit, you reach your plateau, to dig deep and embrace that plateau and that is what it’s all about. That’s when you can go home and say ‘Man I did something today that I couldn’t do before’. You just improve right in from of your own eyes and that’s when you realize anything is possible with super hard work and really good mentor and stuff like that. We do, we have world champions, national champions from all various martial arts and wrestling, giving all this incredible knowledge to the fortunate community; I always say I wish I had this place when I was growing up.
The reality show he has in the works: “The reality show is about MMA; it’s about young fighters who really want to have their first-ever MMA fight, break that barrier in terms of fear and get in the octagon and have their first ever amateur fight. It may be somebody that has a background in karate as a kid, or wrestling but they want to tie it all together and have an MMA fight. So, we’re going to go down to some of the other dojos in the greater Toronto area and find opponents and make this season finale card and talk about the training and the obstacles whether they be mental or physical and ultimately show the fight.
It’s going to be web-based so when you’re watching the show and let’s say Mr. Ishikawa is showing one of his submissions, we’ll have something where; everybody can watch the show, but for a small fee or premium price, you can click here for further detail on this particular submission or ‘click here’ for the breakdown of this particular Olympic wrestling technique. And people can actually learn a lot and be entertained.”
How did the Cobra come about: “When I attended the original Battle Arts in Japan in 2004, one of the partners there; we were sitting having dinner and beverages after one of our shows and he just said ‘Hey, watch this’ and he did this thing and made his arm into a snake and I’d kind of forgotten about it and years later it popped into my head before my match, and I tried it out and it was born; the crowd liked it immediately.”
His recent return to WWE TV at their Toronto show: “It was awesome actually. The grand opening was actually the night before my return, so it was a really cool weekend. I had the Grand Opening party on Sunday, returning to the WWE on Monday, Smackdown on Tuesday; so it was a cool weekend.
It was awesome. When my music hit and the people erupted it was like ‘Yes!’. It was a very special moment for me and my career. It’s definitely up there in the Top-5 of the coolest moments in my career, that’s for sure.”
His goals in wrestling: “I want to go for the big one this time; World Heavyweight Champion, you know? Alberto Del Rio; he’s a world class champion, I can’t take anything away from him. I have a lot of respect for him actually; I wouldn’t trash talk him by any means, but there’s only one guy at the top and I don’t care if it’s even for just a short time, I just want to be king of the mountain for a little while.” little while.”