During IMPACT Wrestling's Hard to Kill 2023 pay-per-view, former WWE Superstar Santino Marella made an appearance and announced he was the new interim Director of Authority while Scott D'Amore is currently at home waiting to recover from the fact that Bully Ray crashed him into a table during a weekly episode.
A few hours later, the same company announced that The Milan Miracle has officially signed a contract, even if this had already been reported by Mike Johnson of PWInsider, who had also specified that Marella can use the name he had in WWE since the Stamford's company has let the patent on that trademark expire, so D'Amore's company has permission to use it from 2021/2022.
Santino Marella opens up on IMPACT
Speaking on The Dave Van Auken Show presented by Fight Bananas, Santino Marella opened up about his decision to join IMPACT: “I was really looking forward to 2023 to get back out there and do something.
Scott (D'Amore), as usual, when hiring former WWE guys goes and checks the brands. He found out that in 2021, WWE has not rebranded the “Santino Marella” brand. Scott jumped right in and now IMPACT Wrestling owns the “Santino Marella” brand.
A lot of people, when I came out and said I was Santino Marella, they were amazed that I could use it. He almost made more news than my debut. It was a hoot. I was happy not having to alter the character and just be Santino, something I'm good at and comfortable with.
I haven't been away long enough for anyone to recognize me, but I've been away long enough for it to mean something. It was a good balance. Timing is everything and the time was right”. The wrestler then talked about the various visas that are needed to work in the United States, since he is theoretically Canadian, saying that it would have been expensive for WWE or AEW to pay him a work visa for a single appearance, but with IMPACT he was able to a different visa in order to work on it regularly, however asking D'Amore to possibly have the opportunity to work in the ring with his daughter, Arianna Grace, in WWE if she were to be called to the main roster by NXT and he agreed.
His character was so unique that WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix recently paid tribute to him. "We had a lot of awesome adventures together as a tandem. Where Santino would do everything in his power to get me to laugh. He contributed so much to making me look dominant as a performer. Probably my favorite time in my career."