Somebody Loves Santino (lost episodes of unaired sitcom featuring WWE wrestlers; 2010)
Somebody Loves Santino (also known as The Santino Marella Sitcom) is an unaired sitcom produced by WWE in 2010. It starred professional wrestler Santino Marella, focusing primarily on his misadventures at home and on the road alongside fellow stars Beth Phoenix and Vladimir Kozlov. Alas, quality issues prevented the show from being aired on WWE.com or on television.
By 2010, Santino Marella was a two-time WWE Intercontinental champion, having formed a partnership with Beth Phoenix that culminated with them winning the Intercontinental and Women's Championships respectively at the 2008 SummerSlam. He had also recently appeared in an ECW segment with Vladimir Kozlov, with the pair eventually winning the WWE Tag Team Championship in late-2010. With his popularity rising as a comedic wrestler, Marella began pitching a traditional sitcom show to WWE, capitalising on the company being interested in diversifying its product. On 26th January 2010, AOL reported on the proposed show, with Marella explaining his ambition to harness one or two cameras to create a sitcom inspired by traditional programs like Seinfeld. Starring himself, it would also feature Phoenix as his girlfriend and Kozlov as his best friend. The sitcom was less about wrestling and more so regarding the misadventures of Marella's home life. It was reportedly called The Santino Marella Sitcom.
In an interview with IGN, Marella stated that he, Phoenix, and Kozlov would film three episodes in February 2010 while off the road in Tampa, Florida. These would then be showcased to WWE officials, with the ambition of airing them on WWE.com. If the episodes proved popular, WWE were also considering securing a network television deal to broadcast future episodes. The most likely candidate to televise the show would have been the USA Network, who was also airing WWE Raw. While USA Network's Executive Vice President Chris McCumber insisted the network was not particularly searching for new sitcoms, he did praise Marella's comedic talents and expressed interest in seeing an episode. Marella himself expressed that if the show was successful, he would start transitioning away from professional wrestling and into full-time acting.
In a December 2022 interview with The Ten Count with Steve Fall, Marella provided further details on the show. Originally, he and a few editors worked on a pilot surrounding Marella and Phoenix's home life, titled Somebody Loves Santino. After Marella gave WWE Chairman Vince McMahon a DVD copy for him to view, the latter greenlit the show, and demanded a few higher-budget episodes. These episodes would be written by WWE head writer Brian Gewirtz. However, the show's production was affected by a few personal tragedies Gewirtz experienced. Additionally, he and Marella conflicted on the show's format. Whereas Gewirtz wanted the show to be targeted more towards adults with camerawork inspired by Curb Your Enthusiasm, Marella aimed for a traditional sitcom with canned laughter, which he felt would resonate with children.
Eventually, three full episodes were produced. The first saw Marella become addicted to Nicorette despite the fact he never smoked a cigarette before. Another had him and Kozlov try out a voice-activated car, only for calamities to occur as the car cannot understand their accents. The third episode saw Marella fancy a woman present at the tanning salon, to the point where he continually uses and burns himself on the sunbed so he can keep interacting with her. Marella was less inclined with this episode, deeming it to be unfunny, especially as the applied makeup was of poor quality. By 4th February 2010, filming wrapped up with Phoenix tweeting "The crew laughed til they cried...so proud of everyone!".
Ultimately, WWE was not impressed with the episodes and decided not to upload them to WWE.com. Marella himself believed the original pilot was funnier, deeming that his and Gewirtz's creative differences may have contributed to the project stalling. But while Somebody Loves Santino went unaired, WWE remained interested in creating a sitcom featuring its wrestlers. This culminated in WWE and Netflix teaming together to produce a show in 2020 featuring The Big Show, appropriately titled The Big Show Show, with Marella noting similarities between that sitcom and his unrealised project.
While a pilot and three full episodes were made, no footage or imagery from Somebody Loves Santino has been publicly released. Aside from WWE's lack of interest in the show, another contributing factor preventing a full release was Marella being released from his WWE contract in May 2016, after he experienced a career-ending neck injury. Unless Marella makes a full-time return to WWE, it is unlikely any episodes of the show will become publicly available, even on the WWE Network. Nevertheless, Marella revealed on The Ten Count with Steve Fall that he possessed a DVD copy of the pilot, bringing the possibility he could possibly release it in the future. Fall meanwhile recalled seeing a commercial containing a snippet of footage from the show, which also remains lost.
- Bleacher Report detailing Marella's career up to March 2010. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- First Sportz detailing Phoenix's career. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- TJR Wrestling reviewing Marella and Phoenix winning gold at the 2008 SummerSlam. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- Archived IGN reporting on the show's creation and Marella's comments on it. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- WWE page on Kozlov. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- Archived AOL providing the first report on the sitcom. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- WWE.com reporting on the sitcom's conceptualisation. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- Diva Dirt reporting on the show and titling it The Santino Marella Sitcom. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- Bleacher Report documenting the Marella sitcom that never materialised. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- Wrestle Zone reporting on Marella's The Ten Count with Steve Fall comments on Somebody Loves Santino. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- The Sportster detailing the career of Gewirtz. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- 4th February 2010 tweet from Phoenix on the end of filming. Retrieved 12th Apr '23
- TJR Wrestling summarising Marella being released from WWE in May 2016. Retrieved 12th Apr '23