Anthony Carelli (aka Santino Marella) recently appeared on The Art Of Wrestling With Colt Cabana to talk about various topics. During the podcast, Carelli said he adopted an MMA-inspired gimmick in OVW and then Paul Heyman gave him Boris Kozlov name for his character because Vince McMahon was a big fan of Olympian Vasily Alekseyev and thought the name would endear him to McMahon.
When asked about how he came up with the Santino Marella character, Carelli said that Hollywood Nova, who was working on SmackDown at the time, asked if he spoke Italian and he said yes. It worked out for Carelli because he was booked to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship on the night he debuted on WWE Monday Night RAW back in April of 2007. Carelli said after a phone call with WWE officials, Nova sent him his passport and he flew the next day to get to Italy on a Sunday. Carelli said that McMahon came up with the idea of Santino Marella.
You can listen to the podcast here: