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By Mike Johnson on 2014-07-06 21:43:22
WWE star Santino Marella (real name Anthony Carelli) announced tonight at WWE's live event in Toronto, where he resides, that he was retiring from in-ring competition.

Marella cited a number of neck issues, stemming from multiple injuries, as why he was closing his career. He had been openly talking of retirement for some time and recently opened a pro wrestling and MMA training school in Toronto.

Marella signed a WWE developmental deal in 2005 after fighting in MMA and doing some Canadian independents. He debuted in 2007 on a live Raw broadcast from Italy as a "fan" coming out of the crowd to challenge and upset then-WWE Intercontinental champion Umaga for the title.

In the years that followed, the Marella character would morph into the company's most popular comedy character of the current WWE era, holding the United States and Tag Team championship and becoming so beloved that he would get massive crowd reactions going to the end of the 2011 Royal Rumble before losing to Alberto Del Rio and coming close to winning an Elimination Chamber bout in 2012.

In his announcement, which came during a surprise promo during the live event, Marella implied he would remain with. WWE in a non-wrestling role. In recent weeks, Marella has been promoting an anti-bullying campaign with WWE sponsor Juicy Drops.

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