A former WWE Intercontinental Champion has made their debut for IMPACT Wrestling, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be competing anytime soon.
IMPACT Wrestling’s Hard To Kill pay-per-view took place at Center Stage in Atlanta, Georgia on the 13th of January and was a noteworthy show for several reasons. Josh Alexander retained his IMPACT World Championship against WWE Hall of Famer Bully Ray while Mickie James survived putting her career on the line to defeat Jordynne Grace and become a five-time Knockouts Champion.
Meanwhile, former AEW star Frankie Kazarian appeared on the show to reveal he has now signed a long-term deal with IMPACT Wrestling but that was not the only surprise.
Joe Hendry put his Digital Media Championship on the line against Moose with the former IMPACT World Champion thinking he had picked up the victory after a low blow. That brought out former WWE Intercontinental, Tag Team, and US Champion Santino Marella who is now IMPACT’s Director of Authority.
Marella – in full Italian character – restarted the bout with Hendry then picking up the victory to retain his championship.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) January 14, 2023
Santino Marella left WWE in 2014 and was forced to step away from the ring full-time due to neck issues. He has competed on several occasions on the independent scene in the years since and was an unlikely competitor in the women’s Royal Rumble in 2020 as his alter ego Santina.
WWE abandoned the Santino Marella trademark some time ago, allowing it to be registered recently for the real-life Anthony Carelli to use the name in IMPACT Wrestling.