A common complaint with the WCW-ECW Alliance is the lack of legitimate tag teams in their ranks. Other than the Dudley Boyz, and now Kronik, there are very few teams with the name recognition or star power to carry on a main-event level feud. For many, the solution is simple: bring in the F.B.I.
The Full-Blooded Italians of ECW were one of the more entertaining teams in the promotion before its eventual demise. The team underwent many changes during its lifetime, with partners ranging in shapes, sizes, ages, styles and attitudes. Through it all, the one constant was the presence of Little Guido Maritato, who talked with SLAM! Wrestling at Mikey Whipwreck’s Retirement Bash, put on by Border City Wrestling last month.
Even before he was known as Little Guido, James Maritato had a diverse pro career. “In 1993, I was mainly wrestling in independents around the New York area under the name Damien Stone. At the end of 1993, I went to Japan and wrestled for the UWFI, a ‘shoot’ group. I was there for three years and then came home in 1996. Then I wrestled in Puerto Rico for a short stint before I got the call from ECW.”
During his travels, Maritato learned a variety of wrestling styles, which he blended with the traditional North American technique to come up with one of his own. His ability to adapt to any of these styles allowed him to have matches against a broad range of opponents, including both Tajiri and Super Crazy, against whom he had memorable bouts.
“The shoot stuff didn’t really work in America like it did in Japan. So I threw in some Mexican stuff and some other styles as well, just to be different. As a wrestler, you learn to adapt. That’s what makes you a professional, that’s what makes you successful.”
Back in ECW, Maritato initially worked as Damien Stone until Paul Heyman created the Little Guido character.
“My first partner was J.T. Smith and we became the Full Blooded Italians. Then I had many partners — I worked with Tracey Smothers, Tommy Rich, Big Sal, Sal Bellomo, Big Vito, Kid Kash (as Davey Paisano), and a whole host of others.”
During this time, the team was often treated as comic relief, despite the talents of Maritato and his partner at the time. Especially comedic were the portrayal of stereotypical Italians by southerners Smothers and “Godfather” Tommy Rich, and the sight-gag caused by the size difference between cruiserweight Guido and the mammoth Sal E. Graziano.
“We had a lot of fun. We did a lot of comical stuff, then moved into the serious. We wrestled a lot of styles, many different ways.”
Maritato had a brief singles run before teaming up with Tony Mamaluke in the last incarnation of the F.B.I. His success with Mamaluke was a surprise to most fans, given that Mamaluke was even slighter and smaller than Guido and not known for his wrestling technique (his first wrestling role of note was that of Tony Marinara, the son of a mob boss, in WCW). With Maritato providing the wrestling, and Mamaluke earning notoriety for taking huge risks and insane bumps, the team captured the ECW Tag Team belts shortly thereafter.
“Tony’s a great worker, and a hell of a guy. I did the technical wrestling, he did his craziness. We were a good team.”
Unfortunately, just when people were looking beyond the Guido character and started taking notice of Maritato as a legitimate competitor, ECW went out of business, putting Maritato out of a job.
At the time of this interview, Maritato hadn’t had any major contact with the WWF, however he mentioned that he would like to head there at some point. In the meantime, he’s back on the independent circuit, mainly spending time in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
At the Border City show, Guido tried to take the Can-Am Title from Mikey Whipwreck in Mikey’s last Canadian match. It’s a meeting that both men would like to have again before Mikey’s retirement in October.
“I’ve wrestled Mikey all around the world. He knows me like a book, and I know him.”
Whipwreck echoed these comments, noting that the familiarity of Guido in the ring makes for a good match. “Plus, we have a lot of fun, and he’s a good friend of mine.”
Between indy appearances, which are posted on his website (www.littleguido.com), Maritato is generally taking things day to day.
“I’m doing the independents, here and traveling some more. It’s a tough time to be in the wrestling industry right now. I’m just going to wait and see what happens.”