Does anybody remember his IC title reign? He was so over and his promos were amazing. I remember he stole King's sandwich the Subway guy gave him and several months later Jerry tried to call him out on something and he said "Sorry Jerry, I did not recognize you without your sandwich." As somebody who has been watching WWE since the mid 90's, I have never seen somebody play such a great comedic heel. Santino is one of the only guys who can do it and make it work.
No point in turning Santino heel IMO. His Merch sales well and the WWE needs more guys like him and Ryder, two mid card wrestlers the fans care about. You just need to give them both Title Runs (IC & US) at some point and then Squash them the rest of the time.
I remember when Santino first came into the business and wasnt a joke. He had actual potential and talent and could have been an amazing heel and gone on to still holding the Intercontinental championship. But yet, like all the great potential in WWE, WWE has to bury them all in stupid gimmicks
The ONE thing Santino needs are a few longer matches with actual wrestling in it. He could still do his comedy things, he could still job, but people would actually see that he can do far more than POWERWALK, LEGSPLIT, KOBRA!!!!, FAIL!