Tommaso Ciampa was, at one point, easily in the Top 10 Best Wrestlers on Planet Earth. Back when NXT was black and yellow and not the multi-colored car crash of a show it is today (y’know, just over a fricking year ago), Tommaso Ciampa put on stellar match after steller match—usually with Johnny Gargano, but still—and was the kind of character that just oozed badassitude or the kind of evil ‘I-will-destroy-you-and-everyone-you-have-ever-cared-about’ charisma that would have you genuinely think that if you pissed Tommaso Ciampa off, he’d climb through your TV and throttle you with your lower intestine.
But not anymore.
Something has happened to Tommaso Ciampa since he, seemingly, made his clean break from NXT in April that has me scratching my head like I’ve got lice. I mean, I haven’t got lice, it’s a metaphor. But somewhere between him finally taking the leap to the main roster and this Monday Night’s RAW, Tommaso Ciampa—the character and the wrestler—seems to have stepped off a precipice and plunged into the Sports Entertainment abyss.
And if you want to know why I think that is, I’ve got two words for you.
Now I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, Christ, Neil, you devilishly handsome, rugged, beast of a man. is this going to be another piece where you bitch and moan about VKM?” and to be honest, to a degree yes it is, but I fully believe that Big Vinnie Mac is responsible for the incredibly weird, not quite a burial but near as damn it, booking that Tommaso Ciampa has had to suffer since he left NXT behind. And for two reasons.
Vince McMahon Doesn’t Trust Tommaso Ciampa
Not in a “Hey, lend me some money” “No, feck off, you still owe me from last month” kind of way, but more in a Tommaso Ciampa has had his fair shares of injuries and some have been pretty career-threatening kind of way. Let us not forget that Ciampa was out for the best part of a year with a torn ACL and he’s also had to have surgery on his neck, meaning that he can’t work as much as the company would want him to.
He explained it himself when talking to Fightful in 2021 where he said;
I’m also two years out from neck surgery. I have this discussion with a lot of people and it’s always confusing to me and I think sometimes as a professional wrestler, and most likely for all athletes across the board, people look at you like ‘is he a cog in the wheel?’ People forget there is a human being there.
The human being, Tommaso Ciampa, can’t travel 300 days a year because he had neck surgery.”
If history has taught us anything when it comes to Vincent Kennedy McMahon, it’s that he wants those that work for the WWE to put in as much time and effort as he does, and considering that he’s a genetic freak who thinks sneezing is for the weak and that sleeping is for the cold embrace of the grave, anyone who doesn’t come up to snuff soon gets pushed to the back of the cue.
I’m not saying that everyone who had a history of injuries has been set aside for someone new. The likes of Triple H, Rey Mysterio, and Edge did alright for themselves, but these guys were Main Event Stars at the time. When you get further down the pecking order such as your Mister Kennedys (Kennedy!) and Evan Bournes, it doesn’t take long for Vince to decide that they’re more hassle than they’re worth, and sadly for Tommaso Ciampa, even though he was a huge part of NXT, he’s now back to little fish, big pond syndrome.
Vince McMahon Doesn’t Like Tommaso Ciampa
Not in an ‘if-I-see-that-guy-in-a-bar-imma-gone-knock-him-out’ kind of way, more in a ‘he-really-doesn’t-look-like-a-VKM-type-of-sports-entertainer’ kind of way. Vince has a history with big, sweaty men and ever since NXT has been rebooted to NXT 2.0, that’s what we get. Big, sweaty, men. The main roster is full of them as well. All their top-tier talent are fricking huge, built like mountains, and have the kind of move-set that John Cena would be jealous of, so someone of Tommaso Ciampa’s size and build just doesn’t match the blueprint.
Yes, I know that Austin Theory is on a tear at the moment, but I put that down to VKM wanting to show the world that the WWE is equal opportunity and not still the Land of the Giants, yet you can put your house on the fact that as soon as Vince gets bored or Theory botches badly enough, he’ll be back down to Main Event where he can wrestle Ciampa until both their contracts run out.
Tommaso Ciampa doesn’t fit in with VKM’s ideal of a wrestler, and that’s never good.
Also, rumor has it that Ciampa actually turned down a call-up to the main roster not once, but twice, and if there’s one thing that you never do is cross the boss. Vince has a long memory and if you don’t think that you’ll be happy on RAW or SmackDown—no matter how good your reasoning—then you’ve pretty much climbed in the coffin and shut the lid yourself.
So, What’s The Solution?
Honestly, I don’t think there is one outside of Tommaso Ciampa running down his contract and heading for pastures new. Since he came up to RAW he’s had five matches, four of which he’s lost, has been a patsy on the house show circuit for Ezekiel, and if it wasn’t for Main Event, he would’ve only had one win in three months. Now he’s aligned with The Miz and I can tell you how that’s going to go.
For those of you who didn’t read my excellent RAW Talking Points article from yesterday, allow me to explain my Austin Theory. Sorry, not sorry, couldn’t resist.
The Miz and Tommaso Ciampa are now a team after they laid out AJ Styles on the show. This has only been done so the WWE can set up a Tag Team Match between Miz/Ciampa and Styles/Logan Paul. Expect Paul to make an appearance on next week’s show, either to bail AJ out or as AJ’s surprise new friend. This will lead to a match at SummerSlam between the four that will end with Paul getting a clean pin over Tommaso Ciampa, killing off whatever last shred of credibility Ciampa once had and making him wish he’d followed Johnny Gargano out of the door.
Still, it’s only a matter of time before he does in my opinion, and then we can restart one of the greatest wrestling feuds in recent history all over again.
I bet Tony Khan is itching to make that call.
Probably because he does have lice.
*Please note that neither SPOBS nor Neil Gray actually believes that Tony Khan has lice. It’s just a round-up of a previous joke earlier in the article*