Tommaso Ciampa has opened up about why he has remained with NXT rather than moving to WWE’s main roster.
Since joining WWE in 2015, Tommaso Ciampa has become something of a mainstay on the black and gold brand. In the years that followed his signing, Ciampa won the NXT Championship, the NXT Tag Team Championships and competed in numerous highly acclaimed matches against the likes of Johnny Gargano.
In 2019, the former NXT Champion caused something of a stir when he said during an interview with Lillian Garcia, that he’d rather retire than join the main roster.
Speaking in a new interview with Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp, Ciampa clarified those earlier comments explaining that his WWE future really comes down to workload.
“It’s the load. I think people misconstrued it as ‘he hates Raw or SmackDown.’ No, when I talked to (Lilian Garcia), it was a month or two after I had neck surgery, neck surgery that was potentially going to end my career. We were discussing home and road life and I said, ‘I don’t think I can handle traveling 300 days out of the year.’ I physically would need a lighter load and NXT provides a lighter load. That’s where I was at. If somebody told me today, ‘You have to travel 300 days for work,’ then, okay, the job is not for me,”
Ciampa expanded further, explaining simply that with his previous neck injury and desire to be at home with his daughter, he can’t work 300 dates per-year.
“Things have changed. The pandemic hit and no one travelled. Now, we’re kind of post-pandemic, not really, but we kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel and people are traveling a little bit. 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. That’s reality and truth. He has a three year old at home and likes to watch her grow up, that’s important to him. It’s kind of silly to take it and spin it in such weird direction like I said it out of spite or hate because I didn’t, It’s not what it was.“
Despite this, Ciampa says that he’s not ruling anything out as far the future is concerned. However, he’s also acutely aware of what is physically possible due to his injury record.
“I’m open to anything, it just has to fit me as a husband, a father, a performer, an athlete, a human being, knowing my age, my body, my desires, my wants and goals. It’s not as simple as ‘I’m not doing that thing because I’m not fulfilled creatively there.’ It’s such a silly…I’m a grown ass man. I have a wife and kid. I don’t care about a fake storyline as much as people think. I care about my livelihood. I get it, perception is reality and people always look for headlines and want to spin it and go with whatever direction, but at the end of the day, I love the art form of pro wrestling and the idea of getting in there with new and fresh opponents. I love the idea of being challenged in ways I haven’t been challenged. Whether that’s a different platform with more eyes on me or with someone like Rey Mysterio, a legit living legend, I love all of it. That sounds great to me.”
“I also make all my decisions based on what’s based for me. I’m a realist. I understand the surgeries that I have. I feel great right now. I feel 100% super healthy, but I’m not dumb. My schedule has been fairly limited and I haven’t pushed my neck beyond it’s limit. I haven’t taken a crazy load or schedule. I know there’s a reason why I feel as good as I do. Any time I make any decisions to increase any load, that’s just going to play a factor in my decision. It has nothing to do with any spite or hate towards anyone. We all work for the same company. We’re friends with all those guys and girls and I enjoy watching them perform and succeed,”
Shortly after the turn of the year, Tommaso Ciampa formed a tag team with Timothy Thatcher. The pair challenged for the NXT Tag Team Titles as recently as July, but were ultimately unsuccessful.
After being attacked by a returning Danny Burch along with Oney Lorcan, Pete Dunne and Ridge Holland, Thatcher took on Holland on the most recent episode of the black and gold brand. Despite a spirited effort from the veteran, Thatcher and Ciampa were again left laying by the four men.
H/t to Fightful for the transcription.