Tommaso Ciampa stepped contained in the storied partitions of Madison Sq. Backyard on Sunday night time, wrestling his first-ever singles match in an enviornment synonymous with WWE.
The match was a part of WWE’s reside vacation tour, a non-televised occasion that also holds quite a lot of significance to these within the locker room.
“Any time I get requested to do the Backyard, I’ll at all times say sure,” stated Ciampa. “So many legendary performers have performed right here. It means rather a lot to share a bit of that historical past and it means rather a lot to symbolize NXT in opposition to Pete Dunne.”
One of many reigning NXT champion’s first loves was the sport of basketball. Rising up simply outdoors of Boston, Ciampa got here of age at a time when the Celtics had been predominantly rebuilding, or, in some instances, simply plain dangerous. So he immersed himself within the Michael Jordan-led period of the NBA, which included a number of spectacular performances from Corridor of Famer Reggie Miller at Madison Sq. Backyard.
“Stepping by way of the curtain, I instantly considered Reggie Miller coming in right here and taking part in the Knicks, scoring eight factors in 9 seconds [in the 1995 NBA playoffs],” stated Ciampa, who has performed the function of instigator and agitator in NXT similar to Miller did with the Indiana Pacers. “I’m an enormous Boston sports activities fan, so I considered video games between the Celtics and Knicks. It’s simply wonderful to be at Madison Sq. Backyard.”
Defending the NXT title in opposition to Pete Dunne, the 2 put forth a hard-hitting bout. It additionally served as a reminder of the expertise stage in NXT, the place the brand new 2.0 version options lots of the similar stars who helped create lasting recollections throughout the black-and-gold period.
The end got here in a sequence the place Dunne laid a kick onto Ciampa’s face, then arrange his pumphandle vertical suplex powerbomb. However Ciampa countered, catching Dunne with a naked knee to the jaw—“Mouthpiece and all,” Ciampa famous—then hit the Fairytale Ending for the one-two-three.
“Pete Dunne is likely one of the greatest skilled wrestlers on the earth,” stated Ciampa. “This was solely our second time ever wrestling a singles match, with the primary being for his UK title in England. It’s a pleasure to share a hoop with him. He’s a world-class particular person out and in of the ring.”
This marked Ciampa’s second look at MSG. His first was three years in the past at the exact same day-after-Christmas reside occasion when he was a part of a 10-man tag that additionally included Johnny Gargano, Dunne, Ricochet, Aleister Black, Matt Riddle, The Velveteen Dream, The Undisputed Period’s Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Sturdy. That whole group as soon as seemed to be the way forward for WWE. However rather a lot has modified, which was once more seen when O’Reilly appeared alongside Cole and Bobby Fish final week in AEW on the identical present the place Malakai Black was additionally victorious. It’s now even attainable free agent Gargano, a staple of NXT over the previous 5 years, will spend his future in a distinct firm.
“I discover it on the TV days,” stated Ciampa when requested if weekly NXT tapings have been totally different since Gargano was seemingly written off the present earlier this month. “We reside 10 minutes from one another, so we nonetheless see one another in on a regular basis life. That’s the character of the beast. If I might solely inform you the variety of individuals I’ve shared a locker room with over time. It’s what it’s. And truthfully, we’re so locked in on TV days that you must keep targeted.”
Ciampa is scheduled to be again on tv on NXT 2.0 on Tuesday night time. He’s constructing to his subsequent title protection: a rematch in opposition to 24-year-old phenom Bron Breakker at New 12 months’s Evil on Jan. 4—crucial match of Breakker’s younger profession. With the NXT panorama in a state of transformation, all indicators level to Breakker–who’s the nephew of Scott Steiner and the son of Rick Steiner–beginning his first-ever title run. However the belt nonetheless belongs to Ciampa, which is an honor and privilege for the 16-year wrestling veteran.
“I by no means take this as a right, particularly being the face of NXT,” Ciampa stated. “It’s laborious to come back by these alternatives. The competitors is thru the roof. I’ve labored actual laborious to get so far, so it’s been a enjoyable time for me, one which I’m actually having fun with.
“And I do know what’s staring in entrance of me. Bron is a freak. He’s younger, he’s robust, he’s dynamic. Everyone knows about his household lineage. He’s picked this up so quick, like Kurt [Angle] or Ronda [Rousey]. However there isn’t any substitute for time and expertise. Rookies make errors, so we’ll see if his confidence bites him within the ass in opposition to me at New 12 months’s Evil.”
With or with out the NXT title shifting ahead, Ciampa could be an ideal match for subsequent month’s Royal Rumble match. And there’s a plethora of matchups that will attraction to him if he had been ever delivered to a brand new crew on Uncooked or SmackDown.
“I do know individuals in WWE dream about wrestling at WrestleMania, however for me, it was at all times the Royal Rumble,” stated Ciampa. “The concept of seeing who would return, the shock of who would debut, even watching what Edge did final 12 months, that’s at all times been the Rumble has at all times meant rather a lot to me. There are such a lot of individuals I’d like to have a chance to share the ring with. So if that chance knocks, I’m answering.”
The longer term is brilliant for Ciampa. He has overcome accidents and made essentially the most of each storyline, placing himself in place for an enormous stretch whether or not he’s engaged on Uncooked, NXT 2.0 or SmackDown.
“I’m wholesome and I’m in an excellent psychological state,” Ciampa stated. “The celebrities have aligned, so I’m targeted on controlling what I can management.”
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