Tommaso Ciampa does not hate Raw and Smackdown.
The former NXT Champion raised eyebrows and made headlines in 2019, when he spoke to Lilian Garcia and expressed his desire to remain with the NXT brand when he noted that he'd retire if he were forced to move to Raw or Smackdown. So many decided to cling to that particular line from the quote, instead of the full context, so Ciampa clarified when speaking with Fightful.
"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 noted.
We asked Ciampa if the change in WWE schedule and locations last year during the start of the pandemic led to him reconsidering short-term.
"Things have changed. The pandemic hit and no one traveled. 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." Ciampa said.
As far as the future, CIampa won't rule out moving to Raw or Smackdown, but he does want it to make sense if it happens. He's realistic about things as well.
"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," Ciampa said.
Ciampa told Fightful that he believes he's about halfway through his career at this point.
You can see our full interview with Tommaso Ciampa at the top of the page, and can see him in action every week on NXT on the USA Network. You