Tommaso Ciampa spent four years in ROH, and though he is a former ROH Television Champion, his time in the promotion wasn't what it could have been.
Ciampa was signed by ROH in 2011 for his ability on the microphone, though he was immediately placed into The Embassy and given multiple managers in the form of RD Evans, Prince Nana, and Ernie Osiris.
"I was like, 'You guys hired me for my promo. What the heck is going on?' I went two years where, I bet you if someone pulled up every match I had in Ring of Honor for two years, I had like five matches with people contracted with Ring of Honor. It was always against extras they brought in or enhancement squash matches. I remember hitting a point where I was like, 'Man, I'm not getting better here.' I would be begging, 'Let me work with Generico, Chris Hero, Claudio.' And I never got to do it. It was so frustrating," Ciampa told Lilian Garcia on Chasing Glory.
Ciampa went on to reveal that he believed he was finally getting some momentum when he tore his ACL. He returned in 2013 and won the Television Championship at Final Battle. Ciampa would continue to work his way up the card and looked to be locked into a match against Jay Briscoe at ROH 13th Anniversary for the ROH World Title. However, ROH changed course.
"I came back from that and I felt like I was hitting this imaginary ceiling. To me, it felt, because of the [Sicilian] Psychopath character, it was too distant from me and I couldn't humanize it enough for that fanbase. You just can't feed them crap. You have to be raw with them. I kept asking for different things and finally, we hit a point where I was going to have a main event title match with Jay Briscoe and we had a trial run in England. It went incredibly well, the feedback was awesome, and for the next month or two, we're getting ready for the Las Vegas pay-per-view, and it switched to a four-way. The reason is people in the office didn't have faith I could sell a pay-per-view. It was disheartening," he said.
Ciampa's contract was coming to an end, and while he wanted to remain with ROH, negotiations with ROH COO Joe Koff didn't exactly go smoothly.
"My contract was coming up and we were negotiating. At this point, ROH started giving out deals that were exclusive and you could make a living. You had a salary and all of that. I was like, 'Crap, this is great. This might be the break in wrestling where I don't have to have a job anymore.' The offer that I got was awful. It was an extremely low downside salary, not exclusive. I couldn't do television anywhere, but I could take Independent bookings. But the number was something where I would have to keep doing my job."
Ciampa continued, "I remember going to the negotiation with them and saying, 'I'll sign five years, ten years, I'll make my career in Ring of Honor if you guys show me that you're looking to invest in me the way I'll invest in you.' I thought the conversation was going well and it took this hard turn. I remember talking to the owner, Joe Koff, and I told him how I feel. And he was like, 'No one is going to offer you more than $20,000.' I remember freezing and going, 'Oh. I didn't realize you thought that of me.' It was like, 'Okay, we don't have to do this anymore. My contract is coming up. I'm good. I'm gonna go somewhere else and find out if you're right or not.' Immediately he was like, 'No no, I didn't mean it like that.' And I'm like, 'It's cool. I'm not mad at you. I cared until that was said. I don't care anymore. It's cool. I just didn't understand that you guys viewed me as my ceiling was not above the midcard.' I went to Delirious that day and said, 'Just so you know, I discussed things with Joe, and I'm wrapped up. I'll finish my dates and I'm done.'"
Ciampa revealed he stalked Samoa Joe's social media to see how he handled his departure from TNA/IMPACT Wrestling and copied Joe's playbook. Ciampa announced he would be leaving ROH, and when the company ran an angle that had Ciampa being thrown out of the company for attacking an official, fans knew it was an explanation for him leaving and not an angle that left the door open for his return.
Ciampa went on to thank Delirious for how things ended in ROH because he saw it as an opportunity to better and motivate himself.
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