Well, this is a bummer. While at Thursday night's NXT live event in Highland Heights, Kentucky, I saw Tommaso Ciampa injured just minutes into his tag team match with Sanity. Ciampa was helped to the back, and the match was rendered a no contest. He's now one day away from a huge match at NXT Takeover: Chicago.
As of the time of publishing, there's no update on the condition of Ciampa. He and tag team partner Johnny Gargano are scheduled to face NXT Tag Team Champions Authors of Pain in a ladder match, where the risk for injury is through the roof as-is. While the situation is an unfortunate one, NXT is more than equipped to replace Ciampa.
There's no less than a half-dozen names that could fit in the match. We'll take a look at a few, and why they could or couldn't apply.
Scott Dawson: This one seems to be gaining traction, and makes a lot of sense. Dawson is just sitting at home as his Revival tag team partner Dash Wilder recovers from a jaw injury. Despite the fact that DIY and Revival feuded for months on NXT TV, the addition of Dawson could also provide some fun for the upcoming NXT TV tapings for the next month or so.
Kassius Ohno: Ohno hasn't made the splash many expected upon being re-signed. Maybe he's slated for a lifetime player/coach role, or maybe the brand is hesitant to go all-in until he improves his condition -- which he's done. Either way, Ohno can wrestle any style, is a known name, and fits.
Aleister Black: This one isn't going to happen, but he's there. Not booked for NXT Takeover, Black is likely going to be a huge star, but is very much a loner on the NXT program.
No Way Jose: Another long shot, Jose has been used as a live event show starter while disappearing from TV for months. This would be a tough one to wedge into the match. He doesn't wrestle the style, his demeanor isn't the same, and may disrupt the flow.
Drew McIntyre: Curiously not booked in a match for the show Saturday, McIntyre is immediately being portrayed as a top guy. He's available, but it's hard to believe WWE would want him losing ahead of an NXT Title program.
Nick Miller: Another underrated and possible name, this one would probably result in fart noises. TM61 struggled to get over, but Miller is more than capable of working here. His partner Shane Thorne is still months away from a return, and Miller hasn't appeared on live events by himself.
Buddy Murphy: He was split from longtime partner Blake last year, and has barely appeared on TV since. Murphy is an outstanding wrestler, who has been working as both a face and a heel on live events against the likes of Andrade Almas, Kassius Ohno, and even Jack Gallagher. If NXT needed a way to reintroduce him to a TV audience, this is an opportunity.
Andrade Almas and Wesley Blake are also available, but unlikely as they're both heels. It's also entirely possible that Ciampa just guts it out, because he's Tommaso Ciampa. There's a huge question mark surrounding the show, but WWE has the options to not only make everything work, but make it special.
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