Former NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa had spinal fusion surgery on Mar. 7, 2019. At the time, talk was focused on the new father recovering to the point where he could lift his baby daughter, and enjoy the rest of his life relatively pain-free. There seemed like a real chance the now 34 year old would never wrestle again.
He appeared on stage at the end of TakeOver: New York in early April. Wearing a neck brace, Ciampa celebrated with his friend and former tag partner Johnny Gargano & Gargano’s wife Candice LeRae after Johnny won the vacant NXT title. A month after that, Tommaso tweeted:
Got the results to my 2 month follow up x-ray.— CIAMPA (@ProjectCiampa) May 8, 2019
Doc said “this doesn’t look good...it looks great”.
Happy Birthday to The Greatest Sports Entertainer of All Time#PartMan #PartWolverine#AllBlackheart
He started posting workout pics, and mentioning how he missed “Goldie” - the name he’d given the NXT championship. At TakeOver: XXV on June 1, Adam Cole defeated Gargano for the belt. And we got this...
.@AdamColePro— CIAMPA (@ProjectCiampa) June 2, 2019
Now, he’s combining the workout updates with shots at Cole. If you’re not at work or around impressionable young minds, listen to the end for the little something extra Ciampa has for the Undisputed ERA’s leader:
15 weeks post op.— CIAMPA (@ProjectCiampa) June 20, 2019
How’s recovery going...#BayBay
Tommy Sports Entertainment just filmed a Celtic Warrior Workouts episode with Sheamus (and dogs) which is coming soon. That will give us an in-depth look at his rehab routine, and maybe an official update on his status. In the meantime, Ciampa clearly wants us to believe he’s a threat to come after the Panama City Playboy and the NXT strap in the short-term. But is he for real? Could he possibly be back this year? Is there any way he might be back by August’s TakeOver: Toronto 2?
Now, I’m not a doctor. I don’t even play one on TV, or anywhere. But I do know how to google:
- WebMD says a return to normal functioning can come anywhere from 2 - 6 months after spinal fusion surgery. While they don’t have a separate section for pro athletes, but I don’t think taking bumps counts as “normal functioning”.
- Edge was out for roughly 13 months when he had his neck fused in the early aughts. Neck issues forced him to retire in 2011.
- Kurt Angle had a couple different neck surgeries around the same time, and returned in 3 - 5 months from both... but Angle continued to have neck issues and eventually had an emergency surgery done in 2015 where a tumor was discovered, and... Kurt’s not really the example you want to follow.
- Nikki Bella was out for 10 months in 2016 before coming back - and just revealed that additional neck issues will keep her retired for good.
What does it mean? I don’t know (see: “not a doctor” above)!
It seems like he could be back around SummerSlam, but that may not be the best thing for him long-term. Unfortunately, what’s probably best for him long-term is to never come back, and that doesn’t seem to be an option for Ciampa.
We’ll see what happens and hope for the best. And if I were Adam Cole? I’d watch my ass.