And here we go...
After TakeOver: In Your House, Randy Orton offered a gag review of the show that mocked the NXT/indie-style’s over-reliance on superkicks and the practice of wrestler’s selling them by slapping their thigh to create a sound effect. Tommaso Ciampa responded to defend the black-and-gold brand, and take a shot at Randy’s reputation for somniferous ring work.
We covered those yesterday (June 8). Last night, Orton subtweeted “the self appointed lockeroom [sic] leader of a wrestling school” whose feelings he’d hurt, and requested info about the next #legslap class. Then his wife, Kim, piled on with another shot at Ciampa.
It’s getting nastier, scripted fight fans - and that very well may be the point.
Ciampa’s expressed an interest in working with Orton in the past, and he’s on a losing streak in NXT which just saw him put over the brand’s next big thing on Sunday night. As we heard after Matt Riddle’s run-ins with Goldberg and Brock Lesnar, WWE discourages wrestlers taking Twitter shots at each other unless they’re both in on it, and planning to work together.
The Viper was at the Performance Center Sunday filming his Backlash match with Edge, giving him ample opportunity to discuss a potential program with Ciampa & their mutual mentor, Triple H. And the whole thing seems a little reminiscent of the feud going on in AEW between The Young Bucks and Orton’s pals FTR - right down to Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler commenting on Randy using some of their jokes against one of their old NXT rivals.
Plus, the Blackheart is close with the guy Orton’s working with now. Edge & Ciampa have both discussed how they bonded over their neck surgeries. It would be a logical way to extend that story by adding a new player. Tommaso’s said he wants to stay in NXT, in part to avoid the wear-and-tear of main roster travel. But the main roster’s not traveling these days, so if he’s gonna have a run on Raw, now is the time to do it.
So, I smell a work. But who knows?
And even if it is setting up a match or three, there’s going to be debate about whether or not it’s smart to call this much attention to the scripted nature of the business. It’s not Ronda Rousey crying “FAKE!”, but it’s not a whole lot better. “I’m mad because you insulted my athletic exhibitions with pre-determined outcomes, so I challenge you to an athletic exhibition with a pre-determined outcome!” is... weird.
But it gives us something to talk about, and use “oh snap” and “daaaamn” GIFs. And isn’t that what we’re all really here for?