Two-time NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa appears entrenched on WWE’s main roster now. This past Monday (Oct. 2), he had a proverbial “banger” with Intercontinental champion Gunther and reunited with his DIY tag partner Johnny Gargano in the main event of Raw.
But his heart is never far from the brand he & Gargano were featured on for most of the last ten years.
Ciampa is Corey Graves & Kevin Patrick guest on the latest edition of WWE’s After The Bell podcast, and of course NXT came up. While talking about being at NXT’s No Mercy premium live event last weekend, the Sicilian Psychopath shared his current assessment of the developmental/third brand:
“So I actually stopped by the Performance Center and the vibe there and the energy, I don’t want to say it’s — It is. It’s exactly what it used to be. It had a tough spin. It had a tough time with NXT 2.0, the adjustments, the color scheme changes. Everything. The vibe was different for a while.
“It’s hungry again and it’s competitive again and it’s a team effort again. It was a really cool thing to see and I kept saying that to everybody down there. All the producers & head coaches, Shawn [Michaels], Matt [Bloom], everybody. That crowd was as electric as anything I’d ever seen for a TakeOver. It was the first time watching that I thought ‘Man, this is the black-and-gold feel.’ They were crazy.”
Good company man that he is, Ciampa touted 2.0 during its 2021-2022 run. He’s still high on some of the talent introduced during that era, and credits them with leading the current resurgence:
“All these new talents and acts have now stepped past that point of being new and they’re developed and they have characters and they’ve got backstory. You can connect. It was cool to see.
“It’s cool to see Carmelo Hayes be a full package. It’s cool to see Trick Williams break out like crazy over the last few months.”
There’s also been the infusion of NXT UK talents, like the current champ:
“Ilja Dragunov is next level. He is full package and ready to go. You can toss that guy on a pay-per-view tomorrow and he is going to deliver.”
One notable difference from much of the black-and-gold era Ciampa and others (including this writer) romanticize is the use of main roster talent on NXT — something we’ll see a lot of next Tuesday when the show again goes head-to-head with AEW Dynamite.
We’ll let you decide how much credit to give to Becky Lynch, Dominik Mysterio & others for NXT getting it’s mojo back. While you mull that over, you can listen to the entire Tommaso Ciampa episode of After The Bell here.
H/t: SEScoops for transcription