Raw star Ciampa has explained his decision to go back on his old stance of not wanting to join WWE's main roster from NXT, stating that the company's new, reduced road schedule and his successful neck surgery contributed.
Speaking on Out of Character with Ryan Satin, Ciampa noted WWE's post-pandemic schedule changes. Having previously stated that spending 300 days on the road wouldn't work for him, given his history of neck issues, Ciampa unpacked the change in circumstances (h/t Figure Four Online/Wrestling Observer):-
"300 days doesn't exist anymore. So, that was big and that was something that just kind of recently became a shift. Prior to the pandemic, it slowed, and then now it's just a whole new game. The pandemic itself, the neck surgery, and how it all went down and I was home almost every single night of Willow's [his daughter] first three years. You build such a relationship with your child in those first few years."
WWE has dialled back significantly on its once-chaotic road schedule in recent years. Having previously demanded wrestlers be travelling for the vast majority of the week, the promotion typically only hosts house shows on Saturdays and Sundays these days. This has helped create a more talent-friendly environment, reducing wear and tear while allowing increased downtime.
"Having the time at home with her for the pandemic, the schedule changing for the main roster, and interest in wrestling in general. Those were two big factors and then the success of the neck surgery. I was in - I don't want to say an abnormal amount of pain - but an abnormal amount of discomfort for years with my neck and I kept a lot of it to myself."
On his neck surgery, the former NXT Champion stated that where once he felt like he only had a limited amount of time left in wrestling, he now believes he has "10 or 20 years left":-
"You don't know the discomfort when it's your norm, and it was my norm. So, now all of a sudden, I'm like, 'Whoa, like I feel amazing, I'm getting back in the ring. I'm bumping. I'm having matches, we're doing WarGames, I way overdo it in Portland just to see if I can as a personal test type of thing. I'm like, 'Wait, I thought I only had a few years left, but I might have 10 or 20 years left.' So once you start opening that up, and you don't put an expiration date on your career, it was like 'okay, what do I want to accomplish?' Because I honestly felt like when I won the NXT Title, that was it for me. I've hit my pinnacle, I have this crappy neck, I'm probably in my twilight. Now we have this healthy neck, now we have this healthy baby, we have all this time at home, everything changed in such a great way."
Ciampa has been stationed on Raw since April, having departed NXT in the wake of that month's NXT Stand & Deliver event. Triple H's ascent to WWE's lead creative position has brought increased hope of a decent push for his former developmental main-eventer on Monday nights. Last week, Ciampa mounted a shot at Bobby Lashley's United States Championship, falling in an acclaimed, well-received match.