On February 22’s broadcast of NXT 2.0, Dolph Ziggler’s quest to add the NXT title to his list of 14 championships within World Wrestling Entertainment culminated in a match with 2x NXT Champion and current top contender to hold the belt once again, Tommaso Ciampa. Ziggler’s recent appearances on NXT have revitalized his persona amidst his moribund main roster heel run. On the main roster, Ziggler and tag team partner Robert Roode are largely used to round out the numbers of the mid-card. However, in the role of a swaggering made man out to crown his achievements with the NXT belt, Ziggler has emitted genuine charisma in his encounters with Santos Escobar, Ciampa, and current NXT champion Bron Breakker. In the February 22 bout, Ziggler showed off a combination of the showstopping showmanship that has earned comparisons to a peak Shawn Michaels over the years, and the amateur wrestling grappling acumen that set records in his time at Kent State. Following his emotional promo following his battle with Ziggler, Tommaso Ciampa may be bound for Monday Night Raw.
Tommaso Ciampa: Raw Bound?
What to Know Following Recent NXT Main Event
As for Ciampa, his hard-fought grit, fighting through with heart and determination even when Ziggler targeted his notoriously vulnerable neck, are all that fans have come to expect of the indomitable Ciampa, and of all that he represents. Ciampa was the ethos of the ship Triple H steered as head of the NXT brand: a veteran of several indie promotions, with grit and realistic athleticism, Ciampa openly and enthusiastically shared Triple H’s vision to build the “black and gold” brand into WWE’s third brand. His triumphant comeback from a serious neck injury and rapport with the brand and fans secured him as a beloved figure to NXT’s fanbase. As NXT rebranded in 2021 to attract a more youthful audience, out of all the “Black and Gold” NXT vets Ciampa emerged as the elder statesman of the lot and secured his second NXT Championship.
After several false finishes, both Ziggler and Ciampa staying alive in the match through several narrow respective shots at victory, Ziggler won through the intervention of his tag team partner, Roode. Disguised as a WWE cameraman, Roode attacked Ciampa with a camera allowing Ziggler to claim the victory.
Champion Breakker, Ciampa’s former rival for the NXT title, rushed to his aid, and a tag team match pairing Ciampa with Breakker, pitted against Roode and Ziggler, is set for the upcoming installment of NXT.
Tommaso Ciampa Speaks From the Heart
After the broadcast, Ciampa cut an emotional in-ring promo to NXT’s live audience, expressing his humble gratitude and closing with, “Together forever. We are NXT.” Like Johnny Gargano before him, this seems to indicate Ciampa’s imminent departure from the brand he is synonymous with. However, unlike Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa seems destined for the main roster, given his recent appearances on Monday Night Raw.
However, that may not be the case. Veterans of the main roster like Ziggler and A.J. Styles have made NXT appearances, playing off up-and-coming NXT talent like Breakker and Grayson Waller. Waller, in turn has made appearances on Raw. The continued synergy between two of WWE’s brands expands the possibilities of storytelling in the WWE Universe and the range that performers on both brands are able to show. Styles’s and Zigglers’s NXT cameos have both reminded viewers of how much they have accomplished, something not readily called to mind by their mid-card status on Mondays. As for Grayson and Breakker, who wouldn’t want to be put over by such illustrious champions? NXT 2.0 gets credibility, the main roster stars get revitalization. The door may continue to be open for appearances between brands, with NXT stars appearing on Raw but remaining on the developmental brand, and Raw’s main roster veterans appearing on NXT for cross-brand feuds with developmental talent.
As for Ciampa, unlike Waller and Breakker, he is no up-and-comer. His appeal has always been that of a seasoned veteran, and it helped ground the credibility of NXT in both its black and gold and current iterations. Mixing it up with main roster players like Ziggler helps pique the interest of viewers who might not have seen his work thus far. If Ciampa is bound for the “red brand,” he’ll bring to Raw the spirit of NXT: authenticity, tenacity, and ardent enthusiasm for the craft of pro wrestling.
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