Triple H kicked off Wednesday night's NXT television tapings by addressing the elephant in the room — the status of NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa.
The brains behind the developmental territory said that NXT TakeOver: New York was going to be headlined by a main event between Ciampa and Johnny Gargano. But after undergoing anterior cervical fusion last week, Ciampa would no longer be in the match. Hunter then said that Gargano would still be in the match for the vacated championship, and that his opponent would be the winner of a five-way match between Adam Cole, Aleister Black, Velveteen Dream, Matt Riddle and Ricochet. Cole would win the match later in the evening.
"The Game" also stated that in order to determine a definitive winner, the match would be a two-out-of-three falls match.
Ciampa's only statement on his surgery and subsequent recovery time (which is estimated to be between six and 14 months) was a photo of himself and the championship both in neck braces that he posted on Sunday.
Goldy and I are on the #WWEFastlane to recovery.March 10, 2019
"Goldy and I are on the #WWEFastlane to recovery," Ciampa tweeted.
This marks the second time Ciampa has suffered a major injury since joining NXT. Back in May 2017 he fought through a ladder match at TakeOver: Chicago with a ruptured ACL and did not appear on WWE television again until January 2018.
Ciampa's rivalry with Gargano was considered by many to be the best feud in all of professional wrestling in 2018. In a story that had history going back several years prior, the two clashed at TakeOver: New Orleans, TakeOver: Chicago II and at TakeOver: Brooklyn 4. Gargano won the first bout, Ciampa won the second and thanks to an accidental interference from Gargano in a match with Aleister Black, he was able to enter their final encounter as NXT Champion. Ciampa retained in a Last Man Standing match in Brooklyn.
Considering himself the "Greatest Sports Entertainer in the World," Ciampa went on to defend the title against the likes of Velveteen Dream and Black at future TakeOver events.
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