Tommaso Ciampa's dominant reign as NXT Champion came to an abrupt and unfortunate end back in March when it was revealed that the 34-year-old wrestler needed anterior cervical fusion in order to repair his injured neck. The injury forced WWE to quickly wrap up the years-long storyline between he and Johnny Gargano, which looked to be culminating at NXT TakeOver: New York a month later, and required him to relinquish the NXT Championship after holding it for 238 days.
Ciampa has given numerous updates on his progress since then, which included popping up on television back at NXT TakeOver: XXV to reveal that he was cleared for non-contact training. However this week multiple reports, including Fightful's injury report, stated that WWE had an internal list which had Ciampa cleared for a return last Wednesday (Sept. 11). The former champ took to Twitter on Monday to address those reports.
I have been told that I am cleared to return as of September 11th...
by the internet.
So, I called and asked my surgeon to confirm. He laughed at me. And said (kind of in an Allen Iverson voice) “the internet, we talking about the internet”.
Sooooo... 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/ofIrnozr0q— CIAMPA (@NXTCiampa) September 16, 2019
In Fightful's defense, Ciampa would have every reason to lie about being medically cleared given that his return to NXT television would be a major surprise. This week would also be the perfect time to do it given NXT's premiere on the USA Network this Wednesday.
Thus far three matches have been booked for that episode — NXT North American Champion Velveteen Dream vs. Roderick Strong, Matt Riddle vs. Killian Dain in a Street Fight and Io Shirai vs. Candice LaRae vs. Bianca Belair vs. Mia Yim for a shot at Shayna Baszler's NXT Women's Championship.
Ciampa spoke with Sports Illustrated in July, where he made it clear that the only roster he wanted to return to was NXT. He briefly appeared on the main roster back in February alongside Gargano, Ricochet and Aleister Black prior to his injury announcement. Gargano was quickly shuffled back down to NXT shortly afterwards, and stated on last week's episode of NXT that he had no intention of leaving.
"I don't know if people think I'm going to Raw or SmackDown, but here's a spoiler, I'm not," Ciampa said. "I'm going to NXT. If someone tells me anything else, I'm answering them with a no. I bleed black and gold. NXT is home. And I have unfinished business there."