Before Tommaso Ciampa became an NXT star he was an indies star. And before he was an indies star, Ciampa had a couple of appearances in WWE as a 20-year-old in 2005.
He portrayed one of the lawyers for Muhammad Hassan during his feud with The Undertaker. A young Ciampa came face-to-face with Taker and his first WWE appearance ended with him being attacked by The Deadman. Ciampa recalled that moment on the State of Combat podcast.
“I was 20 at the time, they happened to be in town and at that time I was living close to Boston, Massachusetts. I believe that the show wasn’t that far from me. I was training at Killer Kowalski’s old place, and at that time it was the Chaotic Training Center but now it is the New England Training Academy, but we were kind of the feeding ground. Anytime WWE was in the northeast area that is who they would call,” said Ciampa. “They would call them for extra talent.”
Ciampa said that at that time size mattered in WWE but they just happened to be looking for someone smaller in size for this role. He was one of three people from the promotion who showed up to WWE and he was the one picked to be a lawyer.
“Luckily for me, I have always felt comfortable around the microphone, so in that part I wasn’t nervous, particularly because I had a script that I was reading off of because I was acting like a lawyer that day so I didn’t even have to memorize the lines,” said Ciampa. “But the day itself was crazy, because once I got picked, it was probably 4 pm at the time. It was an important angle for WWE because maybe a week or two prior, Mohammad Hassan and Davari had done something to upset the executives or whatever it was at the time, or maybe it was UPN, or whatever it was. It was around the time of the terrorists so it just didn’t sit well with people.”
“This lawyer thing had to be an apology that came off sincere, and also in the wrestling world, it had to make sense and also for The Undertaker to come out. I rehearsed that script in front of everybody. I did a solo in front of Vince McMahon in his office. I did an in-ring with The Undertaker, Vince McMahon and Triple H. Looking back now, it’s like I see how big of a deal it was and how crazy it was to have that one-on-one time with everybody as a 20-year-old kid on the independents. It was wild. Everyone treated me incredibly well. I remember that they didn’t like the suit that I had on so they went and bought me a suit and let me keep it.”
Another thing during that day that stuck with Ciampa was that Stephanie McMahon gave him a 20-minute tour of WWE backstage which helped ease his nerves before performing.
“It’s one of those things that I have said to her now and having a better relationship with her that it stuck with me for my entire career. It’s just one of those things that you saw somebody in one of those higher positions take the time out and show an insane amount of respect and kindness to somebody that they didn’t need to do,” stated Ciampa.
“Obviously, being in the ring with The Undertaker one of the biggest highlights of my career, but that backstage time being with Stephanie, Hunter, and Vince and how everyone was towards me that probably had a bigger impact on my career than anything else that happened that day.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The State of Combat podcast with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.