Randy Orton recently spoke with Brent Brookhouse of CBS Sports and commented on his recent back & forth with WWE NXT Superstar Tommaso Ciampa on Twitter.
Orton had tweeted about “leg slaps” at the “Takeover: In Your House” event and Ciampa responded by saying he had used Orton’s matches to help put his daughter to sleep. Orton fired back with another shot at Ciampa and the NXT brand. Orton then defeated WWE Hall of Famer Edge in “The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever” at WWE Backlash and put emphasis on the RKO leg slap to get the win.
Orton explained the leg slap comment and said he was just having fun, and things got taken a little too seriously. He also commented on NXT talents and the main roster.
“So, the leg slap comment was just me having fun and it got taken a little too seriously,” Orton said. “I’ve been outspoken about the leg slap because I’ve seen more and more and more and more and more and more leg slaps. Same with repeating moves. Same with guys using the same move. It’s superkick, superkick, superkick, superkick. Or they’ve got that running knee. Every time any of those things happen, you get a big slap to the leg. That has nothing to do with the state of Tommaso’s physical wellbeing, but there’s that style. If you’re a talent and you’ve made it as far as NXT, which is very close to the top of the mountain … if you think that you have to go out there and get powerbombed on the apron after neck surgery, or if you think you have to go out there and do these dives and flips bell to bell just because the fans want to see half a dozen near-death experiences? I feel sorry for you because you’re not going to reap the benefits of what this business offers.
“One of those is longevity. I don’t know anything about what NXT pay is like, but it certainly ain’t Raw and SmackDown pay. I don’t know what you get paid for a TakeOver, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that, at WrestleMania, my paycheck was bigger than the TakeOver guys. Now, I hate when guys talk about ‘my big bank account’ or ‘my big check’ or this or that and ‘I’m more rich than you.’ That’s not what I’m saying here. I’m saying that NXT shouldn’t be the goal. Raw or SmackDown should be the goal.”
Orton also took issue with Ciampa’s comments on Lilian Garcia’s podcast, where he said he would retire if he moved from NXT to RAW or SmackDown because the lighter NXT schedule gave him four more stable years rather than the brutal grind of the main roster.
“That man has got a little baby,” Orton said. “Just this morning I watched his ‘Black Heart’ documentary on WWE Network that followed him around after his neck surgery. I’ll admit, I welled up and got a little tear in my eye when he woke up from the neck surgery and his beautiful little daughter was sitting on his lap and he was touching her face and just happy to see her and his wife. That’s heartwarming. I would love nothing more than to see Tommaso have a long, healthy career and retire and not need to go learn a new trade or go work at the local whatever the f–k to make ends meet and put food on the table. I want to see all these guys succeed. When you’re talking about that? Making money. It’s a business. It’s a business. You’ve got to make money.
“I would think, no matter how much you love NXT, you’ve got to look at the bigger picture. If you don’t think you’re going to last on the road for Raw and SmackDown? Do something about it. Go and sign a contract that calls for you to only show up at TV. They do NXT every week and they do a TakeOver whenever. They’re wrestling about as much as we’re wrestling, especially right now. With the future and no one knowing how many shows we’re going to be putting on, I think it’s a bit of a cop out to say, ‘I can get four years of NXT versus one year of Raw or SmackDown.'”
He continued, “I think with the kind of hustle Tommaso has shown he has, I think he’s perfectly capable. I think he’s a big fish in a relatively small pond. I don’t mean that as a knock, to be clear. But I want to see him try to become a big fish in a bigger pond. I would like to see him under the pressure to have something like the greatest wrestling match ever. And I would love to work with him.”
Orton went on to praise Ciampa for his in-ring storytelling. He said he loves Ciampa’s work and would love to get in the ring with him. He praised Kevin Owens for having a strong presence in NXT when he was there, but going to the main roster so he could show the world how good he was. Orton said Ciampa could be in the same boat. Orton believes they can make some good money together.
“Tommaso can be in the same boat, and I think there’s a way to do it. I’m hoping that, soon, I can get in the ring with him and we can go out there and get the crowd interested with good promos and good stories and we can go somewhere with it,” Orton said. “We can make some money. Because, guess what? It’s a business. We get paid to do this, everybody. You’ve got to look at it like that. No matter how much you love and respect the business. Hell, I grew up in the business. My family went bankrupt because of professional wrestling when my dad wasn’t working as much and was making those s–tty paydays. I’ve seen the top and I’ve seen the bottom. I’m not saying NXT is the bottom. I’m just saying, you’re one step away from being at the top. Don’t stop there.”