Ciampa Dedicates His US Title Shot Tonight On Raw To WWE HOFer

Current "Raw" superstar Ciampa has dedicated his United States Championship match on tonight's edition of the show to WWE Hall of Famer Harley Race.

Ciampa explained in an in-depth post on his Instagram that when he first moved to Eldon, Missouri in 2008 in order to train with Race at the Harley Race Academy, he was a "lost twenty-two-year-old kid" that had just been released from his WWE developmental contract. He said that he lacked confidence and was suffering from depression. Ciampa said that he was terrified to move to a new city, but he knew he needed to step out of his comfort zone and take a risk.

"Harley is a no-nonsense man. His mere presence demands respect...this I could tell from the moment I met him. However, as the days turned to weeks, and the weeks to months, I came to discover that Harley had a heart of gold. He cared about his students, not only in the ring but outside as well."

Ciampa also said that he had a couple of memories that stood out to him over the course of his time there. He said that he would try to get to training sessions every day to watch old wrestling tapes with Race. He said that Race would agree to do this with him sometimes. Ciampa said nothing compared to those studying sessions. He also reminisced about Thanksgiving of that year, when that Race invited his students over to his house to give them a home-cooked meal, as many of them couldn't afford to go back home to their families.

Ciampa said that Race's belief in him as both a man and a performer allowed him to make mistakes, learn from them and grow more confident. He said that Race had a profound impact on him, both on a professional and personal level. Ciampa said he wouldn't be who he is today without his mentor. He said he was grateful for the time he was able to spend with Race and thanked him for everything he did for him before he passed away in 2019.

Ciampa will be challenging WWE United States Champion Bobby Lashley for the title on tonight's edition of "Raw" after winning a series of matches last week to become the new #1 contender. Wrestling INC.'s official live coverage for the show will begin at 8 PM ET/7 PM CT.

H/T to Ciampa's Instagram for the transcription.