Tommaso Ciampa was on Edge & Christian’s podcast and they all discussed his recent work as a heel. Unlike many heels in NXT, like Adam Cole, Ciampa wasn’t primarily cheered. Instead, he got the crowd to hate him.
“You guys would talk about this a lot, especially Christian, you’d say, ‘NXT is missing a heel.’ I felt that way the entire time I was away. I was going to do my darndest to fill that void because I play a different heel than most people play and I knew that if I committed to this that people would lose their minds. There’s always these different trends in wrestling, but nobody was committing to kayfabe.”
Christian added, “[A lot of people suffer because] they realize they’re not getting adulation. Some people need a little of that. You can’t have redeeming qualities. Sometimes you’ll see someone play heel and then go on social media and go, ‘Green Bay, you were such a great crowd tonight.’ … You were living that. It wasn’t just a character.”
Ciampa then went on to explain how they played perception up. “The running joke in our apartment complex was that Johnny was the married one and I was living with them. Like it was ‘Three’s Company.’ It was so weird! It was the perception and I was like, ‘Why should I change that? People are digging it.’ I knew I was married, but it didn’t benefit us to change the perception. We left it alone. I never said I wasn’t married but I didn’t offer up information.
“When the heel flip happened, everything just snowballed. Why put out merch? If they put out merch then they’re gonna buy it and dig it. Even with catchphrases, when I did promos I was always very aware that my cadence couldn’t be catchy. Once it got going, we have Shawn [Michaels] at the Performance Center and then Hunter was behind it big time, everyone was on-board and affirming that this was working then it was like, ‘What’s the next thing I can do?'”