At Ring of Honor’s “Best in the World 2012” pay-per-view on Sunday, Tommaso Ciampa has an interesting opportunity in front of him.
Not only does he have the chance to capture the ROH World Television championship held by Roderick Strong, he also has the opportunity to gain revenge on Jay Lethal, the man who handed him his first ROH loss last month when they all meet in the three-way elimination match for the title in New York City.
“When you can have both, why pick one?” Ciampa told SLAM! Wrestling on Wednesday. “That’s kind of where I’m at right now. To have both men in the ring at the same time, it’s perfect. I could not have painted myself into a better picture than Ring of Honor has put me in.”
“Best in the World 2012: Hostage Crisis” airs live at 5 p.m. ET Sunday on ROHWrestling.com from Hammerstein Ballroom and is headlined by the ROH World Championship rematch between Kevin Steen and Davey Richards.
For Ciampa, this match represents something he’s been gunning for since entering ROH in January 2011: Championship gold. He had his chance against Lethal for the TV title in March but went to a time-limit draw. Now Strong, who beat Lethal for the title at “Showdown in the Sun” in March, is added to the mix. And right now, being ROH TV champion “means everything” to Ciampa, who says he is more prepared for this match than he was in his singles matches with Lethal in March and May.
“When you set out to do anything in life, you want to be the best,” he said. “So if you’re going to be a clerk at the grocery store, or a sales rep or something, you want to be employee of the month. You want to be noticed by your company. In my situation, I’ve held title belts before, but I’ve never held a world title and that’s a different meaning and purpose. I want to have it. And I want to defend it everywhere. England, Japan, Mexico, I truly want to show the entire world that Ring of Honor has the best competition, the best competitors in the business today and I believe I am the man to do that.”
Ciampa is also hoping this will be the end of his feud with Lethal, a man he’s been joined at the hip with for much of the year after besting Lethal in a Proving Ground match in February. After their draw in March, it was Ciampa who cost Lethal the TV title with Lethal gaining his revenge at “Border Wars” in Toronto when he put the first blemish on Ciampa’s ROH résumé.
At this point, Ciampa is simply tired of dealing with Lethal.
“I’m sick of everything about him,” Ciampa said. “I’m sick of his face, his eyebrows, everything. I’m sick of his elbow drop, that bothers me, I get bothered a lot when he does the stupid springboard thing and flips and tries to hit that stupid cutter, I think he calls it the Lethal Injection. I don’t like his T-shirt, I really don’t like anything about him.
“It’s been far too long now that I’ve had to look across the ring and see him and I would love to put an end to this chapter in my Ring of Honor legacy and move on to the next and hopefully the next chapter will be one that sees me as the Television champion.”
But what gives Ciampa, the man with the least experience of the three, the edge Sunday? Well, for one, he claims to have no weakness. In fact, he thinks Strong and Lethal would “be crazy” to even think so.
“Any answer they would give would clearly be their own psyche taking over,” he said. “It would be them trying to convince themselves that there’s some sort of break in my mold. I didn’t get this way overnight and for anybody to say there’s a flaw, they’re crazy. There’s not.”
And what is it that makes Ciampa, who trained under the likes of Killer Kowalski, Harley Race and Al Snow, so confident in his abilities? His mind, he says. He considers nobody to be at his level psychologically, nor does anybody have the mind for professional wrestling that he does.
“While I’m not the best athlete at all times, my intensity and my mind are unmatched in my opinion, and each match has proven that more and more to me,” Ciampa said. “I came in prepared for Ring of Honor and I think with each showing, each match, each opportunity, I harnessed my skills and developed into what people are starting to see the past couple of months now.”
Even though he’s suffered defeat just once in his 18 month ROH career and has been one of the company’s top rising stars, Ciampa says he isn’t yet satisfied with what he’s accomplished.
“I can’t say I’m truly happy because we had one mission when I came into the company and that was to get gold, whether it was the World title or Television title,” he said. “So after New York City, I will be very happy, but for now, I guess I’m more focused than I am happy.”
Although his main concern coming into this match is where The Embassy lies, Ciampa is confident that Sunday is going to be just the beginning for him.
“We’re just starting to hit the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
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