Friday 26 April 2013

Revenge of the Psycho

ROH's Boiling Point pay-per-view on August 11th last year was notable for a few reasons. For one thing it was headlined by non-regular Eddie Kingston challenging for Kevin Steen's ROH world championship in a tedious match. For another it was never intended to be a PPV: ROH bumped it up from a DVD recording because they wanted to try and recoup some of the money they'd lost refunding people for streaming problems with June's Best in the World.

It was also the event at which Tommaso Ciampa got injured.

Until that show ‘The Dominant Male’ had been a heel aligned with Prince Nana's Embassy faction. For months his target had been the ROH television title and Boiling Point saw him lose to Jay Lethal (the man he’d been feuding over the title with) in a two-out-of-three falls match. It was a feud-ending bout. In a way Ciampa's injury couldn't have come at a better time because it didn't leave a storyline unfinished.

He never did beat Lethal for the TV belt

It's tough to say what 'The Sicilian Psychopath' would have moved on to had he remained healthy. There was nothing obvious set up, although it's likely the breakup of The Embassy would have continued. He'd probably just have been involved in that.

As it is he announced his injury would put him out of action for up to a year in September and promptly disappeared from the company. Barring a run-in at Final Battle, in which he tried to attack RD Evans, Ciampa's been absent since.

ROH have recently begun teasing Ciampa's return to the promotion. Videos that show him working out, intercut with match footage, have been posted online. The man himself is credited with authoring a blog on the company's website. I’m dubious of that claim: anything that furthers storylines tends to be written by booking staff or someone else in "the office". But it's credited to the former Embassy member and that's what counts.

In the blog "Ciampa" discussed seeing Michael Elgin have his breakout match against Davey Richards at Showdown in the Sun. This apparently inspired Ciampa to promise himself he'd be in a similar position the following year, which he wasn't because of his injury. It was basically a piece about him being hungry for a top spot in Ring of Honor.

So is that what he's going to return to? As was the case after Boiling Point last year, it's not obvious. He could come back and launch into a feud with Evans and his client QT Marshall. That would make sense, what with 'The Barrister' having transitioned into being an active wrestler. It could even be used as a way of splitting him from Marshall. Ciampa could attack or wrestle both men and 'God's Gift' could walk out on his manager-slash-tag partner after realising Ciampa's problem is Evans, not him.

An Evans feud will be likelier if Ciampa returns alongside Prince Nana, another man wronged at 'The Barrister's' hands. Nana as a face would be something new for ROH in general and being affiliated with him should set Ciampa apart. The only trouble is that fans like booing the former Embassy frontman so much that turning him into a good guy may be tough.

Alternatively Ciampa could come back and target the ROH world championship. The heel-face line in ROH is satisfyingly blurred, fans picking their own favourites in big matches. That would allow 'The Dominant Male', who's been portrayed as a face since getting injured, to challenge crowd pleaser Jay Briscoe for the gold.

Putting a damper on Ciampa's chances of winning the world title is the SCUM plot. It looks as though the gold is going to continue being involved in that. Switching the belt from one ROH loyalist to another would be a peculiar move, so I don't think Ciampa will be the man to beat Jay Briscoe. His chances of becoming champion won’t be particularly good until a member of SCUM has the title. Or until the storyline's over, of course.

Even if he does come back targeting a title run it’s safe to say Ciampa will need something else going on to keep him busy. The Evans feud seems the likeliest thing there although I'd personally enjoy seeing Ciampa get involved in something with Adam Cole or Matt Taven. Those feuds could give us some pretty good matches.

However he's reintroduced to the roster I'm confident Ciampa won't be wasted. Delirious has proven a very good booker over the past six months. There's nothing to indicate his skills will desert him when 'The Sicilian Psychopath' returns.

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