Ciampa might be the most interesting case study of WWE's budding Triple H era.
With The Game in charge after Vince McMahon's retirement, many assumed some of his "guys" would quickly find their way into prominent spots. That idea was only reinforced with the reappearance right into the main event scene of Karrion Kross.
One would think we're already seeing Ciampa on a similar trajectory. After seven or so years in NXT, a handful of them as a headliner, he arrived on the main roster and got thrown into a stable with The Miz.
But once Triple H took over, Ciampa went from possible tag team purgatory to contending for Bobby Lashley's United States Championship.
He did a bit more than just contend, too. He helped legitimize the title, giving the midcard title more weight than it's had in years while the company's two main men's belts sit on Roman Reigns.
Ciampa might be "small" and 37 years old, but he looked the part against Lashley, etching a match that had very believable near-falls before tapping out to the champion.
He looked great against The All Mighty, a guy who not too long ago was sparring with the likes of Brock Lesnar.
Some fans might fear the loss signals an end of things for the former NXT champion. But it might just be the beginning. He's a credible threat who pushed Lashley to the limits, heel shenanigans included. Clearly, he belongs and simply needs the proper booking from here.
That proper booking isn't hard to imagine, either. We've seen time and again that Ciampa is capable of being a universally hated heel. At times, heels on the main roster are more popular because fans enjoy their characters.
Ciampa is a bit different in this regard, though, and would be the perfect foil for a newfound good-guy Seth Rollins. An all-heel showdown with Randy Orton would be a great feature program on a bigger pay-per-view, perhaps with a midcard title at stake. There's the obvious angle where he works to put over younger guys down the road, too.
However, there's a "sledgehammer Triple H" vibe The Blackheart could pull off incredibly well, especially as things transition to a TV-14 rating.
It would appear Ciampa shares similar thoughts, as he told Nick Hausman of Wrestling Inc:
"I want to do every pay-per-view. I want to win every title. There's a plethora of guys I want to have programs with—not just matches, like programs: AJ Styles, and Finn Balor, and Kevin Owens, and Seth Rollins, man. I've been on the road with [Seth], and it's just like, 'Geez, he's good. He gets it. He's good.' Randy Orton when he's all healthy and stuff and gets back."
Granted, things might go south quickly if WWE tries the babyface route with Ciampa. That crossover appeal to the more casual side of the fanbase just might not be there when they could be rooting for a fast riser like Riddle and the returning Cody Rhodes.
The major upside behind a successful push centers on hardcore fans loving his heel persona and casual fans detesting the character.
For now, slotting Ciampa with someone like The Miz sure beats the tar out of throwing him on Main Event. From what we've seen already, there's major upside.
Maybe the Bostonian doesn't even ascend to the actual main event scene with the likes of Reigns, especially with everything still in a holding pattern there.
But a boost of sorts into a midcard title reign by the end of 2022 might be just what Ciampa and WWE need. The performer gets a chance to prove he belongs, and the promotion has a chance to add another major threat atop the midcard scene and one capable of taking another step to the headlining feuds while also proving not all NXT call-ups have to flame out quickly.
At this point, sidelining Ciampa wouldn't make much sense given what he can do at the top of a promotion, as seen by his NXT work.
It's quite a bit more crowded on the main roster right now, but suggesting there isn't room for a mischievous heel to play the foil for good guys and help bring along new top stars would be a misfire.
On the main roster, Ciampa should only just be getting started.