Ciampa paid tribute to Harley Race this past Monday on RAW before his United States Championship match against Bobby Lashley.
In an interview with WWE’s The Bump, Ciampa talked about getting emotional while paying tribute to the man who mentored him.
“That’s a bucket list thing that’s not even on the bucket list because you don’t think it’s possible. So I went to Harley’s in 2008, and I was 22, shortly after I was released from developmental at the time. And I was lost, I was depressed. It was a tough time, and moving across the country to Missouri wasn’t an easy choice, it’s something I just felt I had to do. I had to find out essentially if I was chasing the dream and if I was still in love with it, or if I wasn’t, if it was just like some sort of pipe dream, you know. Day one with Harley, man, he just commands respect. He’s a man’s man. I have so many stories, half of which I definitely could not tell for a televised audience, but I’ll tell you this. He’s the first and only promoter that I can remember on the independent scene who would give you extra for your performance. I remember a night he had me wrestle three matches, and he was so proud of my work that he just bumped my pay. You don’t expect that, you know, that’s just the kind of guy he was. He appreciated passion.
“You have no idea, man. I would go to school every day early, and I would just ask him, every time, ‘Hey boss, tape study today?’ What Harley would do, once he started to dig me and believe in me is he would start to give me, all these different wrestlers would send him their footage for their tryouts and wanted to train with him. He would have me watch it if there was one that I thought was good, ‘Hey boss, you might wanna check this guy out.’ some days Harley wouldn’t want to watch it, ‘Not today, kid!’ You know how it is. He had us over for Thanksgiving dinner. I put that in a post. It’s one of my favorite memories. So many of us could not afford to fly home. We’re just independent wrestlers, just getting by, and Harley and his wife at the time, BJ, welcomed us to their home, cooked a feast. I just have so many memories of him.”
“I didn’t think I’d get that emotional, but the day I got the robe, ‘Oh, this is happening.’ The two-week story that’s been told for the United States Title, from the package to the tournament to the matches, I’m so proud that I was part of that. I posted the photo of myself and Harley side-by-side and I just said, ‘sometimes when you lose, you actually win.’ I won.”