Tino Sabbatelli, who has been out of action since tearing his pectoral muscle during a match in April, may never wrestle again for WWE.
In December, the 35-year-old NXT wrestler underwent his third surgery of 2018. Despite the setback, he vowed to come back stronger in 2019.
Sabbatelli underwent his second surgery in late August. There’s no word yet on whether his last two procedures are related to his pectoral muscle tear.
According to Dave Meltzer in the latest issue of Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Sabbatelli continues to have issues after his most recent surgery. His situation is being compared to that of Jason Jordan, who has not wrestled since undergoing neck surgery last February. It’s still unknown if Jordan will ever wrestle again. He now works behind-the-scenes by helping WWE stars put together their matches.
With Sabbatelli’s future as a wrestler in doubt, there has been talk of trying him out as a television announcer.
“There was talk of giving Tino Sabbatelli a look as a TV announcer. Sabbatelli has been having issues since his recent surgery and the description to us is the situation is similar to that of Jason Jordan. But he hasn’t been cleared to return and may not be any time soon.”
A former NFL player, Sabbatelli — real name Sabatino “Sabby” Piscitelli — was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He spent six seasons playing the Safety position before joining the WWE Performance Center in October 2014.
He made his NXT wrestling debut on April 4, 2015, competing in a battle royal at a live event. He was given the ring name Anthony Sabatelli in October 2015, which later got tweaked to Tino Sabbatelli.
Sabbatelli made his NXT television debut in October 2016, teaming with Riddick Moss. They continued to team up but found little success as they didn’t pick up their first win on television until a year later. After a string of losses, they broke up in April. Sabbatelli left Moss to fend for himself during a tag team match against Heavy Machinery and then called him “dead weight” in a backstage interview.
Oh, you want to tag in @TinoSabbatelli?
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) April 26, 2018
Their breakup was staged to launch Sabbatelli as a top singles wrestler. The split aired on the WWE Network on April 25, and two nights later, Sabbatelli was in the main event challenging Aleister Black for the NXT Championship at a live event in Orlando, Florida. Sabbatelli tore his pectoral muscle the following night during a main event match against Velveteen Dream.