On this day, June 16, 2021, Johnny Gargano faces off against Tommaso Ciampa in a Chicago Street Fight at NXT TakeOver: Chicago II.
The Implosion of #DIY
As former NXT Tag Team Champions, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa are quite familiar with each other’s mindsets and movesets. However, no one ever expected the men to come to blows in an NXT arena. On May 20, 2017, at NXT TakeOver: Chicago, #DIY contended for the NXT Tag Team Championships in a ladder match. Facing champions Akam and Rezar, Gargano and Ciampa would not be able to capture the titles on this night. After the match, Ciampa would turn on Gargano to end the partnership between the two. This was an absolutely shocking ordeal that rocked the wrestling landscape for weeks.
While Ciampa would take time away from NXT television to rehab an injury, Gargano would still be haunted by his betrayal. At NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III, Gargano would wrestle Andrade “Cien” Almas for the NXT Championship in a stellar match. However, he would lose due to a #DIY shirt being tossed at Gargano to distract him. Gargano would face Almas again for the NXT Championship at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia, losing to him in the process. After the match, Gargano would be on the receiving end of an attack from a returning Tommaso Ciampa.
On February 21, 2018, Johnny Gargano would put his NXT career on the line in a Title vs. Career match on NXT. Surprisingly, Andrade would defeat Gargano in this match due to interference from Tommaso Ciampa. Gargano was forced to leave NXT, and he would never return.
Just kidding, Gargano would continue to make appearances on NXT, looking for one more match against the Sicilian Psychopath. Gargano would get this match at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans where he defeated Ciampa in an unsanctioned match to reclaim his position on the NXT roster. Two months later, Gargano would attempt to vie for the NXT Championship on NXT television, only to be attacked by Ciampa mid-entrance. This would lead to the match that happened On This Day at NXT TakeOver: Chicago II.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano
The bell rings, and the match is underway. Immediately, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa start coming to blows with crutches that both of them had brought to ringside. They’re battling with them like swords, but neither man gets the advantage. They toss the crutches to the outside, and the two men head toward the apron. This leads to Gargano landing a massive cannonball senton onto Ciampa on the outside. Immediately, Gargano tosses Ciampa into the announce table (taking out Percy Watson in the process). At this point, you know that this match is going to be incredible.
The two men start brawling through the crowd, and Ciampa notices an obvious plant holding an obviously planted sign. He tries to tear the sign, but it won’t bend. Plot twist – the sign had a stop sign in the paper – which Gargano would promptly use to attack his opponent. That was such an excellent spot. We make our way back into the ring with a trashcan thrown into the mix. However, Ciampa would take control and unleash an onslaught.
Ciampa would wrap a chair around Gargano’s previously injured neck and slam it into the steel steps, closing the chair in the process. That was just brutal. Eventually, handcuffs are introduced, but Ciampa can’t manage to cuff Gargano. Gargano starts whipping Ciampa in the back with his belt, leading to “You deserve it!” chants from the Chicago crowd. The crowd is so hot for this match, and it adds so much to it!
Later on, Ciampa would drag a limp Gargano to the top of the stage. The former partners would brawl to the top of two storage crates with a table set up beneath. Yeah, you can tell where this one is going. First, Ciampa grabs the fingers of Gargano and slowly slides off his wedding ring, tossing it into the ground. Ciampa attempts to drive Gargano through the table, but this fires Gargano up. Gargano lands an air raid crash neckbreaker to the ground 15 feet below. The entire complexion of this match changes.
We get multiple minutes of medical and security personnel tending to Ciampa, who is looking worse for wear after that spot. The backstage workers attempt to stretcher Ciampa out of the arena. Gargano is not going to let this match end in such a fashion, which leads to him attacking the referee and medical team. Johnny drags Ciampa’s stretcher to ringside, tosses him in the ring, and locks him in the Garga-No-Escape submission, leading to Ciampa tapping immediately. However, the match doesn’t end due to the lack of a referee.
Security pours into the ring, attempting to drag Gargano off of his opponent. In the finish of the match, Gargano would attack the security guards attempting to hold him back. Escaping the clutches of security, Gargano would make his way back into the ring only to be caught in the arms of a handcuffed Tommaso Ciampa. Ciampa would drop Gargano with a DDT on the exposed wood underneath the ring, much to the horror of the live crowd. The Sicilian Psychopath would pin Gargano for the victory following this disgusting shot.
This is easily the match of the night, and one of my favorite NXT TakeOver matches ever. If you haven’t seen it, go out of your way to watch this contest. Absolutely incredible. I could’ve watched these two men wrestle for hours.
Match Result: Tommaso Ciampa defeated Johnny Gargano via Pinfall in 35:29.
Walker’s Star Rating: 5 Star Match
Following the match, Johnny Gargano would find himself taking on a darker edge to his persona. Bitter about his loss, he would begin utilizing the spike DDT (similar to the one that Ciampa beat him with at NXT TakeOver: Chicago II). Tommaso Ciampa would continue his heelish ways on the black and yellow brand. Eventually, Gargano and Ciampa would form a brief partnership again on WWE’s main roster. However, they would quickly be sent back down to NXT within a couple of months of debuting.
Almost a month later, Tommaso Ciampa would win the NXT Championship from Aleister Black after Gargano’s interference cost Black the match. Ciampa would hold the NXT Championship for 237 days, relinquishing the championship due to impending neck surgery. One month after Ciampa dropped the belt, Gargano would win the vacant title after defeating Adam Cole in a 2 Out Of 3 Falls match. Gargano would drop the belt to Cole 57 days later at NXT TakeOver XXV. Gargano would also go on to hold the NXT North American Championship a record three times.
Currently, Gargano finds himself leading “the way” for his stable on NXT, aptly named “The Way.” Ciampa finds himself teaming with Timothy Thatcher, with the two embroiled in a feud with Zack Gibson and James Drake of the Grizzled Young Veterans. Nobody knows what is in store for these two superstars. However, all we know is what went down On This Day.
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