Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa: 2018 Retrospective
Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa were in, arguably, the most personal rivalry of the entire year. The destruction of #DIY in 2017 was a defining moment for NXT, and when Tommaso Ciampa returned in early 2018, fans were dying to see how this would play out.
Johnny Gargano's year of failure in 2017 was highlighted, culminating at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia in 2018, where Tommaso Ciampa attacked Gargano again.
An unsanctioned match was eventually scheduled for NXT TakeOver: New Orleans between the former Tag Team Champions, and Johnny Gargano would finally overcome his demons, beating Ciampa after a brutal war.
Though he won, Gargano wasn't rid of Ciampa, and a street fight between the two ended in shocking fashion. A handcuffed and badly beaten Tommaso Ciampa managed to connect with a DDT to the uncovered wrestling mat, knocking Gargano out cold and giving Ciampa a big win over his former friend.
Aleister Black vs Andrade "Cien" Almas Highlights
To continue on with the story between Gargano and Ciampa, we first had to relive the epic encounter between Aleister Black and Andrade "Cien" Almas for the NXT Championship at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans. Almas had a great run with the title, first defeating Drew McIntyre at the end of 2017, then knocking off Johnny Gargano in 2018.
Black and Almas had an incredible showdown at TakeOver: New Orleans, with Black having to fight a constant uphill battle against Almas and his manager Zelina Vega. Black eventually overcame Almas and captured the NXT Championship during WrestleMania weekend.
Tommaso Ciampa vs Aleister Black: The Beginning of the Fairy Tale Ending
After defeating Johnny Gargano at NXT TakeOver: Chicago II, Tommaso Ciampa was next in line for a title bout. Ciampa and Aleister Black took their fight to the next level, and it felt almost as personal as the Ciampa/Gargano rivalry.
Black, in the end, was cheated out of his NXT Championship when Johnny Gargano accidentally caught him in the head with the title. A Fairy Tale Ending from Ciampa would seal his fate, and usher in the era of the Blackheart.
Aleister Black is attacked
After months of investigations, we finally learned that it was Johnny Gargano who attacked Tommaso Ciampa from behind prior to NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn IV, taking him out of the title bout and keeping him away from his rematch.
Nikki Cross teased that she knew who it was the entire time, and Cross teased multiple superstars, including Velveteen Dream and Tommaso Ciampa. However, the returning Aleister Black was eventually told by Cross, and the next week was assaulted again by Johnny Gargano.
This led to a vicious brawl between the two superstars at NXT TakeOver: WarGames II, where Black would "absolve Gargano of his sins."Published 03 Jan 2019, 09:02 IST