NXT: Johnny Gargano-Tommaso Ciampa – Feud Of The Year
During the May 24 episode of NXT, there was another confrontation between former tag team partners Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa.
This time, their confrontation resulted in Gargano’s wife, Candice LeRae, being thrown off the apron and onto the ramp. She would be helped by medical personnel as a helpless Gargano looks on and a cowardly Ciampa fled the scene.
The story between Ciampa and Gargano has been burning brightly in NXT for the last several months.
After Gargano defeated Ciampa at NXT Takeover: New Orleans, a match literally five stars, fans thought it was a good way to close the book on their feud. It was also the momentum Gargano needed to finally achieve his goal to capture the NXT Championship.
Johnny Wrestling challenged Aleister Black to a title match. The two were set to clash on the April 25 edition of NXT. As Gargano made his way to the ring, Ciampa attacked and left his former tag team partner unable to compete.
Gargano was taken away on a stretcher while Ciampa watched.
The Gargano-Ciampa feud is not only the hottest angle in NXT, it is the top rivalry happening in professional wrestling.
In terms of quality in-ring performances, people will point to the bouts in New Japan Pro Wrestling as being the best in the world and there are the critics who believe NXT shouldn’t count because it’s a developmental system.
Gargano-Ciampa is one of the few examples where fans are embracing a slow-burning story.
After months together as the tag team #DIY, including a reign as NXT Tag Team Champions, Ciampa turned on Gargano on May 20, 2017 at NXT Takeover: Chicago.
It would be awhile before their first match as Ciampa was out with a ruptured ACL. But Gargano couldn’t seem to escape from Ciampa’s shadow as he would lose two matches to Andrade “Cien” Almas – both times resulting from a #DIY shirt being thrown at him or worn in front of him.
Gargano would pick up wins and he would face Almas again for the NXT title at Takeover: Philadelphia. After he lost the match, Gargano was attacked by Ciampa, who struck him with crutches.
Gargano put his career on the line against Almas on an episode of NXT, only for Ciampa to attack him again, seemingly putting him out of NXT for good.
Even with Gargano gone, fans rained boos on Ciampa, who relished in behind hated, and called for Gargano.
Gargano returned and attacked Ciampa on NXT – and even came to his house in the middle of the night. This all led to their match at NXT Takeover: New Orleans.
In the year Gargano-Ciampa have been split, they have only wrestled one singles match and that was unsanctioned. Part of that is a result of Ciampa’s injury but another part of that has to do with creative restraining themselves from putting Gargano and Ciampa in the ring together for matches on television.
This isn’t a typical tag team split where two wrestlers who were once partners are facing each other each week on television, i.e. Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder, or Enzo Amore and Big Cass.
Gargano, Ciampa and NXT creative are not the only players who make this rivalry special. LeRae has been someone who has been caught in the middle, trying to understand why someone she and her husband considered family would try to make their life a nightmare.
The audience has also played a large role in not only the angle, but also in Ciampa’s ascension into the top heel in professional wrestling.
Ciampa’s attacks on Gargano and his actions would not be as effective if the audience did not shower him with boos, chant “Johnny Wrestling” and flash their signs supporting their hero.
This feud has also made Gargano being one of the few pure babyfaces to receive cheers from the crowd.
It might only be late May, but Ciampa-Gargano could easily be considered professional wrestling’s “Feud of the Year.” There doesn’t seem to be any rivalry that could top it. And if the rumors are true, there is a good chance the NXT Universe will see them clash in the ring once more.
Donovan Dijak Suffers Injury at NXT Vengeance Day
NXT Vengeance Day was a rousing success for WWE on Saturday which saw a number of headlines come out of the event that was well-received by fans, including an injury suffered by Donovan Dijak during his match with Wes Lee for the North American Championship.
Dijak suffered an apparent broken finger during the match, which was seen on camera and shared on social media.
Following the event NXT general manager Shawn Michaels provided an update on Dijak, stating he did not suffer a broken finger – “Yeah, everybody is good” Michaels said. “I announced it at gorilla, it’s got to be a miracle, It’s not broken.
“We got him x-ray, they said it’s not broken and so yeah, I guess what you do is you kind of numb it and put it back in place and that’s what’s happening now. But it is, again, a modern miracle because we all saw it, it was pretty gnarly looking. But, apparently, he’s going to be okay, which is obviously fantastic news for us and him.”
William Regal’s New Title in WWE Return
William Regal has made his return to WWE following his brief stint with AEW and now has a new title that is much different than what he had prior to his release from WWE during budget cuts last year.
Regal was Director of Talent Development and Head of Global Recruiting prior to his release. Regal was also the former General Manager for NXT and also had an on-screen role before he made his way to AEW.
According to PWInsider, Regal is now the Vice President, Global Talent Development for WWE.
Ahead of his return to WWE and amid his exit from AEW, Regal issued the following on social media:
“Yesterday was my last official day with @AEW. I’d like to thank @TonyKhan, Megha and all the hard working crew. Contrary to people who’ve never spoken to me or have their information from people who don’t know me or are trying to make themselves noticed, I had a lovely time working there and had a great time. Lots of talented Wrestlers, and lovely people to work for. To my fellow BCC members, it was a special, albeit brief few months but it cemented our already strong friendship. To everyone there, thank you for welcoming me. Best wishes.”
Ex-NJPW Star Karl Fredericks Signs with WWE
Former New Japan Pro Wrestling star Karl Fredericks has officially signed with WWE following the conclusion of his four-year tenure with NJPW. Fredericks announced on social media back in summer 2022 that he would not re-sign with NJPW.
Fredericks was initially linked to WWE last September, when he was reportedly spotted at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.
According to PW Insider, Fredericks has officially signed with WWE and will be a part of the NXT brand initially.
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