It was revealed prior to this No. 1 Contender’s Tournament Match that Velveteen Dream would be unable to compete due to injuries suffered at TakeOver: WarGames. As a result, General Manager William Regal inserted Johnny Gargano into the bout.
Despite having a significant size disadvantage, Johnny Wrestling took full advantage of this huge opportunity. Gargano’s struggles since becoming a singles wrestler have been widely discussed, but you wouldn’t have known the Cleveland native had been struggling based on his performance against one of the world’s greatest grapplers in Kassius Ohno.
The two squared-circle savants put on a show for the NXT Universe, leaving the fans hanging on every vicious kick to the jaw. Dueling chants of “Kassius Ohno” and “Jonny Wrestling” rang throughout Full Sail University as both competitors put on a “Match of the Year” candidate with just a few weeks remaining in 2017.
What Gargano lacks in size he makes up for in heart as he miraculously kicked out of some of Ohno’s most devastating strikes. After a grueling back-and-forth, the determined Superstar locked in his Gargano Escape submission to force Ohno to tap out, moving Johnny Gargano forward to the Fatal 4-Way No. 1 Contender’s Match.