Johnny Gargano def. Tommaso Ciampa (First Round Match)
The final match of the CWC’s First Round was also the most anticipated, as one of NXT’s hottest tag teams at the moment, Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa, squared off for the last spot in the sweet sixteen of this summer’s biggest tournament. Tensions were high in the locker room, as Johnny Wrestling said he saw Ciampa as “just another guy” in the tournament, while Ciampa declared he was going into the battle with the intent to hurt his teammate.
Though the two partners and close friends seemed to be on the same wavelength early on, going hold for hold with each other, Gargano gained the early advantage on the canvas. When they got back to their feet, Ciampa took control of the bout by force, cracking his partner in the mouth with a hard elbow. Ciampa stayed on the attack, clobbering his friend with elbows, knees and chops around the arena.
Gargano got back into the match with a slingshot DDT that left Ciampa reeling. Johnny Wrestling stayed on his partner, connecting with a powerbomb and diving onto Ciampa at ringside. However, Ciampa could not be kept down, as he rocked Gargano with a knee back in the ring. The bout spilled out to the apron, where the two exchanged strikes again. Ciampa got the upper hand and stunned everyone in the arena when he dropped Gargano spine-first into the ring apron with an Air Raid Crash. Still, his resilient friend would not stay down for the three-count after the devastating move.
The normally ruthless Ciampa had the next round in his sights as he pulled down his kneepad to clock Gargano, but he hesitated to strike his friend and got caught with a superkick. “The Sicilian Psychopath” didn’t make that mistake twice, picking Gargano up for the brutal powerbomb/backbreaker combination he calls Project Ciampa. Against any other competitor, on any other night, that would have been the end. However, Gargano is all heart and kicked out at the last second, stunning Ciampa.
A glassy-eyed Gargano struggled to get back to his feet as his friend chopped him over and over again. Ciampa finally pulled Johnny Wrestling to his feet, where Gargano dared him to unleash one final blow. Ciampa removed his elbow pad, but Gargano ducked and took Ciampa down to the mat. Gargano got the upperhand in the scrum, pinning Ciampa with a crucifix to win the last spot in the Second Round, where he will face T.J. Perkins.
After the bout, an emotionally devastated Ciampa initially refused to shake his partner’s hand. Following some contemplation, Ciampa got back into the ring, sat down next to Gargano on the canvas and gave him a hug, showing that their friendship withstood this epic battle.