WWE NXT highlights: Feb. 21, 2018
NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas def. Johnny Gargano (Gargano must leave NXT)
Johnny Gargano’s NXT career is over.
Just as he’s done every single time he’s stepped inside an NXT ring, Johnny Wrestling put up a spirited and courageous battle. However, Gargano once again ended up on the losing side against NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas, resulting in arguably NXT’s most popular Superstar having to leave the black-and-yellow brand for good.
The challenger was riding an early wave of momentum, but the champion’s business manager Zelina Vega slowed Gargano’s high-energy attack when she stepped in front of a potential head-first dive onto Almas outside the ring. Instead, Candice LeRae – who was at ringside – got in the ring and launched herself head-first onto Vega. The NXT Universe at Center Stage Theatre roared as LeRae chased Vega from the ringside area behind a flurry of punches.
Gargano and Almas proceeded to wage war in a grueling high-velocity clash, just like they have in their previous three battles. The turning point came when Almas missed Gargano with a strike, instead delivering the blow to the referee.
With the official knocked out, Gargano locked in the Gargano Escape, only to have Tommaso Ciampa come out of nowhere to level Gargano with his crutch. The NXT Champion proceeded to deliver his Hammerlock DDT for the victory, retaining his title and ending Johnny Wrestling’s NXT career.
LeRae came back down to the ring for an emotional embrace with her husband as NXT fans chanted “Thank you, Johnny!”
As Gargano walked off the NXT stage for the final time, Ciampa stood menacingly, waving goodbye from across the Center Stage Theatre as NXT went off the air.