Johnny Gargano def. Tommaso Ciampa

Johnny Gargano def. Tommaso Ciampa

Tommaso Ciampa was once referred to as the "chief puppet master" during his run as NXT Champion, accused of using Johnny Gargano as his marionette. 

But it was Gargano pulling the strings in devious fashion in his latest epic against Ciampa, walking away from a vacant building victorious thanks to his sinister plot made possible by wife Candice LeRae

The archrivals quickly surpassed the immense brutality of their storied past encounters. Gargano was more methodical than we've ever seen him, smashing Ciampa's surgically repaired right knee against the ring post multiple times. As vicious as he was surgical, Gargano also used a steel chair to target his opponent's shoulder and neck — both also included in Ciampa's litany of injury-forced operations over the years. 

The Blackheart turned his fortunes around when he sent Gargano face-first into a chair propped up in the corner. It was Ciampa's turn to verbally lambast Johnny Wrestling as he punished him around ringside with his signature camouflaged crutch and powerbombed him through a table.

Gargano found respite by moving to the parking lot and luring Ciampa after him, slamming his face into a semi-trailer. They ascended atop the trailer, pummeling each other with the fury of a rivalry steeped in three years of agony and deceit. 

After making their way back inside the building, Johnny Wrestling escalated the war of words, calling Ciampa a "failure" as a man, husband and father while brutalizing him with his own crutch. But invoking Ciampa's daughter's name — Willow — was a mistake as Ciampa completely snapped and overwhelmed Gargano with unbridled aggression. 

Moments later, Ciampa hit Willow's Bell on the ring's wooden boards — which he exposed earlier, conjuring images of their Chicago Street Fight two years ago. But referee Drake Wuertz was unable to count, having been knocked out when Gargano evaded Ciampa's running knee. 

Both men appeared completely spent after striking each other simultaneously with broken pieces of Ciampa's crutch. Gargano's wife, LeRae, entered the ring, tearfully pleading with both men to stop. Declaring that she'd finish this if Ciampa couldn't, she stunningly delivered a low blow to her husband. 

LeRae's shocking actions spurred remorse for The Blackheart. Refusing to pin Gargano, he instead tended to his former best friend and tag team partner, finally telling him he was sorry.

But it all proved to be a ruse. LeRae reemerged with a kick below the belt on Ciampa, letting Gargano reveal he had worn a protective cup. Gargano hit Ciampa with his own Fairytale Ending on the exposed wooden boards, adding further insult to injury for good measure before covering him for the three-count.

Basking in the afterglow of a perfectly executed plan, Gargano and LeRae slipped away into the night, victorious.

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