NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa def. Johnny Gargano (Last Man Standing Match)

NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa def. Johnny Gargano (Last Man Standing Match)

It’s not a stretch to say that Tommaso Ciampa becoming NXT Championship is a nightmare of Johnny Gargano’s own making. His retention of the title was, too. Ciampa remained NXT Champion after a grueling Last Man Standing Match against his best friend-turned-mortal enemy, thanks in no small part to Johnny Wrestling’s own ferocity, which literally carried him over the edge and allowed The Scourge of NXT to retain his championship.

The grisly end point of the match was a fitting conclusion to a match that turned more and more into a free-for-all with each passing minute. Apart from one insane sequence which saw Ciampa attempt to entomb Gargano with a destroyed barricade and inadvertently KO’d crew member, the match largely saw the two Superstars break out the inhumane strategies they employed during their previous two encounters. Someone was thrown over the announce table, prompting a “Mamma Mia” chant (Ciampa again). The apron was torn off the ring and someone was DDT’d onto the bare boards (Gargano this time). A Superstar was put through two tables and sent crashing onto the exposed concrete of the arena floor (Ciampa again). Someone found himself handcuffed (Ciampa) and thrown through the LED boards atop the ramp (Ciampa).

But it was Gargano’s attempts to plumb the depths of his depravity that ended up being his undoing, as he handcuffed Ciampa to the lighting boards on the edge of the screen and unleashed a barrage of superkicks on the champion, who begged, fruitlessly, for forgiveness. When Gargano pulled down his pad and administered the running knee, however, it proved to be his literal downfall: The challenger plowed through Ciampa and straight through a pile of crates at ringside, rendering him unable to answer the count of ten. Ciampa, however, simply rolled off the edge of the ramp, landing on his feet to beat the count at the last possible second to retain his title.

After the match, it was revealed that Gargano had, apparently, dislocated his knee, leaving him literally unable to walk out of the arena. Equally weighed down by the impact of his injury and the opportunity he squandered, Gargano ended TakeOver despondent and hobbled. Ciampa, meanwhile, took a curtain call just to rub it in his old friend’s face: Not only is he the last man standing, he’s the only one who could. 

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