Instead, Ciampa took victory from Gargano — and may have taken his career.
Gargano’s failed quest began on a high note as his wife handed him a crutch backstage and told him to go destroy Ciampa. Tommaso arrived with a crutch of his own, and the two immediately began to brawl. Johnny Wrestling quickly went on the attack, hitting Ciampa with a dive and throwing him over the announce table. The two then rumbled into the crowd where Gargano found a fan who had smuggled a stop sign into the arena, which Gargano used to brutalize Ciampa.
Gargano was fired up, but Ciampa distinguished his rival with a gauntlet of German Suplexes that took a serious toll on Gargano’s previously injured neck. Johnny fought back through sheer force of will, but the wear and tear on his neck allowed Ciampa to regain control. The sadistic Blackheart took things to a horrifying new level when he wrapped a steel chair around Gargano’s neck and smashed it into the steel ring steps. Tommaso did not let up there, as he recklessly launched a steel trash can at Gargano’s head.
Practically salivating at the abuse he was dishing out, Ciampa continued to attack the neck and even attempted to handcuff Gargano. Johnny Wrestling fought back, however, with a spear through the middle rope. Gargano then took off his belt and began viciously whipping Ciampa, wrapping the leather around his fist and punching Ciampa square in the face.
This bombardment had Gargano in position to stay on the offensive, but Ciampa raked his former best friend across the eyes and then executed the Air Raid Crash on Johnny right on the unforgiving steel ring steps. Ciampa then used a pair of bolt cutters to cut up the ring apron and expose the wooden boards underneath the canvas. Ciampa tried to slam his rival onto the exposed insides of the ring, but Gargano avoided what clearly would have been a match-ending move.
With both Superstars worse for wear, Ciampa countered a dive to the outside from Johnny by bashing him in the head with a trash can lid. Ciampa then lined Gargano’s head up next to the ring steps for a running knee, but Johnny moved, causing Ciampa to slam the knee he injured at NXT TakeOver: Chicago a year ago into the steel.
A desperate Ciampa tried to use his brace as a weapon, but Gargano stopped it and began to aggressively assault Tommaso’s knee. The Blackheart got back in the fight by targeting Johnny’s neck again and striking a completely dazed Gargano with a crutch across his vulnerable nape. Still, Gargano somehow managed to kick out of the subsequent pin attempt.
Ciampa picked Gargano up and screamed into his ear that Johnny had done all of this to himself. He then told him to say goodbye to everyone he cared about and his career.
Ciampa rammed Gargano into the entrance screen in a scene eerily reminiscent of the night he turned on his former #DIY teammate a year ago at NXT TakeOver: Chicago. Not content to let that be the end, The Blackheart dragged Gargano up to the top of a stack of WWE NXT production crates. Ciampa then slid Gargano’s wedding band off his finger, spit on it and threw it into the distance. That heinous act cost Ciampa dearly as it allowed Johnny Wrestling to hoist Ciampa up on his shoulders and then jump off the crates, sending both men crashing through two tables at least 12 feet beneath them.
The referee called for medical personnel who strapped a neck brace on Tommaso and began to wheel him out on a stretcher. Gargano’s blood was still boiling, however, and he shoved the attendants away, wheeled Ciampa’s stretcher back down near the ring and began to beat on him. WWE officials rushed to the ring and attempted to stop Gargano, but he fought them off and proceeded to handcuff Ciampa and repeatedly kick him in the head at point blank range. Gargano then applied the Gargano Escape, which prompted Ciampa to tap immediately, but there was no referee present to call for the bell.
A group of WWE officials hit the ring to stop Gargano’s onslaught, but even the mass of humanity could not stop Johnny Wrestling, who took them all on outside the ring and then stormed back to Ciampa’s battered body to inflict more pain. However, as Gargano stepped onto the ring apron, Ciampa caught Johnny Wrestling’s neck and dropped him squarely onto the exposed wood with a DDT. With a referee now back in the ring, Ciampa covered Gargano for an unexpected victory.
NXT fans wore their shock and disappointment clearly on their faces as the bell rang. Even more distraught was Candice LeRae, who rushed to the ring to check on her fallen husband. The only happy person in Chicago’s Allstate Arena was Tommaso Ciampa, who flashed a sadistic smile as he dragged himself up the ramp, then waved “bye-bye” to his former best friend.