NXT TakeOver: New Orleans – April 7, 2018: Gargano settles the score with Ciampa in Unsanctioned Match
Nearly a year after being betrayed by his former best friend Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano finally earned retribution against The Blackheart — as well as reinstatement in NXT — in a grueling Unsanctioned Match at TakeOver: New Orleans. The historic night also saw Aleister Black dethrone Andrade “Cien” Almas as the NXT Champion, the crowning of the first-ever NXT North American Champion, and much more.
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WWE NXT Results : Quick Hits
- Adam Cole def. EC3, The Velveteen Dream, Lars Sullivan, Killian Dain and Ricochet to become the first-ever NXT North American Champion
- Shayna Baszler def. Ember Moon to become the new NXT Women’s Champion
- The Undisputed ERA def. The Authors of Pain and WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne & Roderick Strong to retain the NXT Tag Team Titles and win the 2018 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
- Aleister Black def. Andrade “Cien” Almas to become the new NXT Champion
- Johnny Gargano def. Tommaso Ciampa in an Unsanctioned Match
WWE NXT Results : Full Details
Adam Cole def. EC3, The Velveteen Dream, Lars Sullivan, Killian Dain and Ricochet to become the first-ever NXT North American Champion
NEW ORLEANS — Even for a man whose credo is “Shock the System,” Adam Cole couldn’t have picked a bigger way to put the world on notice, as he won a car-crash Ladder Match at TakeOver: New Orleans to become the first-ever NXT North American Champion.
The historic victory caps a banner year for Cole, who has racked up quite the list of accomplishments both within NXT (his Undisputed ERA faction walked into TakeOver as NXT Tag Team Champions) and outside of it (Cole himself was one of the surprise entrants in the 2018 Men’s Royal Rumble Match). Becoming the first-ever dual champion in NXT history is quite the cherry on top, especially considering Cole outlasted three of NXT’s fastest-rising stars and two of its most promising signees to do it.
Among the list of the vanquished were Ricochet and The Velveteen Dream, the two most aerially-inclined Superstars of the field and the architects of its most nail-biting moments. Seeking to use the environment to their advantage, the two engaged in an unofficial game of one-upsmanship that included a textbook Purple Rainmaker from Dream off the top of a ladder. Not to be outdone, Ricochet executed a moonsault off a falling ladder and a shooting star press to EC3, who was laid out atop another ladder himself.
Speaking of which, the much-ballyhooed EC3 attempted to maneuver his way into the path of least resistance and ended up, ironically, enduring the most punishment of anyone in the match. “The Top One Percent” suffered a Vader Bomb from Killian Dain while trapped beneath a ladder and a Freak Accident from Lars Sullivan onto Dream, who was himself splayed out over a ladder. Sullivan and Dain spent the majority of the match leaving untold destruction in their wake, moving closer and closer to an all-out hoss fight, though they only threw hands for a few moments before their opponents interfered in the fisticuffs. Their power ended up making them mutual targets for the entire field, and they were dispatched early on in the final six-way scramble to the title — Dain after being jabbed with a ladder by EC3, and Sullivan after Ricochet full-body springboard tackled him off the rungs.
Ricochet seemingly had a clear path to the title after taking out the monstrous Sullivan, but his opportunity was spoiled by Cole, who had shrewdly made his presence known only when he needed to (at one point he cleared the field with a blitz of superkicks), and spared himself the kind of bone-smashing punishment that his opponents had sustained. In the end, there was Cole, tipping Ricochet’s ladder over and scrambling into the rafters to seize the title for himself.
To say Cole was ecstatic to claim the win was an understatement. He didn’t prevail so much as survive, but that was no small accomplishment given what was left of Sullivan, Dream, Dain, Ricochet and EC3. WrestleMania Axxess tournament winner Akira Tozawa awaits as his first challenger tomorrow, but tonight is for celebration. Say hello to the first-ever NXT North American Champion. BAY-BAY.
Shayna Baszler def. Ember Moon to become the new NXT Women’s Champion
The sun finally set on Ember Moon’s hard-won reign as NXT Women’s Champion in New Orleans, leaving Shayna Baszler to hoist the prestigious title at the end of a grueling slugfest between two of NXT’s bitterest rivals.
Baszler’s trek to the title was, in many ways, as arduous as Moon’s, though marked by a ferocity that the vanquished champion had largely managed to abstain from. Moon seemed to have learned her lesson, however, when their latest match began; she took the fight to Baszler almost immediately and even tried to lock in some submissions on the noted grappler. When The Queen of Spades answered in kind — a Kirifuda Clutch left Ember out on her feet — Moon used Baszler’s own secret weapon against her, administering the same excruciating elbow stomp Baszler had punished her with in the past.
Baszler, however, would not be denied a second time. The Queen of Spades served as her own field medic, popping her shoulder joint back into place by charging the turnbuckle and setting out with the goal of Kirifuda Clutch or bust. Moon turned to her own ace in the hole — the Eclipse — twice, with wildly different results. The first attempt hit its mark, though it was outside the ring and therefore didn’t lead to a pinfall. The second one was thwarted in unprecedented fashion, as Baszler countered it into a Kirifuda Clutch that she modified by grabbing her own head to compensate for the injured arm.
Moon, to her credit, did not go quietly into the goodnight, fighting to the very last breath in her lungs. She even made it close enough to the rope to tag it with her toe (not enough to break the hold) and attempted a last-ditch defensive pin (only good enough for a one-count) before she finally succumbed to the hold and lost consciousness, leaving Baszler to celebrate with longtime friends Ronda Rousey and Jessamyn Duke at ringside. When Ember finally came to, she was watching Baszler walk up the ramp with title in hand, proclaiming her supremacy to the world. With the display that had preceded it, it was a difficult boast to dispute.
The Undisputed ERA def. The Authors of Pain and WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne & Roderick Strong to retain the NXT Tag Team Titles and win the 2018 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
It was a good night to be in The Undisputed ERA. Not only did Adam Cole reign as the first-ever NXT North American Champion in a hard-fought Ladder Match, but his faction’s initially depleted ranks were replenished with one fell swoop when Roderick Strong crossed the battle lines to help them retain the NXT Tag Team Titles and become, by proxy, the winner of the 2018 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
That extra stipulation came about after The Undisputed ERA crashed the finals of the Classic this past week, thereby leading NXT General Manager William Regal to decree that the two interrupted teams — The Authors of Pain and Pete Dunne & Strong — would meet the champions at TakeOver: New Orleans in a winner-take-all Triple Threat Match. With Cole spelling the injured Bobby Fish at less than 100% (to put it lightly) after the bone-smashing Ladder Match that made him NXT North American Champion, the bout was looking like a formality for the rampaging Authors of Pain.
Akam & Rezar seemed to seal The Undisputed ERA’s fate early on with a double powerbomb to Cole through the commentary table, but give Kyle O’Reilly credit for slapping a submission onto anything tha tmoved — at one point he had Strong and Akam in two simultaneous holds … that is, until Rezar powerbombed Pete Dunne on top of O’Reilly to take him out of the battle entirely.
O’Reilly’s ousting brought the match down to the initial finalists of the Dusty Classic, though the lone NXT Tag Champion in the contest managed to make his presence felt at key moments. Unfortunately for everyone, the madcap pace of the contest made the competitors easy pickings for Pete Dunne. Entering the match comparatively fresh, the brawling WWE United Kingdom Champion countered AOP’s power with joint manipulation and O’Reilly’s blistering strikes with some heavy hits of his own and, finally, the Bitter End. That was when Strong made his move, breaking up the pinfall and blasting The BruiserWeight with the End of Heartache before throwing O’Reilly on top of his partner to hand Undisputed ERA the win.
After the bell, Strong made his intentions completely clear, donning an Undisputed ERA armband to pledge allegiance to the faction he had just helped carry to unprecedented glory. The move may earn him some raised eyebrows from the NXT Universe that had embraced Strong’s underdog mentality, true. But given his self-stated goal to win titles in NXT, it’s hard to argue that Strong hasn’t made the best decision of his career. The Undisputed ERA is now the team to beat, and Roderick Strong is a made man.
Aleister Black def. Andrade “Cien” Almas to become the new NXT Champion
In one of the hardest-hitting NXT Championship Matches in recent memory, Aleister Black managed to wrest the title from devious brawler Andrade “Cien” Almas, though not before the champion and challenger beat each other black and blue over the course of 20 minutes in a battle that saw each Superstar empty the entirety of their proverbial bag of tricks.
For Black, that was the blistering kicks and strikes — to say nothing of his otherworldly presence — he uses to clear the way for his ironclad Black Mass kick to the face. Standing opposite the same man he defeated in his NXT televised debut one year prior, Black picked up where he left off, raining punishment down upon the champion at every possible opportunity. All that El Ídolo could do was try to dodge Black Mass by hook or by crook, as Black’s multifaceted offense made him tough for the champion to pin down.
This is not to say Almas was helpless in the contest — his targeting of Black’s arm to set up the Hammerlock DDT was expert — but it’s no secret that Almas’ business manager Zelina Vega has been the cornerstone upon which his reinvention and title reign were built. Her presence paid dividends in Almas’ matches against the likes of Drew McIntyre and Johnny Gargano in prior months, and it did so again in New Orleans. Vega interfered no less than four times in the title match: administering a pair of hurricanranas to Black that stopped him in his tracks, placing Almas’ foot on the ropes after the challenger landed Black Mass, and tying Black’s ankle up on the ropes — a maneuver that allowed the champion to place his opponent in the Tree of Woe and execute a massive double-stomp.
Unfortunately for El Ídolo, Black slowly wised up to the champion’s game as the match went long. So when Vega went for her boldest interference yet — a crossbody off the top rope after Black kicked out of the Hammerlock DDT — the challenger simply ducked, leaving Almas to catch Vega in his arms, and spin unwittingly straight into the path of Black Mass. Three seconds later, Black was the winner; fittingly, he becomes the lucky 13th man to hold the NXT Championship. Now, the devil is finally off his back, and anyone wishing to enter the NXT promised land must first pass the cross-legged demon sitting at its gates.
Johnny Gargano def. Tommaso Ciampa in an Unsanctioned Match
In an Unsanctioned Match that stripped away all the pomp and circumstances of a WWE main event — the house lights were dimmed, a Hold Harmless agreement was signed that indemnified the company, and referee Drake Wuertz’s only two responsibilities were to count a pinfall or record a submission — Johnny Gargano reclaimed his life and his livelihood by defeating Tommaso Ciampa, the teammate and friend who betrayed him 10 months ago and cost him a match in which Gargano had put his career on the line.
Gargano’s long-brewing, emotional and ultimately epic payback doubled as his last-ditch effort to keep his childhood dream alive and compete in WWE, though in the beginning he seemed to particularly relish the idea of whaling on Ciampa as much as humanly possible. Ten months of waiting erupted in a wild-eyed fury from Gargano; his fanciest move in the early goings was a slingshot spear and a suicide dive, the rest were just fists and kicks that sent The Blackheart reeling. At one point, he fastballed Ciampa over the commentary table, leaving Mauro Ranallo and Percy Watson scrambling for cover while the NXT Universe chimed in with a “Mamma Mia!” chant.
Ciampa, on the other hand, decided to embrace the ferocity that has come to define him over the last year or so. He exposed the concrete floor of the Smoothie King Center, nearly snapped the cover of the commentary table in two by dropping Gargano onto it, and nearly stomped his former partner into unconsciousness with a series of boots to the back of the head. In one of the match’s many symbolic moments, Ciampa stole the crutches from a fan with a knee brace and began to swing them wildly at Gargano in an effort to land the finishing blow.
Johnny Wrestling ducked the crutches with surprising efficiency given how badly he’d been victimized at that point. He ended up turning Ciampa’s own ruthlessness against him by powerbombing The Sicilian Psychopath onto the exposed patch of concrete with a vile splat. (The NXT Universe chimed in once again, this time with a “You deserve it” chant.) Gargano also began to embrace the match’s lawlessness by exposing a turnbuckle, and it seemed, as the battle wore on, as though he might sacrifice his humanity in his pursuit of regaining his career.
Ciampa remained one step ahead of him on that front. When a rope break could not stop the Gargano Escape, he gouged Johnny’s eyes instead. During a punch-off that ensued after the two found themselves attached to each other thanks to the tape on Ciampa’s wrist, Johnny began to roll and Ciampa answered with a Pat McAfee boot to the nether regions.
Ciampa did employ some of his own maneuvers as well, particularly the powerbomb-lungblower combo that ended up causing more harm than good when he hit it off the top rope — the impact aggravated his surgically repaired knee so much that he had to remove the brace entirely. Of course, he turned that to his advantage as well, attempting to knee Gargano in the face with it.
Johnny Wrestling was ready, whacking Ciampa with the discarded brace to stop him cold and snapping the fallen crutch in two. Gargano stalked toward his cowering partner with punishment on his mind, though the sight of Ciampa cowering and teary-eyed, his face swelling tighter by the second, seemed to sap Gargano of his ruthlessness. Johnny paused his attack and sat down next to his former partner, much in the same way they had done after their then-friendly contest during 2016’s Cruiserweight Classic.
Quick as a flash, Ciampa swung the brace in Johnny’s direction and Gargano dodged it, wrapping his old partner first in the Gargano Escape and then a furious STF with the brace stretched across Ciampa’s face. The tapout was instantaneous. The reaction was jubilant. The arrival of Candice LeRae in her husband’s arms was emotional. And for Johnny Gargano, the future is his once again. Welcome home.