#AndNEW: Johnny Gargano Finally Has His “Moment,” Wins NXT Championship for First Time

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Johnny Gargano, NXT Champion
Credit: WWE

“Good luck tonight. This is your moment.”

That’s what Tommaso Ciampa tweeted early Friday morning, in advance of the NXT Championship match between his former #DIY partner and best friend, Johnny Gargano, and Undisputed Era‘s Adam Cole. There was a somber note to that tweet as just a few months ago, with Ciampa the NXT Champion and Gargano betraying their brief reunion in order to assert himself as the #1 contender for the belt, this was supposed to be “their moment.”

But an injury led to a change of course as Ciampa was forced to vacate his beloved Goldy and Gargano was in need of a new opponent for TakeOver: New York. Emerging from the field thanks to winning a Fatal-5-Way that also featured Ricochet, Aleister Black, Velveteen Dream and Matt Riddle, was Adam Cole (baybay), one of NXT’s hottest stars. While the two former independent darlings had yet to face each other in NXT in singles action (excluding live events/house shows), both Cole and Gargano were no strangers to one another, having battled in EVOLVE, Combat Zone Wrestling, Absolute Intense Wrestling, Xcite Wrestling and most notably, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, where Adam Cole successfully defended his world title against Johnny Gargano at All Star Weekend 10.

Their meeting at TakeOver: New York followed a different narrative than those previous meetings however. Both Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole were competing for a title that had been vacated, both had made claims to why they should be champion. And their NXT resumes spoke for themselves. For Cole, he’s had nothing but success since joining NXT in 2017, becoming the first North American Champion and winning the tag team titles alongside Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly and Roderick Strong. Undisputed Era has been the most successful stable in NXT history and they’ve really only just gotten started. Johnny Gargano too is a former North American Champion and NXT tag team champion, the latter of which he accomplished alongside Ciampa as #DIY.

To win the tag titles, #DIY had to overcome some tough competition and adversity, but that was nothing compared to the yearlong-plus journey Gargano has been on, seeking out NXT’s top prize. It all started back at TakeOver: Chicago on that fateful day on the 20th of May. Ciampa turned on Gargano and set into motion an incredible story that featured just about everything you could want or need from a wrestling angle. With Ciampa on the shelf, Gargano fought against the ghost of his past, constantly confronted with reminders of what he’d lost both by then-champion Andrade and Zelina Vega, and later by Ciampa himself.

Title opportunities came and went until finally, Gargano watched as his biggest rival claimed gold before him. And thus began his descent into madness. Gargano lost his grip on who he was, becoming obsessive, and started to embody everything he fought against. As they say, if you can’t beat em, join em, and Gargano seemingly did just that when he agreed to team with Ciampa on last time during the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. The two made it to the semifinals and after their loss, it was Gargano’s turn to enact his measure of revenge, revenge that had been building up for the better part of a year.

Gargano attacked Ciampa and set himself up as the champion’s #1 contender. This time, Gargano wasn’t going away, not until he had his moment, not until he accomplished that boyhood dream. Unfortunately, Gargano and Ciampa’s story never got its proper end, though, on Friday night, everything came full circle. Following a hard fought victory over Cole and pretty much all of Undisputed Era, who did their best to secure the victory for their leader, Ciampa met Gargano at the top of the ramp and alongside Candice LeRae, the three embraced as the show went off the air.

The match itself saw Johnny TakeOver once again wrestle to the level of his nickname. In a two-out-of-three falls contest that lasted nearly 40 minutes, Gargano managed to outlast and out-think Cole and his merry band of thieves. It was another classic performance from Gargano, one that ended the way this story was always meant to, with NXT’s ace holding the title high above his head. Gargano’s fairytale had come true and his moment, one he had earned and deserved, finally came to be. And it’s one that likely won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

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