Johnny Gargano says that the theme of his classic storyline with Tommaso Ciampa was things working out for the best.
Gargano and Ciampa arrived in WWE NXT together. Initially, they enjoyed plenty of success as the DIY team before they became bitter rivals. They clashed in some unforgettable battles, including the climactic "One Final Beat" match in 2020.
During the "What's NeXT" stage show at Starrcast V, Gargano looked back on the storyline and described how obstacles like Ciampa's ACL injury in 2017 wound up being beneficial because they gave the program time to breathe.
"The story of me and Tommaso was really honestly just things working out for us. As everyone knows, Tommaso tore his ACL in that match, which required him to go get surgery. If he doesn’t tear his ACL, we have that match much sooner. We have that match probably a month or two later at another TakeOver, like probably two months later at a TakeOver. So the fact that Tommaso tore his ACL really gave us an opportunity to really let that story breathe. I think in the current climate of wrestling, fans and us as a culture, we want it now. Like I’m watching a YouTube video, I don’t even want to watch a 10-second ad. I [hit] skip ad, skip ad because I don’t wanna wait for thing. But the injury really made all of us wait for Tommaso to come back to have the match that everyone was waiting for," Gargano said.
When asked whether he was worried about thee injury forcing them to put the storyline in hold, Gargano responded, “Oh no, at that time, I was kinda just living in it, and I didn’t really realize what it would become. Obviously we all hoped it would become a huge deal. We didn’t realize it would become even more. I think we all got incredibly lucky. My story of NXT is a lot of injuries happening, and us making the best of how things work out. I think that’s how anything works, you know, happenstance, how the universe works. Things work out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out, and we did that a lot in NXT."
Gargano went on to use his NXT Championship match against Andrade "Cien" Almas at NXT TakeOver Philadelphia as an example of how things worked out for the best, despite the setback of Ciampa's injury. He noted that the match probably would not have happened otherwise.
"It’s just so interesting how that worked out in the sense to where if the turn happens and Tommaso and I have that match immediately, the Andrade match never happens, and it just worked out story-wise. Andrade versus Drew was the match in San Antonio for the NXT Championship, I believe San Antonio. I just remember because there was a live event in San Antonio I think the weekend of that show, and I wrestled Andrade in the opener. Hunter came to a live event, which Hunter came to a live event sometimes. But Hunter came to that live event, and me and Andrade, whether it be a live event, whether it be a pay-per-view, whether it be a show, a local show in Florida in front of like 50 people, we always ripped it up. Every single time we went out there, we gave the people their money’s worth. That night in San Antonio, we went crazy, we went off. We had a crazy match, and Hunter absolutely lost it. He was like, ‘That was amazing.’ Shawn obviously loved it, ‘Crazy, amazing.’ So that weekend, the TakeOver happens, and that’s when Drew tears his shoulder, or tears his tricep I believe. So Drew tears his tricep defending the NXT Championship against Andrade, and Andrade wins the title. I think they were going to go to Drew and Andrade again at the next TakeOver in Philadelphia. That was the plan, to do the rematch in Philadelphia. But Drew tore his tricep or bicep, and he could not do it, so they needed a challenger for Andrade. I believe Shawn and Hunter, having seen what we just did at the live event the night before, was like, ‘Let’s go with Johnny. Let’s put Johnny in there.’ It works out great because Tommaso’a gonna come back that pay-per-view, and he can come back at the end and screw Johnny off, and that’s great," Gargano said.
He concluded by saying, "Perfect circumstance where I had the match with Andrade, Tommaso comes back, and then we’re off and rolling with our feud. Again, everything works out for a reason."
During the show, Gargano also discussed his future in the wrestling business. You can check out his comments here.
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