On Wednesday's NXT, Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano will do battle for the final time ever.
The two were supposed to battle at NXT TakeOver: New York in 2019 but a neck injury forced Ciampa out of the bout. Wednesday's bout was supposed to take place at NXT TakeOver: Tampa, but the coronavirus pandemic forced WWE to cancel the event and hold all shows at the Performance Center.
While the showdown between Gargano and Ciampa won't take place in front of thousands before WrestleMania, Ciampa is still proud of what the two men were able to pull off.
"As far as what's going on in the world right now, and the situation that we've been put in as far as how it affects our industry. That brawl we had around the Performance Center had really good reviews from everybody. Everyone was very excited after that. It's crazy to think that that was the last wrestling to happen in front of a live audience. That was it. From that point forward, there's been no crowds anywhere in the world," said Ciampa in an interview with Jonathan Snowden of Bleacher Report.
"To go from the high that we had on that night where we were saying, 'Oh man, TakeOver Tampa feels as special as TakeOver New Orleans did a couple of years back'... Man, you can't predict anything that's happened since then. What a whirlwind. Only in our story could this happen. When I found out we're going forth with the match, my initial thought was like, 'All right, cool. Let's hit a home run here.' I don't know. We're both that type of performer too. We really like the pressure. We really like to have the odds stacked against us. This is a proper pay off. I'll stand by it forever. This is a proper pay off for five years, crowd, no crowd. The people that watch this at home, they're going to be captivated. They're going to be sucked in, and I think they'll feel like they were part of something special."
The friendship and rivalry between Gargano and Ciampa has been well documented on NXT television. A recent episode of NXT was dedicated to telling the entire story of Gargano and Ciampa from start to finish. And in the end, Ciampa believes the final match comes down to one thing.
"Everything that we've done over the last five years literally boils down to both of us saying, 'I want to be the face of NXT.' If you just break everything down, you strip it all down, it's two dudes who came in without a contract, worked their butts off, got all the way to the tag team titles, to the main event scene, to NXT title. And after all of that, it wasn't enough. The face of NXT. That's what Johnny Gargano wants. That's what Tomasso Ciampa wants. It's just, it's captivating stuff to me. I think when people look back at this years from now, that's what people are going to feel. Like, 'oh man, we've watched this thing unfold, and there's just so many story points to it, so many nuances to it.'"
He continued, "We try really hard to never forget anything. I'd never want a fan who is the die hard, who is completely invested, I never want that fan to feel like slap in the face or like I dismissed his thoughts or dismissed how he feels. I always want them to appreciate that we care enough, that we're putting in the thought process, and we're putting all the effort forth to make sure that nothing's forgotten. What happens Wednesday night, it's so freaking heartfelt. It's so much. It's intense. It was physical. A couple of weeks removed, I'm still healing, still recovering. We tried really hard. If this is the final chapter of a five-year story that a lot of people have been invested in, we did not want to let them down, and I do not think anyone's going to feel let down at the end of the night on Wednesday."
Fightful will have live coverage of NXT beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday.