On May 20, 2017, Tommaso Ciampa turned on Johnny Gargano. After almost winning the NXT tag team titles in a ladder match at NXT TakeOver: Chicago, Ciampa was through with teaming with Johnny Wrestling. It was one of the best-executed heel turns of all time. I was there live to see it, and I still can’t believe it happened. The crowd was stunned leaving the Allstate Arena that night.
Fast forward 12 months and Gargano and Ciampa are in the midst of the best rivalry in professional wrestling today. Everything the duo have done together has been gold, especially since Ciampa came back from his ACL injury in January.
The dichotomy of the two is impeccable. Gargano is this lovable hero who fans of all ages can get behind. Meanwhile, Ciampa has played the vile, heinous villain perfectly, showing no remorse for Gargano’s well-being. He’s also not been afraid to say things to Gargano’s wife, Candice LeRae, adding another element to Ciampa’s slimy character.
Even the little things, like Ciampa’s use of social media, has been fantastic. Never mentioning anyone directly, sending out cryptic threats to Gargano and LeRae, etc. have all been executed to perfection.
1 year ago, I wrestled a ladder match with a torn ACL, two torn labrums, and torn ligaments in my ankle.
All you talked about is how “Johnny sacrificed himself by taking a ladder shot to the face for me.”
Let’s have a moment of silence so you can reflect on how dumb you sound.
— BLACKHEART (@ProjectCiampa) May 20, 2018
And, on top of all of that, the two are excellent wrestlers. Their NXT TakeOver: New Orleans match was unbelievable, as the crowd was hooked from start to finish. It was what pro wrestling was supposed to be: great storytelling done by two wrestlers who are at the top of their games.
The duo will be having another match at June’s NXT TakeOver: Chicago II, in the same building where this all began. The hype for that match will be unparalleled, and I expect it to be the main event of the evening.
This is the best feud in pro wrestling today, and I can’t wait to see when the ultimate payoff comes.