Johnny Gargano defeated Adam Cole in a 2-out-of-3 Falls match at NXT TakeOver: New York on Friday night to fulfill his destiny and become NXT champion for the first time.
Cole won the first fall with the Last Shot, and Gargano evened the score by making Cole tap out in the Gargano Escape.
Cole's fellow members of The Undisputed Era remained bystanders for most of the match. When it looked like Gargano was on the verge of victory, though, they arrived ringside to tip the scales in Cole's favor.
Even facing a massive disadvantage, Gargano somehow fought off Roderick Strong, Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly. He even kicked out of a second Last Shot by Cole.
When Cole went to put on the finishing touches, Gargano ducked and countered into the Gargano Escape. Cole was inches away from the bottom rope before Gargano rolled the move back into the middle of the ring. Cole held on for a few more moments before tapping out.
It initially looked as though Gargano was set to face longtime rival Tommaso Ciampa for the NXT title, but that changed when a neck injury requiring surgery forced Ciampa to relinquish the championship after 238 days. To determine Gargano's new opponent, a Fatal 5-Way match was held.
Cole outlasted a star-studded field that included Matt Riddle, Velveteen Dream, Ricochet and Aleister Black to win the match and take one step closer to his goal of Undisputed Era taking over NXT by winning the NXT Championship.
While Cole has long coveted the NXT title, this tweet from Gargano in 2017 suggests becoming NXT champion was the one thing missing from his remarkable resume:
Before Ciampa's injury, Johnny Wrestling had masterfully put all the pieces in place for a decisive match against Ciampa in New York after their memorable series of matches last year. That included Gargano beating Ciampa in an unsanctioned match at last year's pre-WrestleMania TakeOver.
Gargano and Ciampa had reformed a loose alliance that saw them help each other at times with Ciampa holding the NXT Championship and Gargano holding the North American Championship. After Gargano dropped the North American title to Velveteen Dream, he and Ciampa even reformed their DIY tag team.
Ciampa called for DIY to get back together and take part in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, which Gargano agreed to, much to the chagrin of his wife, Candice LeRae.
DIY fell to Black and Ricochet in the semis of the Dusty Classic when Gargano seemingly suffered a knee injury. Ciampa and LeRae helped Gargano walk to the top of the ramp, but Ciampa attempted to throw Gargano into the video board, which is how DIY broke up in the first place.
Johnny Wrestling stopped on a dime, though, and revealed that he wasn't really injured before throwing Ciampa into the video board and then laying him out with a superkick.
That seemed to be the perfect setup for a match between them at TakeOver: New York, but the conclusion of their rivalry will have to come at a later date.
Instead, Gargano and Cole clashed in a classic match, and Gargano finally secured his place atop the black and gold brand. Considering Cole's strength in numbers with Undisputed Era, however, it seems likely that their feud is just beginning.
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