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Johnny Gargano Beats Kushida, Retains NA Title at NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2021

Credit: WWE.com

Johnny Gargano beat Kushida at NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day on Sunday to retain the North American Championship.

Kushida focused on Gargano's left arm throughout the match, and the strategy nearly paid off after he locked in a cross armbreaker.

WWE NXT @WWENXT

The Armbar is locked in! Are we getting a new champ tonight?!!?! #NXTTakeOver @JohnnyGargano @KUSHIDA_0904 https://t.co/IsjFNS4VNu

Kushida was looking to apply the Hoverboard Lock, but Gargano countered by yanking up and sending Kushida neck-first into the top rope. From there, Gargano hit One Final Beat for the victory.

WWE NXT @WWENXT

#JohnnyTakeOver stands tall. #NXTTakeOver #AndStill @JohnnyGargano https://t.co/31D0pY6jeI

The issues between the two men date back to December when Johnny Wrestling teamed with Austin Theory to beat Kushida and Leon Ruff in a match.

Gargano and Kushida would face each other in two more tag team matches in January, though, with the Japanese emerging victorious on both occasions.

First, Kushida teamed with Shotzi Blackheart in a victory over Gargano and Candice LeRae. Then, he and Ruff beat Gargano and Theory in the first round of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Notably, Kushida pinned the North American champ to win the contest.

After that loss, it became clear Gargano was wary of the submission specialist and wanted to avoid having to put his title on the line against him at any cost.

However, he poked the bear when he and Theory attacked Kushida and Ruff after The Grizzled Young Veterans beat them in the quarterfinals of the Dusty Cup.

With Gargano having lost to Kushida twice in tag team matches and escalating things through his own actions, NXT general manager William Regal announced that he would have to defend the North American title against Kushida at Vengeance Day.

Gargano was livid when he was informed of the match during an interview and said he would talk to Regal to ensure the match wouldn't happen. When the GM wouldn't budge, Gargano tried to fake an injury, but Regal revealed that Gargano had been cleared by the medical team and would have to face Kushida at TakeOver.

Sunday's match was perhaps the biggest of Kushida's NXT career thus far, while Gargano is known by many as "Johnny TakeOver" because of his penchant for showing out on the big stage.

Ultimately, that experience edge helped Gargano escape with his North American title reign intact, but it stands to reason that Kushida could remain in the hunt moving forward.

        

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