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#MustWatchMonday: Johnny Gargano vs Andrade "Cien" Almas (NXT Brooklyn III)

Today's match is a bit of an older one, but nonetheless still extremely relevant. As Johnny Gargano was walking up the ramp following his defeat at the hands of Andrade "Cien" Almas, he was attacked from behind by his former tag team partner, Tommaso Ciampa. If you just parachuted into the match after hearing about the hype without knowing any of the background, you might not understand how significant that was, and how significant it was that his NXT championship match at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia was against Almas.

As a tag team, Ciampa and Gargano were a well-oiled machine, having universally-acclaimed matches against teams like the Revival and the Authors of Pain. After a losing the NXT Tag Team Championships and failing to reclaim them however, Ciampa attacked Gargano, breaking up the team. 

The two were set to feud right after that, but Ciampa injured his leg, and so Gargano's story shifted to how the team's breakup was impacting him. He returned to NXT and vowed to become Johnny Wrestling again; and his first match since the team broke up was to be at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III against Andrade "Cien" Almas.

Almas was going through a story of trying to rediscover himself as well. He came into NXT as a hot prospect with a lot of potential, but a lack of focus resulted in him disappointing himself, as well as his fans.

Enter Zelina Vega. She came along in mid-2017 and began accompanying Almas to his matches, instilling a new focus in him. Despite this, going into this match, Almas was seen in the same light as Tyler Breeze, Tyson Kidd, and CJ Parker were in the NXT pecking order: gatekeepers. Guys who were the final road block before getting into the NXT main event picture, but without being in that scene themselves. It didn't help that Gargano's story was definitely the more prominent one at the time.

Almas' renewed focus was definitely on display. Instead of lounging on the ropes when he got the better of his opponent, he instantly went back on the attack. It was a hot opener, with the crowd solidly behind Gargano. Both men worked really hard and crisp, with Gargano being able to show off his babyface fire after being beaten down. When it looked like he was finally going to get Almas though, Vega threw a #DIY shirt into the ring, distracting Gargano and allowing Almas to get the win.

All this got a few storylines going. It continued the Gargano storyline, telling us that he definitely wasn't over the dissolution of his team. It started Almas' ascent, and that eventually took him to the NXT Championship. The awesome title match between the two at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia was also great in that it was a full circle moment for Gargano. After this loss, and a few others, Gargano eventually found his groove, and had the opportunity to win the title from the guy who he wasn't able to beat the first time. It's this kind of storytelling that has continuity that really gets me, and I can't wait to see where these two guys will go.

What did you think of the match? What have you enjoyed the most from these storylines? Leave a comment!


Brandon Sy is a PhD student in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics currently based in Sydney. Since he wasn't allowed to watch wrestling as a kid, he's been overcompensating ever since. Despite being a huge fan of Japanese wrestling, he still holds a soft spot in his heart for WWE's Kane. He's good for recommending matches from pretty much anywhere, whether it be Japan, Europe, the US or Mexico. He'd be ecstatic if you watched Dragon Gate though.


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