Episode: NXT TakeOver: Toronto
Aired (live): 19 November 2016
Match duration: 22:17 minutes
Stipulation: 2 out of 3 falls
Without even knowing about how this match would unfold, I’ve added it to my list of Best NXT Matches of 2016. Because even before it took place, it was prone to become a classic. Not just because of those two opposing teams, #DIY and The Revival, but also because this whole feud had been nothing less but awesome to this point and, last but not least, #DIY would be champions when the match was over.
It was written on every wall in Toronto, Canada. But there was still a lot of excitement about this match. You know that the Titanic would sink and still you watch (and probably feel for the characters in) the movie. You know that Jeanne d’Arc will die at a very young age but still you watch the movie and feel for the girl.
Mostly because of the story. And then because of the characters who lead you through the story and those feelings. Now, being such an amazing story with great storytellers, I was drawn into it right from the start. You might have noticed already with a lot of matches on my list that include #DIY or Tommaso Ciampa on his own. Losing this first championship match back in August was great in retrospect because it made Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa even more popular or drew those people finally in who didn’t have a clue or didn’t care up until this very point.
And if there are still some people who’ve got no idea about those two, watch this little compilation of their backstage segments and interviews since NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn:
The match started with Johnny Gargano and Scott Dawson as the first legal men in the ring. They’ve taken their time to start the match off. First of all, Johnny Gargano enjoyed the Johnny Wrestling. Psycho Killer chants from the crowd and Tommaso Ciampa hyped them even more into a DIY chant while Scott Dawson looked annoyed and tried to draw some extra heat. When they finally went for each other, Scott Dawson brought down Johnny Gargano down to the mat first.
Johnny Gargano went for a headlock but Scott Dawson freed himself quickly. Then, Johnny Gargano threw Scott Dawson over but the latter tried to counter, only to crush himself onto the mat. Back standing, Johnny Gargano prepared for a crucifix but he couldn’t get a long enough cover. After this near-fall, Scott Dawson backed away in the near corner and grabbed the rope to rest for a moment and take a quick break.
After a little strategic chat between both teams, Johnny Gargano and Scott Dawson went at each other again. Scott Dawson got Johnny Gargano into the near corner, used the full five-count and then hit Johnny Gargano hard to his chest. And again. With a hard punch, Scott Dawson brought Johnny Gargano back in the centre of the ring. Johnny Gargano hit back but then got a knee to his chest and afterwards, Scott Dawson gained himself a bit more momentum from the ropes to run Johnny Gargano down, then shoved him into the ropes. But on his way to the opposite side, Johnny Gargano tagged in Tommaso Ciampa, both men hit Scott Dawson down, Dash Wilder made it into the ring as well to help his partner. But both were hit with dropkicks from Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano respectively. Tommaso Ciampa got a cover on Scott Dawson. But he kicked out.
While Tommaso Ciampa tried to gain advantage over Scott Dawson, Dash Wilder distracted the referee from the outside, so Scott Dawson was able to grab the eyes of Tommaso Ciampa, so he had to let go. Scott Dawson further tortured Tommaso Ciampa, but this time he had to let go because of the ropes. Scott Dawson tagged in Dash Wilder and both men hit Tommaso Ciampa hard to the mat.
A little back and forth clobbering in the centre of the ring with slight advantage to Dash Wilder, the fist fight action went to the near corner. But Tommaso Ciampa came back here, not for too long though, because a knee to the chest stopped his run, too. And Dash Wilder tagged in Scott Dawson for a hard kick to Tommaso Ciampa’s chest.
A body slam by Scott Dawson brought Tommaso Ciampa down to the mat. And Scott Dawson used the following tag to leg-drop Dash Wilder onto Tommaso Ciampa. A cover followed but Tommaso Ciampa kicked out.
Now, Dash Wilder brought Tommaso Ciampa to the ring ropes and gave him a hard slap to the chest. Tommaso Ciampa answered with a slap by himself. And Dash Wilder countered with an elbow to Tommaso Ciampa’s head. But Tommaso Ciampa was able to throw Dash Wilder hard into the near corner with both men being down for a second. Both finally tagged their partners in and while Scott Dawson furiously went for Johnny Gargano, the man went over the top rope in and kicked Scott Dawson into the head in the process.
Johnny Gargano brought Scott Dawson down again and hit Dash Wilder with an over the head belly-to-belly, so Dash Wilder backed away into his team’s corner. Scott Dawson was standing in #DIY’s corner, so Johnny Gargano ran to slap Scott Dawson, then ran back to slap and grab Dash Wilder. And when Johnny Gargano hit Dash Wilder with a bulldog in the centre of the ring, he also brought down the oncoming Scott Dawson with a lariat at the same time. And after a neckbreaker to Scott Dawson, Johnny Gargano got another cover. But Scott Dawson kicked out.
Scott Dawson crawled back into his team’s corner and Johnny Gargano prepared for a running attack. But Scott Dawson managed to duck away and made Johnny Gargano going outside on the apron. Dash Wilder tagged himself in at this moment. After a hit to Johnny Gargano’s face, Scott Dawson went for some momentum by running against the opposite ropes. Johnny Gargano was about to hit him with a slingshot spear but Scott Dawson caught him mid-air and together with Dash Wilder he hit their finisher, Shatter Machine, to Johnny Gargano.
First fall: The Revival
(Dash Wilder on Johnny Gargano – 5:09)
As per usual in a 2 out of 3 falls-match, the losing competitor had to continue but got the opportunity to get up on his own. And so, Johnny Gargano needed a few moments to recover. Tommaso Ciampa tried his best from the outside to encourage his partner. But as soon as Johnny Gargano was up standing again, Dash Wilder went form him but Johnny Gargano countered into a near fall. He was immediately punished by getting pushed into the corner of The Revival. And Scott Dawson was tagged in.
Now, Scott Dawson put Johnny Gargano outside the ring and trapped him in between the ropes, so he was able to punch him with even less resistance. Of course, the referee had some words with Scott Dawson about that and was distracted when Dash Wilder put Johnny Gargano back inside the ring with help from a lariat. And when the referee was finished with Scott Dawson, the man put Johnny Gargano’s legs onto the top rope to hit a suplex on him into a cover. But Johnny Gargano kicked out.
When Johnny Gargano reached out for Tommaso Ciampa, Scott Dawson even stepped on the other hand of Johnny Gargano. But when the man got up again, he landed an elbow into Scott Dawson’s face. Just to be thrown back into the corner of The Revival, Dash Wilder tagged himself in, so they both rained their fists down onto Johnny Gargano until the referee broke this double punishment.
Dash Wilder hit Johnny Gargano down to the mat with a headbutt. And while Johnny Gargano lay down, Dash Wilder drew some heat from the audience by reminding them that The Revival are two-time Tag Team Champions. Scott Dawson then tagged himself in for some further double punishment. Dash Wilder threw Johnny Gargano into the ropes for momentum, then brought him down with a leg and Scott Dawson dropped an elbow to Johnny Gargano’s head. But the man kicked out of the following cover.
After Johnny Gargano tried to get back up by using the trunks of Scott Dawson, the man put Johnny Gargano into a chickenwing to try and press the last remaining breath out of him. Johnny Gargano was even punished by the forearm to his head. He finally tried to free himself by grabbing Scott Dawson’s foot. But when he managed that, Scott Dawson punished him even more by getting Johnny Gargano up on his back to stretch him the other way around.
But somehow, Johnny Gargano wiggled himself free, threw Scott Dawson to the mat and punched Dash Wilder off, so the man needed some time to recover. But the numbers game played to the advantage of The Revival when Scott Dawson kicked Johnny Gargano right into his midsection immediately after. Being thrown right into the near corner, Johnny Gargano was able to overcome the running attack by Scott Dawson. And he also avoided the oncoming Dash Wilder. And when both men came for him again, Johnny Gargano used Dash Wilder to superkick Scott Dawson into his head while Dash Wilder was hit by a Tornado DDT right after in one smooth movement. Unfortunately, the camera didn’t fully get the Tornado DDT. Johnny Gargano simply was too fast.
Now, Tommaso Ciampa was more than ready to come back in. But Johnny Gargano was completely exhausted, so he needed his time to crawl to his tag team partner. It took a little too long though because all of a sudden, Dash Wilder appeared behind Tommaso Ciampa, grabbed his left leg and tried to get him off the apron. But Tommaso Ciampa kicked himself free with Johnny Gargano getting his tag to loud cheers from the crowd. Unfortunately, the referee was distracted again, this time by the actions of Dash Wilder, so he didn’t see the tag and sent Tommaso Ciampa back outside the ring.
Meanwhile, because the referee was distracted by arguing with Tommaso Ciampa this time, Scott Dawson got Johnny Gargano back into the corner of The Revival and fists rained down onto Johnny Gargano from both of his opponents. Now, Tommaso Ciampa had enough of playing to the rules, so he went inside the ring to save his partner. Scott Dawson went outside and Tommaso Ciampa ran after him. But Scott Dawson made it back inside the ring while Dash Wilder got Johnny Gargano up. Scott Wilder ran into the ropes for momentum and then hit a Hart attack on Johnny Gargano out of the arms of Dash Wilder. But Johnny Gargano kicked out of the following cover.
Scott Dawson couldn’t believe it, so he tagged in Dash Wilder. The man now punched Johnny Gargano into the near corner and placed him onto the top rope. Dash Wilder punched the back of Johnny Gargano and then climbed onto the ropes, too. I’m not quite sure what Dash Wilder was trying to do from that position but Johnny Gargano countered him mid-air for a cross-body and a following near fall.
Now, Johnny Gargano again tried to reach his partner for the much needed tag. But Scott Dawson was tagged in and he reached Johnny Gargano before the tag was done. But this time, Johnny Gargano didn’t play victim. Instead, he hit Scott Dawson with an elbow from behind and now tagged in Tommaso Ciampa to loud cheers once again.
To say, Tommaso Ciampa was all fired up now would be an understatement. First, he climbed onto their corner and dropkicked Scott Dawson from there. Scott Dawson back away into his own corner, so Tommaso Ciampa had enough momentum from his run for the high knee to Scott Dawson’s head. Then, Tommaso Ciampa ran his opponent down two times but was shoved back into the far corner. Anyway, Tommaso Ciampa still managed to get his boot into Scott Dawson’s face and finally hit him with a beautiful headlock breaker (?) into a cover. But Scott Dawson kicked out.
Now it was Tommaso Ciampa who couldn’t believe the slow counting by the referee. But soon enough he was focused again and grabbed Scott Dawson to get him back up. But Dash Wilder introduced himself, so Tommaso Ciampa was distracted for a moment while he threw him back out of the ring. Scott Dawson used the distraction with a roll-up but he wasn’t able to put Tommaso Ciampa’s shoulders to the mat.
Tommaso Ciampa probably had enough now. So, he came up with a beautiful series of three German suplexes to Scott Dawson. The crowd already started a count but three was enough, followed by another high knee to Scott Dawson’s head. But somehow, the man was still able to kick out of the cover.
At this point, Tommaso Ciampa probably was on the verge of catching fire while the crowd (finally) chanted This is awesome. After a moment of thinking, Tommaso Ciampa demanded for Johnny Gargano to stop his resting process and come back onto the apron. He was a little distracted by doing so, so Scott Dawson came for Tommaso Ciampa with throwing him into the ropes and hit him hard into his face. Tommaso Ciampa rolled out of the ring and Scott Dawson went for Johnny Gargano, getting him up and holding him head down. Dash Wilder meanwhile climbed onto the top rope, all up for another double team action. But Tommaso Ciampa pushed him down to climb onto the top rope himself. Scott Dawson had it hard to keep Johnny Gargano in position, so at the right moment, Tommaso Ciampa jumped down on him into a cross-body and the following cover. But Scott Dawson kicked out.
Dash Wilder came back inside the ring but immediately got the knee from Tommaso Ciampa into his face. And while the referee got the man outside the ring, Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano hit their usual finisher, the superkick and the high knee, to Scott Dawson’s head. Tommaso Ciampa as the legal man got the cover and the three-count for the first fall for #DIY.
Second fall: #DIY
(Tommaso Ciampa on Scott Dawson – 13:36)
After the fall, Tommaso Ciampa continued but with Dash Wilder as opponent. Before they went back at each other, Dash Wilder assured Tommaso Ciampa that The Revival are the best. But Tommaso Ciampa didn’t agree. Now a great fist fight started in the centre of the ring with the audience cheering every punch that Tommaso Ciampa landed while booing every punch Dash Wilder landed. Of course, this grew in intensity, so the crowd had to cheer / boo faster and faster until Tommaso Ciampa finished this sequence by getting rid of his elbow pad to throw it onto Dash Wilder.
But before Tommaso Ciampa was able to connect with a more hurting move, Dash Wilder rolled out of the ring. Scott Dawson had tagged himself in, avoided Tommaso Ciampa’s attack, too, and went for Tommaso Ciampa from behind. Scott Dawson probably had the DDT in mind but instead, Tommaso Ciampa went for the bridged armbar but he wasn’t able to hold it for very long because Scott Dawson wiggled himself free, just to cover Tommaso Ciampa. But he kicked out, too.
Now, Scott Dawson kicked Tommaso Ciampa in his chest, which brought him into the corner of #DIY. Johnny Gargano tagged himself in and when Scott Dawson ran towards them, Tommaso Ciampa avoided the attack and shoved the man right into Johnny Gargano’s boot. For further double team punishment, Tommaso Ciampa put Scott Dawson’s legs onto the top rope and hit him with a following DDT. He then prepared for a suicide dive onto Dash Wilder but he was caught mid-air and landed outside the ring. Dash Wilder ran around the ring for Johnny Gargano who was still standing outside the ring on the apron. But another kick to the head made Dash Wilder land outside the ring, too.
Johnny Gargano though finally made it inside the ring with his beautiful DDT over the top rope on Scott Dawson. He also got a cover from that move but Scott Dawson kicked out. He then also rolled outside the ring, but Johnny Gargano was able to grab him at the ropes. He probably went for a suplex but Scott Dawson countered, got hold of the ropes, shook off Johnny Gargano and finally tagged in Dash Wilder for double team action. First, Johnny Gargano fought both men. He then went for another Tornado DDT but Dash Wilder countered and threw him into the arms of Scott Dawson. A great uppercut by Dash Wilder brought Johnny Gargano into a cover by Scott Dawson. Since Dash Wilder was the legal man, he took over and it needed Tommaso Ciampa to break the three-count.
Now, all four men happened to lay around inside the ring and all of them got a few seconds to recover. Scott Dawson and Tommaso Ciampa were up first but the latter was thrown head first right into the corner of #DIY. Scott Dawson went back to his position on the apron for the tag from an exhausted Dash Wilder. And to another This is awesome chant from the crowd, Scott Dawson made it back inside the ring while Johnny Gargano was still lying on the mat.
Scott Dawson started another great fist fight sequence with an uppercut to Johnny Gargano’s face. But the man countered with elbow strikes, not only to Scott Dawson’s head but also to the one of Dash Wilder. This was repeated two times more until Johnny Gargano hit Scott Dawson with a fast series of elbow strikes that enjoyed the audience very much.
But Scott Dawson finally got hold of Johnny Gargano. But he used Dash Wilder to roll out of the back-to-back hold by kicking the man from the apron and then got Scott Dawson right into a cover package. But Scott Dawson kicked out. Dash Wilder though had another idea. He grabbed one of the tag team title belts and put it onto the mat inside the ring. He then made it inside, too, but Tommaso Ciampa prevented him from playing the numbers game by throwing Dash Wilder and himself over the top rope with the help of a lariat. And especially Tommaso Ciampa landed pretty badly from it outside the ring.
The referee was a little distracted (again) from this vicious action, so he didn’t see that Scott Dawson grabbed the previously placed belt to hit Johnny Gargano with it when the man was about to kick him into the head. Scott Dawson injured himself in the process by hitting his forehead with the belt, too. He threw the belt outside the ring, play acted a bit towards the referee when he was watching again and looked proudly to the cameras.
Meanwhile Johnny Gargano was holding his right shin until Scott Dawson put him into an inverted figure-four lock that Johnny Gargano tapped out to in Brooklyn. But despite being in a lot of pain, he was finally able to reach the ropes, so the referee made sure, Scott Dawson broke the lock.
Scott Dawson couldn’t believe it but Dash Wilder yelled for the tag and he got it. But Scott Dawson had a new cunning idea. He went to the corner of #DIY and gestured for #DIY’s finishing move. Dash Wilder got it and both men went for it. But Johnny Gargano rolled out of the way, so Dash Wilder’s superkick connected with the head of Scott Dawson. The man rolled out of the ring while Dash Wilder looked after him stunned. Tommaso Ciampa immediately got advantage of the situation, grabbed Dash Wilder from behind to set up The Revival’s finishing manoeuvre, the Shatter Machine, that Johnny Gargano executed to a successful finish. People hitting signature moves of their opponents to them is always great to watch and adds much to the story. But Scott Dawson broke the following cover from Johnny Gargano on Dash Wilder.
To Holy Shit chants from the crowd, Tommaso Ciampa was sitting exhausted on the barricades while the other three man had to recover on the mat. When Scott Dawson got back up, Tommaso Ciampa got back in to equal the numbers. He argued with the referee, still frustrated with his slow counting. Scott Dawson threw himself to the mat, then holding his head while the referee still wasn’t watching.
But anyway, Johnny Gargano was on his feet again but still in obvious trouble with his right leg. He was about to grab Scott Dawson but the man got up fast to put Johnny Gargano into a cover. He got hold of his trunks though. But the referee saw it this time, so he broke the three-count himself. Of course, Scott Dawson had to argue with the referee. And on the other side, Tommaso Ciampa was pulled from the apron by Dash Wilder who pushed the man into the ring corner.
Inside the ring, Johnny Gargano landed a superkick to Scott Dawson’s head, so the man rolled out of the ring. Johnny Gargano looked after him, so he wasn’t paying attention to the actions in his back. And Dash Wilder entered the ring to do a tackle on Johnny Gargano and his left leg, every football defender would be proud of doing (and probably receiving a red card afterwards). Now crippled on both legs, Johnny Gargano rolled on his back in pain.
Dash Wilder was about to take advantage by putting Johnny Gargano into another hold but he was able to counter into a cover package. Both men now rolled around, putting the other man into a near fall for a few times and the referee had a lot of work to do. This finally finished when Johnny Gargano was able to put Dash Wilder into the Garga-NO-Escape. Scott Dawson was about to make the save but Tommaso Ciampa entered the ring, too, and put Scott Dawson into his armbar. And this made Dash Wilder finally tap out for the third and winning fall for #DIY.
Winning fall: #DIY
(Johnny Gargano on Dash Wilder – 22:17)
Winner: #DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa)
Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano basically are in one storyline since their start in NXT when they were introduced by William Regal to Tyler Breeze. Both men were brought into NXT for variety seasons in the inaugural Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic in the Autumn of 2015. Tommaso Ciampa then had a few singles matches that weren’t too long or important. Both weren’t seen that much on NXT TV because they were still committed to Independent Wrestling and didn’t have full NXT contracts.
But then, they came back together and beat The Revival in a non titles match. Maybe this was when both of their minds started thinking and wondering if maybe they should try NXT full time. On their way to their Tag Team Championship match in Brooklyn that they deserved because they had beaten The Revival and also won a few matches to underline their demands, their feud with The Revival intensified and heated up.
But right before Brooklyn, Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano had to go one-on-one against each other in the first round of the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic and it almost killed their team. But they got back together right after the match and also promised William Regal a good show in Brooklyn. And they delivered, almost got the belts. But in the end, Johnny Gargano tapped out to Scott Dawson and this opportunity was gone.
Only four days later (this match was actually taped on 14 July 2016 but I go with the screen date for kayfabe / storyline reasons) Johnny Gargano suffered a knee injury during the second round of the Cruiserweight Classic, so also this opportunity of winning that tournament went by for both men. So, Tommaso Ciampa was on his own on the following NXT episode and he was beaten up heavily by The Revival.
Those two injuries were done, so Johnny Gargano could get married in real life with Tommaso Ciampa being on his side (not as his husband, dear fanfiction lover!).
But finally #DIY was back for the second annual Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. And this time they wanted to win it. Now having full time NXT contracts and fully focused they went far but The Revival cost them in the semi-final, so William Regal made the re-match from Brooklyn.
So, everything around Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano made sense right from the start. It was a year long journey that isn’t too long for someone to reach their goal, at least in wrestling terms. The people in the back in NXT have got a good feeling for talent, storylines, if a character works, if he needs to turn or change his or her gimmick and, almost most importantly, they’ve got a feeling for time and timing.
I probably won’t and can’t agree with all decisions or talents but the booking to the feud between #DIY and The Revival had been exceptional so far. Both teams will have a third big championship match against each other, since The Revival as former champions have got this re-match clause. So, their story continues. This isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning. And they did it all by themselves.