Steve Cook takes a look at Johny Gargano and the most recent twist in his ongoing story with Tommaso Ciampa.
My problem with pro wrestlers’ personality changes sometimes is that they’re so arbitrary. It seems like one day they decide to be good, honest people and seek the adulation of the crowd, then the next day they want to be ruthless, despicable heathens that get booed. Why? Well, sometimes it’s my personal favorite reason:
“You people don’t deserve a reason!”
Well, maybe we don’t. A lot of us can be a bit whiny & melodramatic over the smallest of slights. Odds are that even if a freshly heel-turned wrestler had a compelling reason for their actions, we wouldn’t believe them anyway. With that being said, from a critical perspective, I prefer wrestlers to have legitimate reasons for the actions they take. It’s more important for heels to have reasons to be heels, as theoretically people shouldn’t have reason to be good other than for the sake of being good.
If you look back in time to that unforgettable moment back in 2017 when Tommaso Ciampa turned his back on Johnny Gargano, the reasons were specious.
So, this guy got online and saw wrestling fans thinking of replacements for him in his tag team with Johnny Gargano. Really? That’s enough of a reason for somebody to turn on their longtime friend, roommate and tag team partner? Apparently it was enough of a reason for Ciampa to turn into a psychopath. He cost Gargano the NXT Championship, caused Gargano to lose a match where his NXT career was on the line, and had a series of brutal matches where he repeatedly tried to end his former best friend’s career.
Ciampa became a very successful heel, no doubt about it. Remember when he came out to no music in New Orleans and the fans booed him out of the building? In his prime, he was the most hated wrestler in NXT history, except for maybe The Drifter. He proved to the audience that he was a despicable man who was more than deserving of their hatred.
What did he do to earn their love?
As far as I can tell…he got injured.
It’s compelling footage. Ciampa’s playing with his daughter, his wife looks all worried, and the doctor talks about how dedicated he is to returning. Definitely a good sell job on Tommaso Ciampa as a future top babyface.
How is that supposed to make Johnny Gargano feel?
Ciampa never apologized for all of the pain & suffering he caused Johnny & his wife, Candice LeRae. From what we can tell, he just assumed that once he was done messing around with the Garganos, they could be friends again without any problem. He was just kidding around! It was just business! You know, the typical excuses ex-friends make for stabbing you in the back.
We’ve known for quite some time that Johnny isn’t going to let this thing go. There was the business where he seemingly turned heel to join forces with Ciampa, yet worked that into a title match that would have featured Johnny getting his revenge if not for Ciampa going on the shelf. So Johnny had to wait.
While he was waiting, a lot of stuff happened. One of those things: Gargano suffered a neck injury of his own at the hands of Finn Balor. Right around the time Ciampa came back, actually. Did Johnny get the welcome back that Tommaso got? Not exactly. Sure, NXT fans like Johnny, but they weren’t demanding that he be inserted back into the NXT Championship picture. They wanted Tommaso to get all the glory. Why? Because they saw his daughter on TV one time? Like it’s Johnny’s fault that Candice is an active wrestler and they’re not in the business of having kids to compete with Willow Ciampa at the moment? Because Tommaso came out during Johnny’s big moment last WrestleMania Weekend and Johnny kind of had to go along with it?
Tommaso over-reacted because of NXT fans. The fans may have played a small role in Johnny’s timing, but he’d already made his decision a long time ago. He was waiting for the right moment, and it was in Portland. Right when Ciampa was about to win the championship that Gargano himself still longs for. Right when it hurt the most.
Brilliant strategy for Johnny Gargano, to be honest.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) February 17, 2020
With all of this in mind, is anybody really wondering why Johnny did what he did? Sure, you can boo him against Ciampa if you like being wrong. Those of us that favor logic will be behind Johnny Wrestling in his endeavors to get revenge.