A very mixed crowd greeted the main event at TakeOver: XXV on Sat., June 1, as the fans seemed even more excited to see challenger Adam Cole than NXT champion Johnny Gargano. But maybe it was that the Undisputed ERA leader brought his own MC...
Johnny Champion’s Marvel Comics-inspired gear of choice this time featured Captain Marvel, and it did look like he’d go higher to win faster and take his title reign further in the early going. He got an opening to double stomp Cole’s elbow early, and then targeted it (and the lower back) often.
It wasn’t long before the Panama City Playboy got an opening of his own, and the challenger attacked Johnny’s knee with a laser focus. Even when Gargano fought back to hit moves like his slingshot spear, the leg was an issue. A battle on the ropes in the corner ended with a backstabber. But, of course, halfway through the match, neither man’s shoulders were staying on the mat for anything longer than a two count.
A battle of superkicks nearly resulted in a double countout.
Back in, Gargano picked up a nearfall, but when Cole rolled out, it allowed him to kick Johnny’s damaged knee out from under him. A pair of ushigoroshis followed, but the champ kicked out! From there, they traded submissions, with Johnny’s Gargan-No Escape punishing Cole’s elbow and Cole’s Figure Four further wrecking Gargano’s knee.
The Clevelander reversed and Cole made the ropes to break the hold. More punishment of the knee followed, and when the challenger rolled out, it may have been the knee which slowed his attempt at a suicide dive. He dove right into a superkick, then a Panama Sunrise from the apron on the floor looked to end it, but Johnny kicked out!
Selling the story that these are two men who know each other very well, Cole tried for Garga-No Escape. Gargano hit the Last Shot. False finishes were plentiful, just like in the last fall of their New York two-out-of-three falls affair. A frustrated Cole went to retrieve a chair, but when referee Drake Wuertz went to stop him, he got caught by Johnny’s dive.
The champ dodged a chair shot and then kicked it into his rival. Gargano dragged Cole into the ring and counted for the crowd counted as ten. Mind games were next, as the Undisputed ERA’s leader pretending to summon his troops, forcing Johnny to wait for them. Gargano kicked out of the rope assisted DDT which followed.
It looked as if this might end up like their April match, with Cole tapping. But he survived the Garga-No Escape by blasting Johnny’s wounded knee with strikes. After a Panama Sunset AND the Last Shot, it was time for a new champ... BAY BAY!
His faction ran down to the ring, and a member of the ERA is finally draped in gold.
For a complete rundown of everything that happened in Bridgeport, Connecticut tonight, head to our live blog here.