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Byrons Articles

It’s been nearly three weeks since Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano captured the coveted NXT Tag Team Championship at NXT Takeover: Toronto. The much-heralded victory marked an incredible climax to their heated rivalry with the now former champions, The Revival.

“It’s pretty surreal,” Ciampa told WWE.com. “I think it’s safe to say for the majority of independent wrestlers, the goal is to one day perform under the WWE banner. But to actually become a champion within the company, it’s truly a dream come true.”

So just exactly where did the dream begin for the NXT Tag Team Champions? While both have plied their trade inside the ring since 2005, it wasn’t until halfway through their careers that the team known as #DIY would first cross paths, prior to an independent wrestling show.

“Tommaso randomly picked me up at a bus station six or seven years ago before a Dragon Gate USA show in Massachusetts,” Gargano recalled. “I took a nap at his house with his dog, Harry Harrison. But we really didn’t get to know each other until a few years later at another indie show in England, where we wrestled to a 15-minute time limit draw later that night. We did the loop after that in America, with matches in California, New York and Illinois.”

Their paths would intersect once again during a week-long WWE tryout in 2015. Company officials decided to pair both men in the same hotel room, and they shared a rental car to travel to and from the tryout camp. It’s an experience Gargano says built the foundation for the friendship that exists today.

“I don’t know why, but they put us together by pure happenstance,” he said. “We were friends before that, but that whole experience definitely brought us closer together.”

While neither man earned a WWE contract during that 2015 tryout, they did become fixtures on NXT television. The exposure to a new and larger audience brought a lot of satisfaction to the tandem, but also a lot of angst.

“Obviously, our goal was to be here full time,” Gargano said. “It was a very stressful time period as there was just so much uncertainty. There were no promises. After every show, we just hoped we’d be asked to come back next time.”

For Ciampa, the stress may have been even greater. In 2007, Ciampa signed a WWE contract to train and compete in WWE’s former developmental territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling. Less than a year later, that contract was gone.

“In this business, one learns to persevere at a very young age,” said a reflective Ciampa. “Imagine acquiring your dream job at the age of 21, only to lose it six months later. I was devastated. However, the journey back to this point has been nothing short of incredible. This past year, we have gone through so much together and, honestly, it will make for a crazy chapter in a book some day.”

If such a book is ever written, there’s no doubt one chapter will be centered on the eventual dual accomplishment of both men signing full-time WWE NXT contracts this past summer, followed by their improbable win in Toronto over The Revival. Nearly 12 years after lacing up their first pair of wrestling boots, Ciampa and Gargano are now roommates, best friends and NXT Tag Team Champions. Their incredible success is underscored by the meaning of their tag team name, #DIY: Do It Yourself.

“Tommaso and I are two guys who traveled the world for 12 years before we got here,” Gargano said. “We’ve never had a multimillion-dollar company backing us. We got here through our own hard work. People see that and people relate to that. DIY is a way of life. If you want something, go get it. Nobody will do it for you.”



Byrons Articles

When Peyton Royce and Billie Kay first joined the ranks of NXT, it seemed their story was something out of a fairytale. Two Australian-born women who attended the same high school in Sydney, trained at the same wrestling school and eventually achieved their lifelong dream of joining WWE at the same time. A year and a half later, the fairytale is now a nightmare for the rest of NXT’s Women’s division.

“Our partnership is so strong because of its foundation,” Billie Kay told WWE.com. “A lot of teams in NXT form because they have the common goal of winning. Peyton and I are much more than that. No one has our back story.

“We were the only two people who got signed by WWE at our tryout in Melbourne, Australia. We moved here together and lived together. I know what Peyton is thinking before she thinks it and she knows what I’m going to do before I do it. Our bond to each other is what makes us iconic.”

While it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand how highly Royce and Kay think of themselves, it’s their antics that have placed them in a questionable light. Those antics have been on display with the mental and physical intimidation both ladies have used to target Liv Morgan.

“Liv Morgan is dumb if she thinks she can make waves in NXT by herself,” Royce said. “Billie and I are smart. We are well aware we can get the job done on our own but we are also humble enough to realize we can run this division together. Her little friend Aliyah found that out after we beat her up, too.”

Could Kay and Royce’s alliance follow in the footsteps of other previously impactful groups, like the BFFs and the famed Four Horsewomen? Both ladies say the key to their journey toward greatness lies in their ongoing ability to keep each other motivated.

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Byrons Articles

It was nothing short of a groundbreaking matchup that the NXT Universe was moments away from witnessing: Bayley vs. Asuka for the Women’s Championship at NXT Takeover: Dallas.

Just minutes before the epic encounter inside the sold-out Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, with the cheers of the rabid NXT Universe reverberating in the background, NXT Women’s Champion Bayley found solace seemingly away from the rest of the world. A dark hallway, with no soul in sight, provided her the opportunity to digest the magnitude of her impending title defense. Sadly, despite a valiant effort, the beloved Superstar would fall to Asuka and thus watch her 223-day reign as NXT Women’s Champion reach its conclusion.

Nearly four months later, Bayley now finds herself on the verge of a redemptive opportunity to right that unforgettable loss in Dallas.

“Winning back that title has always been my top priority, because being the best has always been my goal in NXT,” Bayley told WWE.com.

In the same week that Bayley witnessed seven of her colleagues get drafted to the respective brands of Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live, it seems the quest to regain the NXT Women’s Championship has taken permanent residency in the mind of the beloved NXT Superstar.

“Ever since I lost the Women’s Championship to Askua, I feel like I’ve been targeted in a whole different way,” she revealed. “People have tried to keep me down and keep me away from the title picture to make sure that I never get a chance again. And personally, I’ve struggled with a lot of doubt in myself at times.”

Last night on NXT, Bayley took a major step toward shaking that doubt by pinning newly drafted Raw Superstar Nia Jax. Now, the inevitable — a rematch with NXT Women’s Champion Askua — appears to be around the corner.

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Byrons Articles

The Revival aren’t satisfied with being the only two-time NXT Tag Team Champions in history. Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder are intent on showing the world that they’re one of the best duos of all time.

Following the NXT Tag Team Championship Match at TakeOver: The End…, there were two predominant emotions exuding from the hallway leading back to the locker rooms. On one end, a feeling of heartbreak and disappointment as American Alpha’s Jason Jordan & Chad Gable were forced to part with their identity as NXT Tag Team Champions. The other? Exuberance and triumph as Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder accomplished what no other team has ever achieved in NXT, becoming two-time Tag Team Champions.

“There’s a reason we’re called The Revival,” a beaming Dawson told WWE.com. “It’s not a cute name to slap on a T-shirt. We’re bringing back the art of team fighting. When I say we’re the absolute best tag team on this planet, I postivitely mean it, 100 percent.

“Now, being the only team to be champions twice over, we’ve proven we’re the best team ever in NXT history — official ‘top guys,’” Dawson added. “Soon, we’ll prove we’re better than The Midnight Express, The Hart Foundation or The Brain Busters ever were.”

Though Dawson’s aspirations of legendary status may seem farfetched to some, the motiviation for his attitude is legitimate. Once deemed a tag team that was destined for opening matches and little else, The Revival found a way to ascend to the top of the Tag Team division. Yet, following their loss to American Alpha nearly three months ago at NXT TakeOver: Dallas, doubts were once again levied about Dawson & Wilder’s ability to achieve consistent success.

“What people think carries no weight or influence. They do not matter to us,” Wilder yelled. “They do not have any effect on the outcomes of our matches. They can believe or feel whatever they want — that won’t change things. We’re the top guys, and we have the potential to be one of the best teams of our generation. People said we’d lose the titles to American Alpha and that we’d never have them again. Now we get to look at their faces every time we walk out with our championships.”

One might surmise that the new two-time champions could be even more dangerous than before. After all, The Revival have already displayed a willingness to injure and disable their opponents, all in the spirit of winning. The question is, to what lengths are they willing to go to keep those titles? Dawson provided some insight with what he refers to as “The Revival’s Rules for Success.”

“One, never deviate from our plan,” he explained. “Two, never care whether we please the fans. Three, show zero remorse. Four, walk back thorugh the curtain and straight to the pay window.”

For a team that fashions themselves as the “best on the planet,” could those rules of success very well create the perfect recipe for the greatest tag team in NXT history? Will American Alpha once again regain the crown, or will another team rise from the shuffle to steal the thunder of the NXT Tag Team Champions? For those would-be challengers plotting to spoil The Revival’s reign, the titleholders have a stern warning.

“This ain’t a fantasy world,” Dawson said. “This is our real life. This is how we feed our families. Big money goes to big winners, and The Revival fight to win. Anyone who tries to take food off our families’ plates will be dealt with accordingly.”

Follow Scott Dawson on Twitter @ScottDawsonWWE and Dash Wilder @DashWilderWWE.



Byrons Articles

As Finn Bálor stares down his Steel Cage Match against NXT Champion Samoa Joe, the challenger contemplates not just regaining NXT’s top prize, but also his role as locker room leader.

Finn Bálor was approaching an unprecedented 300-day reign as NXT Champion. Enter a fateful night in Lowell, Massachusetts, on April 21, and Bálor’s life took a dramatic turn. It was on that night that heated rival Samoa Joe defeated Bálor and captured the NXT Championship.

“It was definitely a feeling of surrealism,” Bálor revealed to WWE.com. “You tend to picture winning the championship. You always have the dreams and vision of how you are going to win, but you never imagine how you are going to lose. I remember feeling like an ant laying on the mat with Joe standing over me.

“I had the championship for 292 days, so that title became a part of me and who I was, and what I represented,” Bálor explained. “After all the hard work I put into NXT, and to suddenly wake up one day and realize that title, achievement and crown you’ve worked so hard for isn’t there, it forced me to start questioning my ability and whether or not I belonged.”

It seems only appropriate that Bálor will have a chance to rid himself of that doubt when he challenges Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship at NXT Takeover: The End… on June 8. Adding to those raised stakes is the fact that both men will compete for NXT’s most prized possession inside a steel cage.

“I realize the pressure is on and it’s gonna be a big match,” the challenger said. “This is my first time in the cage. I’m gonna be nervous going into it, but I work best under pressure. I thrive on nerves.”

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Byrons Articles

From reluctant partners to NXT Tag Team Champions,Chad Gable & Jason Jordan reflect on their path to glory.

“All of my hard work, the injuries and surgeries I suffered over the last five years, everything that I sacrificed and underwent to stick with it, it all finally paid off,” Jason Jordan revealed as he reflected on his and Chad Gable’s emotional NXT Tag Team Championship victory at NXT Takeover: Dallas.

Perhaps the victory for the team known as American Alpha has taught all of us a lesson in irony. Last July, the two Superstars formed what many thought would be a tentative partnership, at best. After all, it was Gable who spent weeks lobbying to be Jordan’s tag partner, much to Jordan’s chagrin.

“I take blame for the lukewarm start, because I was stubborn and wanted a tag partner that I handpicked myself,” Jordan confessed to WWE.com. “When I got over my ego, I realized that I had a potentially great tag partner, and he was begging for a chance to prove it. Once we officially teamed up, Chad and I had chemistry like no other.”

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Byrons Articles

NXT’s Jerz-repping, pizza-loving rookie talks about her humble beginnings and the importance of staying true to yourself.

Regular viewers of NXT may have noticed her penchant for wearing a baseball cap and sneakers to the ring, or perhaps her football jersey, which pays homage to her home state of New Jersey.

With an unabashed sense of individuality, Liv Morgan has arrived on the scene of NXT. Also bringing with her a glowing excitement and an affirmative outlook, she realizes just how lucky she is to be competing under the NXT banner.

“To have made it here is completely humbling and beyond anything I could have imagined,” she told WWE.com. “I wake up every day excited to learn.”

After being discovered at Joe DeFranco’s Gym in Wyckoff, N.J., Liv began training at the WWE Performance Center in October 2014. It’s an experience she describes as a childhood dream come true.

“I grew up a huge wrestling fan,” she said. “My mom was a single parent raising six kids, and she worked very hard to provide whatever she could for us. We didn’t have fancy material items, but we had cable, which meant we had WWE broadcasting multiple times a week. That completely took over our lives. I fell in love with it the first moment I watched.”

Liv’s love of WWE consumed her so much that she and her four older brothers built a makeshift ring in the backyard of their Elmwood Park, N.J., home.

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