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Byrons Interviews

In 2015, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa joined NXT’s Tag Team scene armed with an optimism for the future and undeniable vigor to succeed. Fast-forward three years, and one would be hard-pressed to find both Superstars peacefully co-existing in the same room. This Saturday night, NXT TakeOver: Chicago II will mark the battlefield on which Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa will attempt to settle their deep-rooted, vitriolic rivalry once and for all. As he prepares to make the trip to The Windy City, Gargano sat down with WWE.com for a final pre-match Q&A.

WWE.COM: Your highly anticipated match with Tommaso Ciampa is rapidly approaching. Why is this match different to you than your last bout in New Orleans?

JOHNNY GARGANO: I needed to win that last match. I needed to defeat Tommaso Ciampa in the middle of the ring to get my NXT career back. Yes, it was unsanctioned, but I knew after it was over that the war was just beginning. With the mindset I’m in and everything that has escalated from that moment, from costing me my NXT Title shot to putting me back in the hospital and bringing my wife into this. Our match in New Orleans will look like a walk in the park compared to this Street Fight.

WWE.COM: How do you feel about the irony of this match taking place in the same city that Ciampa turned on you a year ago?

GARGANO: I believe that everything happens for a reason. One year ago, my “best friend” blindsided me and turned my world upside-down in Chicago. I left the Allstate Arena in an ambulance, I woke up in a hospital bed and had no idea what happened or who put me there. This time around, I have the very rare opportunity to return the favor. I want him to take that same ambulance ride and wake up in that same hospital bed alone and afraid. I want Ciampa to feel every ounce of pain and horror I did, except he’s going to know deep down inside exactly who put him there.

WWE.COM: How much has it meant to you both personally and professionally to have your wife, Candice, by your side?

GARGANO: It means everything. Candice has been my light in the darkness this war has brought on.

WWE.COM: How close were yourself and Tommaso before things went sour?

GARGANO: Our bond was no secret. We shared an apartment in Orlando, Fla. Ciampa was in my wedding to Candice. The NXT Universe watched our friendship blossom from the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic to winning the NXT Tag Titles at NXT TakeOver: Toronto. Our friendship was not manufactured; it was very personal and very real.

WWE.COM: Do you ever wish you and Tommaso were still best friends?

GARGANO: The man who was my “best friend” and tag team partner died in the Allstate Arena a year ago. Maybe this is just who he has been the whole time, I don’t know. But I have absolutely no remorse or regret left in my heart for that man.

WWE.COM: What is your objective at NXT TakeOver: Chicago?

GARGANO: I have one objective: End Tommaso Ciampa. I don’t want to win. The minute he taps out or his shoulders are pinned to the mat, and that bell rings and the match is over and I can’t touch him —that’s the easy way out for him. This match ends when he does.

WWE.COM: If you could deliver one last message to Tommaso Ciampa, what would it be?

GARGANO: I told you that you had no idea what you’ve created. Johnny Wrestling will not be in Chicago. I’m not coming for a wrestling match. I’m coming for a fight. When I saw that blood drip from your head, I realized exactly what I needed to become to finish this once and for all. It takes a Psycho Killer to destroy a Psycho Killer.