Which of Johnny Gargano’s Five Star Matches are your favourite?
Johnny Gargano has had three FOUR star matches awarded by Dave Meltzer in his career. This puts him top of the list of current WWE wrestlers for the most five star matches, beating out the competition as he stakes his claim to be the best wrestler in the company.
The former NXT Champion recently re-signed with the company after his initial contract expired in December 2021. Gargano took some time off from wrestling to care for his new-born child, which he had with his wife and former NXT star Candice LaRae. The pair became new parents earlier this year, but he felt it was time to return to the ring after a long break from competing for the WWE.
Johnny Gargano’s five star matches all came during his legendary run in NXT. He started as a tag team wrestler, alongside partner Tommaso Ciampa in the team “#DIY”. The duo became most famous for their feud with “The Revival” (know named FTR in AEW) with their incredible matches over the NXT Tag Team Championship revolutionising tag team wrestling in the WWE.
After some incredible bouts over the titles, Tommaso Ciampa turned on his partner and ignited the greatest heel turn in the history of WWE. Ciampa was the most hated man in wrestling and in turn made Gargano the ultimate babyface in his battle against his former friend.
However, during their feud Ciampa would suffer an injury that would keep him out for a year. This led Gargano to move on to other opponents and would be where he was awarded his first five star match by Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer.
Johnny Gargano’s Five Star Matches
After the split of #DIY, he moved on to focus on capturing the NXT Championship. At the time, it was being held by Mexican star Andrade “Cien” Almas and his manager Zelina Vega. The duo had watched his rivalry with Ciampa and concluded that Gargano had fallen so hard and so fast from his previous highs that he had no chance in beating them.
The match took place on January 27, 2018 in Philadelphia at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia. It was an incredible match that lasted an astonishing 32 minutes of non-stop action and showcased both men’s ability as some of the best wrestlers in the WWE. Andrade picked up the win with a Hammerlock DDT and retained his NXT Championship. However, it earned Johnny Gargano his first five star match and put the wrestling world on notice.
However, after the match he would be attached by Tommaso Ciampa while walking off with his wife, setting up the most anticipated rematch in years. Ciampa was returning from a brutal injury that was feared to have ended his career but as he laid a crutch into the back of his former partner, it was clearly that he was back and better than ever.
The pair would battle one more time at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans, just prior to Wrestlemania 34. It was an unsanctioned match that pitted two of NXT’s most fearsome rivals against one another. Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa seemed to be the match to bring NXT on the level of the WWE main roster and certainly did not disappoint.
It was awarded 5 stars, the second match of Gargano’s career to achieve this milestone. It was also an unsanctioned match, meaning that anything goes in this battle. Gargano won the match by using Ciampa’s own knee brace against him and forcing him to submit, putting an end to the legendary rivalry once and for all.
Gargano would once again move on from his former partner and try his luck at the NXT Championship. This is where he would get his final two 5 star matches, both against one of his greatest rivals in AEW’s Adam Cole (BayBay). The pair battled twice in 2019 for the AEW Championship, at NXT Takeover: XXV and NXT Takeover: New York (the latter being in a two out of three falls match).
Both matches were awarded over five stars – the first a 5.25 rating and the second an incredible 5.5 star rating by Dave Meltzer. The two of out three falls match is actually the best WWE match ever according to Meltzer, whilst the other is the joint second best, alongside WALTER’s matches with Tyler Bate and Ilja Dragunov.
The helped solidify Johnny Gargano as one of the best wrestlers in the world. He has the most five star matches out of all current WWE talent, with Cody Rhodes coming in second with 3, and a few others coming in with 2 (Ricochet and Shinsuke Nakamura being two of them).
However, only Gargano’s came exclusively in WWE (albeit on NXT) which makes him one oft he greatest WWE wrestlers of all time.
What is your favourite Johnny Gargano five star match? Let us know in the comments or click below to read more
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.