It’s the mystery of the century: who attacked Aleister Black? As William Regal appears to be taking the matter much more seriously than the attack on Hideo Itami, the VultureHound Team decided to make our cases for our #1 suspect:
Tom Beasley: Johnny Gargano
Johnny Gargano is not the man he once was. After months of feuding with Tommaso Ciampa, who has repeatedly got the better of his former DIY buddy, Gargano is rapidly descending into a world of darkness. He has showcased remarkable aggression against performers like EC3 as part of his unravelling mental state. The clean-cut babyface incarnation of ‘Johnny Wrestling’ is obviously gone, replaced by something uglier – the single-minded pursuit of Ciampa’s destruction.
Gargano is utterly devoted to taking Ciampa down. We saw that impede his pursuit of the NXT Championship at the beginning of the year and we have even seen it cause friction in his relationship with his wife, Candice LeRae. Gargano has positioned Ciampa at the forefront of his mind, and so it’s not inconceivable that he saw Aleister Black as a roadblock on that journey. When he inadvertently allowed Ciampa to win the NXT Championship from Black, he set in motion a chain of events that made it harder for him to accomplish his goal. This new, darker Gargano would not be above carrying out a beating in order to get what he wants.
So let’s take a look at the evidence. Gargano is one of the first people to be visible leaving the scene in the original footage of the attack. While the rest of the roster is evidently shaken by what has happened, Gargano walks emotionlessly past William Regal as he wanders back into the building immediately prior to the discovery of Black’s body. He doesn’t return to the scene when the proverbial hits the fan, as if he knew exactly what Regal was going to find.
NXT television in 2018 has focused heavily on Johnny Gargano’s descent into insanity and, with that in mind, he’s almost certainly responsible for the attack on Aleister Black.
Laura Mauro: Lars Sullivan
If there’s anyone out there who has unfinished business with Aleister Black, surely it’s Lars Sullivan. Sidelined with a broken jaw after their NXT TakeOver match, Lars has no doubt been simmering quietly while Black continued to occupy the spotlight – and it’s not a stretch to suggest he feels hard done by after failing to defeat Black for the NXT Championship.
The motive is abundantly clear, but what about the method? Lars has had plenty of time and opportunity to plan and execute a sneak attack, and we know he was in the vicinity at the time – and unlike most of the other suspects, he was alone, lurking in the background. And it might seem unlikely that someone so physically imposing could sneak in and out unseen, but Lars is a smart man, and with his upcoming return the perfect reason for him to be at the performance centre alone, supposedly minding his own business, he’s already got a cover story in place.
Ciampa might be the NXT champion and the more logical target, but a broken jaw is personal. And while Lars may well set his sights on the gold again, there’s the small matter of revenge to take care of first…
Jordan Chaffiotte: Candice LeRae
Who is the one person who most needs the Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa drama to be over and done with? Why, that’s Candice LeRae, Johnny’s wife and unwillful participant in the boy’s nonsense. She was caught on camera in the parking lot right after the incident occurred but we don’t know how long ago she sat down with Kairi Sane. It’s completely possible she had time to lay out unsuspecting Aleister Black and find an alibi before anyone found him. We know from years of her indie performances that LeRae is stronger than she looks.
In a triple threat, Gargano’s odds go down to 33.33%, but one on one he might have a chance at getting the job done. LeRae needed to keep the belt in the picture, so taking out Ciampa himself wouldn’t have served its purpose, though we all know who’s responsible for keying up his car. By eliminating Black, LeRae positions her husband to win the NXT Championship and come home a whole man. Somehow, he still managed to mess it up and lose at NXT Takeover, injuring himself in the process. Guess it’s true what they say, if you want a job done right you have to do it yourself. Maybe next time LeRae will just go for the NXT Championship herself, clearly, she can take them.
Do you agree with our assessment? Who do you think did it? Let us know below or @SteelChairMag