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Gargano v. Ciampa headlines a stacked SummerSlam weekend (WWE.com)

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Johnny Gargano/Tommaso Ciampa or Miz/Daniel Bryan? Dissecting WWE’s top feuds heading into SummerSlam

While different in their own way, both feuds have became a staple of WWE programming. Which feud are fans more invested in?

They say pro wrestling is art mixed in with a little drama. In the former’s case, when done right, a wrestler can perform a masterpiece in and out of the ring to get people talking. Four individuals have been able to do that with such precision that you have to take notice of it. Pair those four into two, and make them beat one another up, and we have ourselves quite a canvas.

In their own right, Johnny Gargano v. Tommaso Ciampa and Daniel Bryan v. The Miz are both the best feuds going on in WWE today. I’d argue that both have the purest feud since “Stone Cold” Steve Austin v. The Rock. While different, each can bring an audience in by the simplest of measures. Which one has the edge however of being called the best WWE has to offer?

Let us take a look at the paths of these two rivalries that led us to their matches at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn and SummerSlam.

Gargano v. Ciampa

In-ring wise, this is the best storytelling in WWE today, maybe in all of pro wrestling. That is what we call classic NXT booking. These two solid wrestlers have had a plan to meet since their rise in NXT. Seeds of deception were planted during their match in the Cruiserweight Classic, which was one of the best bouts of the entire tournament. Over time, they thrived as a tag team, winning the NXT Tag Titles at one point. Like the saying goes, however, all good things come to an end.

While somewhat obvious, when Ciampa turned on Gargano at NXT TakeOver: Chicago back in May 2017, wrestling fans could not believe it. They finally got to see the true Sicilian Psychopath from the indies come out. Ciampa became one of the most hated wrestlers in NXT, while Johnny Gargano grew closer to the hearts of the fans. Their two matches, each different, explained a perfect story without a promo. Callbacks to previous encounters were rehashed and the hero won the first battle.

The buildup leading to the second bout utilized more mind games. Those games broke Gargano during their second match, resulting in a fixated Johnny Wrestling. Almost acting like Eddie Edwards’ recent character in Impact Wrestling, Gargano distanced himself from others, almost losing some of the support of the crowd. That became evident after losing round two against Ciampa.

Things got even wilder when Gargano accidentally cost Aleister Black his NXT Title, allowing Ciampa to pick up the win. The title was the one thing Johnny wanted, and he let his anger get in the way of his morals. Now it is in the hands of his mortal enemy. Like all things Ciampa did, it was eating at Johnny. It was all he could think about.

Now, with title aspirations on the line, and an injury to Black, Gargano and Ciampa face off one more time, in a Last Man Standing match. Tied 1-1 (CWC advantage going to Gargano, making it 2-1), it has all lead to this. They brought the pain to one another in both matches. Imagine what they will do with no rules in Brooklyn?

Miz v. Bryan 

One of the rare times when a WWE rivalry feels fresh after so many years. Since 2010, Daniel Bryan and The Miz have been at each other’s throats. While their in-ring work may not compare well to the rivalry Gargano and Ciampa have, it is their overall work that makes this one special.

Daniel Bryan came into WWE in 2010 as one of the top independent stars in the world. The Miz was a rising star in WWE, albeit not quite at the peak he is at now. Pair those two together, and you have a true clash of styles. Every week on NXT (when it was a game show), The Miz berated his “rookie”, thinking he was better than the “indie darling” that was Bryan. When Bryan was eliminated from NXT, The Miz didn’t blame himself, the coach, but only “The American Dragon”.

After briefly getting fired by WWE that same year after kickstarting the Nexus faction, Bryan returned to face that very team at SummerSlam. What makes this great is the fact that he replaced The Miz in the Team Cena tag match, a move he would later regret when Miz attacked him. Thus started part one of the series of matches between the two.

At Night of Champions that same year, Bryan beat The Miz to win the United States Title. The two went their separate ways for quite some time after that. The Miz became a WWE Champion before being synonymous with the Intercontinental Title. More on that later. Bryan on the other hand? Well, he became the stuff of legend.

It took until 2016 for those two to pick up right where they left off. Daniel Bryan retired and became SmackDown Live GM that year. He chose The Miz late in the WWE Draft, irking the man. After months of confronting his GM on how he is treated, especially as the Intercontinental Champion at the time, The Miz had enough. On the now-defunct Talking Smack, The Miz verbally berated Bryan, who simply walked away. It became one of the most talked-about segments in quite some time. While they never physically interacted, the digs were there, leading to several assumptions that Daniel Bryan was returning.

After nothing came of it and a few more drafts, along with Daniel Bryan returning to in-ring action, something was brewing in WWE. At long last, these two could finally interact. After several months of shenanigans, Bryan finally challenged The Miz to SummerSlam, which he accepted. Now, they will fight for the first time in years.

The former match may be more technically sound this weekend, but that does not diminish the importance of the latter. Ciampa/Gargano and Miz/Bryan both bring out the best in pro wrestling, and what it should be all the time. You can’t go wrong with either match, or the men involved.

The Miz v. Daniel Bryan is fresh and something that any casual fan would like. Even those who like great wrestling can appreciate the story that had led to this moment. After all, a story is one of the most important aspects of a wrestling match. Gargano v. Ciampa has that big-fight feel, and there is plenty of psychology involved in it. Down the line, we will truly applaud what these two have done. When it comes down to it, Bryan v. The Miz is that one match you never expected to appreciate until you looked deeper into it.

As for the results of both matches? A win for Ciampa and a win for Bryan seems to make the most sense. Sometimes, there has to be a balance in this crazy pro wrestling world.

What do you think? Which match entices you more, and which participant in both are you rooting for?

Daniel Yanofsky

Daniel Yanofsky

Daniel is a Managing Editor at DoubleGSports.com, and covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). He is also the lead New York Mets writer. When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a Sunday podcast, The Main Event.
Daniel Yanofsky

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