Johnny Gargano returned to WWE programming on 22 August after almost a year unemployed – and he had a very good reason for doing so!
A number of ex-WWE and NXT Superstars have since returned to the company following Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque gaining leverage over their creative direction, but arguably none were as surprising as Johnny Gargano. The NXT Triple Crown Champion resurfaced on 22 August, marking his first televised appearance since December.
Speaking to Ryan Satin on his Out Of Character podcast, Gargano noted that the change in WWE management flipped a switch in his mind that now was the right time to return. Specifically, he stated that his established relationship with several WWE Superstars and personnel, Levesque included, made WWE the right option for him:
“There were conversations, for sure. We’d be dumb not to have those conversations, right? Especially given everything that was going on, the uncertainty around everything, who knows what could happen. That’s the crazy thing about the wrestling business. Literally, everything can change in the blink of an eye. The fact that I was able to be incredibly patient and be in no rush to do everything, that’s the big gain I had in all this. I could sit back and survey the landscape and make my decision on a timely basis.
I didn’t have to be like, ‘I need a job right now, where am I going to go?’ I believe everything happens for a reason. The fact that I was able to have my contract expire in December, have the baby in February, and spend as much time with him as possible and not being in a rush to do things and reach out or say, ‘I need to come back now.’ From December (2021) to December (2022), I was fine not doing anything. Totally fulfilled not doing anything.
Luckily, I have people around me to have conversations, so I didn’t have to think about business or wrestling, they can talk about that stuff, and all I can worry about is dad life. I watch everything, I’m a fan of wrestling, and for me, I want to go to the place that not only could utilize me best, but a place where I already have a relationship with Hunter and a lot of people backstage. That was a big thing for me, I’m all about relationships and familiarity. As soon as the change happened, there was only one option in my head.”
Johnny Gargano emphasised that he maintained a bond with both Triple H and Shawn Michaels after departing NXT. Michaels was even reported as having reached out to Gargano during his absence with the intention of bringing him back into the fold.
Gargano returned by Superkicking Austin Theory, his former ally in The Way. He returned to official in-ring competition on this past Monday’s (12 September) edition of Raw, defeating Chad Gable in his first in-ring outing since NXT WarGames.