Johnny Gargano Explains Why WWE Return Wasn’t In Cleveland

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Johnny Gargano made his WWE return on a Raw episode in Toronto even though Raw was in his hometown of Cleveland two weeks earlier, so the former NXT Champion has explained why it took place when it did.

The August 22nd edition of Raw had a big surprise in Toronto when Gargano made a surprise appearance. There were reports after the show that WWE kept it a surprise by flying in Gargano on a private plane and hiding him from the rest of the roster before he appeared in front of the crowd.

Two weeks earlier on the August 8th Raw, Gargano’s name was trending on Twitter because there were fans thinking he might appear in Cleveland on that night. The reason is that since Gargano’s former NXT boss Triple H took over as WWE Head of Creative in late July, plenty of former NXT stars have appeared on the main roster shows. However, Gargano’s debut took place two weeks after Raw was in his hometown.

During an appearance on WWE’s After The Bell podcast, Gargano explained why he didn’t return to WWE in Cleveland:

“So it happened very fast, the whole thing. It’s very fun to be able to literally keep a secret in a time period where that doesn’t happen. Everything leaks nowadays. Everything in wrestling leaks. I remember when I was younger, I loved things during the Attitude Era where you’d be watching Nitro or you’re watching Raw and someone just showed up and you’re like, ‘What the hell is going on? I can’t believe they’re here.’ The dirt sheets and things like that were around, but it also wasn’t as prevalent as is today with the Internet and whatnot.”

“That was the most important thing to me for this secret, for this return, was to make it a complete surprise. Obviously, I could have come back two weeks prior in Cleveland, but everyone believed that. Everyone thought that was going to happen. That’s probably why it didn’t happen. It would have been great. I would love to come back to my hometown. I still haven’t wrestled in that arena, which is mind blowing to me, outside of when I was Cedrick Von Haussen, but that’s a different character. It’s a different universe. It was really important for me to just keep this whole thing under wraps as much as possible.”

The appearance on After The Bell also led to Gargano talking about how the Netflix show “Stranger Things” also led to his WWE return because the Kate Bush song “Running Up That Hill” reminded him of The Undertaker’s WrestleMania 26 match with Shawn Michaels where WWE used a Placebo version of the song for a memorable video package. Once Gargano heard that, it made him really want to go to WWE and get to perform at WrestleMania in the future.

Gargano will have his first match as a full-time WWE main roster wrestler (and his first match since last December) this coming Monday on Raw.