Earlier today, Austin Theory released a Twitter video saying that Johnny Gargano was out of TakeOver due to an injury.
That got some speculation going. Maybe it was just a work ahead of Johnny’s North American title match against Kushida at Sunday’s TakeOver: Vengeance Day. Maybe he was actually injured and writing him out. Maybe it was a covid issue.
Tonight we got our answer - the most likely answer: Work.
The rest of the Way wheeled Johnny to the ring prior to Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell’s semi-final Dusty match. (Despite this being a supposed injury to his left arm from a Kushida attack last week, Gargano is such a power walker that without his arms, he can’t walk at all.)
Unfortunately, William Regal came out to blow up Johnny’s spot when he revealed that he was cleared yesterday. Johnny supplied a picture of an x-ray with four breaks, but Regal wisely pointed out that it was a radiograph of the right arm and not the left.
The General Manager gave the North American champion some options. Tonight’s match between Austin Theory and Kushida could be for the North American title. (Johnny was against that.) Or he could relinquish the title. (Johnny was against that too.)
During this, Kushida sneaked into the ring and stood behind the Way. He decked Theory and then grabbed the NA title, forcing Johnny to reveal his injury was a ruse the entire time.
It’s classic heel work, and it continues to surprise me how well Gargano plays an arrogant heel. This was all highly entertaining, mainly because Johnny is so damn good in this role.
So it will still be Johnny vs. Kushy on Sunday, which should be a great one.
You can find all the results from tonight’s NXT at the live blog here.