Johnny Gargano’s WWE contract ended last December, and he stayed away from the ring until last month’s surprise return on Raw.
In an interview on Out of Character with Ryan Satin, Gargano said he planned to remain on the sidelines for roughly one full year to focus on his new responsibilities as a father. But his timetable for a return sped up as soon as Vince McMahon resigned from WWE in disgrace.
“It was pretty quick...as soon as the changes happened, as soon as everything went the way it did, communication definitely increased in abundance.”
Gargano went on to explain that the reason why he was in NXT for so long is because he loved every second of his time there, and it created a sense of loyalty to Triple H and Shawn Michaels.
“I am a Triple H guy. I am a Shawn Michaels guy...I will always be loyal to Hunter and Shawn for the opportunities they have given me, and the friendship that we have, and the working relationship we have. It was nothing but great times...I genuinely loved working with those two...my final promo that I did on air on NXT was all real, was from the heart.”
Gargano has only been back in WWE for a few weeks, but he can already sense a similar environment to the old NXT now that Triple H is running the show.
“I genuinely loved the environment I was working in. And it felt like a family. And coming back now, on Monday Night Raw, the environment very much so feels like a family again. And that’s pretty cool to be a part of...I’m so excited to be back. I’m so excited to be home.”
Of course he had talks with other wrestling promotions during his time off, but once Triple H took over for McMahon, the choice of where to sign became obvious.
“It just felt like I wanted to go to the place that not only could utilize me best, but also a place where I already have a relationship with Hunter, and a relationship with a lot of people backstage...as soon as the change happened, I think there was really only one option in my head.”
“If I would’ve showed up six months earlier, things would have been a lot different. But the fact that I could take my time, wait it out, and kind of just pick my spot in the place I have dreamed of working since I was a little kid, it seemed like a no-brainer. And it seemed like a homerun.”
Gargano’s story is evidence of why WWE is a much more attractive place for free agent wrestlers to sign now that out-of-touch Vince McMahon is gone from pro wrestling. If for whatever reason Johnny was forced to return to wrestling just a couple months earlier, he may very well have decided to sign elsewhere. But now he’s back in the place he considers his wrestling home and surrounded by the people he loves to work with. It’s no wonder he’s so excited about his future in WWE.