Johnny Gargano was regarded as the quintessential embodiment of NXT, but he left the company back in 2021. He returned to WWE back in 2022 and interestingly enough, Gargano revealed that he wasn’t even signed to WWE at the time.

In December 2021, Gargano’s contract was nearing expiration. Considering his wife Candice LeRae was expecting their first child and prioritizing family, the former NXT Champion chose not to renew his contract.

Gargano bid an emotional farewell to the fans, leaving his future uncertain. Given AEW’s popularity and a more flexible schedule, there was significant speculation that Gargano might join the ranks of former WWE stars making the move to AEW.

Answers came in August 2022 when Johnny Gargano made a surprise return to WWE on RAW. While speaking with Chris Van Vliet, Gargano revealed that he always planned on returning to WWE as he had a lot of goals left to accomplish.


I had an idea. I always had an idea. People ask me all the time, did you think about going to other places? Obviously, we all entertain the idea. But when I left, I always felt like I had unfinished business in WWE. And when the conversations were being had, it was one of those things where when I was a little kid growing up I watched WWE.

”I dreamed of wrestling at WrestleMania. I dreamed of becoming Intercontinental Champion. I think all these things I said in my return promo, pretty much. They’re all very real, very true. Those are very real dreams I still do have to this day and I can only do that one place.”

”I am very lucky to call WWE my home because if you’ve watched my last night in the company it was sad for me because I spent so much time in NXT around those people. I saw them almost every single day for almost seven years. And I wasn’t gonna have that anymore. And that was my own choice because I felt like I needed to move on. And I needed that time away to be with Candice, to be with the baby. And just step away from wrestling for a bit and just recharge. But luckily everything worked out. And I think everything happens for a reason. We’re back.”

Despite the positive crowd reaction, some felt the timing was off as Raw had a taping in Gargano’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, just two weeks prior. Addressing the timing, Gargano acknowledged he was not under contract during the Cleveland event, making his return to Toronto a genuine surprise.

”Because I think there was a Cleveland Show. And then like two weeks later, I came back. [People asked] Why didn’t you come back in Cleveland? It’s because I wasn’t under contract. Those things are still being discussed. And luckily, it was fun to come back in Toronto, because everyone expected Cleveland. And to be able to come back in Toronto, in a building I’ve wrestled in before and have it be an absolute surprise.”

”No one knew, the only people that knew I was back in the company, and I wasn’t even officially under contract yet. Terms were agreed upon and I was ready to go. But I wasn’t officially back back yet. That’s luckily the way it was kept under wraps too. The only people who knew was me, my agent, Candice and I think Hunter and maybe one other person in TR [talent relations] and that was it.”

Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa saved R-Truth from The Judgment Day on this week’s episode of Monday Night RAW. We will have to wait and see how WWE will book their storyline in the coming weeks.

What do you think of what Johnny Gargano had to say? Do you feel he has been on a good run since his WWE return? Sound off in the comments section below!

Subhojeet Mukherjee

Subhojeet, a professional wrestling fan for over 20+ years, found his passion during the Monday Night Wars. With expertise honed over decades and a broad spectrum of interests including TV, movies, anime, novels, and music, he offers insightful analysis and coverage. Respected in the industry, Subhojeet keeps fans informed and engaged with his knowledge and perspective.

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