Though he technically has a WWE contract and is a member of the RAW roster alongside his wife Candice LeRae and Kayfabe son-in-law Dexter Lumis, Johnny Gargano will always be known as Mr. NXT for his incredible in-ring efforts in the developmental promotion. According to Cagematch, Gargano has wrestled 260 matches and counting, which feels like a record but it’s impossible to know, is a triple crown champion in the brand – having won the NXT Tag Team Championships with Tommaso Ciampa as #DIY, the NXT Championship, and three separate runs with the NXT Championship – and remains beloved by the promotion’s fans to this day, with “Johnny Wrestling” shirts routinely appearing in the crowd at television tapings.
Afforded a chance to speak on his forthcoming match against Grayson Waller during the opening segment of NXT, Johnny Gargano rolled into the ring with a smile on his face, and the entire crowd packed into the Performance Center cheering his name.
“So let’s see, where’d we leave off?” Gargano asked as the crowd cheered on. “Hey, I need you guys to do me a favor. Last time I was in this ring, Grayson Waller jumped me from behind with a steel chair. So hey, do me a favor and watch my back for me, okay? You guys got me? You guys got me? Yeah? We good?
“Last time I was in this ring, I said that I was going to teach my son to be the best man that he can be, and to be the best man you can be, you need to finish what you start. It’s WrestleMania season, and there’s a lot of talk lately about finishing your story. Well, Johnny Gargano is back in NXT to finish his story. Fifteen months ago, my story ended on a cliffhanger. And when I came back to Monday Night RAW in August, it felt like a little piece of me was missing. Cuz the last time you guys saw me, I was laying face down on that announce table with Grayson Waller standing above me.
“Grayson Waller didn’t just take my last moment from me, he took closure away from me. He took out the heart and soul of NXT and my last night in the company. You know what? I hate to say this, but I kind of respect him. I kinda do. That’s why I gave you a gift, Grayson. I waited. I wanted to see what you’d do with that moment. Cuz the last guy who took me out? His name was Tommaso Ciampa, and he went on to become one of the greatest NXT Champions of all time. So I sat back, and I watched you, Grayson. What did you do? You had two chances, and you failed. Then what’d you do? You whined, and you cried, and you complained, and you blamed everyone but yourself. You started disrespecting these people, you started disrespecting the locker room, and then most importantly, you started disrespecting NXT. A lot has changed in fifteen months, but one thing that will never change, no matter what brand I’m on, NXT is my home. And Grayson, you do not screw with a man’s home. For seven years, seven years of blood, sweat, and tears in this building, in front of you people, you know exactly…”
Unfortunately for Gargano, he was unable to finish his firey speech, as Vic Joseph informed the NXT legend that Waller has live streaming on social media from inside his and LeRae’s house, which prompted “Johnny Wrestling” to leave his adoptive home to defend his real one.
Oh no…@GraysonWWE is currently at @JohnnyGargano's house 😱😱😱#WWENXT pic.twitter.com/VfdITvvf3t
— WWE (@WWE) March 15, 2023
Johnny Gargano and Grayson Waller delivered the heat on NXT.
As Gargano rushed to whichever neighborhood he lives in in the greater Orlando area to check on his family – thank goodness he doesn’t still live in Ohio – Waller sent in an ominous video of himself outside of the Gargamo-LeRae household for his least favorite person, Mr. Michaels, to play on NXT television.
“Wow, so this is what main roster money gets you, huh? “Waller asked. “Look at this, this place is like a palace. There must be at least six bedrooms in there, so much room for your action figures there, wow! You are living the high life, Johnny. Wait, is that you? Of course not, you’re not here. But wait, it’s a bit of a dangerous neighborhood, what if you left the door unlocked? Whoa, I’d better go check that out, just in case, you know? Do you a favor.”
Fortunately, Waller didn’t have to fight off any intruders… at least until Gargano showed up to defend his property. As the duo duked it out in the front yard, hopefully while none of his neighbors were out for an evening stroll, LeRae and Quill, aka Baby Wrestling, watched on in horror as Waller declared that Gargano just isn’t the same wrestler who dazzled fans at Takeovers last decade.
Was this a cheap way to get some heat on a match that really should be between Waller and HBK? Sure, but do you know what? It worked; the story gave the NXT episode a throughline, Waller yucked it up like only he can, and in the end, fans will really want to see him bested by “Johnny Wrestling” in his triumphant return to the black and gold brand. Whether or not that happens, however, remains to be seen.
This has gone way beyond personal…@GraysonWWE has attacked @JohnnyGargano at his own house, in front of his wife, @CandiceLeRae, and his son.#WWENXT pic.twitter.com/1ps4ZTsi9m
— WWE (@WWE) March 15, 2023