It’s time for Johnny Gargano to become a babyface again

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Coming out of the Karrion Kross vs. Johnny Gargano NXT Championship match that took place this past Tuesday on NXT, two things became obvious to those who watched the main event: the NXT creative team is going all-in on teasing Kross vs. Samoa Joe and, more importantly, that Gargano needs to be a babyface.

Given how the fans responded to him throughout his brief program with Kross, this is probably a widely-held opinion (some fans have even suggested that Gargano is already a babyface, which ignores several things, but….alright). It’s time the NXT writers come to the same conclusion.

Johnny Gargano is an amazing babyface, which is what the NXT roster needs.

It wasn’t that long ago when you could argue that Gargano was the best babyface in WWE if not all of wrestling. It’s what made his rivalry with Tomasso Ciampa so compelling and what eventually carried him to an NXT Title run.

With an affable personality and a relentless fighting spirit, Gargano was the example people could use against the “white meat babyfaces don’t work in the modern age” argument.

Then, the bookers turned him heel.

To be fair, Gargano — along with Candice LeRae, who turned heel alongside him — has thrown himself into this comedic cult leader gimmick and it has led to plenty of funny moments, but that’s not what the current NXT product needs right now.

What it needs are top babyfaces. We’ve spoken many times on this site about how the NXT creative team has dedicated much of their energy to building up a number of solid heels acts, but they haven’t come up with nearly enough protagonists to oppose them.

There are exceptions to this rule — Kushida, Cameron Grimes and Bronson Reed stand out as the obvious examples — but NXT’s babyfaces have suffered from the same issues that plague their main roster contemporaries: baffling losses (see: Ikemen Jiro vs. Duke Hudson), constantly outsmarted by the heels, the lack of friends to help them (especially relative to the heels), and getting consistently booked to do and say things that make them less appealing to the audience.

Now, turning Gargano babyface wouldn’t fix all of this — and there’s always a chance he succumbs to these issues as well — but it solves a few of them, particularly at the top of the card. It beats booking wrestlers in quasi-heel vs. heel feuds or depending on tweeners to gin up interest in the product.

NXT has tried the latter with Kross and Finn Balor, and while that strategy had its positives, it doesn’t beat having a clear babyface that fans can fully get behind.

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Over the last few weeks, the fans have shown that they are willing to get behind Gargano. Hopefully, the writers take note of this and present him in a manner that allows the audience to do just that.