Speculation is running wild around what is next for Johnny Gargano. He received a hero’s sendoff on Tuesday’s edition of WWE NXT. At the end of the night, it isn’t clear what is next for him other than fatherhood with his wife, Candice LeRae. However, if Gargano’s tenure with WWE is over, he’s already done enough to be recognized as the greatest performer to ever step foot in NXT and a Hall of Famer at the same time.
Professional sports teams would spend millions of dollars to have a performer that is as reliably great as Gargano was during his time with NXT. Looking back across his career and it’s hard to find a point where Gargano “missed” in any way.
Pair him with Tommaso Ciampa to become the most over teams to step through the brand’s curtains as DIY? Done. Break up that team and put on one of the best feuds in the company? Done. Help the WWE Universe see how great Andrade is as a performer in one of the best matches the company has seen in years? Done. Put him and LeRae with young talents in Austin Theory and Indi Hartwell, helping them establish themselves to fans? Also done.
Gargano’s contributions go well beyond the titles that he won. But it’s also important to look at that aspect of his success to add another layer of greatness. He is the first individual to earn the NXT Triple Crown, holding the NXT Championship, NXT North American Championship, and the NXT Tag Team Championship. Along the way, building his stature in the company while helping to elevate other names at the same time.
The revamp of NXT is taking the brand in a new direction, pushing away from the names that built their value on the independent scene, instead creating “superstars” that fit within the WWE’s mold. Sadly, Gargano doesn’t fit within that mold, and moving him to the main roster wouldn’t immediately be seen as an improvement. There’s a laundry list of examples where poor main roster booking eliminated any momentum that came from a strong run in NXT. As great as Gargano is, the expectations for him to beat the challenges of WWE booking would be low.
Johnny Wrestling deserves to not only show the world how great of a wrestler he is but do so in a setting that fits his needs the best. If he decides that’s with the WWE or in another ring, fans should respect that decision. Regardless of the feelings around that, Gargano should be recognized as the greatest performer NXT has seen to date.