Johnny Gargano’s return was the surprise fans didn’t know they needed


Hearing the first notes of “Rebel Heart” was a surprise that many professional wrestling fans didn’t know they needed. On Monday Night Raw, the first ever WWE NXT Triple Crown Champion, Johnny Gargano, walked through the curtain to make his long-awaited return to the television screen. It was a surprise that sent many scrambling to their favorite news sites because it wasn’t reported or spoiled as many others before it. It’s a return that further strengthens the WWE roster at a time when it is needed the most.

The fan reaction clip of Gargano’s return is going to be remembered as one of the top moments of 2022. Since his departure nine months ago, Gargano’s name has trended on social media at least once a month. Initially, the expectations were to see him pop up in All Elite Wrestling where he would have been able to bring back the “Johnny Wrestling” persona to create some dream matches the world wanted to see. Fightful Select reported on Monday that they hadn’t heard of any “advanced negotiations” between Gargano and AEW and sources within the company did not believe Gargano was going to end up in the promotion.

Triple H ascending to lead creative and talent relations for WWE turned the tide of expectations that Gargano would return to WWE. He was one of the favorites in NXT for Triple and Shawn Michaels, leading many to believe they’d pull out all the stops to bring him back. Everyone stayed mum on the matter, with the biggest of surprises hitting fans in and watching the event in Toronto, Canada.

The segment featuring Gargano and Austin Theory was near perfection. The two men did an excellent job tying their past in NXT together into a narrative to set up Gargano’s first angle with the changed Theory. The speculation around where the angle will end up is going to drive fans crazy, but that’s the exact type of kickoff a major promotion would want to see. Plus, with hints of an InDex return with Indi Hartwell in NXT and Dexter Lumis kidnapping The Miz on Raw, there are several ways this angle could go.

And don’t forget that this also ties into Tommaso Ciampa on the main roster at the same time. Are fans headed for a potential DIY reunion? Ignoring that opportunity would be a massive fumble on the one-yard line.

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Lovers of professional wrestling continue to experience the greatness of an industry without Vince McMahon. Triple H is working to rebuild the status of WWE and Johnny Gargano is a foundational piece that fans are excited to see back.