Johnny Gargano recently spoke of his time in NXT and about a certain storyline he was involved in which he believes will “never happen again”.
The current incarnation of NXT looks very different to the brand that Gargano was initially involved in when he began to work with WWE. The ‘Black and Gold era’ is firmly in the rear-view mirror, while a whole host of young, up and coming stars have appeared in the show in recent months.
“Our try-out, it was a unique one because there was a lot of independent talent there. It was me, Tommaso Ciampa, Chuck Taylor, Biff Busick who was later Oney Lorcan, Drew Gulak, Athena, TM61. They were really trying, and they put us together as the indie crop.”
It was during this period that ‘Johnny Wrestling’ was first paired with the man that would go on to become his greatest partner and fiercest rival, Tommaso Ciampa:
“For some reason, me and Tomasso Ciampa were paired up from that point. We shared a hotel and we had done indies at that point, we were friends and had wrestled each other on the indies, but we weren’t like super close. But we shared a hotel together, were in the same rental car, we were paired together in drills, we were paired together in try-out matches. For some reason we were just always paired together.”
Ultimately, it was only Oney Lorcan that was signed by WWE at the time of Gargano’s trial. However, William Regal kept in touch with him and brought him back for a number of one-off appearances.
Eventually both Gargano and Ciampa were given an opportunity to compete in the inaugural Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic in 2015 as DIY. It was here that the pair built up a rapport with the NXT audience and impressed backstage higher-ups enough to get officially signed by the company:
“Then the idea came up for the Dusty Rhodes Team Classic. Regal had the idea to put me and Tomasso together as a tag team, so he called us both individually, brought us down to Orlando, we did the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic and then I guess the rest is history.”
After establishing themselves as a tag team, DIY eventually imploded and went on to have one of the most celebrated storylines in the history of NXT.
Gargano and Ciampa’s journey to the black and gold brand was certainly a unique one and the ‘Heart and Soul of NXT’ thinks it is unlikely that we will ever see the likes of it again:
“We were doing the indies and NXT at the same time, which is crazy. It will never happen again. I don’t think the story of me and Tommaso will be repeated again,”
WWE may well revert back to recruiting talents from the independent wrestling scene after their recent set of tryouts were reportedly considered ‘a disaster’.
If you use any of the quotes from this article please give a h/t and link back to Inside The Ropes.