They say that inspiration can strike at the most unexpected of moments. If you’re Johnny Gargano that means when you’re relaxing and watching Stranger Things.
Nine months after becoming a free agent Johnny Gargano returned to WWE on the August 22nd edition of Monday Night Raw.
‘Johnny Wrestling’s’ previous WWE contract had expired back in early December 2021, and the star decided he was going to take some time off to be present for the birth of his first child.
With Gargano on the side-lines, rumours ran wild about when and where the star would return to the ring. Many believed that he would head to AEW as it appeared unlikely that he would ever earn a prominent position in Vince McMahon’s WWE. However, with McMahon retiring on July 22nd, the WWE door appeared to swing back open.
During an appearance on WWE After The Bell with Corey Graves and Vic Joseph, Gargano reflected on his decision to take some time off, revealing that he initially planned to be gone for a year.
“I gave myself kind of a year, when I left in December I kind of said okay, I am content being gone December, I think December 7 might have been my last NXT show… I was okay taking off a full year, letting my body rest, letting my body recover, but also letting my mind recover, and also re-energising myself. I’ve done this for almost 18 years at this point. I’ve been very lucky, I haven’t had any major injuries, I haven’t had any major time off, knock on wood somewhere, so I haven’t had any downtime.
So for me, and as you guys know, there is no offseason in what we do, so we’re just going consistently, especially when before I even got here, on the indies I was going pretty hard every single weekend. Multiple shows, double shots like wrestling multiple times a weekend, staying in shape, doing all that stuff like that, it just it mentally wears on you. And especially in this current day and age with social media, and things like that get in your head and the mental health problems we all kind of have to go through.”
The former NXT Champion continued and admitted that he enjoyed being away from the ring, and simply being a dad to baby Quill.
“I was just totally fine taking this year, spending it with my baby, being a stay at home dad, working on my dad bod, which I did, working on my dad bod, getting ready to go and just you know, like, be happy. I was totally fine with that with wrestling not being in my life.
I don’t know if there’s any point where I decided like, maybe I won’t come back. Obviously it crossed my mind a few times when I’m sitting at home and I’m able to do whatever I want and I don’t have anyone to answer to [anyone], anywhere to go. I wake up in my own bed every single day, I work out in my own gym, I hang out with my kid, it’s a great life.”
However, that all changed when Gargano was watching Stranger Things and heard the Kate Bush track Running Up That Hill. To wrestling fans the song is best remembered for being used in a promo package for the WrestleMania 26 clash between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker.
As soon as Gargano heard the song, he explained that he knew he had to get back in the ring.
“But I’ll tell you guys a story, and this is how my mind works apparently. So you guys have seen Stranger Things obviously. Okay, so the song Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush became very popular. And so I was watching, I might have texted you at this time Vic, I can’t remember. This is when I knew what I wanted to do. I was watching Stranger Things and the song came on, and the first thing that popped into my head was, wait a minute, that’s Shawn versus The Undertaker song from Wrestlemania. Placebo did a cover of it, that’s where my mind went.
And I was like, I remember that, and I watched the hype video for Shawn and ‘Taker from Mania. I sat there in the kitchen, Candice was right there, she can tell you this. I sat there in the kitchen, I watched his hype video as she’s doing baby stuff, and it just hit me watching this video. I was like this is what I want to do, this is where I want to be, and this is what I want to do.
This is why I got into this to have videos like this about me, but also to like, have these WrestleMania stories and matches, and I haven’t had that yet. I haven’t had that WrestleMania moment, I haven’t had that Wrestlemania match.
So in a roundabout way, Stranger Things playing that song, and me correlating it to genres to Mania, which led me watching the music video again in my kitchen led me being like, that’s what I want to do. I want to wrestle at WrestleMania. So that’s a long winded story of how we ended up where we are.”
During the episode, Gargano also touched on the speculation about him signing somewhere other than WWE, revealing that he did contemplate signing for another company.
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