The Way was, at one point, a top act in NXT – but their backstage segments could have been a lot different if it wasn’t for Johnny Gargano’s dedication to the bit.
Comprised of Gargano, Candice LeRae, Indi Hartwell, and Austin Theory, the quartet dominated NXT storylines for a while, known for their dazzling matches and entertaining skits. Those skits were initially intended to be serious until Johnny Gargano took a risk.
During a Starrcast panel, the one-time NXT Champion explained to Inside The Ropes’ Kenny McIntosh why The Way was as comedic a group as they were:
“We never really got a chance to be ourselves in front of a live crowd, we never got the chance to be heels in front of a live crowd. I think that is one of the most important things about being a heel is having a crowd reaction and having people boo you, we never had a chance to do that. It was mainly empty arenas. But especially during the pandemic, I tried to hone in on the backstages promos.
Because I think for my money, the wrestling crowds, I don’t think they will go back and go, ‘I’m going to watch this match from the pandemic era.’ Because the crowds are what makes wrestling awesome. Without it, it’s just two guys wrestling, there is no heart or passion there. Sure it’s from them, but it’s not from the environment they are in. So maybe the matches won’t hold up, but the segments will. You can go back and watch a backstage [segment] because they don’t rely on a crowd.
[In] The early stages that we were together, our characters were meant to be different. [Candice LeRae says very serious]. Oh yeah, you were going to get a very different Johnny and Candice that you never got a chance to see. [Candice – We were supposed to be really intense].
But when the pandemic happened, there was so much negativity in the world, I know I am a heel, but I want to do all I can to put a smile on people’s faces and make people laugh during that time period. That’s why we focused more on the entertainment rather than the being a heel aspect.”
The Way was officially formed in late 2020, with both Indi Hartwell and Austin Theory donning Ghostface-like attires to aid Candice LeRae and Johnny Gargano, respectively. During this time, Gargano was a two-time NXT North American Champion, while LeRae and Hartwell held the NXT Women’s Tag Team Championships.
Johnny and Candice have since left WWE, with the former embracing Hartwell and her on-screen husband Dexter Lumis on his final night in WWE. Candice, meanwhile, had been off television for a while before this as she went on maternity leave; she, too, has now left altogether.
Currently, Theory resides on the Raw roster as Mr Money in the Bank, while Indi Hartwell remains in NXT, recently being part of a pairing with Persia Pirotta prior to her WWE release.