Adam Cole And Johnny Gargano Reveal Process Of Being NXT Surprises In WWE Royal Rumble

The following is an excerpt from our new feature, Inside The Royal Rumble 2. Please check it out in its entirety, and see our video feature at the top of the page

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NXT Surprises

It's not just legends like Jarrett who are popping up in the Rumble or people who have had runs in competing companies like Laurel Van Ness/Chelsea Green. Well, 2019 had Jarrett and also highlighted NXT talent as the brand marched its way towards a prime-time cable TV deal later that year. Johnny Gargano recently left WWE as his contract expired, but growing up a WWE fan, appearing as #6 in the 2019 Royal Rumble was a bucket list moment.

Gargano said "Royal Rumble was always one of the main things I wanted to do, it's my favorite pay-per-view. To get the chance to be in it. I found out...I had a feeling, a vibe that I was going to be in the Royal Rumble, but I didn't know for sure. I didn't find out for sure until literally the night before at TakeOver. TakeOver just ended and Hunter pulled us all aside; me, Aleister, Pete Dunne, and told us we were going to be in the Royal Rumble the next night. Candice was told she was going to be in the Royal Rumble earlier in the week. I got the vibe I was going to be in it too, but I was officially told the night before at like 11:30, and then I had to get ready for it. I told my mom, because she was in town for TakeOver, 'Hey, maybe you should stay and go to the Royal Rumble too because I'm in it.' It's cool because Candice's parents and my mom got to go to the Royal Rumble the next day and see us. It's my favorite pay-per-view of all-time so to get the chance to be in it is amazing."

Since NXT has become a brand of its own and doesn't regularly feature Raw or Smackdown talent, bringing up that bubbling under talent to be spotlighted is an easy way for WWE to make a special moment, which they did with one of their top stars a few years back. Adam Cole was all too familiar with that as well. Just a few months after his NXT debut, he made a huge leap to appear in the Royal Rumble match itself in 2018. As seems to be the tradition within the company, if you're under contract to WWE, you pretty well learn of your spot in the Rumble within a day or two prior to it happening.

"I found out less than twenty-four hours before," Adam Cole told Fightful. "I was pulled into a room after Takeover and Triple H was the one who told me. He goes, ‘Hey, congratulations. You’re gonna be in the Royal Rumble tomorrow.’ This was right after my extreme rules match with Aleister Black. But, aside from being such a massive fan of the Royal Rumble, that one was in Philadelphia and I used to go to shows in Philadelphia all the time. That was like, I would get there at noon and it has a certain parking lot where you can sit there and you can watch all the guys show up in their cars or limos or whatever. So, I can’t tell you how many events I’ve been to in Philly. So, to be able to do the Royal Rumble in Philadelphia where I trained to be a wrestler, where I would go to shows all the time, and as a surprise, and for the fans to be excited about it. I was like, ‘Oh, my God. What an amazing thing to check off the bucket list.’ It was awesome."

Some that have recently left the company, like Scotty 2 Hotty, are open to popping back up in the match.

"Yeah. I have nothing against it. Dude, I grew up a WWF fan. I’m still a fan. I want the best for everybody, but I was there for five years and available for five Rumbles and nobody said anything. They tend to use the same people over and over and over. I don’t know. It was a weird thing, you know?" Scotty said.

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