The past year has changed a lot of people, but Johnny Gargano's change on NXT has been a stark contrast from the bright eyed, optimistic guy we saw on screen for years.
According to Johnny himself, it was time for a change.
"I loved it. I couldn't wait for it," Gargano said. "I felt like I was stagnant for a little bit. If you do anything for so long, you get bored after a while. I felt like there was another side of me that I hadn't had a chance to show yet and I was keeping it inside. People don't remember that I was a heel on the Indies forever. That was the main thing I did. To have this underdog babyface role was new for me. I love the challenge. People see me as the underdog babyface and I want to be like, 'if you think that's all I am, you haven't seen anything yet. I'm going to turn that upside down, inside out, and create something new.' I remember when this was being talked about, I wrote a document saying 'this is what I will dress as, this is what the music will sound like, here's different stories we can do.' I had this long e-mail that I sent to Hunter and the writers. I couldn't wait to have this different incarnation of me and show the world this side of me. I'm having the time of my life doing it.
NXT has the benefit of working in front of limited fans at the moment, before things likely open up more in the summer. When asked about how that might affect things for The Way, Gargano thinks that a lot of what they've done during the pandemic will withstand the test of time. Even he's interested to see how things pan out in front of a crowd.
"In my mind, this current era of pro wrestling, I believe the things that are really going to hold up are the backstage vignettes and the skits because they aren't reliant on a crowd reaction. People are going to go back and watch these skits and Christmas segments and be like, 'this still holds up. It's good stuff.' I do believe things might change a little, but in front of a very big crowd, I still haven't been a heel in front of a large audience. That hasn't happened yet. The Way has not been in front of a large audience yet. I'm very curious to see the reaction that we all get. Yes, we are very entertaining, especially together. That is what we set out to do; to be different. I look at the landscape of everything and people need a smile on their face and need entertainment now more than ever. I wanted to be the person who did them that," said Gargano.
You can see our full interview with Johnny Gargano at the top of the page, and see his match with Bronson Reed on USA Network Tuesday at 8 PM EST. Gargano will be defending his NXT North American Title inside of a steel cage.