Johnny Gargano took time away from wrestling after his WWE contract expired in December 2021 to be a father. Gargano was adamant that he wanted to be a father first as Candice LeRae delivered their baby in February.
Though Gargano would tease returns during his time away, and his name would trend anytime a promotion mentioned a surprise appearance or ran a show in Cleveland, he wouldn't be back on wrestling television until the August 22 episode of WWE Raw when he made a surprise appearance on the show.
Gargano previously said that going to another company "crossed his mind," but wanted to do things like winning the Intercontinental Championship and wrestle on WrestleMania.
Speaking to Ryan Satin on Out of Character, Gargano expanded upon his time away and speaking to other promotions before returning to WWE.
"There were conversations, for sure. We'd be dumb not to have those conversations, right? Especially given everything that was going on, the uncertainty around everything, who knows what could happen. That's the crazy thing about the wrestling business. Literally, everything can change in the blink of an eye. The fact that I was able to be incredibly patient and be in no rush to do everything, that's the big gain I had in all this. I could sit back and survey the landscape and make my decision on a timely basis. I didn't have to be like, 'I need a job right now, where am I going to go?' I believe everything happens for a reason. The fact that I was able to have my contract expire in December, have the baby in February, and spend as much time with him as possible and not being in a rush to do things and reach out or say, 'I need to come back now.' From December (2021) to December (2022), I was fine not doing anything. Totally fulfilled not doing anything. Luckily, I have people around me to have conversations, so I didn't have to think about business or wrestling, they can talk about that stuff, and all I can worry about is dad life. I watch everything, I'm a fan of wrestling, and for me, I want to go to the place that not only could utilize me best, but a place where I already have a relationship with Hunter and a lot of people backstage. That was a big thing for me, I'm all about relationships and familiarity. As soon as the change happened, there was only one option in my head," said Gargano.
Vince McMahon retired as WWE CEO in July amid an investigation regarding alleged sexual harassment and hush money. Triple H, who previously ran NXT with Gargano as one of the face's of the brand, took over all WWE creative duties.
When asked when Triple H reached out to him, Gargano said, "It was pretty quick, I'm trying to think of the exact timeline because it went by pretty fast."
Gargano said that he always maintained a personal relationship and friendship with Triple H and Shawn Michaels during his time away.
Gargano wrestled his first match since December on Monday's WWE Raw, defeating Chad Gable. Fans can find Fightful's report on WWE Raw by clicking here.
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