Johnny Gargano is, reportedly, a free agent. As of Midnight, Dec. 10th, 2021, Johnny Gargano’s contract with the WWE has run out, meaning that one of the hottest wrestlers in the business is now a free agent. Is it a work? Or is it true? Let’s look at the facts.
When Johnny Gargano said goodbye to the NXT fans at the end of this week’s show – as well as addressing those in attendance at NXT: War Games – everyone just assumed that he would put pen to paper on a new contract, because surely the WWE would bend over backward to offer Johnny Wrestling whatever he wanted to keep him with the company, and not let him become the hottest free agent in the world?
This seemed to be how everything was going to play out as during his very emotional ‘farewell’, Grayson Waller attacked Gargano. Everyone just assumed that this was to write him off of television for a while so he could spend time with Candice LeRae as the couple prepare for their first child. Afterward – when he was ready – he would return to the WWE fold and head up to the main roster, with a tasty new deal in hand, but if these rumors are true, then it seems that either Gargano didn’t want to resign for the company, or they couldn’t come to terms, so he has decided to let his contract run down, allowing him to become a free agent.
The free agent part of this is a big deal. If he had been fired or asked to be released from his contract, he would’ve had to sit out 30, 60, or 90 days on a no-compete clause, but allowing himself to become a free agent means that he can show up wherever he wants, whenever he wants.
So how is this all going to play out? Well, there are two options. Option one is that this is all a work and that the WWE allowed him to become a free agent so that when he does eventually return to the fold, he will get a pop so massive that you’ll be able to hear it on the moon. There is a chance that they have a ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ in place that Gargano won’t sign for anyone else – or has already signed a new contract but they’re keeping it hush-hush – and that when everything is right and the planets align, Johnny Gargano can return as one of the biggest stars in the company. The fact that there are – reportedly – no hard feelings between either party makes his return as good a possibility as anything else.
Option Two is that the WWE has decided to go in a different direction and Johnny Gargano – as well as a few other wrestlers – doesn’t fit into their new vision for the future. If Uncle Dave Meltzer is to be believed, it isn’t going to be Triple H or Stephanie McMahon who is next in line for the throne when Big Vinnie finally steps aside. That honor is rumored to be going to Nick Khan, current President of the WWE. There have also been sweeping changes to the NXT brand and even though Vince is where the buck stops, you can’t convince me that Nick Khan had nothing to do with the NXT rebrand that has seen much more emphasis put on big, beefy wrestlers, such as Von Wagner and Bron Breakker. Need even more proof? Well, the inaugural class of the new WWE NIL program has been released, and out of the 15 who have been signed, only five are under 6 feet tall. This seems – at least to me – to suggest that the WWE is shifting back to the days of jacked-up monsters and anyone who doesn’t fit that mold will either be released or allowed to become a free agent.
If I had to choose, I’d probably plump for the second option and that Johnny Gargano is no longer with the WWE. This means that I fully expect him to show up in AEW at some point as well. There is talk that he might try his luck in Japan, but with a new baby on the way, it’d make more sense for him to stay in America, and I don’t doubt for one second that Tony Khan hasn’t already been on the phone to him to convince him to sign. Hell, he could even show up in time for their Winter Is Coming Supercard, but even if he doesn’t, it won’t be long after the birth of his child that I fully expect Johnny Gargano to show up in an AEW ring.
Then again, I have been known to be wrong on these types of things before, but whatever he chooses to do, Johnny Gargano is currently the biggest free agent in the wrestling world, and that should be enough to whet your appetite for his future endeavors.