For years now, Johnny Gargano has been a mainstay of WWE’s “developmental”, better known as NXT. During his time on the former Black and Gold brand, Johnny Wrestling has treated us to numerous classics, such as his battles with Andrade at Takeover: Philadelphia and ANY match against Tomasso Ciampa or Adam Cole. In fact, the Gargano vs Ciampa story was one of the best examples of long-term storytelling that we’ve seen in professional wrestling in the last decade, at least. Johnny was the grand slam champion in NXT history, a feat that he will forever be able to tout. Johnny Wrestling is NXT.
However, all good things eventually come to an end. With reports that the former NXT champion’s contract is set to expire, it looks like his time on what it now NXT 2.0 may be coming to an end. It was originally set to expire on December 3rd, but he recently signed a week-long extension that is now set to expire on December 10th, allowing him to at least compete in his first-ever War Games. Whether Johnny will stay on with 2.0, move to WWE’s main roster or completely leave the company altogether is still unknown.
For this piece, let say that Johnny Wrestling finally takes the “call-up” and moves on to either Raw or Smackdown. This would open up a slew of new opportunities to pair up with the two-time North American champion. I’ve put together a list of five opponents that I think would make for an interesting matchup with possibly the best pure wrestler on the planet, Johnny Gargano. That list begins with….
This match makes sense because of Johnny and Austin’s connection with The Way stable from their time together in NXT. Maybe Gargano takes exception to the way that Theory has been treating the veterans that he’s looked up to and respected for so long. Either way, Austin Theory seems to be a big part of the future plans for WWE and a match with Johnny Wrestling could do a lot to help him show off his talent. Even if Gargano has to take the loss to elevate the former Evolve and WWN champion, he has proven that he can still put on bangers and come out looking great, even in defeat. Just look at his Takeover battles with Adam Cole, Andrade, and Aleister Black for example.
This one isn’t so much about the match quality as it is the potential for some highly entertaining promos. Johnny Gargano and Kevin Owens are two of the best that WWE has to offer on the mic. Both are incredibly funny and can easily play the role of either heel or babyface.
Don’t get me wrong, the in-ring action wouldn’t slack at all. Both men have proven to be more than capable of putting on high-quality matches. While they have shared the ring a few times on the indies, they’ve never faced off in WWE. If Gargano does move to the main roster, hopefully, they give us a lengthy program and let these performers shine.
I bet you weren’t expecting this one, huh? Hear me out. Everyone agrees that Montez Ford has star power written all over him. The athleticism, the look, the charisma. It’s all there. Eventually, he’s going to make a singles run.
In the same way that Gargano could be used to make Austin Theory look good, he could also do it for Montez Ford. The Street Profits member can also hold his own on the mic against the former NXT champion in the build-up to what would surely be a fantastic match. Johnny Wrestling got that name for a reason and could easily lead Ford through the best match of his career.
These next two are opponents that Johnny himself has stated that he wanted to wrestle in an NXT ring. While that is highly unlikely to happen, these two mega matches could very well take place on either Raw or Smackdown…
Gargano and Rollins first squared off against each other back in 2010 for Absolute Intense Wrestling. The former Tyler Black has not gone toe-to-toe with Johnny Wrestling since the two have both been in the E. This is criminal, considering that they are legitimately two of the best in-ring workers of our generation and have improved to be even better than they were so many years back. Like Owens, Rollins also has the mic skills to have some absolute burn burner promo battles against Johnny Takeover, with both superstars capable of playing the protagonist or antagonist. This long-awaited rematch definitely needs to happen if Gargano does indeed resign with the WWE and finds himself on Monday or Friday nights.
This one is a true dream match, in my humble opinion. While Gargano has long been considered the heart and soul of NXT, the opposite can be said about AJ Styles. AJ was a rare hot commodity that was able to completely bypass “developmental” and debut on the main roster, in the Royal Rumble no less. You get those perks when you’re somebody that many consider you to be the greatest of your generation. The top dog vs underdog story is one that is easy to tell and these two could do it masterfully. To top it off, the matches would simply be pheno…you get where I’m going here.
Well, what do you think of these hypothetical matchups for Johnny Gargano on WWE’s main roster? Let me know in the comments and on Twitter by following me at @ShartzerJon! No matter what, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the soon-be-father and NXT legend.