As the credits rolled on Saturday’s TakeOver, one can’t help but think where does Johnny Gargano go now?
He has been the heart and soul of NXT for four years now, which is a long time to be with the brand. He has become the first NXT grand slam champion and has delivered countless “match of the year” contenders, but staying in NXT forever was never going to be a thing for him. He has accomplished all that he could for the black and yellow brand; Johnny has grown too big for NXT and failing to recapture gold means it’s time to move on. But where to?
There are plenty of options for Johnny’s next move, but where he would be able to truly showcase his talents is the question. Three brands to try and takeover leaves a lot of possibilities available.
A few months ago, it seemed that plans were in place for Johnny’s main roster transition, but those included Ciampa. With Johnny being a singles competitor for the foreseeable future, Monday Night RAW would bring some fun match possibilities; United States Champ AJ Styles.
comes to mind right away. Having Gargano in a title picture won’t be a possibility right away, but a series of matches with the O.C would elevate him in new ways.
Besides AJ on RAW, there are chances for matches with Cesaro, Cedric Alexander, and even the new Universal Champion Seth Rollins. Ricochet also happens to be on RAW, so returning to the history they have together on a larger scale would be awesome. The possibilities open to Johnny on RAW would be a bit higher profile than the other brands, but I don’t think Monday nights are the best fit.
My heart of hearts says the best place for Johnny to end up with is Smackdown Live. The land of opportunity is his chance to shine just as bright as he did with NXT. Smackdown Live in the past has focused more on wrestling, which would be right up Johnny’s alley. The chance to revisit his history with guys like Aleister Black and Andrade is exciting. We already know those matchups are excellent and fans would react to it, but it is the idea of it being on a grander scale that should excite everyone.
Smackdown is also home to Daniel Bryan. When Daniel was still the GM of Smackdown, he had stated that a dream match of his would be with Johnny Gargano; this could finally be the time. It’s a matchup that would bring eyes to Tuesday, soon to be Friday, nights. Gargano and Bryan have had a similar underdog story – this could be the time to discover who the biggest underdog in the current WWE landscape is. The New Daniel Bryan is vicious and would give Johnny a nice challenge.
Smackdown also has men like Ali, Finn Balor, Apollo Crews, and The New Day. The matches that Gargano could put on with them would be off the charts. Smackdown has a strong men’s division and would only benefit from the addition of Gargano. Fans already see Smackdown as the “A Show”, with these kinds of matchups it would just solidify that fact.
In all likelihood, Gargano will end up on 205 Live, as most NXT call ups have recently. 205 Live is definitely a brand that deserves more eyes on it, adding Gargano to their roster would definitely help with that. Those paying attention to 205 know how hard-hitting and phenomenal the matches can be – let’s picture Gargano versus Mike Kanellis or Jack Gallagher. The style that each cruiserweight possesses is unique, matches are fast pace and fun; Johnny would fit in just fine. The problem that Johnny would come across is fans actually tuning in to 205. Lots of people miss many “match of the year” contenders because they don’t tune in. Either his presence will bring the change or it will stay the same.
NXT was the best starting point for Gargano, he has made a legacy that not many NXT alumni can boast. The first NXT grand slam champion, unfortunately, has overstayed his welcome. He’s going to leave pretty big shoes to fill, but the black and yellow brand is in capable hands.
Johnny has proven he has what it takes to be a part of WWE, but its time to show the world why Johnny Wrestling has taken over NXT for so long. Going to the main roster will be good for him, he’ll have a bigger pond to swim in so to speak. Whether he ends up showcasing his talents on RAW, Smackdown or helps to continue to build up 205 is anyone’s guess. No matter where the former NXT champ ends up, he’ll still be putting on match of the year contenders and no doubt will score his first main roster title soon.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @paigeyb88. Thanks for reading!