Backstage Details On Johnny Gargano's WWE Raw Comeback

The WWE locker room and production crew were just as surprised as fans watching at home when Johnny Gargano stepped through the curtain on the 8/22 "WWE Raw" in Toronto.

According to Fightful Select, Gargano's name didn't appear on any of the pre-show rundowns, and even much of the talent at hand "didn't know" and the production crew "was not briefed" on the former NXT Champion's appearance. The report added that nearly everyone found out about Gargano's debut barely "a few minutes before" he walked through the backstage area at the Scotiabank Arena.

Fightful was told that WWE maintained an interest in re-signing Gargano throughout his free agency period, which officially got underway following the "NXT WarGames" event in December 2021. During his time away from the ring, Gargano reiterated in several interviews that he was weighing his options between WWE, AEW, and other promotions and that he & wife Candice LeRae were more focused on enjoying parenthood. In fact, Gargano also revealed he turned down a WWE contract so he could focus on real-life priorities before returning to the ring.

WWE reportedly "respected Gargano's wishes and time off" during the entire period of free agency, and the company felt they had "a significantly higher chance of re-signing" him after Triple H assumed control of WWE's Talent Relations and Creative departments.

Fightful's report added that there were never any "any advanced negotiations" between Gargano and AEW and that IMPACT Wrestling was never seriously in play for the veteran wrestler. Furthermore, AEW sources who spoke to Fightful noted that they never believed Gargano was going to join the promotion, though several people in the company pushed for him to join over the past year or so.

As noted earlier, Theory confronted Gargano, rekindling memories of their time together in "WWE NXT" as The Way. The segment ended with Gargano nailing a superkick on Theory, possibly setting up a future clash between the two former stablemates.