Current NXT superstar Johnny Gargano recently sat down for an episode of Rasslin’ with Brandon F. Walker to promote the upcoming NXT PPV TakeOver: In Your House. During the interview Gargano was asked about his thoughts on the future of NXT.
“I have been saying for years that NXT is a viable third brand for the WWE, and I very much so mean that,” asserted Gargano. “You got RAW, you got SmackDown, you got NXT. And anyone who says NXT is developmental, anyone who says NXT is less-than, you are wrong. You are wrong. Watch our show on Tuesday night and look at the talent we have in the locker room. I will put our talent up against anyone. I think our locker room is loaded up and ready to rock n’ roll. And when you watch a TakeOver, especially a TakeOver with a live crowd, those TakeOver’s with live crowds and that atmosphere, nothing can touch them, it is so amazing. It is something I am really proud to be a part of.”
For Gargano, the best part of NXT TakeOver’s is that you never know which match will be the match of the night. Gargano says that there is so much main event level talent on the roster that any match could justifiably be the main event of the show.
“My favorite parts about TakeOver is that you get five to six matches, and any of those matches could main event,” Gargano said enthusiastically. “They all have their own original stories, they all have a purpose, they all have a reason, nothing against filler, they’re all there to make the show as good as possible. And like I was saying, any night I was main eventing, Io Shirai could’ve main evented, Candice LeRae could’ve main evented, Adam Cole could’ve main evented, Tommaso Ciampa could’ve main evented.
“There are just so many different players there that there isn’t just one guy you look at in NXT TakeOver, and say, ‘I need to watch his match.’ Yes, my name is Johnny TakeOver, but you watch the TakeOver’s to see the Io Shirai’s, the Raquel González’s, the Dakota Kai’s. There are so many people on this roster that are so talented, and I think that the best part about NXT TakeOver is that they get a chance to shine and that any match could be the main event.”
While on the topic of live crowds, Gargano also discussed how excited he is to wrestle in front of crowds again. Gargano mentions that he is used to wrestling for far fewer fans when he was on the indies, so wrestling in front of arenas has been a great experience for him.
“I remember the past TakeOver we just had; we had a little over a hundred people,” recalled Gargano. “And for us, we were so pumped. I come from the indies, where I used to wrestle in front of five people. And I was like, ‘This is fine, this is what we do.’ Then I got used to wrestling in front of 15,000 people at a TakeOver, and nothing touches that. So, we are just so ready for fans to be back. I don’t think NXT is NXT at its peak without fans, it just isn’t. That TakeOver crowd and the NXT fans just make the product special, that’s what makes it unique. So, you take those away, they are the special ingredient that makes this whole thing work.”
The host Brandon Walker also mentions that multiple NXT fans have developed brands and followings from just attending the shows, and that he doesn’t think he has really seen that before. Gargano mentions WWE superfan Vladimir, who is set to receive his own documentary on the WWE Network, as the only person he could think of off the top of his head.
Gargano was also asked about his dream opponent from any era of professional wrestling. He quickly mentioned The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels, but also discusses some other current WWE wrestlers that he would be interested in wrestling against in the WWE.
“Obviously it is Shawn Michaels, it is definitely Shawn,” said Gargano. “Prime-Shawn, even now-Shawn. I have put out the invitation so many times. Shawn, if you want to lace them up man, I think Johnny Takeover vs. Mr. WrestleMania just sells tickets just sells tickets, man. . . I also did say me and Candice LeRae vs Triple H and Stephanie McMahon is another one.
“If we’re talking RAW, SmackDown, and NXT, there is always three that I go to. And that would be Daniel Bryan. I’ve wrestled with him on the indies but never in this environment. Seth Rollins, another [person I have wrestled] on the indies but not in this environment, and AJ Styles, another [person I wrestled] on the indies but not in this environment. In NXT, a guy I have never had a singles match with that I think people would really love to see is me vs. Kyle O’Reilly. That is not happened yet on NXT, so I think that would be another good one that I would love to have.”
You can listen to the interview in full HERE.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Rasslin’ with Brandon F. Walker with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.