With the likely scenario that WWE never clears Daniel Bryan to wrestle in-ring again for the company, fans are not only disappointed but likely looking for the next WWE Superstar to catch lightning in a bottle the way Bryan did. There are some questions stirring and insiders believing that perhaps that someone in NXT star Johnny Gargano.
Gargano is on a meteoric rise in NXT that rivals any in that brand's history. Starting as an undersized wrestler who many labeled "Johnny Wrestling", Gargano always had an underground swell of fans who loved watching his matches. But, WWE and NXT appear to have finally realized the value in what Gargano is bringing and he's being given a main event push that could see him eventually make the jump to the main roster in WWE.
He recently lost heartbreaking NXT Title Match to Andrade “Cien” Almas at TakeOver: Philadelphia, but the match was all-world and fans noticed. He was then attacked after the bout by his former partner Tommaso Ciampa. It adds to the underdog reputation Gargano has built for himself. It's not far from how Daniel Bryan rose to fame and became the leader of the Yes! Movement and one of the company's favorite all-time Superstars.
What made Bryan so popular in WWE was both his Yes! chants and the fact that he was never supposed to make it. A smaller guy who was undersized by WWE standards and quite bland by the measure of most WWE characters, Bryan was one of the better in-ring performers, earning the respect of the WWE Universe. Fans wanted to see him succeed when it looked like the WWE didn't believe he could and they also wanted matches that were considered five-star worthy.
Gargano offers a lot of the same qualities. While you can never duplicate what Bryan brought during his run to WrestleMania and his title victory, fans are seeing Gargano as the next "type of Bryan" who could take the crowd and build up a swell that the WWE simply can't ignore.
Gargano's matches are arguably better than Bryan's, he sells to other wrestlers in the same vein wrestlers like Bret Hart used to do and his innovative offense and fighting spirit make him extremely hard not to love. He's got fans chanting "Johnny Wrestling" nearly everywhere he goes and he's one catch-phrase away from being NXT's most popular wrestler (if he isn't already). He's a future NXT Champion without a doubt and he can be relied upon to put on quality match after quality match.
Like Bryan, Gargano is a babyface that likely can't be a heel. The fans simply love him too much. It appears he's made a few fans behind the scenes in WWE as well.
Bryan was popular when he wasn't supposed to be. WWE wasn't expecting how quickly he rose to stardom and they have potentially the same situation staring them in the face with Gargano. It would be wise of WWE not to make the same mistakes.
While Gargano is hotter than anything else in the WWE, now's the time to capitalize. He may be undersized and he may not be the typical "WWE Superstar", none of that matters if the fans are behind him as much as they are.
You don't see pure babyfaces as universally loved as Gargano seems to be. Like Bryan, this is something the WWE can use. If the WWE sees where they went off the rails with Bryan and can correct their mistakes with Gargano, the WWE Universe could be looking at its next massive hero.