After his very first match, Johnny Gargano was told by a seasoned pro that he had no future in the wrestling business.
Tonight, NXT goes live on the USA Network. After years of evolution for WWE's black and gold brand, this might be the biggest step yet. Despite countless Superstars leaving NXT for the bright lights of Raw and SmackDown, it continues to boast an incredibly strong roster. Right now, one of the strongest names on that roster is Johnny Gargano.
Over the past few years, Gargano has put on some of the best matches in NXT history. Firstly as one half of DIY, and more recently as a singles star. The heart of NXT is undoubtedly one of the best wrestlers in the world right now. However, if Gargano had listened to the advice of a veteran in the business, he might never have made it.
During a recent appearance on Lilian Garcia's Chasing Glory, Gargano spoke about his first-ever wrestling match. He was 17 and it was at a tiny show in the back room of his dad's catering company. Buff Bagwell was also on the show, so Gargano's dad asked him to watch young Johnny and let him know whether he had a future in wrestling.
"Yes, Buff was on the show and my dad asked him 'look at my kid, is he gonna make it?'," Gargano explained on the podcast. Bagwell's response, what must have been an Earth-shattering "no" to Gargano. Pretty harsh considering Gargano's age at the time. Plus, it was his very first match. To say someone is or isn't going to make it based on one match, let alone their first, is a pretty big call to make if you ask us.
Thankfully, being told he couldn't wrestle by someone he grew up watching didn't deter Gargano. The former NXT Champion put it best on Chasing Glory when he joked "I'm the stuff now, Buff." Gargano also revealed that he has never seen or met Bagwell since. We'd be incredibly interested to hear about that exchange should it ever happen, and to find out if Bagwell remembers passing judgment on Gargano.