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Johnny Gargano On What He Attributes His Popularity To, His Feud w/ Tommaso Ciampa Getting Comparisons To ‘Barber Shop Window’

Johnny Gargano was a recent guest on the In This Corner podcast with Brian Campbell; you can read a few transcribed highlights (credit to Bill Pritchard for below:

Johnny Gargano comments on the comparisons of Tommaso Ciampa turning on him to Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty’s infamous ‘Barber Shop Window’ segment:

That’s crazy you say that. As a part of my childhood, ‘Barber Shop Window’ was such a huge, monumental moment. Do I think about things that way? I am one of those people that I do something, and then years down the line I’m like ‘oh that was pretty cool!’ When I’m in the moment, I don’t think it’s special. I don’t think it’s probably even good. I’m not a fan of any of my own matches, my own work; I’m my own worst critic, but when people say that to me, it’s wild. All of this is still so—I’ve been wrestling for over 13 years—all of this is still so new to me. Coming around [Wrestlemania] Axxess and seeing The Undertaker, Randy Orton and Triple H, and Shawn Michaels, and then there’s a picture of me hanging up with them? That doesn’t make sense to me at all! Little Johnny Gargano, like little eight year old Johnny Gargano, he should be here as a fan, but I’m here as a performer. It’s mindblowing. That stuff isn’t lost on me.

What does he attribute his popularity to?

I’m just real. I’m me. There’s nothing fake about anything I say or anything I do. I think about me as I know what it’s like to be a wrestling fan. I remember the little things, I remember things that as a fan would make me react, would make me go ‘oh, that’s really cool.’ That’s why whenever I see fans waiting at airports or fans waiting outside, I always make sure to go up and say hi to them. I know as a fan that would have meant the world to me. I think—I’m an undersized guy, undersized for this business—people see me and they see the ultimate underdog. I think it helps that I’ve been wrestling for thirteen years. A lot of these fans, a lot of these NXT fans, have been along with me on this journey. They saw me when I was wrestling in front of 50 people, they saw me when I was wrestling in front of 250 people, and now they’re going to see me wrestling in front of 18,000 people. I was the guy that always dreamed of being WWE, but you’d always see him and go ‘ahh, but he’s not quite big enough, but I’d really like to see Johnny get a shot.’ Johnny got his shot, Johnny’s here, and they feel like ‘we’re going to push him through that door.’

Gargano comments on his goal of always getting to WWE, if he had any advice for indie talents on the fence about joining the company: 

I love independent wrestling; I always have and I always will, but I know as a child I grew up watching WWE. The moments and the memories that WWE created is what I remember the most as a wrestling fan. My dream, obviously, is to be a part of Wrestlemania, and to be a part of Wrestlemania weekend. Yes, you can do that, and I’ve done that multiple years on the indies, but to be here at Axxess and be a part of this company—I know I sound like a real great ‘rah rah’ company guy—this is the best company in the world. NXT has the best talent roster in the world.

It blows my mind mind how good everyone actually is. Like I said, it’s guys like me who have been traveling the world for a very, very long time, who finally get the shot to work for this company. When I wrestled on the indies— if I could say anything to fellow indie wrestlers, guys like that who are undecided—my goal was to go the ‘Daniel Bryan’ route, the CM Punk route. Where you do everything you possibly could on the indies, and then when you feel like you’re fulfilled, you’ve done everything you can, then you come here. That was my goal, I felt like I accomplished a lot, I wrestled on the indies for over ten years, and now I want to be a part of this company. I can’t wait to walk around the Axxess Superstore and look at all of the merchandise; it’s just bigger than all of us and it’s so cool to be a part of.