Johnny Gargano says he pinches himself every day to make sure his WWE journey is real, and heaped praise on one of his dream opponents – Daniel Bryan.
Gargano has had a whirlwind two years in NXT, being part of one of professional wrestling most absorbing storylines alongside Tommaso Ciampa, and winning widespread acclaim for some of the best matches of the last 12-18 months.
But, the humble 31-year-old isn’t letting any of this go to his head. At heart, he is still a fan himself – the living embodiment of so many from all corners of the globe.
“Things don’t seem real, and I need to start living in the moment a little bit more. I am going to look back on 2018 years from now and wonder how all this actually happened,” he said.
“Two years ago I was watching these shows at home hoping to get the chance to be on one Takeover and now to main event four in a row, it doesn’t seem real.”
Speaking to Sport 360 at an exclusive pre-launch event for WWE 2K19, where Gargano got to see his character in the game for the first time, he spoke candidly about his love of the industry and his fortune such a big part of it.
“Every day when I walk into the Performance Centre there is a ‘pinch yourself’ moment – but even more so when it comes to video games and action figures. Just to be included in this is awesome.
“This isn’t a job to me, it’s a dream come true. Walking in this morning and playing as myself in a video game, working for WWE – if you told an eight-year-old Johnny Gargano that was going to happen he would have not believed you, 31-year-old Jonny Gargano still doesn’t believe you – but it’s amazing.”
Sport 360 recently spoke to Daniel Bryan (check out his appearance in 2K19’s Showcase Mode), who said Gargano would be a dream opponent – something that is more than echoed by Johnny Wrestling.
“I have done interviews and people ask who my dream opponent is, and I always say Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, AJ Styles. I got the chance to work with Brian (Danielson) a little on the indies, he is such an amazing human being – and I say human being on purpose. For my money, he’s the best wrestler I have ever been in the ring with. If the best wrestler in the world is that humble, kind and genuine, there is no reason everyone else can’t be like that.
“If I got to work with him again one day, no matter the circumstances, it would be pretty cool.”
He also spoke about his likeness on 2K19 – and how creators have really brought out his good points in the game!
“The tan is amazing – which I’m super pumped about!” he said.
“Last year I got scanned and I have a different body now, I have some abs now! I was hoping my body was different this year, I was kind of bulky last year – this time I am tanned, ripped and I feel great! I look way better than I do in person!
“It’s so wild to see my gear and my hair, the moves I do, and my entrance. I played me versus Shawn Michaels from 1997. Sadly, Sweet Chin Music got me so I didn’t get the win, but I was able to do some of my moves and it was great.”
The standard edition of WWE 2K19 is released on October 9, with special Deluxe and Woo editions coming four days earlier on October 5.
For more information see https://wwe.2k.com/
Smackdown came to us live from Denver, Colorado and was a mix of setups for Super ShowDown and a chance for others to grab a bit of the spotlight.
All eyes were expected to be on the contract signing between AJ Styles and Samoa Joe.
While the Universe waited with anticipation what Aiden English had to say following his attack on Rusev last week.
Another key line heading into the show was the ongoing Becky Lynch and Charlotte feud, and how hostilities would resume between Daniel Bryan and The Miz.
Here’s the best of the action.
Samoa Joe’s home call
There is a set layout for contract signings.
Calm start. Face-off. Table-flip. Brawl.
That’s just the way it goes. But not today.
Instead Joe decided to show up at AJ’s home in Georgia, leave the champ irate in the ring.
This back and forth has been superb, and this latest twist adds further to the ever-personal nature of the feud.
One of 2018’s highlights.
What’s goes in Milwaukee, stays in Milwaukee
It was always going to be that Rusev wanted answers following the attack from Aiden English last week.
Rusev seemed genuinely upset about the whole scenario, and when English came out to answer his former friend, his reason for the breakdown was clear – Lana.
He showed the good time (without the Ravishing one), and the bad times with her in toe.
Rusev and Lana both looked pretty perplexed in the ring – but the best was yet to come.
English told of how he and Lana will always have Milwaukee. Make of that what you will – but the WWE Universe is already in meltdown with conspiracy theories.
Apparently there is video evidence too – can’t wait for next week!
Lana burned by Straight Fire
Not content with one tough spot, Lana found herself in another – this time in the form of Smackdown Women’s champ, Becky Lynch.
Having already disposed of Charlotte earlier in the day, the Lass Kicker turned her attentions to the Ravishing Russian backstage, which resulted in a match.
Functional enough, this just builds Becky’s reputation as we head towards the Super ShowDown.
Let’s just hope the momentum can stay with her, as Lynch is the best thing in WWE at the moment.
The best of the rest
Sheamus defeated Big E, and things between The Bar and tag team champs The New Day boil nicely ahead of SSD.
It was nice to see Tye Dillinger in action action US Champ Shinsuke Nakamura – the attack from Randy Orton points to a run of him going after anything that p***** him off.
Truth TV with Daniel Bryan, while fun, didn’t really go anywhere – and even with The Miz emerging you feel there could be so much more that could be done with the rivalry.
Finally, Asuka and Naomi defeated Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose. With the Iconics at ringside, this once again headed towards SSD. It should pain everyone to see how far Asuka has fallen. Nice simultaneous head kick with Naomi though.
RAW this week turned into The Shield, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre and Braun Strowman show – with lots of air time for these guys and everything else just feeling like a bit of filler.
The bulk of the show felt like it contained some combination of these six men, and it’s clear the red brand will be putting their eggs in this basket for the coming weeks.
The tease that has been set in motion is Ambrose could be tempted into turning his back on Reigns and Rollins, but there were a few twists as time went on.
Here are the best bits from Monday night
The seeds of doubt
The show kicked off with Baron Corbin getting something of a flea in his ear from Stephanie McMahon (Happy Birthday Steph), about how he is running RAW – and how he should find himself a couple of partners for tonight as he would be facing The Shield – the first time we have seen them in action together for quite some time.
With the Hounds in the ring and Corbin on the ramp, Dolph, Drew and Braun emerged to continue their ongoing feud with the men in black.
Their line of attack this time round? Whether Ambrose would walk away from his brothers and join the dark side.
The thought of Ambrose turning is an interesting one – but surely it’s too early to break up a group that has not long been reunited?
However, the thought of Drew McIntyre joining forces with them – now that’s something I can get on board with, and so can Seth Rollins….
With McIntyre and Ambrose both left to mull over the interesting offers…..
Meanwhile McIntyre and Ziggler put their tag team gold on the line against The Revival – told you they were on a lot.
Now, this is a tricky one because the very state of the tag team division on RAW makes this almost a zero in term of how appealing it is.
But The Revival have that old-school tag team charm, the genuine team mentality, the tactics and strategy – everything points to WWE striking a little bit of gold with them.
Except it doesn’t quite work. A little lacking in charisma, something just doesn’t quite connect with the Universe – and it’s a shame.
Back to the match, and it was perfectly good – there was no surprise in McIntyre and Ziggler retaining – they need the gold to stay in a position of power in their battle with the Shield.
Then we reach the main event. The Shield v Baron Corbin and two partners of his choice.
His pick? AOP. From squashing jobbers one week, to main eventers the next. Go figure.
With Ziggler, McIntyre and Strowman (yup, there are here again), watching from the ramp this was another predicable battle of big guys versus plucky faces (plus a big guy).
The action was nothing to write home about, and ended with a Shield win, but Ambrose sat between the two camps.
He obviously went back to his buddies and that ended the show.
The best of the rest……
Finn Balor took on Jinder Mahal in a little tease of the Mixed Match Challenge, with Bayely and Alicia Fox at ringside.
Finn is such a good worker he would make the proverbial broom handle look good, and while Mahal is better than that these days he was still clearly the lesser light here.
If only we could go back to the days of Balor v Rollins v Miz.
Right in the mush – Natalya and the Bellas v The Riott Squad
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes……ooooooh.
That’s the sound of a bunch of clean Yes Kicks followed by a swift one to the face.
I fell kind of bad highlighting this, but it what the Universe is talking about.
Brie Bella, who suffered a couple of botched suicide dives only a couple of weeks ago, laid out Liv Morgan with a swift boot to the chops that had her pretty much out cold and almost unresponsive.
Look, these things occasionally happen and it’s not great when they do, and questions will immediately be aimed at Brie. Given the dive botches her confidence must be at an all-time low, and that’s not good.
Did Liv drop her head, probably, but you still have to think Brie takes the brunt of the blame.
Kudos to Morgan for being able to just about get a tag – and reentering for a triple suplex spot – and hopefully she makes a swift recovery.
In truth it all detracted from what should have been a great night for the Riott Squad – they are red hot at the moment and we should be talking about them for all the right reasons.
Hopefully Liv won’t be on the shelf too long and the threesome can continue on their push through the women’s division.
And the rest………
The rather odd Bobby Roode/Chad Gable bromance continues – losses against Konnor won’t help this though.
The KO show was a bit of a damp squib once Lio Rush and Bobby Lashley entered the fray.
Nia Jax continued her comeback beating Alicia Fox.
And finally, Triple H has another message for the Undertaker. One week to go.