Johnny Gargano to AEW in doubt after major signings

Hamish Woodward

johnny gargano aew

Johnny Gargano has been quiet since his exit from WWE, but the rumour mill has not stopped linking him to a move to AEW. The former AEW Champion left WWE after years as the face of NXT in December 2021, and was followed shortly by his wife Candice LaRae.

The former NXT Champion was offered a new WWE deal before his release but opted against it. He had achieved all he could in NXT and was wary of the treatment he may receive on the main roster based on his style of wrestling and his size. Vince McMahon famously dislikes smaller wrestlers.

After rejecting the deal with WWE, Johnny Gargano decided to take a break from wrestling rather than signing for another company. With his wife just having given birth to their first child, Quill Gargano, he wanted to take some time off to be with his wife and child after decades on the road trying to make it as a professional wrestler.

The couple welcomed Quill Gargano into the world on February 17th 2022, with LaRae leaving the company on May 6th 2022 when he WWE contract expired, whilst also on maternity leave. The duo have not been spotted at a wrestling event since their releases, although that could soon be set to change.

Johnny Gargano was reportedly ‘heavily considering‘ signing with AEW after his WWE departure, although he eventually decided to take a leave of absence from the business to care for his wife and child.

However, it looks like the ship may have sailed for the man known as “Johnny Wrestling”. Whilst he may have had ambitions of joining AEW when he was released from WWE in 2021, AEW has since moved on and signed a number of other talents in the meantime.

Johnny Gargano to AEW

Since Johnny Gargano left WWE in December 2021, AEW have signed the likes of Jeff Hardy, Keith Lee, Danhausen and Swerve Strickland, just to name a few. This leaves the AEW midcard and main event scene more crowded and leaves there less room for him to break through and be a featured member of the AEW roster.

AEW already struggles with fitting everybody into their jam-packed TV shows. Johnny Gargano in AEW would struggle to get passed the likes of Adam Page and CM Punk into the main event, and would be positioned behind Adam Cole in the pecking order, as he was for so long in NXT.

On the Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer that AEW may be rethinking signing Johnny Gargano. On the radio show, Meltzer claimed;

“At one point him as a free agent going to AEW seemed like a no-brainer but the AEW roster has so many people as compared to the TV time they have to focus on.”

“I think coming right off his contract expiring he’d have been considered a hot signee, and obviously he’s a very talented wrestler who can have great matches and has a name from NXT. He very possibly could be a top guy in Impact and one would think they’d hire him, but there’s a lot less money there.”

While he could return to WWE or sign for Impact, another option could be for him to sign for Ring of Honor. With a potential ROH return to TV (or streaming service), they will need stars to help carry the roster alongside the likes of Samoa Joe, Jonathan Gresham and Jay Lethal.

Johnny Gargano would immediately slot in perfectly as a top star in the promotion. While he would not break through in AEW, I could see Johnny Wrestling being the man to take down Gresham to win the ROH Championship and launch a title reign that can make even his legendary run as NXT Champion.

However, at the moment it is all just speculation. He nor Candice LaRae have confirmed where they will be wrestling in the near future, although Gargano did make an appearance on AEW’s Sammy Guevara’s vlog in the past few weeks.

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