Johnny Gargano started his professional wrestling career in 2005, working for the Cleveland All–Pro Wrestling (CAPW) promotion. Over the following years, Gargano worked for some of the top promotions on the American independent circuit, including Chikara, Dragon Gate USA (DGUSA), Evolve and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG).
Titles Gargano held include the Chikara Campeonatos de Parejas, the Evolve Tag Team Championship and DGUSA's Open the Freedom Gate Championship, which he held twice with his first reign lasting a record 873 days. During his independent days, Gargano also made appearances for national promotions Ring of Honor (ROH) and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA).
After making sporadic appearances for WWE early in his career, Gargano took part in the company's tryout camp in June 2015. Afterwards, he began appearing regularly for NXT, eventually signing a contract in April 2016.
He formed a tag team, #DIY, with Tommaso Ciampa, and held the NXT Tag Team Championship once. During a long interview with PWInsider, Gargano reflected on working with Tommaso Ciampa in front of a larger audience: “A much larger audience.
Yeah, I know. It’s nuts man. Like I said, this is what me and Tommaso dreamed of a long, long time ago. Because not only was I told no on my tryout, Tommaso was also told no at his tryout. We were told no together. We were sharing a hotel room that whole tryout loop.
We teamed together. We wrestled each other on that tryout thing. We were brought to the Dusty Classic without contracts together. We’ve been through this whole story together. We kicked that door in together. And like you said ,now like I think there is no worries anymore of “Oh, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa are great in NXT.
What’s going to happen when they go up? I don’t know. I’m not going to get emotionally invested because I don’t know what’s going to happen”. I think now NXT as a standalone product, it can be such a longer based story now that we can tell because there isn’t a concern of “They’re going to pluck them away and they’re gone now”.