Johnny Gargano signed a deal with WWE in 2015 and - after rising to the top of the tag team division as part of DIY - successfully transitioned into a single career. Gargano was the first NXT Triple Crown winner in the company's history, having held the NXT North American Championship three times, not forgetting the NXT Championship and the tag team belt.
In a long interview granted to Sony Sports India, Johnny discussed how Shawn Michaels - a member of the Hall of Fame and one of the best performers of all time - played a fundamental role in his career development.
Johnny Gargano on Shawn Michaels
“Shawn Michaels is the reason I got into this business.
He was my favorite wrestler when I was a kid, I danced around my house to 'S*xy Boy' every single day. I dressed like him in several Halloween editions. The picture of him was on my birthday cake and my mom painted it on the wall in my room.
Being able to work with him on NXT and see him regularly is a dream come true. There will never be anyone like him, I can assure you” - said Johnny Gargano, who described his first meeting with HBK. "The first time I met him was for an autograph session when I was very young.
I was still in high school and I went to him, we took a picture together and I managed to tell him he was my hero. He thanked me. That was the first time I met him officially. The first time I saw him in a wrestling environment was instead at the Performance Center.
Tommaso Ciampa and I met him just before a workout, he was walking along the same corridor we were in. Tommaso and I looked at each other and we understood that it was time to get serious,” he commented. The Wednesday Night Wars between AEW and WWE NXT came to an end in April following the Black and Gold brand's move to Tuesdays.
AEW clearly came out victorious despite the earnest efforts of Triple H and his team. NXT made several changes along the way to get ahead in the TV rating and viewership battle. "One of the reasons the ring entrances have been cut back on as far as time on the NXT TV show is Shawn Michaels felt that long ring entrances gave the viewers more time to check out AEW," Dave Meltzer reported.