Johnny Gargano, more famously known by his nickname Johnny Wrestling, is a WWE superstar performing on the NXT brand as of WrestleMania 34 weekend. He was born on August 14th, 1987. His first exposure to the real world of professional wrestling was when he rolled around the ring at the age of eight at Cleveland All-Pro Wrestling(CAPW).
He would train to become a pro-wrestler at the age of 16, under CAPW's school, where J.T. Lightning and Josh Prohibition were his trainers. After some time in CAPW and Absolute Intense Wrestling, Gargano made his first appearance for WWE on March 27th, 2007, when he debuted as Cedric Von Haussen, an enhancement talent losing to MVP.
His following two appearances would be one in NXT as a security guard and another as an enhancement talent, facing Brodus Clay. Gargano's contribution to the independent wrestling scene cannot be understated. He's a well-respected veteran on the indie scene, where he's performed for promotions such as Chikara, Prime Wrestling, Dragon Gate USA(And in Japan), EVOLVE, and perhaps most significantly, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla(PWG).
During his time with these promotions, he's crossed paths with many current(and some former) WWE superstars, such as Tommaso Ciampa, Sami Callihan, Mustafa Ali, The Brian Kendrick, Rich Swann, Kalisto, Akira Tozawa, Ricochet, Austin Aries and Kassius Ohno, among others.
He briefly appeared for Dragon Gate, with him not spending much of his career in Japan as several independent veterans have. In PWG, he crossed paths with the likes of Kevin Owens(then known as Kevin Steen) and Roderick Strong. He and Tommaso Ciampa had teamed up to take on The Young Bucks for the PWG Tag Team championships but were unsuccessful.
2015 was the year that Johnny Gargano finally began to see the light in his WWE career. While he appeared in NXT tapings, his first significant moment was teaming up with Tommaso Ciampa(pre-DiY) for the inaugural Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, losing in the second round to eventual runners-up Rhyno
& Baron Corbin. While he mostly served as an enhancement talent, he was still positively received by the NXT Universe. Up until March 2016, he worked under a 'Tier-2' contract, which allowed him to wrestle in the independents while also having to make WWE commitments when asked to. He and Ciampa were both under this contract.
It was only on April 2nd, 2016 that WWE officially announced that Gargano and Ciampa were both signed to the company full-time. It wasn't too long in that Ciampa and Gargano would team up to form "#DiY"(Do It Yourself). An acclaimed tag team, the duo gelled together instantly and put on the most incredible series of matches during their NXT run. They first contended for the NXT Tag Team Championships at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II, where they were narrowly defeated by then-NXT tag champions The Revival in an instant classic.
DiY and The Revival proved just how far they could go when they challenged The Revival one more time for the NXT tag team titles, this time at Takeover: Toronto a few months later. With a 2-out-of-3 falls match, the two teams would go on to have a match that would be WWE's official match of the year in 2016. This time around, Ciampa and Gargano were successful in their attempt, not only winning the NXT Tag Team Championships but the hearts of the fans in the arena and everyone watching around the globe. Gargano and Ciampa winning the big one saw the audience in attendance erupt in a way that we've rarely ever seen.
Unfortunately for the duo, their tag team glory wouldn't last long, as they would drop the titles just two months later to the dominant, up-and-coming Authors Of Pain. Following an unsuccessful attempt in a rematch for the tag titles(also featuring The Revival), DiY was poised for one last chance at the titles. At NXT Takeover: Chicago, DiY and Authors of Pain became the first tag teams in NXT history to main event a Takeover special.
After a classic ladder match, DiY had once again fallen short in re-capturing their titles. As the distraught tag team walked to the back with the crowd fully behind them, Tommaso Ciampa turned on Gargano, brutally assaulting his partner and turning heel in the process. Unfortunately, their rivalry was unable to start as Ciampa suffered a tear to his right ACL, which kept him out of action until early 2018.
Now a singles star again, Gargano would feud with Andrade 'Cien' Almas, who he lost to two times in 2017 before earning an eventual NXT title match against him at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia, during Royal Rumble 2018 weekend. Gargano and Almas would main event Takeover and steal the show, earning WWE's first-ever 5-star match since CM Punk vs John Cena a Money In The Bank 2011 and WWE's sixth-ever 5-star match.
A returning Ciampa would rub salt in the wound when he returned after Gargano lost to Almas in the classic, attacking him with a crutch. He would also cost Gargano his NXT career when Gargano lost to Almas for the fourth time in a title vs career match on an episode of NXT.
Despite this, Gargano has always been beloved by the WWE Universe. Dubbed by many as the "next Daniel Bryan", Johnny Wrestling represents the "never-say-die" attitude, while his relatively smaller size has made him more relatable to fans. Outside the ring, Gargano is married to fellow-WWE superstar and indie-wrestling veteran Candice LeRae.
The couple got married on September 16th, 2016 at Disneyland. She made her WWE debut when she attacked Zelina Vega after jumping from the audience to ringside, evening the odds in Johnny Gargano's 5-star-classic match against Andrade 'Cien' Almas.