Johnny Gargano has revealed that there was almost a contract option which would see talent allowed to wrestle independent shows whilst being contracted to NXT, and that it was a deal he could have had alongside Tommaso Ciampa and Samoa Joe.
Samoa Joe’s second run in NXT didn’t go anywhere nearly as well as many would have expected. Being brought back at the behest of Triple H shortly after his initial release in April 2021, he quickly rose to the top of the mountain by being Karrion Kross for the NXT Championship in September. However, he immediately vacated the belt, with it later emerging he had returned a positive COVID-19 test and the company decided to move in a different direction.
Alongside William Regal and Road Dogg, Samoa Joe was released for the second time as part of the releases made on 5th January 2022.
Speaking to Renee Paquette on The Sessions, former NXT Champion Johnny Gargano firstly discussed how he was brought in to the company, but then mentioned that there was almost a contract which would have seen wrestlers allowed to work on independent shows whilst being contracted to the company, but the deal which would have seen Samoa Joe allowed to do the same was stopped by legal.
I was very lucky. Obviously, from the time I started, until the time I ended in NXT, things were vastly different. When I first started, I was brought in as an extra, me and Tommaso, our story has been told a million times, but literally, we had a tryout where we were told, ‘No, there isn’t a spot for you in NXT, but we might be doing this Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Tournament that maybe we will put you guys in for like a one-off.’
So we did the Dusty Classic, it went well, and William Regal was, obviously, a big liaison for us that would always try to get us on the show every week because he knew there was potential there. He knew what he had in us. Every week, I had to either text William Regal or text the writer at the time, Ryan Ward, and say, ‘Hey, are we going to be used?’ They’re like, ‘Yeah, will bring you down for another extra spot.’
We would always hear this thing like, ‘Maybe we’ll give you this weird contract, where you can still do indies and we will also have you do NXT,’ like when that was being discussed at the time,” he said. “[Samoa] Joe was gonna be under it when he was initially brought in. It was a weird thing that never ended up happening because legal was like, ‘Wait a minute, what are we doing here? We can’t do this.
Johnny Gargano, who has since left NXT as well, sent a heartfelt message to William Regal when he was released in January. Regal has now emerged in AEW to manage Bryan Danielson and Jon Moxley.
With thanks to Fightful for the transcription.