Monday, September 5, 2011

13 Questions With: Johnny Gargano

I recently had the chance to interview Johnny Gargano, known best for his runs with Dragon Gate USA and EVOLVE, along with Chikara, AIW and other promotions. DG USA returns this coming weekend for a series of shows scheduled in the Midwest. Friday, September 9th they debut in Indianapolis, Saturday, September 10th they return to Chicago and iPPV (which you can buy right here: and they wrap the triple shot up on September 11th in Milwaukee. Thanks to Johnny Gargano and Dragon Gate USA.

1. How does it feel to you to be known as a “Homegrown Star” for Dragon Gate USA?

I consider it an honor. I feel like that "tagline" couldn't be more true. Having been in the first match in DGUSA history, on the preshow, FRAY! I feel like I've grown a ton. I can really attribute my development to working with some of the absolute best talent in the world in Dragon Gate USA. It really makes you step your game up night in and night out.

2. I’ve read that Colt Cabana suggested to you to reach out to Gabe Sapolsky as the plans for DG USA were coming together. What were your hopes based on that lead and did you ever expect it to lead you to where you are today?

Never. The initial conversation with Colt went something like this.. "COLT: Have you talked to Gabe yet? ME: Gabe?..." I had no clue Gabe would even be interested in someone like me. So I was pretty taken aback when Colt told me to email him, and say that "Colt sent ya". I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason though. I think that's a prefect example of that, man. The stars just aligned.. BUT even at the first DGUSA show, If you would of came up to me and said "Johnny, I'm from the future, you're going to do THIS, THIS AND THIS.. in DGUSA" and be where I'm at today... 1. I'd think you were on a copious amount of drugs as you said you're from the future. 2. I wouldn't have believed it for a second.

3. Can you talk about the origins of Ronin? Did you know when you started the angle with CIMA, asking for a chance in Warriors, that it would lead to the Ronin faction forming with Chuck Taylor & Rich Swann?

Eventually, I did. I was really excited about it too. I wasn't TOO familiar with Rich Swann, but I trusted Gabe's vision. I was excited to work with Chuck though, as we have alot of the same personality traits and I feel we play off each other very well. I liken us to DX when I heard the initial idea.. I'm Shawn Michaels (DUH!) Chuck is HHH and Rich Swann is Chyna.

4. Ronin feels like a very organic faction, in the sense that you all fit so well together and it does not come across as forced in the least bit. Aside from the individual talents of you and your stablemates, what do you attribute that to?

After getting to know Rich some, he's a very exciting, charismatic dude! As you can tell... I feel not just our "wrestling personalities" but our "real life" personalities all mesh really well. We have the same sense of humor, and we all get along pretty well. You have too, when you spend 3 weeks in Japan with one another, Ha!

5. You arguably broke out against CIMA in a singles bout at “Enter The Dragon 2010” in Philadelphia. That was possibly the beginning of the Ronin-Blood Warriors feud that has been heating up DG USA and in Japan as well. What has this feud meant to you and what time of final match or “faction warfare” will bring it to an end?

The feud has really elevated me, not just in the fans eyes, but in the ring as well. Going into that match, I wanted it to be "THE match" that fans can look at and say "WOW! That guy can go!".. I was happy with the match, and it inadvertantly started the angle, but it wasn't what I wanted it to be. I truly feel I got the match I was looking for when I took CIMA on again at Open The Southern Gate (which of course you can watch now at WWNLIVE.COM.. PLUG!)... That match was a war, man. Something I'm really proud of. Coming from a guy who hates all of his matches, and is his own worst critic, that's saying something!

6. Talk a bit about your first tour of Dragon Gate in Japan. What was it like to work in Japan with some of the same guys you’d worked with him DG USA and in front of a new audience? What was the highlight of that tour, both professionally and personally?

The highlight of the tour was just getting the tour to begin with! Ha. My goal has always been to work in Japan. Chris Jericho is a huge idol of mine, and I pattern a lot of my career after his. So to find out that my tour was going to start in Korakuen Hall and end in Sumo Hall (Which is what Jericho did on one of his first tours) really blew my mind. Plus... Jericho actually Tweeted me "Good Luck, Have a great tour, and work SOLID!!!!!" which was something I personally "marked out" for! The crowds are a lot different then in the states. They treat wrestlers like superstars over there. The way we treat NFL players, or movie stars, are how they treat the wrestlers. It was quite the culture shock.

7. You debuted “The Gargano Escape,” which has been a pretty dominant finisher in DG USA, earlier this year. What are the origins for that move and how does it feel to have tapped out some pretty big names from Dragon Gate?

I wanted something new. I've always been a fan of submission style finishes.. So I went to someone, who I feel is without a doubt, one of the most knowledgable technical wrestlers in the world, Alex Shelley. He's always been like a big brother to me, and helped me out a ton. I asked him for some idea, and the it came up that maybe I should start using a variation of his old "Border City Stretch"...which he was all for. So he pretty much handed the move down to me.. which is huge. I have SO much respect for that guy and for him to think that highly of me, is an honor.

8. You were scheduled to face Naruki Doi in Atlanta over WrestlerMania weekend, in what likely would have been your biggest singles match to date in Dragon Gate USA. However, when Ricochet got hurt, Doi was re-positioned and you faced Jimmy Rave instead. Were you disappointed in that and how did you change your mindset from opposing Doi to Rave?

Naruki Doi, since day one in DGUSA is someone I've always wanted to wrestle. His match with Danielson is one of my favorites. I feel like our styles would really mesh well together. I was super excited for the match.. but understood the situation. I was pumped that I was going to be able to wrestle Jimmy though, he's super motivated right now, and really good! I feel we put on a cool little match, that was really different then anything else in DGUSA.

9. Now, you are scheduled to finally get that one on one match with Naruki Doi on September 11th in Milwaukee. Thoughts on that match-up finally happening, especially after your strong performance at the 2nd Anniversary Show in NYC, where you seemingly have the number of almost any Blood Warriors competitor?

It seems like that doesn't it? I'm still excited! The anticipation is building. The fans of Milwaukee were a pleasure to wrestle in front of last year, after everything that went down, so I'm glad they're getting the match. I sat in the balcony of the very first DGUSA show in awe of Shingo/Doi's match. I always dreamt of being able to be as good as those guys. Now I get my chance to see how far I've come.. It's a test, (one) I'm truly looking forward too, and feel i'm ready for.

10. Also coming up on the next Dragon Gate USA tripleshot, you are scheduled to meet Junction Three’s YAMATO & Masato Yoshino as you team with Chuck Taylor in Indianapolis and then Akira Tozawa in singles in another chapter of the Ronin-Blood Warriors feud in Chicago. How do you prepare for those matches and does your approach change at based on who you are scheduled against?

The tag match is special because I get another shot against Yamato. He's one of the best wrestlers in the world right now, and a worthy Open The Freedom Gate champion.. He's the guy right now. I want to show the world that I can hang with "the guy" in DGUSA. If you've watched Independent wrestling at all this year, you're a fan of Akira Tozawa.. How can you not be? The guy brings it. I'm sure we're going to bring out the best in each other and put on one heck of an encounter for the fans in Chicago. The little added dimension of Tozawa now joining Blood Warriors adds fuel to the fire.

11. You’ve had a pretty impressive 12 months, not just in DG USA, but EVOLVE, Chikara, AIW against Bryan Danielson and more. Is 2011 the Year of Gargano? What other goals exist for you?

Well Thank You. I just try to stay humble, man. I've reached a lot of goals this year, had a lot of incredible opportunities, and awesome moments that will live with me forever. Like I said earlier though, I'm my own worst critic.. I think I'm okay, but I can get tons better. When you become complacent is when you fail.

12. What are your favorite memories of pro wrestling as you were growing up? What promotions did you follow? What wrestlers were your favorites and why?

I was a big WWF fan. I did enjoy the WCW cruiserweights though. My Mom always made me costumes, and I'd dress and act like my favorite wrestlers. Some of the costumes I had growing up were...
-Shawn Michaels (Of course! Even though I was dressed like an 8 year old stripper.
-Rocky Maivia's head dress thingy he used to wear (Yep.)
-Bret Harts jacket.
-Stone Colds vest.
-Homemade Psychosis, Rey Mysterio Jr, Juventud masks.

I also walked around and acted like Dean Malenko (grab yours wrists and crack your neck) and Chris Benoit (pretty much the same thing...) on most days. I'm probably the only kid who can say such.

13. Is there anything you want fans to know about you, places they can see you live, or where they can reach you to buy your new t-shirt?

Where ever you see me, I can guarantee you're going to get all I have. I don't believe in "taking days off". The last DGUSA Triple Shot, I seperated my shoulder a week or two before, and was in an incredible amount of pain.. I taped it up and still went out there and tried to my darndest to give people there monies worth and steal the show. We all love wrestling. Just please Support Indy Wrestling. A lot of guys work really hard. You can find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @JohnnyGargano - Buy my new shirt! It's super cool! Let's start a revolution with it! Email me at about it!

Don't forget to check out Dragon Gate USA this weekend, whether live in Indianapolis, Chicago or Milwaukee. Go to for more info. Again, you can order this Saturday nights show on iPPV, with YAMATO defending the Open the Freedom Gate Title against CIMA in a rivalry where each man holds only 1 win over the other, the next chapter in the PAC-Ricochet feud is written and SABU debuts, right here:

Thanks for reading and checking out Two Spot Monkeys!

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