WWE: Johnny Gargano Makes Surprise Return, 2023 NXT Women’s Breakout Tournament Full Bracket, Brian Pillman Jr.

Johnny Gargano Makes Surprise Return at Monday’s WWE RAW Show

Monday’s WWE RAW show in San Jose, California featured Johnny Gargano making his surprise return from injury.

In the main event of the show, Gunther defeated Tommaso Ciampa to retain his Intercontinental Championship. Following the match, Imperium’s Ludwig Kaiser and Giovanni Vinci attacked Ciampa as Gunther walked to the back. Right as Gunther finally made his way to the backstage, Gargano’s music played and made a surprise appearance on the show. Gargano ran down to the ring to save Ciampa and fought off Kaiser and Vinci giving Ciampa enough time to recover and join in on Gargano’s attack on Imperium.

The show abruptly ended right before Gargano and Ciampa hit a Meeting in the Middle to Vinci and any potential post-brawl D.I.Y. reunion moment in the ring.

Prior to his return, Gargano had been out of action for WWE since this past April due to a shoulder-related injury.

WWE Announces Full Bracket for 2023 NXT Women’s Breakout Tournament

Monday’s WWE RAW show in San Jose also featured the official reveal of the full bracket for this year’s NXT Women’s Breakout Tournament, which starts on Tuesday’s episode of NXT.

The right side of the bracket features Kelani Jordan, Izzi Dame, Ariana Grace, and Jakara Jackson while the left side of the bracket features Karmen Petrovic, Jaida Parker, Dani Palmer, and Lola Vice.

This upcoming tournament will be the official televised WWE debuts for Dame, Petrovic, and Parker.

Full NXT Women’s Breakout Tournament 2023 First Round matches:

  • Kelani Jordan vs. Izzi Dame
  • Arianna Grace vs. Jakara Jackson
  • Karmen Petrovic vs. Jaida Parker
  • Dani Palmer vs. Lola Vice

USA Network Confirms Brian Pillman Jr. to Make NXT Debut Soon

As noted before, Brian Pillman Jr.’s contract with AEW expired this past July and recently signed an official contract with WWE. A vignette for Pillman Jr. teasing his upcoming WWE debut had aired during this past Tuesday’s NXT show.

USA Network, home network of WWE’s RAW and NXT and soon-to-be SmackDown series, recently released an article on their official website confirming that Pillman Jr. had signed an official contract with WWE and will be making his official debut soon for WWE’s NXT brand.

Brian Pillman, Jr. Appears in WWE’s NXT: Here’s Why Fans Should Be Excited

WWE has signed another world-class talent; here’s why Brian Pillman, Jr.’s heritage will propel him into stardom!

The rumors are true: Brian Pillman, Jr. is the latest pro wrestling prodigy to make the jump to WWE!

Following in the footsteps of megastar-in-the-making Jade Cargill is Pillman, Jr., who eagle-eyed members of the WWE Universe noticed making a blink-and-you-missed-it appearance during NXT No Mercy on September 30.

It’s yet another savvy signing by WWE as they pluck yet another aspiring Superstar away from the competition and welcome another world-class athlete to the WWE locker room. Here’s why the WWE Universe should be excited for the eventual in-ring debut of Brian Pillman, Jr.!

Who Is Brian Pillman, Jr.?

The video Pillman is shown watching in the above teaser is alluding to his heritage; he is the son of the late, great Brian Pillman, one of the most physically talented and unpredictable WWE Superstars of all time!

To put it simply, the youngster (Pillman, Jr. is only 30 years old) has WWE Superstar DNA running through his veins. Whereas many WWE Superstars have had children who attempted to follow in their footsteps (Ric Flair’s son David stands out as the most obvious example), none have had the physical tools Brian Pillman, Jr. has. Possessing arguably even more athletic ability than his father, he has all the tools necessary to become the next big thing in WWE.

The significance of WWE signing him is not lost on the wrestling world. Although Pillman showed off his rare talent during his time in other promotions, wrestling fans and critics alike always felt he would be better suited in a WWE ring. Polishing his skills in the Performance Center and getting in the ring against the up-and-coming talent in NXT for the foreseeable future will do wonders for his career, eventually setting the stage for a debut on the main roster.

Of course, Brian Pillman, Jr.’s name is one of the reasons WWE took an interest in signing him in the first place. His father tragically died in 1997 but left behind one of the most lasting legacies in wrestling history.

Who Was Brian Pillman In WWE?

Due to injuries suffered in a near-fatal automobile accident, the elder Pillman made a name for himself in WWE due to constantly being part of unhinged and shocking moments, not necessarily anything that happened inside the ring. Unfortunately, Pillman was on the wrong end of one of these moments during a 1996 episode of Monday Night Raw:

Moments like this led to him earning his WWE nickname of “The Loose Cannon” when, a few weeks later, he pulled a gun on Stone Cold when the latter invaded Pillman’s home! Never one to shy away from controversy, Brian Pillman’s WWE career was filled with controversy, and looking back, he was one of the flag bearers of the Attitude Era.

Before he signed with WWE (and before he had a short stint in ECW, filled with moments too extreme to link to here), Brian Pillman pioneered an entire wrestling style in WCW. Pillman was considered among the few Superstars to meld the Japanese high-flying style successfully with American light heavyweight action. To put it bluntly, Brian Pillman put the soon-to-be WCW cruiserweight division on the map:

Brian Pillman, Jr. represents the past, present, and future of wrestling. However, signing a WWE contract with such high expectations for your career can not always work out how a wrestler would like – just because your father was one of the most exciting Superstars ever doesn’t mean you are automatically granted that same spotlight. Like Jade Cargill, Brian Pillman, Jr. has to understand that the WWE represents the major leagues – the spotlight will never be brighter, but unfortunately, it can shine on low points just as much as the highlights.

For the WWE Universe, one question remains: Are the late Brian Pillman’s shoes too big to fill for his son? Will Brian Pillman, Jr. blaze his own trail? Or will the 30-year-old present the wrestling world with the best-case scenario: a WWE Superstar that is the total package, combining the best parts of his father’s legacy with his own unique in-ring style?

Regardless, Brian Pillman, Jr. just gave the world another reason to stay glued to NXT on Tuesday nights.