What does a cartoon dog from Australia have to do with pro wrestling? Apparently, a lot, as one wrestler displayed his love of a certain Blue Heeler while leaping off of a steel cage. It was the crossover I never knew I wanted, but now I can’t stop thinking about.
At WWE’s 13th annual Elimination Chamber event on February 18, championships were on the line, and storylines were readied for grand finales at Wrestlemania, their upcoming biggest show of the year. While every fan is talking about Sami Zayn and Roman Reigns, the ones in the know caught onto a special surprise, courtesy of Johnny Gargano.
I nearly did a spit take when I saw Gargano enter the arena dressed head-to-toe in a Bluey-inspired gear. From his signature vest to his tights and down to his kick pads, “Johnny Wrestling” was ready to make his opponents slip on their beans – for real life!
Along with five other competitors, Johnny battled for the US Championship in the titular Chamber match, a brutal high-risk update to the steel cage with more ways to hurt your opponents (and yourself). Even if you aren’t a WWE Fan, the athleticism shown off in this bout is astonishing, including this amazing spot from Gargano himself where he flew like Chunky Chimp off one of the chambers.
While that high spot stole the show, his ring gear turned heads across the internet. What does a pro wrestler know about Bluey? Turns out – a whole lot!
Days prior to the match, Gargano posted pics on Instagram with his wife and fellow wrestler Candace La Rae, throwing a Bluey-themed party to celebrate the one-year birthday of his son, Quill. Gargano and “The Poison Pixie” spared no Bluey reference, complete with games of “Pass the Parcel” and, yes – even a duck cake (which Candace impressively made herself).
No one expected Gargano to take that one step further with ring gear devoted to his child’s favorite show (and likely the same for Johnny and his wife). An Instagram post from designer Jonathan Davenport revealed some Easter Eggs about this outfit that will make you swoon over Johnny even more, including a hidden quill to represent the name of Gargano’s son (and also a subtle Featherwand reference).
It's worth noting that this current crop of WWE superstars doesn’t shy away from showing off their geek with outfits inspired by their favorite franchise. Zelina Vega wrestled in this year’s Royal Rumble dressed as Juri from the Street Fighter series, and The New Day make a regular habit of showcasing their nerd on their in-ring apparel, including anime and even Golden Girl homages. But this gear wasn’t just an adult showing off their geek cred – this was a Dad proudly telling the world he’s a Dad.
Gargano is a great example of positive masculinity in a dad. Here is a man wrestling in an enclosed chain-link ring, taking death-defying falls off this hellish structure while dressed like a character from a Disney cartoon. It can be embarrassing to be a Dad with a younger child, forced to watch insipid kids shows alongside them. But sometimes, you have to enjoy the ride and unabashedly roll with the punches to be a great parent.
We can’t all compete with Bandit, but Johnny Gargano seems like the kind of dad who would do Dance Mode in public and not even blush. That’s really all it takes – powerbombing the worry through a table and letting your inner kid shine. Immersing yourself in their interests and likes goes a long way in forming lifetime bonds with them. My Mom knew the names of all my G.I. Joe figures, and if your daughter likes Elsa, you already likely know how blue nail polish feels on your fingernails. Speaking of, if you’re the proud dad of a little girl, don’t be afraid to get her into wrestling, too. Gender means nothing when it comes to body slams and being an ultimate warrior!
Few of us have that grandest stage of them all, like Johnny, to share our fatherly pride with a worldwide audience, but the most important one is that child whose hand you hold every day. If a WWE wrestler can do it, what’s stopping you from being a world-champion dad, too?