WWE News: Former Champion Recalls Early WWE Appearance As An Elf

Johnny Gargano celebrates a victory at an NXT event

Per 411Mania, Johnny Gargano recently appeared on Lilian Garcia’s Chasing Glory podcast to discuss his career. During the interview, he recalled his days as an extra for WWE whenever they came to Cleveland, including one story that saw him having to dress up as an elf.

According to Gargano, he was asleep when he got the call from WWE requesting his appearance to compete against MVP on an episode of SmackDown Live. Fortunately for Gargano, though, his mother was able to wake up him before the event started and get him to the show on time. He packed his ring gear assuming that it would be just a regular match, but upon arriving at his destination, he learned that WWE had more fantastical ideas in mind for him that night.

“[The producer] introduces me to MVP and we talk a little bit. And they’re like ‘Okay, now we’re going to take you to wardrobe.’ I’m like, ‘Wardrobe, that’s weird. I’ve got my own gear, I don’t need anything.’ But they take me to the wardrobe area and said, ‘Here’s your gear,’ and it’s an elf costume. This Keebler elf-looking [thing.] Cedric Von Haussen, ‘You’re the champion of Liechtenstein, that’s what’s going on. Your name is Cedric Von Haussen, and I need you to wear this [costume].'”

Johnny Gargano takes on Aleister Black

Gargano also revealed that MVP kicked him so hard during the match that he burst his nose open. After the match, though, Vince McMahon was thrilled with his efforts and congratulated him.

In the years that have passed since his days as Von Haussen, Gargano has become one of the hottest talents in the entire industry. He’s one of the most popular superstars on NXT, having been a part of a critically acclaimed feud against former tag team partner Tomasso Ciampa and winning the top championship. His match against Andrade in 2018 also received a five star rating from Dave Meltzer.


After the last NXT TakeOver show, it was widely assumed that Gargano was making his way to Monday Night Raw or SmackDown Live. As The Inquisitr recently reported, however, he plans on remaining a part of the black and gold brand for the foreseeable future as it airs on the USA Network.

It’s not uncommon for superstars to work as enhancement talents and portray embarrassing gimmicks early on in their careers, and Gargano appears to have fond memories of his time as an elf. He accepted what was given to him, made the best of it, impressed WWE officials, paid his dues on the independent circuit afterwards, and now he’s an important member of the WWE roster.