Millennials, they say, are breaking down old barriers between white and black, straight and gay. Well, add one more obsolete divide: jocks vs. nerds.

Johnny Gargano, the 30-year-old professional wrestler with the WWE’s NXT brand, says he bonded with his wife of less than two years, fellow NXTer Candice LeRae, over their mutual love of all things geeky.

“I’m looking around our apartment, and there’s landspeeder there, there’s a lightsaber there, all kinds of ‘Star Wars’ stuff,” Gargano says. “I just went crazy on ‘Spider-Man’ the animated series, like old-school action figures from the early ’90s, I bought all those. So our apartment is glass cases filled with toys and helmets and things like that.

“EBay is very dangerous to me.”

NXT’s old-school vibe

Gargano will be in Phoenix on Sunday, July 29, for a live show at Comerica Theatre, along with his wife and his nemesis, the bushy-bearded NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa (long storyline there, folks).

World Wrestling Entertainment launched NXT in 2010 as a developmental territory in Florida, but the league has grown into a third brand alongside “Raw” and “SmackDown” — although you can still only watch NXT on the WWE Network, the company’s streaming service.

Wrestling fans have been drawn to NXT for its old-school vibe, which Gargano says reminds him of his days on the independent wrestling circuit.

“Some of the most hardcore, nitty-gritty fans in the world are independent-wrestling fans, and I think a lot of those came with us to NXT,” he says.

Gargano fell in love with wrestling, and with geek culture, at a young age. He first got into the ring at age 8, at an event held in the parking lot behind his dad’s catering business. And he was 16 when he had his first pro match.

“Being a Power Ranger or being a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle weren’t real-life jobs that I could do, but I could be a professional wrestler,” he says.

How he met Candice LeRae

He was still working the independent circuit when he met LeRae at an event in California.

“I remember she brought her cousin to the back, and they were just hanging out talking, and I decided I was going to try to get to her by talking to her cousin about her cellphone,” he says. “It didn’t really work that well, but we developed a friendship.”

Gargano and LeRae: Nerds at heart

Adding to the couple’s geek credentials, they married Sept. 16, 2016, at Disneyland.

And no, the toys aren’t all his. Take the aforementioned landspeeder, for example.

“Toys‘R’Us was going out of business, and my wife wanted one of the landspeeders. And I was like, ‘I don’t think you’re going to fit in it,’ because it’s for little kids. But she’s like, ‘No, I only weigh like 110 pounds, I can definitely fit in that.’ So I said, ‘OK, if it gets slashed to 50 percent off,’ I’ll go buy you one of those little-kid landspeeders that you can drive around our apartment.

“And she actually does.”

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When: 5 p.m. Sunday, July 29.

Where: Comerica Theatre, 400 W. Washington St., Phoenix.

Admission: $20.

Details: 602-379-2800,

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