Locked and Loaded: Machine Gun Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows Tease Return to Japan

anderson and gallows

Returning to his “Machine Gun” nickname on Twitter, Karl Anderson released a video teasing a return to Japan (which was retweeted by Doc Gallows), where he is known for his time in New Japan Pro Wrestling, as a founding member and former leader of Bullet Club.

When the coronavirus first hit and shut down all major sports with it, wrestling somehow prevailed. And while other companies needed to stop running live events, WWE opted to use the resources at their disposal including a home arena in the Performance Center, to continue business somewhat as usual. When Florida, the state where the Performance Center is located, went into a period of quarantine, WWE found itself classified as an “essential business,” allowed to continue operating live events on a weekly basis. The world was shutting down around it and yet somehow, someway Vince McMahon and co. pressed on, for the most part, unaffected by COVID-19.

But then Black Wednesday happened.

No one could have seen it coming. The company that just a few months ago had been refusing to grant releases out of concern the talent would immediately sign elsewhere, issued walking papers to over 20 wrestlers, representing all brands, likely as a result of the financial hit they have been taking due to the virus. Some names were to be expected such as those like No Way Jose, Sarah Logan, and EC3. Others represented people who requested or teased wanting to be released prior such as Rusev and Mike Kanellis. And then there were some still that seem surprising, including the releases of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, both of whom had just signed new five year deals last July.

There was a point in time a year ago when rumors of Gallows and Anderson leaving WWE to perhaps return to NJPW or join their friends in All Elite Wrestling, were picking up steam. It was reported in March 2019, that the duo had turned down new deals, and that seemed like curtains for their WWE careers. While negotiations were ongoing, most believed that the former Bullet Club tag team would be heading elsewhere for the next stage of their careers. But by the summer, that was all put to rest as the Good Brothers chose to re-sign five-year deals for reportedly a decent chunk of change. As Dave Meltzer said at the time on Wrestling Observer Radio, “WWE is making even bigger offers than people think and that was one of them”, adding that “everyone knows it was ($500,000) they turned down, so you can do the math from there.”

Shortly after they re-signed, Gallows and Anderson reunited with AJ Styles and together the trio began calling themselves the OC – the official, the original, the only club that matters. It was a nod to their previous WWE incarnation, the Club, but more prevalently to that of Bullet Club, the faction all three men once occupied together in Japan. And now, it would seem that at least one of the OGs of Bullet Club is planning his return back to where it all began. On Thursday, Anderson, who changed his Twitter handle to reflect his old “Machine Gun” nickname, tweeted out a video that had a simple message. The 19-second video traveled from Santa Monica, California to Tokyo, Japan and ended with the words Machine Gun on the screen as the sound of staccato shots being fired were heard. Gallows himself has not tweeted out anything related to his next move aside from revealing new Good Brothers merch and retweeting Anderson’s tweet. At this stage in their careers, it is hard to imagine Gallows and Anderson not moving forward as a unit, because while the two didn’t debut in WWE or NJPW at the same time, their careers are tied through their tag team and all the success that came with it.

The Gallows/Anderson pairing began in NJPW in November 2013 when Gallows joined the company. Anderson had been with NJPW for five years prior, joining the company in 2008 and carving out quite the impressive career, both as a tag team wrestler and as a singles star. His team with Giant Bernard, Bad Intentions, still stands as the longest-reigning and most successful tag team of all time. Additionally, Anderson won the IWGP Tag Team Championships four-times, the Pro Wrestling NOAH GHC Tag Team Championship once, the World Tag/G1 Tag League thrice, and enjoyed a period in 2012 where he rarely lost a match. As a singles wrestler, Anderson reached the G1 Climax finals in 2011, his debut in the tournament, as well as picked up some huge wins against IWGP Heavyweight Champions, Shinsuke Nakamura and Hiroshi Tanahashi. It was his feud with Tanahashi that would lay the groundwork for Anderson’s heel turn and allegiance with Bad Luck Fale, Prince Devitt and Tama Tonga to create Bullet Club in May 2013.

When Gallows joined NJPW in November 2013, he was immediately paired with Anderson as a member of Bullet Club and the two clicked from day one. They were entered into the World Tag League and won and a few months later, they won the IWGP Tag Team Championship for the first time (Anderson’s second time overall), and went on to hold the belts for exactly one year. During their 365-day reign, which still stands as the fourth-longest (Anderson and Giant Bernard’s reign of 564 days is the longest) of all-time, the duo successfully defended the title six times. Also during this reign, in April, following Prince Devitt leaving NJPW for WWE, Anderson briefly assumed leadership of Bullet Club in Japan, while AJ Styles was seen as the leader in the U.S./Ring of Honor. The following year, Styles took over the entire reigns as Gallows and Anderson spent much of the year winning the tag titles on and off. By the time the duo left Japan in 2016, Gallows and Anderson had become three-time IWGP Tag Team Champions, with reigns totaling over 600 days. Beyond this, they had left a legacy as one of the best gaijin teams to ever wrestle for the company.

Much like Devitt a few years prior, all roads led to WWE for Styles, Gallows and Anderson, the latter two of whom wrestled their final NJPW match in February. Styles had joined WWE in January, debuting at the Royal Rumble. By April, having been two of few wrestlers to bypass NXT, the Good Brothers debuted as a duo in WWE. This time, it was Gallows who had carved out a career prior to Anderson as he had a run in WWE as several different gimmicks including most prominently Festus and then Luke Gallows.

 

On April 11th, 2016, Gallows and Anderson, known as the Club, made their debut. The two went on to spend four years with WWE, experiencing a run filled with peaks and valleys, but more of the latter than the former. Initially aligned with Styles, Gallows and Anderson experienced some of their best moments in the company, enjoying first a feud with the Bloodline, the trio of the Usos and Roman Reigns, and then proceeding to #BeatUpJohnCena. But despite the trio seeming to be on a strong run, WWE opted to break-up the Club early on during the brand split draft, sending Styles to SmackDown as a solo act and keeping Gallows and Anderson on Raw, where they entered into a feud with New Day over the tag titles.

The Club remained at the top of the tag title scene into 2017 and at the Royal Rumble kick-off show, they defeated the Bar to win their first tag titles in WWE. Gallows and Anderson held the titles until WrestleMania 33, at which point they dropped them to the returning Hardy Boyz. From that point on, there really wasn’t much to be had for the Club. By June, the Good Brothers found themselves with their TV time dwindled and began periodically working Main Event, WWE’s C show. Kicking off the following year, Gallows and Anderson enjoyed a much anticipated, albeit brief reunion with another former Bullet Club running mate and creator of the faction in Japan, Finn Balor FKA Prince Devitt. It seemed there was new direction for the boys, but the Balor reunion ended quickly as Gallows and Anderson were moved to SmackDown and managed to wrestle just six televised matches and one PPV in all of 2018.

In 2019, the Good Brothers returned to Raw and once again reunited with Styles, encouraging the then-babyface to return to his Bullet Club persona, to be more aggressive and to find that killer instinct again. Newly aligned with Styles and newly signed to longterm deals with WWE, Gallows and Anderson defeated the Revival to win their second tag titles with the company. In October, the OC won the Tag Team World Cup at Crown Jewel before making their NXT in-ring debut a month later as part of the build to Survivor Series. The OC managed to pick up a fair amount of wins, largely in trios matches where Styles was the lead. This continued into 2020 as Gallows and Anderson seemingly became seconds to Styles, accompanying him to the ring but so rarely wrestling. The two wrestled just two televised matches in 2020, primarily performing on Main Event. In fact, while their last appearance as beside Styles was in the Boneyard Match at WrestleMania 36, their last in-ring action came on a March episode of Main Event.

In some ways, it’s almost fitting that Gallows and Anderson’s WWE careers ended with a match on the C show and an appearance alongside Styles. In some ways, that largely sums up the four-year tenure of the Good Brothers in WWE. It had its moments, but for the most part, their run has always felt like it was missing something, always felt like there should have been more of a use of the Bullet Club, whether or not WWE used the name. Gallows and Anderson were never paired with Balor, save for a few matches, something that felt like a missed opportunity, and their stuff with Styles only focused on the Phenomenal One. Gallows and Anderson were merely supporting acts, even if they did enjoy two tag title reigns that lasted a combined, just 84 days.

Now though, the Good Brothers are free agents and if these tweets are foreshadowing of what’s to come, they’ll be returning to NJPW where Bullet Club’s Tama Tonga seems ready to accept the BCOGs back home with open arms.

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.