By now, most fans reading this have heard the reports that Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows have apparently turned down new multi-million dollar deals with the WWE. While they could just be bargaining for better conditions prior to committing, as The Revival did, they could also be looking to end their careers elsewhere in a more substantial role than what WWE is providing the platform for. But for many WWE-only fans, the reaction was somewhat blasé. They only knew them from their two-year tenure with the WWE and thanks largely to the WWE’s portrayal of them, they’re about as sad a departure as The Ascension would be. But to those who followed the duo to the WWE from New Japan Pro Wrestling and beyond, to the US indies of the early 2000s, it was a somewhat welcomed sigh of relief that the two could have one more ride together to remind the world what they could truly do. Here’s a look at two Good Brothers journeys and how all roads led to Japan.
Karl Anderson was trained by Les Thatcher at Heartland Wrestling Association (HWA) in Ohio in 2002 and he spent the next few years working the strong Ohio independents. In 2005, he moved to Los Angeles, where he enrolled in the New Japan Dojo at the time and worked with NWA indies in the area. It was there in 2007 that he was teamed with Joey Ryan and first met future stablemates The Young Bucks, and found his way to Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG).
In 2008, he made his Ring of Honor debut, but on an NWA talent exchange that year, he took part in the New Japan Cup. Based on his performance, he was signed by NJPW, relocating to Japan. It was in New Japan that he was given the name “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson (he’d wrestled as Chad Allegra prior), and became a “cousin” from the legendary Anderson “family” that included Arn, Ole, and Gene. Initially joining Great Bash Heel, he would jump ship to CHAOS, where he formed Bad Intentions alongside Giant Bernard (former WWE Superstar Albert and NXT Head Trainer Matt Bloom). The duo captured the IWGP Tag Team Championships, only disbanding when Bernard returned to the WWE in 2012 (where he returned as Lord Tensei).
Following Bad Intentions demise, Anderson went on his first major singles run of his career and became a crowd favorite, even defeating a villainous Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Which is why it was so shocking to see Anderson turn heel on Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestling Dontaku 2013 and joined other recent turns Prince Devitt (WWE’s Finn Balor), Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga in a new outlaw stable known as Bullet Club.
It was there that he would find his future running mate, a North American journeyman who was looking for a reboot of his own.
Luke “Doc” Gallows
Luke Gallows got his start a year after Anderson, but while Anderson was working Ohio, Gallows was getting his start in the Southern indies as Big Slam in North Carolina’s Southern Championship Wrestling (SCW), West Virginia’s Mason-Dixon Wrestling, and others. In 2005, he auditioned for the $1,000,000 Tough Enough series for the WWE but despite not making the final cut for television, he was signed to developmental and sent to Deep South Wrestling (DSW), where he became “The Freakin’ Deacon” Dorian Deville.
He had his first main roster debut as the imposter Kane in a segment, but thankfully his career went better than Brian Lee‘s after impersonating Kane’s “brother”. But a year later, he officially debuted on SmackDown as a mindlessly quiet brute named Festus, the companion of a Southern boy named Jesse (portrayed by Ray Gordy, the real-life son of Fabulous Freebird Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy). Their gimmick was that every time Festus heard the bell ring, he would go into a frenzy and clear out the ring. It actually began to develop a cult following, largely in part to Festus’ character work.
In 2009, the idea had run its course and Festus was drafted to Raw separately from Jesse. It was soon discovered that Jesse had been medicating Festus and once the drugs wore off, Festus joined CM Punk‘s new Straight Edge Society as Luke Gallows (Festus was his drug slave name). Once the SES had helped push CM Punk further in his own ascension, the group was disbanded and in 2010, he was released from the WWE.
Gallows returned to the indies, but in 2011 he joined TNA/IMPACT Wrestling. He joined as part of the Aces & Eights gang storyline, as the biker enforcer D.O.C., which stood for Director of Chaos. He remained a part of IMPACT until 2013But when the Aces & Eights storyline had run its course.
But it didn’t take Gallows as long as last time to find work. Soon after his release, he was signed by NJPW and was a surprise announcement of the newest Bullet Club member as Karl Anderson’s tag team partner in NJPW’s World Tag League 2013. As a tribute to both his WWE character (Gallows) and his TNA character (DOC = Doc), he became Doc Gallows.
The Good Brothers
The pairing of Gallows & Anderson seemed random at first. A guy who had gone the indie route his entire career to get to New Japan being throw together with a guy who most identified as a has-been (or never-been to some) with both WWE and TNA didn’t jive at first. But by the end of World Tag League 2013, the naysayers all became believers. The tandem of Gallows & Anderson wasn’t just intriguing, they were dominating, winning the entire tournament.
The Tag League victory granted them an IWGP Tag Team Championship match at Wrestle Kingdom 8 in January, and they went in focused and overpowering, defeating Killer Elite Squad‘s Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer. Their first reign would last an entire year – 365 days – with defenses against Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe, and Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI. They would become 3x IWGP Heavyweight Champions by the time they decided it was time to return to North America and test bigger waters.
By 2016, it was obvious that Bullet Club was turning the heavyweight Tag Team division representation over to the Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa), with Gallows & Anderson’s roles becoming less and less important in the quest for Tag Team gold. Following their participation in the ousting of AJ Styles as Bullet Club leader following Wrestle Kingdom 10, they too departed from New Japan that February.
Welcome to the Club
As far as debuts in 2016, the only debut hotter was AJ Styles at that year’s Royal Rumble. On an April edition of Raw, Gallows & Anderson made their WWE debuts as a tag team by attacking The Usos from the crowd. The following week, they attacked Roman Reigns, who was involved with AJ Styles, their former running mate in Bullet Club. It appeared that the WWE had given the fans what they wanted – a version of Bullet Club in the WWE and an acknowledgment to their New Japan past together.
But as hot as it started, it was taken away quickly. In July of that year, only four months from their debut, they were drafted to Raw (while Styles remained on SmackDown), where the duo, now becoming known as The Good Brothers, would begin a far too often utilized habit of only being used as comedic foil for other tag teams about to enter the title scene.
They would get a small push in January of 2017, when they defeated The Bar (Cesaro & Sheamus) for the Raw Tag Team Championships at the Royal Rumble, before losing them to the returning Hardy Boyz at WrestleMania 33. In January of 2018, they briefly reunited with Finn Balor, their original leader from Bullet Club, but that was dismantled early, as the duo was drafted back to SmackDown in April. Since then, they’ve remained mostly on cards at WWE Live Events or at best, fodder for other tandems on TV, a far cry from their previous flirts of brilliance, or position of respect in Japan. And following reports that both the Revival and the Usos were flirting with the idea of leaving the WWE, it was revealed this week that the Good Brothers were the latest to have reportedly decided against remaining in the WWE Universe.
The Next Stop on the Highway
With the free time to spend with their families and working out, the Good Brothers are arguably in the best physical shape of their lives. They have the energy and the passion and can still compete at the highest level – their storytelling abilities and ring psychology alone would compensate for any athletic dissimilarities with some of the younger, more acrobatic tag teams out there. And if The Good Brothers do decide to depart the WWE, they will have plenty of options of where to go. The question is, where would they choose.
- IMPACT Wrestling
IMPACT Wrestling was very close to re-acquiring AJ Styles and Luke Gallows (plus Karl Anderson) right before the WWE offer was accepted, so they both have had interest in IMPACT before. And that was in 2016. Since then, IMPACT has gotten miles better, with stable management and ownership, and a great roster of young talent and tag teams they’ve never faced before, like LAX, The Rascalz (Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz) and The Lucha Bros (Pentagon Jr. & Fenix). And if new Canadian signee Josh Alexander re-teams with his former Monster Mafia teammate “All Ego” Ethan Page, then a Monster Mafia vs Good Brothers match could be one an unheralded classic.
- Ring of Honor/New Japan Pro Wrestling
The obvious answer would be for them simply to return to New Japan and re-join Bullet Club. Tama Tonga has been openly trying to recruit them on Social Media for years now. But the Guerrillas of Destiny are still the top heavyweight tag team for Bullet Club, so how much more exposure or opportunities would they get? And one thing that seems apparent following Karl Anderson’s Social Media, is that Anderson especially has been loving his family life since the WWE has kept him Stateside for so often. The thought of leaving that for Japan once again seems unlikely.Sure, they could also go to Ring of Honor, NJPW’s ally, and be part of Bullet Club’s presence in ROH, but how much would they get used during ROH’s new youth movement going on?
- All Elite Wrestling
While it’s become a cliche (and a meme) to say “AEW confirmed” for every wrestler who becomes a free agent these days, there may not be a more likely candidate for an AEW-bound WWE free agent than the Good Brothers. Karl Anderson has been friends with the Young Bucks since the mid-2000s in the West Coast scene, and together they ran with the Bucks and Kenny Omega in Bullet Club for years. And with AEW openly stating that a high-level tag team division is a part of their mission statement, there’s no better promotion to utilize what Gallows & Anderson have to offer.
Regardless of the outcome of this all, whether they decided to remain under certain conditions or leave to retire on other pastures, one thing is for certain. The Good Brothers, Karl Anderson & Luke “Doc” Gallows, are a tandem that a sparkplug in a pop culture revolution for wrestling and have been underappreciated by many, and regardless their final destination, are truly a pair of Good Brothers.