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The Club (professional wrestling)

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The Club
The Club.jpg
From left to right: Anderson, Styles and Gallows
Stable
MembersAJ Styles[1]
Luke Gallows[2]
Karl Anderson[3]
Name(s)The Club[4]
Combined
weight
764 lb (347 kg)[1][2][3]
DebutMay 2, 2016[5]
Years active2016–present[6]
PromotionsWWE[5]

The Club is a professional wrestling stable performing in WWE, composed of Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson on Raw and AJ Styles on SmackDown.[1][2][3]

Originally all together as a trio, they debuted on the May 2, 2016, episode of Raw,[5] but made their official television debut as The Club on May 9.[4] The stable draws inspiration from another professional wrestling group primarily active in the Japanese New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) promotion and the American Ring of Honor (ROH) promotion, known as Bullet Club, in which Styles, Gallows and Anderson are all previous members of, with Styles and Anderson also former leaders.[7][8][9] All three departed NJPW and ROH in 2016 for WWE: Styles in January and Anderson and Gallows in April.[10]

Styles is a two-time and current WWE Champion[11] and a two-time United States Champion[12] while Gallows and Anderson are former Raw Tag Team Champions,[13] with all three being briefly champions at the same time during the 2017 Royal Rumble on Jannuary 29.[14][15]

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

"WWE did something it almost never does at least so blatantly, copy so closely a concept from another promotion which they all but admit on television with the New Japan references and using the members who helped get the group over. It's very much like if they had used Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson & J.J. Dillon as the Horsemen, something they never considered at the time".

Wrestling Observer Newsletter editor Dave Meltzer on the May 16, 2016 issue[16]

Styles made several appearances for the then World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 2002 and would be offered a developmental deal by the WWF that would require Styles to relocate to Cincinnati, Ohio, where the Heartland Wrestling Association (HWA) developmental territory was located, with Styles ultimately declining the deal as the move would interfere with his wife's college plans.[17][18] Despite this, Styles would wrestle one non-contracted match for HWA on February 19 against Matt Stryker, in a losing effort.[19] Gallows wrestled for WWE before 2016, portraying several characters: the Impostor Kane, Festus, and Luke Gallows as part of The Straight Edge Society before WWE released him in 2010.[20][21] Anderson has never wrestled for WWE before, wrestling in independent United States promotions such as the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) and ROH,[22] before heading to Japanese NJPW in 2008 as part of the new talent exchange agreement between the NWA and NJPW.[23] Based on his performance, Anderson was instantly signed to a one-year contract by NJPW.[22] In May 2013, Anderson would form the gaijin stable Bullet Club along with Bad Luck Fale, first leader Prince Devitt and Tama Tonga.[24][25] In November 2013, Gallows would join NJPW as Doc Gallows, taking part at the 2013 World Tag League with Anderson, thus forming their tag team.[26] Together, Gallows and Anderson would win the IWGP Tag Team Championship three times (with their first reign lasting a full year),[27] while also winning the aforementioned 2013 World Tag League.[28] Four months after leaving Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), Styles would join NJPW as well in April 2014,[29] immediately aligning himself with Gallows and Anderson while also becoming Bullet Club's third leader[30][31] along with Anderson.[8] Styles would go on to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship twice.[32]

In January 2016, on WWE.com it was announced that Styles, Gallows and Anderson were in talks to debut/return in WWE, leaving NJPW.[33][34] The Young Bucks have stated that prior to making his departure from NJPW public, Styles had approached them about their contract status, only to learn that they had just recently re-signed, and they went on to state that they believed the idea was to get them to appear with Styles in WWE.[35] After weeks of speculation,[10] on January 20, 2016 it was confirmed that Styles had signed with WWE.[36] Styles made his WWE pay-per-view debut on January 24, 2016 at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view during the Royal Rumble match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, entering at number three.[37][38] On the April 11 episode of Raw, Gallows (who returned to his Luke Gallows ring name) and Anderson also made their debut for WWE, attacking The Usos (Jey and Jimmy Uso).[39]

Feud with Roman Reigns and The Usos[edit]

"Anderson and Gallows have nearly had all the luster removed from them since their debut [...] [They] appear to be just another tag team that gets used as fodder whenever a main event story crosses their path [...] Roman Reigns gains next to nothing from beating Karl Anderson without first establishing that as an accomplishment".

Pro Wrestling Dot Net writer Jake Barnett after the May 5, 2016 episode of SmackDown[40]

On the following week episode of Raw, WWE began teasing an alliance between Gallows and Anderson and their former Bullet Club stablemate AJ Styles after meeting him in a backstage interview and when Anderson and Gallows attacked his Payback opponent Roman Reigns in the ring, even though Styles did not seem pleased with the attack.[39] Gallows and Anderson wrestled their first WWE match on the April 25 episode of Raw, where they defeated The Usos.[41] Over the next weeks, Gallows and Anderson continued teasing an uneasy alliance with Styles, while having several face offs with The Usos and Reigns, including at Payback on May 1, where the two failed in their attempt to help Styles capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Reigns.[42]

The Payback's main event match led to a feud between the trio of Styles, Gallows and Anderson and the trio of Reigns and The Usos.[43] After Styles' trio beat Reigns' trio on the May 2 episode of Raw, Gallows and Anderson wanted Styles to hit Reigns with a chair, but he refused, thus resulting in The Usos attacking Styles from behind with a chair and Styles retaliating with the chair, until Reigns ultimately established his dominance by executing a powerbomb on Styles through the announce table.[4] That same week on SmackDown, the two trios had a rematch where Reigns pinned Anderson for Anderson's first WWE loss.[44] On the next week's Raw, with Styles, Gallows and Anderson now named as The Club, Reigns and The Usos beat them in a six-man elimination tag team match: Jey Uso, then Anderson, Jimmy Uso and Gallows were pinned, and finally Styles was disqualified when Anderson interfered to prevent Reigns repeating his announce table powerbomb on Styles.[4] On the May 12 episode of SmackDown, The Usos defeated Gallows and Anderson via disqualification, but Gallows and Anderson came up top in the post-match brawl with neither Styles nor Reigns appearing to help.[45] On the May 16 episode of Raw, The Usos defeated Gallows and Anderson via pinfall.[46] At Extreme Rules on May 22, Gallows and Anderson defeated The Usos in a tornado tag team match, whilst later in the night Styles lost to Reigns in an Extreme Rules match.[47] The next night on Raw, Styles told Gallows and Anderson that they should go their separate ways and remain friends, but Gallows and Anderson refused and ended their friendship with Styles.[48]

Championship success (2016–present)[edit]

On the May 30 Memorial Day episode of Raw, John Cena returned from his injury and was confronted by Styles, who welcomed him back, but were then interrupted by Gallows and Anderson who proclaimed they would beat them up), and once they reached the ring Styles turned into a villain when the trio ganged up on Cena, with Styles brutally attacking Cena several times, effectively reuniting The Club.[49] This set up a match between Styles and Cena at Money in the Bank, while Gallows and Anderson would start pursuing the WWE Tag Team Championship.[50] At the event on June 19, Gallows and Anderson were unsuccessful in winning the WWE Tag Team Championship against Enzo and Cass, The New Day and The Vaudevillains for the WWE Tag Team Championship, but Styles defeated Cena in a singles match after Gallows and Anderson attacked Cena while the referee was knocked out, allowing Styles to pin Cena for the win.[51] On the July 4 episode of Raw, The Club would attack Cena again as Styles stated that they would "beat up John Cena", but were stopped by Big Cass and Enzo Amore, thus leading to a six-man tag team match between the two teams at Battleground on July 24.[52]

The Club was separated in the 2016 WWE draft, when Styles was drafted to SmackDown, while Gallows and Anderson were drafted to Raw, resulting in Battleground being The Club's final night as a trio where they lost to Amore, Cass and Cena, who pinned Styles to win the match.[53][54] On July 21, Styles stated on his Twitter account that The Club was not disbanded, but that it was instead getting "expanded", thus he is still considered a member of The Club despite operating separately from Anderson and Gallows.[55][56] At SummerSlam, the trio briefly reunited in a backstage segment, including an appearance by former Bullet Club leader Finn Bálor.[57] At the same event on August 21, Styles defeated Cena in a clean finish,[58] while Gallows and Anderson ended in a disqualification win over The New Day when Anderson was attacked by the returning Big E.[59] Due to his victory at SummerSlam, Styles immediately re-entered the now renamed WWE World Championship picture and received another opportunity for the title at Backlash against champion Dean Ambrose, with Styles defeating Ambrose on September 11 to become the WWE World Champion for the first time in his career.[60] Gallows and Anderson received two more shots at the newly renamed Raw Tag Team Championship, first on September 25 at Clash of Champions and then the following night on Raw, but were both times defeated by members of The New Day.[61][62] Meanwhile, Styles was successful in retaining the WWE World Championship on the September 27 episode of SmackDown Live against Ambrose,[63] on October 9 at No Mercy against both Ambrose and Cena,[64] and on December 4 at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs against Ambrose in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match.[65] On December 13 at Tribute to the Troops, The Club reunited once again during a backstage segment with The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) and The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins).[66]

At Survivor Series on November 20, both Styles and Gallows and Anderson's brand team won their respective Survivor Series elimination matches.[67][68] While Gallows and Anderson once again failed to win the Raw Tag Team Championship twice on Raw,[69][70] Styles successful defended the renamed WWE Championship against James Ellsworth[71] and in a triple threat match against Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler in December on SmackDown Live.[72] During the Royal Rumble pre-show on January 29, 2017, Gallows and Anderson won the Raw Tag Team Championship against Cesaro and Sheamus.[73] However, Styles would drop the title to Cena later on the event, thus ending his reign at 140 days.[74] While Styles failed to win back the WWE Championship in February,[75][76] Gallows and Anderson successfully retained the Raw Tag Team Championship by disqualification against Cesaro and Sheamus in a rematch on Raw[77] and against Amore and Cass on March 5 at Fastlane,[78] eventually losing the championship on April 2 at WrestleMania 33 to the returning Hardy Boyz (Jeff and Matt Hardy) in a fatal four-way ladder match[79] (also involving Amore and Cass and Cesaro and Sheamus),[80][81] thus ending their reign at 63 days.[82]

In March, Styles began a feud with SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon,[83][84][85] which culminated at WrestleMania 33, where Styles defeated McMahon.[86] On the post-WrestleMania episode of SmackDown Live, Styles made reconciliation with McMahon via a handshake, turning back into a fan favorite in the process[87] and eventually becoming the number one contender for the United States Championship at Backlash on May 21,[88] where to Kevin Owens by countout after Owens got Styles' leg trapped in an announce table.[89] After failing to win the 2017 Money in the Bank ladder match,[90] Styles defeated Owens during a WWE live event at Madison Square Garden on July 7 to capture the United States Championship for the first time,[91] but lost it back to Owens at Battleground on July 23,[92] only to regain the title two days later on SmackDown Live in a triple threat match also involving a returning Chris Jericho, thus becoming a two-time United States Champion.[93] Despite their alliance with Styles being a fan favorite, Gallows and Anderson alligned themselves with Big Cass by attacking Big Show on the August 14 episode of Raw.[94] Also in August, Styles revived John Cena's U.S. open challange,[95] successfully defending the title[96][97][98][99] before losing it without being pinned to Baron Corbin in a triple threat match also involving Tye Dillinger at Hell in a Cell on October 8 and ending his reign at 75 days.[100][101][102] In October, after losing his title rematch to Corbin on SmackDown Live,[103] Styles re-entered the WWE Championship picture[104] and also appeared on Raw's exclusive event TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs on October 22 in a losing effort against Finn Bálor[105][106] and the following night on Raw.[107] On the November 7 episode of SmackDown Live in Manchester, England, Styles defeated Jinder Mahal to win his second WWE Championship and becoming recognized by WWE as the first WWE Champion crowned outside of North America.[108]

In wrestling[edit]

Gallows (left) and Anderson (right) in September 2016
Styles in April 2016

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

1 When Styles won the title, it was called the WWE World Championship.[131] During his reign in December 2016, it was renamed to WWE Championship.[132][133]

See also[edit]


Others articles of the Topic Professional wrestling : American Wrestling Affiliates, Tian Bing, Shazza McKenzie, WWE Raw 25 Years, Madison (wrestler), List of ICW events, Seth Skyfire
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