Aj Styles vainqueur (Photo by Gwendoline Le Goff/Panoramic/Icon Sportswire)

Column: Only AJ Styles benefits from split with The Club

(Gwendoline Le Goff/Panoramic/Icon Sportswire)
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As the historic WWE draft loomed closer, pretty much everybody anticipated that a few tag teams and factions would split. Some splits would have been, and were, utterly stupid (The Wyatt Family), others would have made perfect sense but didn’t happen (Enzo and Cass are singles stars in the making) and others would have been a mixture of both.

Then there’s The Club.

Moving Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson to Raw is neither going to help nor hinder them. They have struggled to find much eminence in the tag team division. Instead, they have acted as bit players in the New Day show. Such a split is going to serve one man and one man only, and that is their ringleader, AJ Styles.

Upon his arrival into the WWE, the phenomenal one made an impact befitting his name, and the introduction of Gallows and Anderson served only to help him in his superb heel turn and give him some muscle to assist in some old-school heel victories. In a short space of time, however, Styles’ comrades have started to hold him back.

The whole “beat up John Cena” thing is all very funny, but it has come at the expense of the initial ‘seasoned world-traveler’ air that the Club initially tried to give off. Nowadays, they are presented as nothing more than Bugsy Malone comedy goons — blundering henchmen who repeatedly lose in singles matches and can’t even finish a beatdown if someone swings in to save the day.

Just last week on Raw, it would have generated some much-needed heat in the buildup to Battleground if the duo had managed to eviscerate a lone Enzo Amore in the ring. Instead, they were quickly dispatched by Big Cass, and sent skulking up the ramp clutching their heads and looking angry.

This isn’t to discredit the in-ring ability of Gallows and Anderson — they are talked up as globe-trotting professionals to whom the WWE is a cinch compared to the bear pit hardships of Japan. The trouble is, so was Lord Tensai. Much like the former A-Train, they were and are consistently booked as incompetent goofs who cannot win matches.

This wasn’t helped by WWE creative splitting their workload into the tag team division, where they joined the Vaudevillains as a sideshow to the more popular New Day and Enzo & Cass — safe hands in busy multi-team matches. Their litany of failures only served to make Styles look stupid. Here you have a strait-laced, serious wrestler talking about his global footprint on the wrestling world, and then deploying bungling flunkeys to do his bidding for him… really, really badly.

With some strong booking, Gallows and Anderson might have stood a better chance once they left Styles’ side. The trouble is, it is difficult to recall a single clean victory that they have picked up, and sooner or later, dirty finishes veer away from good heel booking and well into the sense that these guys are actually just unable to walk the walk, and not very good at what they do. It has been a huge lost opportunity for the WWE.

At their best, wrestlers who debut as bit players and bag carriers can go on to great things. Batista started out carrying D-Von Dudley’s donations box; Dolph Ziggler began as Chavo Guerrero’s caddie; even Stone Cold Steve Austin began as the Million Dollar Man’s protegé before he started swilling beer and flipping the bird. The difference is, sadly, that Anderson and Gallows have been shown to fail. Repeatedly. And drastically.

Since they seemingly aren’t awaiting a repackaging or preparing for some time off T.V. to regroup, fans are going to find it a bit difficult to believe if they suddenly started dominating the tag team division now that they’ve broken out on their own, especially given that they are being thrown into a division with the very tag teams who have been dominating them so roundly.

The horse has bolted for The Club, and the only good thing to come of this is Styles shedding the dead weight he’s been carrying for months.

Column: Only AJ Styles benefits from split with The Club

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