Three-and-a-half months ago, despite turning a high profit, WWE cut costs, releasing over two dozen performers.
Those primarily affected were the talent not involved in major storylines. But it also affected Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, who were released despite playing supporting roles in The Undertaker’s Boneyard match against AJ Styles at WrestleMania.
As the calendar now turns to August, those released talents are livening up the wrestling business, led by Anderson and Gallows.
No longer AJ Styles’s wingmen, the Good Brothers are featured attractions in Impact Wrestling, and they will also be returning to New Japan Pro Wrestling. The newfound freedom offers a chance for “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows to show they are capable of headlining shows and building a company around their work.
But to know the story of Gallows and Anderson also means that laughter is going to play a huge role, which is the genesis of their Talk ‘N Shop A Mania pay per view.
Talk ‘N Shop is a podcast featuring Gallows, Anderson and New Japan star Rocky Romero. The show went on hiatus after Gallows and Anderson signed with WWE in 2016, but now has been given new life. And with wrestling stuck in such an odd, disjointed place without live crowds, Gallows, Anderson and Romero decided this would be the perfect moment to inject some fun into the business.
Thus, Talk ‘N Shop A Mania was born, a pay per view that combines wrestling with the comedy of its podcast. And so was its featured match—one that certainly will never air on WWE programing—the Boneryard match.
“The Boneryard match is a cinematic masterpiece,” said Romero. “There are so many jokes poking fun at wrestling, ourselves and others.”
The Talk ‘N Shop A Mania pay per view airs Saturday night on FITE. It was filmed over two days last month in Gallows’s backyard in Atlanta. But due to a combination of a little rain and a lot of alcohol, the show almost never took place.
“Most of us got in the night before we started filming,” said Romero. “I went to my hotel, then arrived at 8 the next morning for our call time. That’s when Karl let me know that Gallows was nowhere to be found. He told me the big man had been up drinking until 4:30 in the morning, and no one could wake him up.
“When his wife finally woke him up, she said, ‘Karl and Rocky are here waiting for you.’ Gallows asked, ‘Why are they here?’ She told him we were at his house for a pay per view he had booked in his backyard. And he said, ‘That’s today?’ So this almost didn’t happen, but that’s how it goes with Talk ‘N Shop A Mania.”
Romero’s story captures the brilliance of Gallows. He brings a tough, intimidating presence into the ring, but also has the rare ability to cut everyone up with laughter. And Talk ‘N Shop A Mania is a full-blown Gallows creation.
“Ten minutes after we were released, Gallows called me and said, ‘I’m doing a pay per view in my backyard, and I’m doing it with or without you two,’” said Anderson. “It’s turned out to be some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my 20 years of professional wrestling.”
As soon as Gallows received the news he was released from WWE, which came via phone call from Senior Director of Talent Relations Mark Carrano, ideas immediately started spinning.
“My frustration turned to a creative release almost immediately after I got that phone call,” said Gallows. “I’m not a big rearview mirror guy. The goal was to keep pushing forward, and we hit the ground running with this crazy pay per view.”
The pay per view includes a number of familiar faces. Viewers will quickly recognize Heath Slater, Maria Kanellis, Mike Bennett, Curt Hawkins, Hornswoggle, Chavo Guerrero, the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express and D’Lo Brown. It is a parody event, partially inspired by Gallows and Anderson’s work on WWE’s Southpaw Regional Wrestling.
“There is so much good stuff we did on Southpaw that was cut and released with boring stuff,” said Anderson. “That’s an example of how frustrated we were creatively. But I think people are going to find this really funny.”
A blend of comedy and edge are always infused into the work of Gallows and Anderson, but the understated Romero also plays a critical role in the show’s success.
“People don’t realize what we have in Rocky,” said Gallows. “He’s a versatile performer, and he keeps us in line when we need it. Plus, he’s great on camera. His interactions with Chavo Guerrero when he’s Chico El Luchador are some of the funniest s--- on the pay per view.”
A great amount of thought was poured into the show, both on and off camera. Gallows’s wife is an emergency room nurse, and she helped the production stay safe by taking temperatures and ensuring masks were worn away from the ring. Deep consideration was also given to the show’s content. This is not a mockery of wrestling, but rather designed to be a light, entertaining take that contrasts the serious nature of the industry.
“We grew up loving professional wrestling, so it’s deep within our minds and souls,” said Romero. “This pay per view pokes fun at wrestling and ourselves, our own journeys in wrestling. We’re not doing this out of disrespect, we’re doing it out of our love for professional wrestling. It was important for us to make something that was funny.”
For 90 minutes, Talk ‘N Shop A Mania will provide a very different presentation of wrestling. With a sequel already being discussed, Gallows, Anderson and Romero all extended their gratitude to fans for believing in their vision.
“We self-funded this because we believe in it,” said Anderson. “This isn’t a political, bulls--- thing, like with WWE, when one guy didn’t like the finish and ran into Vince’s office to get it changed. We had legitimate fun here. People are going to see that.
“And if you don’t crack a smile during the Boneryard match, I don’t think you’re even a f------ human being. I promise, for wrestling fans, you’re going to laugh and enjoy yourselves.”