SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath-the-surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.
Karl Anderson: “I hate to admit this, but I think there was a point in WWE where we had a loss of confidence. But I can promise you that the confidence is back”
Even though 2021 has barely just begun, the world of wrestling has already delivered some must-see moments.
Despite an outrageously compelling Finn Bálor–Kyle O’Reilly NXT match airing last Wednesday, it was nearly impossible to look away from Dynamite as Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows made their AEW debuts. The Good Brothers teamed up with Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks to clear out the opposition, then closed out the show with an iconic “Too Sweet” hand gesture together in the ring.
“That was the only way to go off the air,” Gallows says. “That’s what the people wanted, which is what the people in New York [WWE] never got. We thought it would be the pinnacle of that moment, and it was.”
Adding to the scene was that Gallows and Anderson helped Omega lay down a beating on Jon Moxley, who has served as the face of AEW for the past year.
“We love to be funny, but there are times, like you saw last Wednesday, when it just feels right to beat the hell out of Jon Moxley,” Anderson says. “Moxley is a badass, but that was the time for us to come in and turn it up, especially in front of a live crowd, which we haven’t had in a long time.”
Gallows and Anderson made sure their Impact Wrestling tag-team championship belts were visible throughout the segment. Crossovers between promotions rarely happen at this high of a level in pro wrestling, but the AEW–Impact relationship has benefited both parties thus far. And there is no ceiling for what comes next, as Gallows and Anderson team up this Saturday with Omega—who will be wearing his AEW championship belt—at Impact’s Hard to Kill pay-per-view in a six-man tag main event against Impact champion Rich Swann and the Motor City Machine Guns.
“The Motor City Machine Guns are the best tag team in the history of Impact, so this is a big opportunity for us,” Gallows says. “There is so much for us to prove. We put gyms in our houses during the pandemic, and now we’re in tip-top shape and we’re at the top of our games. We are fully-rounded professional wrestlers, and it’s very important for us to be better than anyone has ever seen us before.”
Gallows and Anderson carried a defined presence last week on Dynamite, one that was also visible during Tuesday night’s Impact. It was a swagger that seemed to dissipate the longer the duo appeared on WWE programming, but has been an integral part of their career rejuvenation.
“I hate to admit this, but I think there was a point in WWE where we had a loss of confidence,” Anderson says. “But I can promise you that the confidence is back. We needed to get out of that environment to remind ourselves who we really are and what we can be. Right now, we’re on top of our game. It feels that way to us, and hopefully it shows.”
As soon as Anderson mentioned WWE—which released the Good Brothers, among a number of others, at the height of the pandemic in April in a successful effort to increase already-high profits—Gallows instantly interjected his trademark sense of humor.
“We don’t have any sour grapes about WWE, except that they forgot to mail us our Slammy Award for Match of the Year,” Gallows says, referencing the Good Brothers’ contribution to the “Boneyard” match from WrestleMania 36 that pitted the Undertaker against A.J. Styles. “Maybe the mail is slow. I’m still waiting on that. But we’re focused on right now. We’re the Impact Wrestling tag-team champions, Hard to Kill is going to be a banger of a pay-per-view, we’re in the middle of ‘Wrestle Week’ on AXS TV, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some more fallout from us and Kenny Omega on Dynamite.”
While hinting at a return on Wednesday night’s Dynamite, Anderson noted that he and Gallows are honored to team up with a once-in-a-generation type of performer like Omega.
“Impact Wrestling took a chance on us five minutes after we were done with WWE, so it’s a big deal for us to reward that faith by representing Impact on AXS every week, as well as each time we show up and kick ass on TNT,” Anderson says. “It’s crazy to think that I took a spear from Edge last January in his Royal Rumble return, and a year later, me and Gallows are teaming up with Kenny Omega, who is AEW’s world champion, on an Impact Wrestling pay-per-view.
“Kenny and I are very different human beings, but we have this special bond and a mutual respect. He was in Japan working for DDT, which is a smaller promotion there, and I was working for New Japan. Kenny and [Kota] Ibushi would come over for tours, and he saw my rise, which came out of nowhere from 2011 to 2013. I knew Kenny was going to explode, especially when he was IWGP junior heavyweight champion. We followed Kenny’s match at Wrestle Kingdom [in 2015], and Kenny was just out there having a banger and the people were going absolutely crazy. I always knew he was going to be a star.”
Often lost amid all the comedy and genuine laughs of Gallows and Anderson on their Talk’n Shop podcast and Talk’n Shop a Mania pay-per-views is their incredible range. They can infuse humor to a show, yet they also possess the tools to deliver serious, hard-hitting, compelling wrestling in the ring. The magnitude of a main-event spot on pay-per-view is not lost on them, and this Saturday’s Hard to Kill show marks their chance to prove they belong at the top of the card.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve done the past year, but it’s only the beginning of this story,” Anderson says. “We’re happy to be with Kenny, but Gallows and I deserve to be at the top. We want to make Impact a destination.
“There are going to be a lot of eyes on us on Saturday. We’re going to give people their money’s worth, Impact’s going to get its due, and I’m glad the world gets to see this. It’s going to be f------ awesome.”
The (online) week in wrestling
- WWE confirmed Monday that Drew McIntyre tested positive for COVID-19. My best wishes go to Drew for a quick and strong recovery.
- AEW star Matt Jackson also revealed that he had a serious case of COVID-19.
- It’s great to see so many high-profile wrestlers championing mask-wearing. And clearly, WWE’s Raw roster was short-handed Monday, which led to a number of performers—like Keith Lee, Sheamus, Jeff Hardy and Matt Riddle—working multiple matches. Riddle’s match with Bobby Lashley was one of the highlights of the night.
- Triple H’s first match on Raw since 2016 ended suddenly after his sledgehammer caught fire. After Triple H then disappeared off-screen, Alexa Bliss appeared in the ring, hitting Orton with a fireball. The show should have ended the moment Orton was hit, instead of seeing him writhe in pain.
- The Royal Rumble title matches for the WWE championship and universal title couldn’t be more different, as Bill Goldberg’s return against McIntyre is firmly juxtaposed by journeyman Adam Pierce ready to surprise the mainstream wrestling realm with a phenomenal bout against Roman Reigns.
- SmackDown benefits from its two-hour format, with Raw shackled by its three-hour runtime, but the show also makes fantastic use of its time. Shinsuke Nakamura was outstanding Friday in the gauntlet match, giving hope to a renewed push—possibly as a babyface.
- AEW’s Dynamite continues to be the most electric two hours of wrestling each week. And though the form was not perfect, Snoop’s splash only added to a show that has built an unpredictable feel.
- Last Wednesday’s NXT main event featured the return of Bálor, who wrestled an incredibly physical, entertaining match against Kyle O’Reilly. While I still think O’Reilly will have a run as champ, NXT is currently in its best position with Bálor holding the belt.
- Bálor spoke with Sports Illustrated in the fall about his affinity for Seinfeld. Fans of the sitcom will no doubt see the humor in the stipulation for this Miro–Chuck Taylor match.
- Following her win against Sonya Deville at SummerSlam, which doubled as the best performance of her career, there have been no plans of substance for Mandy Rose. Incredibly, all of the momentum that Rose built has been lost. And getting placed back in a tag team is a step backward for Rose, who unceremoniously tapped out to Shayna Baszler this Monday on Raw.
- If New Japan does unify the IWGP heavyweight and intercontinental championships, then does that mean the NEVER open-weight championship will become one of the company’s top two singles belts?
- New Japan returns to live action this weekend. Ibushi’s next challenger will be Sanada, who he will meet in a six-man tag match Sunday at Korakuen Hall.
- I thoroughly enjoyed this feature of AEW star Will Hobbs in the San Jose Mercury News, getting a deeper picture of his journey in wrestling and in life.
- Viewing recommendation: Bayley gave a phenomenal interview on Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Sessions.
- Nick Hausman had me on as a guest for The Wrestling Inc. Daily last Thursday, and it is always a pleasure to discuss all things pro wrestling with Nick.
- Dalton Castle is a free agent. Where is the best place for him to go? AEW seems like a fit, but their roster is already crowded. He was on pace to become one of the defining figures of Ring of Honor until mounting injuries got in the way.
- As a result of last week’s heinous attack at the U.S. Capitol, Mick Foley made his feelings clear about President Donald Trump.
Konnan on a wrestling supershow in 2021: “Let’s do this for the fans”
New Japan Pro Wrestling star Kazuchika Okada made it clear in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated that he wants to see a supershow between promotions take place in 2021.
“Times are tough right now, but I hope what we do will bring joy to everyone all over the world and give them enough strength and positivity to do their best the next day,” Okada said through a translator. “And when the world calms down, I would like to give back with other wrestling companies to all wrestling fans in the world who still support us even in this current situation. New Japan, WWE, AEW, CMLL, AAA all together. Sounds pretty cool, don’t you think?”
A supershow would hold tremendous appeal, though it is more complicated than it appears at first glance.
As long as Vince McMahon is running the show, there is no chance WWE will be part of a supershow. Due to a longstanding, decades-long feud, top Mexican promotions CMLL and AAA are highly unlikely to ever work together, though the former does have a relationship with New Japan. But one certainty is AAA.
Konnan, AAA’s head of creative, confirmed to SI that his talent would work a supershow featuring talent from promotions around the world.
“We’ll work with anybody that wants to work with us,” Konnan says. “At the end of the day, if anyone doesn’t want to join something that’s really cool like this, then that’s on them.”
The idea of a supershow immediately made Konnan think back to Antonio Inoki’s World Wrestling Peace Festival from 1996, a show that featured stars from WCW, New Japan, AAA and CMLL.
“I actually wrestled Chris Jericho and Bam Bam Bigelow on that show,” Konnan says. “There were wrestlers from AAA, WCW, CMLL, New Japan and MMA wrestlers. If you’re a wrestler, why wouldn’t you want to be part of something like that? It was really cool then, and it would be really cool now.
“All of these companies don’t work together because of unnecessary politics. It’s not good for business. It’s all ego. Instead of giving the fans these dream matchups and one-time-only matches between companies, you hear people say, ‘No, I’m not going to work with them.’ That needs to stop. Let’s do this for the fans. If Okada and New Japan are willing, then I can tell you from our side that we’re willing to do it.”
Tweet of the Week
WWE posted an emotional tribute video to Jon Huber, who made a lasting impression on the company as Luke Harper.