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If only AJ Styles had some friends on SmackDown Live



Jul 23, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; WWE wrestler A.J. Styles throws out the first pitch before action between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Milwaukee Brewers at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

AJ Styles has a problem.

He’s the champ who runs the camp on SmackDown Live and is arguably the most over act on WWE television who appears on a weekly basis. The veteran performer can milk good — usually great — matches out of anyone on the roster and is the central pillar that keeps the blue brand standing strong.

When Styles’ music hits, crowds go nuts. When he hits his signature moves, it brings people to their feet. There’s nothing divisive about this Indie Darling turned WWE Champion.

Yet he still has one glaring issue: he routinely falls victim to the numbers game. It might not always cost him matches, as we saw this past Tuesday night, but he is constantly getting jumped by his opponents. Sure, it’s a heel tactic and a cheap way to generate heat for Jinder Mahal, and watching Styles get the better of the Modern Day Maharaja despite being outnumbered is fun.

It’s just odd to watch someone like Styles get kicked in on a weekly basis with no one eventually coming to his aid. Why doesn’t anyone want to align themselves with the biggest superstar on SmackDown Live? It just doesn’t make any sense.

If only the Phenomenal One had some friends on the WWE roster. Some people that he’s worked closely with in the past who could come to his aid whenever Mahal and his ilk try to jump Styles. Maybe a criminally underutilized tag-team that has been without anything important to do on Monday Night Raw for the last several months.

Ring any bells? It should.

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson have slowly seen their stock erode since arriving on WWE television in April of 2016.  They ran with Styles during his feud with John Cena but were eventually separated from their long-time friend via the draft. While Styles has seen his value skyrocket since, The Club has stagnated as a (barely) mid-card act on Monday nights.

We’ve seen them in a ridiculous Thanksgiving themed match. We’ve seen them as (hilarious) pitchmen for WWE’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales. But when will we get to see this tag-team get some time in the spotlight? It doesn’t seem like they have much of anything to do on Raw, so why not loop them back in with Styles on Tuesday nights?

The trio fell a bit flat when they were first tried together in 2016. Styles hadn’t established himself as a go-to main eventer with WWE fans just yet, and this version of The Club never seemed to get a whole lot of momentum. They tried, of course. But the “beat up John Cena” schtick wasn’t great, and it was probably a wise move for creative to bust the group up when they did.

Now, with Styles firmly established as someone who can hang with the likes of Cena and Brock Lesnar, it could make sense to bring Anderson and Gallows back into the fold. How fun would it be to see the duo spontaneously appear on SmackDown Live, saying that they are tired of being underutilized on Monday nights before aligning themselves with Styles?

It’d be a nugget of truth used as an in-ring angle, and those typically pan out as the best storylines on WWE television. Moreover, it could propel Styles and his merch sales to new heights if they can begin to tap into the success of the Bullet Club. It’s something that the WWE clearly has an interest in doing, whether it be with the Balor Club on Monday nights or The Club moniker that Gallows and Anderson have been going by.

All three of those performers — along with Styles — have been affiliated with the Bullet Club. Why not try Styles, Gallows and Anderson out again on the blue brand? It’d be intriguing if nothing else, fueled by reality and real-world relationships. The risk is low. The Club isn’t going to take any of the shine off of Styles, but the rub could be the difference between middling tag-team performances and title shots.

Franklin Steele is the assistant editor and featured writer of FanRag Sports' NHL side. He also covers the WWE for Steele, who joined FanRag Sports in October 2013, has been watching and playing hockey since the age of 6. His work has also appeared on, and Bleacher Report. All told, he has more than 3,000 bylines to his name and more than six million people have read his work since 2011. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @FranklinSteele (NHL) and @SteeleTheHeel (WWE).

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