WWE’s decision to release dozens of performers and backstage employees in April didn’t just shock the company’s fanbase, but certain superstars as well, including recently crowned Intercontinental Champion AJ Styles. On multiple occasions, he has opened up about how disappointed he was that two of his real-life best friends — Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows — were among the talents who were let go. As a new report suggests, there is one specific person who he believes was responsible for his friends getting fired — former Monday Night Raw executive director Paul Heyman.
As quoted by WrestlingNews.co, veteran combat sports journalist Dave Meltzer recently published a post on the members’ only Wrestling Observer forum in which he claimed that Styles singled out Heyman as the reason why Gallows and Anderson were released two months ago along with more than 30 other WWE and NXT superstars.
“Actually the reason was that he was furious that Gallows & Anderson were fired. Blamed Heyman,” Meltzer wrote.
In addition, Meltzer described the situation as being similar to how wrestling executives such as Jim Ross, J.J. Dillon, and John Laurinaitis were blamed by wrestlers for decisions made by their superiors. He stressed that in Gallows and Anderson’s case, WWE chairman Vince McMahon chose to release them from their contracts, but Styles possibly thought that Heyman could have contested the move but chose not to.
“So he wanted to go to the side where the guy in charge isn’t fighting Vince on something like that either.”
Earlier on Saturday, a Twitter user with the handle SoDuTw also chimed in on the issue, tweeting that they’ve heard “a couple” of rumors that both point to Styles having a “horrible” time on Raw due to friction with Heyman. That, along with locker room teasing regarding his “politics” and “conspiracy theories,” was supposedly among the main reasons why he was moved last month from the red brand to Friday Night SmackDown.
— WWE (@WWE) April 5, 2020
Commenting on Meltzer’s report, WrestlingNews.co opined that Styles’ anger may be “misplaced,” given that McMahon always has the last word on personnel decisions and creative matters. The outlet also observed that the 43-year-old has “always” been complimentary toward his boss in interviews, even in the aftermath of his friends’ release.
Best known for their time in the Bullet Club in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Gallows and Anderson joined WWE in 2016, making their first televised appearance just a few months after Styles — who had previously led the popular stable — debuted at that year’s Royal Rumble. Their last appearance was at WrestleMania 36 in April, where they assisted Styles during his Boneyard Match against The Undertaker — a contest he ended up losing.