Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows opened up in a new interview about the talks they had with AEW, as well as their regrets over not signing with the promotion.
Speaking with Editor-in-Chief Ryan Satin on the Talk ‘N Shop YouTube channel, the tag team discussed their decision to re-sign with WWE in July of last year. This prompted Gallows and Anderson to detail how close they came to signing with AEW.
The duo say they met with the Young Bucks around January of 2019 at a food court in Ontario to get more details on the promotion they were building. The tag team say they left the meeting thinking AEW would be their next chapter, as they had been unhappy in WWE for awhile.
Once AEW became public and things started to roll, they also met with Kenny Omega in Winnipeg. Gallows and Anderson additionally say they made an agreement with Rocky Romero to work dates with New Japan after their contracts expired.
As the end of their contracts approached, Gallows and Anderson say Triple H began to heavily court them into re-signing with WWE.
“This is jumping from WWE, the mecha, to something that we’re not sure if it’s gonna happen or not. So, there’s excitement there, but we’re professional wrestlers by trade for a long time now. And, over both of our careers, you’ve heard of the next big thing coming. This guy’s got big money. They’re gonna be on TV here. This is gonna be the next alternative. And nine times out of ten it never comes to fruition,” Gallows said.
“Not that we didn’t trust our friends, we had all the faith in the world in them, but you’re dealing with big corporations and business and millions, if not a billion dollars, and all of this stuff. So … is this really gonna happen? Is this really a viable option? If it doesn’t happen, yes, we’re television American TV famous now. How much is New Japan going to pay? Is it going to be comparable to these awesome pay days we’ve been getting? And now you’re stacking up this downside guarantee, which in the past was so low. And you had to work to make more. I mean … is it gonna measure up? Is there gonna be enough money there?”
“When Triple H is telling you, ‘I want this to be the deal that sets you up for the rest of your life.’ And you’re going, ‘F*ck, man. We’re gonna make a few million dollars over a few years here, it’s a hard thing to dance around,” Gallows added.
“We knew that AEW would be successful,” Anderson said. “We knew they would pop off. We just succumbed to the amount of money and promises, kept or unkept … but we signed because of the thought that this was going to be our last contract and we were ready to ride it out.”
Anderson additionally says that around June of 2019 Matt Jackson sent him a plans for their debut on the first episode of Dynamite in October, which would’ve taken place after the main event.
“Machine Gun music is gonna hit. I’m gonna come out. Gallows comes from behind. We walk to the ring. We too sweet The Young Bucks and Kenny. Turn around, everyone’s happy, and then we beat the f*ck out of them,” he said while detailing the pitch. “It’s one of the biggest regrets of my life that that didn’t f*cking happen. It kills me. Badly.”
After getting the plans sent to them, as well as a great contract offer for two years deals, a meeting was set with Tony Khan to chat for the first time.
Before that meeting could happen though, the team had a match in Japan at the end of June where they teamed with Triple H at a WWE live event.
At the show, Triple H pulled them into his private dressing room and asked what it was going to take for them to re-sign. They proceeded to pour their hearts out to him about how these could be the last contracts they ever sign, so they needed to have security for their futures.
When the match was over, he cornered them backstage with an offer they couldn’t refuse written down. They signed the offer that night. After this, the tag team asked Matt and Nick Jackson if they should still meet with Tony Khan to explain what had happened, but they were told it was pointless.
“I would say for a good six months we told the Bucks and Kenny we’re coming. We’re f*cking coming. No matter what. Because we were that ready to go,” Anderson said when asked if their friends in AEW were unhappy with the decision. “There were some hard feelings, I think. Because I think people trusted the Bucks and they told other parties that we were coming, and then we didn’t come and it made them look like they couldn’t close the deal.”
Gallows went on to add:
“We have other friends in that company, we don’t have to drop a bunch of names. It’s not that kind of an interview, but it’s not hard to figure out. A friend who is in a high power position there and wrestler who was like, ‘what the fuck, guys?’ I think that he’s still a little offended by it and my answer to him, if he ever hears this or reads the transcript, was none of this was ever personal. We appreciated the offer and everything everyone was trying to do for us.
It was clearly just a business decision. We’re looking at a five-year deal as opposed to a two-year deal with maybe a one-year option. When you start calculating that money and where you’re going to be in five years, especially with ‘you’re gonna be here for the full term’ and there’s plans for you after and all that. You’re stacking millions and millions and millions and millions up against, ultimately a smaller figure. Should we have taken the smaller figure, bet on ourselves and done something really cool again like we were in New Japan? F*CK YES! Is the egg on our face? It’s running down my f*cking face right now, BUT I think a lot of other people in that situation would go back and look at your kids and your wife and go … ‘Alright, honey. How do I say no to them backing a bank truck up to the front of the house and dropping the load in front of the door?!’ That’s a hard answer. It’s hard to even talk about right now, we talk about it a lot privately, we talked about it to death privately. A mistake was made, but there was logic behind it. It wasn’t to be harmful or spiteful or back-door anybody. It was truly, honestly a business decision to do what we thought was best for our families.”
The tag team went on to say they’ve since made amends with The Young Bucks.
Watch the full interview covering the end of their run in WWE below.