WWE is a worldwide brand. One weekend their Superstars could be performing in Australia, then just a few days later, they return to the United States for Raw and SmackDown Live. A prime example of that crazy schedule occurred this past weekend as the wrestlers of SmackDown Live put on non-televised house shows in China and Japan. During one particular show in Osaka, the United States Champion AJ Styles made an appearance, and something about The Phenomenal One has wrestling fans talking.
It would be fair to say that Styles doesn’t need to tweak much—if anything—when it comes to what he’s doing in WWE right now. Less than two years after his debut in the company, Styles is easily one of Vince McMahon‘s greatest assets. With WWE and United States Championships to his name, plus the adoration of a large chunk of the WWE Universe, Styles is quickly building a name for himself in “The Land Of The Giants”. On Saturday night in Osaka, however, Styles changed up his look, dawning a mask that looked like a call out to another faction, and it naturally sparked some conspiracy theories on the potential meaning behind it.
Some fans simply thought it was Styles keeping his act fresh, while others immediately linked it to a reunion of the extremely popular faction outside of the WWE known as the Bullet Club. While the latter theory was a lot closer to the right answer, they were still a way off. Styles took to social media to silence the speculation when it came to the reason behind the mask. The mask was actually a callback to a legendary bout Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura had at Wrestle Kingdom 10—while both wrestled for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). Before that match, he wore a mask very similar to the one he dawned at this house show. The Instagram post revealing the reason behind it simply said that he was showing the “club love in Osaka”.
So no, for now at least, the mask does not signify anything more. Since Styles arrived in WWE and was swiftly followed by Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, fans have been speculating if Vince McMahon will give the okay for the company to run their own version of the Bullet Club. The three of them teamed briefly, but it was never anything particularly official. The more likely scenario right now is the alternate former leader of the Bullet Club, Finn Balor, starting up his own faction named Balor Club.
The love of The Bullet Club in the pro wrestling world is undeniable, but with it being a non-WWE entity, it makes it very unlikely that it’ll pop up on Raw or SmackDown Live. Even though some of its members have since joined WWE’s ranks, The Bullet Club is still alive and well with the likes of Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks along with Cody Rhodes and Marty Scurll to name a few.
As already touched upon, Styles is hardly in a position where he needs to rack his brains for ideas to freshen up his gimmick. The use of the mask in Osaka, however, was an extremely nice touch. Considering the chatter it has generated among fans, it would maybe be a good idea for Styles to utilize it every now and again. Perhaps bringing it out for bigger pay-per-views would be a good idea, using it as sparingly as Finn Balor uses his demon body paint.
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