Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Many Names of Doc Gallows

While rumors twirl that Doc Gallows will join his NJPW Bullet Club mate AJ Styles in WWE soon, one must remember this is far from Gallows' first foray into the land of Vince McMahon. In fact, Gallows made it on to television with the company with three different gimmicks over the year, plus a pair of others in OVW. So I thought it might be interesting to look at the long history of identities that led up to Doc Gallows in the Bullet Club.

Born Drew Hankinson, he started out on the indies in the early 2000s wrestling under a mask under a few different names including Dargon. He picked up the name Dorian Deville when he unmasked and that was the name he brought with him to the WWE developmental territory Deep South Wrestling.
Yep, bad occult gimmick.

He continued to work in DSW under that name, then as Deacon Deville and finally as the Freakin Deacon. I wish I was making up that last name, but the occult big guy gimmick was apparently working well enough that WWE thought they would bring him to TV.

Unfortunately for Gallows, it was as this.

The first wig was actually worse than this. 
Fake Kane was anything but a good idea, and it became clear after his victory over the real Kane at Vengeance. He was quickly thrown out onto the street never to be seen again just a few hours later. For some, that might have been the end of their WWE career.

After a short time back as the Deacon (and teaming with G-Rilla, a.k.a. TNA's Tyrus), he would be repackaged under a completely new gimmick.

At least he proved he was good with his tongue?
Festus was one half of the Dalton Boys, although he and his brother Jesse (Ray Gordy) lost their last name before finally making their WWE debut, though it took months from their first vignettes to their actual onscreen debut. Festus was a simpleton that turned into a raging monster when the bell was rung, completely destroying everyone in the ring. But this gimmick quickly fell apart when all his foes realized they could just ring the bell on the outside to turn him into a simpleton again. They lost to Miz and Morrison to fail to get the tag titles, before Festus was crushed by the Undertaker in a singles match that pretty much ended any push for him. He was drafted to Raw but never appeared on that show.

He returned to WWE television as the first disciple in CM Punk's Straight Edge Society. Punk revealed that Festus was doped up on multiple drugs and those substances turned him into a simpleton. Now free and clear of mind, he was using his "real name" Luke Gallows. He would serve as Punk's top enforcer for the next several months. But when the SES faded, so did Gallows' WWE career. After three different eras on WWE television, they released Gallows.

He made his post-WWE debut as Keith Hanson in the Inoki Genome Foundation where he beat another former WWE talent, Sylvester Terkay. He would work independents all over the southern US as well, sometimes under the Luke Gallows name but more often as The Big LG or The Big XLG.

Image credit: ImpactWrestling.com.
After a brief turn as Isaiah Cash in TNA's Ring Ka King project in India, he would join the invading Aces & Eights stable, where he would gain the other half of his eventual NJPW ring name. The D.O.C. was the group's Director of Chaos. But despite strong positioning as Devon's right hand, he never really did much more than lose matches until he was released from TNA and kicked out of the group.

Image credit: NJPW.
But stepping away from TNA proved to be the best thing that could happen to Drew Hankinson. Taking the combined name Doc Gallows, he debuted in New Japan Pro Wrestling. He immediately joined the Bullet Club and became Karl Anderson's new tag team partner. Anderson had been a singles star since Giant Bernard (Matt Bloom) jumped back to WWE to become Tensai, but together they found huge success in the heavyweight tag ranks. In just under three years in NJPW he would win a World Tag League and three IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team titles.

Now his and Anderson's connection with developmental trainer Matt Bloom looks to be paying off, as he appears to be on his way to NXT. With the Bullet Club possibly reuniting on the WWE roster, Gallows has finally come full circle in his career and has the chance to reach bigger heights than ever before.

And it only took him a decade and nearly a dozen names to make it happen.

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