WWE cannot simply shut down the OC because of AJ Styles' unexpected injury. There's a story to tell here, and companies should read it carefully.
Over the weekend, AJ Styles confirmed via Twitter that he broke his ankle during a WWE live event in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He noted that the injury did not require surgery, but wrote that it "will be the longest time he will be away from wrestling." It was a difficult break for OC. The group was embroiled in a long-running feud with Judgment Day on Raw. WWE has given both factions plenty of prime real estate to team up on the red brand, taking up a lot of space on the middle card. Styles and Balor wrestled in Survivor Series and The Phenomenal One ended, so WWE may have been thinking about getting rid of the feud regardless of AJ's injury. Still, without their long-term leadership, the OC needs to be more united.
Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows were brought back to WWE in October to work exclusively with Styles on the Judgment Day angle. The addition of Mia Yim is also interesting, as Michin adds a new layer to a faction that pro wrestling fans are all too familiar with. OC is an offshoot of NJPW's Bullet Club stable, and in that group, always It's always the next person's mentality. After all, Balor's departure from New Japan for NXT opened the door for AJ Styles to become the leader of the Bullet Club. Strangely enough, Styles missed some time that could have allowed WWE to pull off a similar storyline in their own way.
AJ Styles' Injury Creates Opportunity
Getting injured is never a good thing, but it's a part of life as a professional wrestler. It's still being determined how much time Styles will miss, but a cursory and completely unscientific Google search puts between six and 10 weeks to recover from a broken ankle. Every case is different, and it's entirely guesswork that AJ Styles will recover in the same amount of time. Still, it gave fans a clear idea of what kind of situation WWE was paying attention to.
Until AJ Styles recovers, there is no good way for WWE to keep the OC off TV. It would make more sense for Triple H and his team to devise creative ways to engage Gallows and Anderson in doubles scenarios while allowing Yim to boost her signal in singles. Her helping out Becky Lynch on the January 2nd episode of Raw is a case in point How to get OC members involved in the game even without Styles leading them.
While it would be interesting to have someone else in front of OC -- which could lead to a Civil War-style angle once Styles returns -- there's no obvious name to take AJ's place. At least not when it comes to proverbial free agents. Instead, WWE can count on Karl Anderson to step up and become the centerpiece of The Original Club in the next few weeks. He's seriously underrated by North American audiences in the ring and a charming one-liner on the mic. Styles' absence could present an interesting opportunity for WWE to get fans more familiar with Anderson's promotional efforts. This will only make OC stronger in the long run.
WWE Splitting Mia Yim Away From The OC Would Be A Mistake
Quietly separating Mia Yim from Gallows and Anderson was a short-sighted mistake for WWE. Thankfully, when she tried to make a save for Lynch on Monday night, the commentator didn't act like there wasn't any affiliation there. Corey Graves spoke of Michin showing the resilience that both Gallows and Anderson saw in her almost as soon as she took the stage.
That's a good sign Yim continues to be involved with The OC on Raw. It would be a shame to see that partnership dissipate because of Styles' injury. The four of them seem to have chemistry together. Not surprisingly, Gallows, Anderson, and Styles hit the clip. They have known each other for a long time and have traveled a lot together. Since joining the group, though, Yim doesn't seem out of place and feels at home. Sometimes factions can be considered forced in the early stages, but that's not the case with this version of OC. They have a lot of fun together on screen, which means viewers at home will have a lot of fun, too.
Styles' injury is unfortunate, mainly because it would have prevented him from participating in the Royal Rumble senior live event. Hopefully the fractured ankle heals in time for him to compete at WrestleMania 39. The Immortals show wouldn't be quite the same without AJ, who has been one of the best professional wrestlers for two decades. Still, the illness has created some interesting options for WWE, and there's reason to believe that Yim, Anderson and Gallows will be The long run runs without Styles for the next few months.