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NEW JAPAN PRIMER: THE BULLET CLUB

By Matthew Macklin on 2014-10-31 11:04:57
The Bullet Club

In New Japan Pro Wrestling, The Bullet Club are the top heel faction and one of the coolest acts in all of pro wrestling. The chances are that even if you know nothing about NJPW, you’ve probably heard of The Bullet Club or at least seen an influx of their shirts on wrestling shows all over the world.

Bullet Club has become something for western fans of NJPW to latch onto and has brought huge attention to NJPW from westerners that want to see what all the fuss is about.

The group is mostly made up of gaijin (foreign wrestlers) and have caused a huge stir in NJPW since forming in May of 2013.

Bullet Club can be broken into two eras: The Prince Devitt era and the AJ Styles era. Prince Devitt's era began when he turned heel on long time tag team partner Ryusuke Taguchi and introduced his new bodyguard Bad Luck Fale. They quickly aligned themselves with “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson and Tama Tonga. The group of real life friends that had grown in NJPW together through the dojo and beyond had their real life chemistry taken and put onto NJPW screens.

The name came about as Devitt referred to himself as a “real shooter” and Anderson was “the machine gun”. Bullet Club became the ultimate villain group as they spat in the face of the traditions and huge respect that NJPW and Japanese culture in general had been built on.

Bullet Club brought with them American style tactics such as interference, ref bumps, and shenanigans, something that got under the skin of long time NJPW fans and puroresu traditionalists.

This was the beauty of Bullet Club and all of a sudden Prince Devitt went from being a junior heavyweight standout to the top heel in the company, even challenging Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP heavyweight championship.

Bullet Club grew in numbers as The Young Bucks joined the field along with Doc Gallows (formerly Festus/Luke Gallows) to form a tag team with Karl Anderson.

Bullet Club wrecked havoc in NJPW and continued to irritate fans with their American style tactics not seen before often in NJPW as a match rarely ended as a result of cheating. With rumors of Devitt’s exit swirling Bullet Club evolved and on April 6th 2014 at Invasion Attack, Devitt was out and AJ Styles debuted revealing a Bullet Club shirt as he laid out IWGP champion Okada.

This ushered in the era of AJ Styles.

Phase two of Bullet Club had begun and when Styles won the IWGP title, Bullet Club soon added their first Japanese member Yujiro Takahashi, who turned on his CHAOS faction teammates and joined the foreign villains.

Bullet Club went on to take over NJPW just weeks later by holding every championship in the company but one. AJ Styles as IWGP Heavyweight champion, Bad Luck Fale as IWGP intercontinental champion, Anderson and Gallows and IWGP Tag Team champions, Yujiro Takahashi as NEVER Open Weight champion and The Young Bucks as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team champions.

Bullet Club in similar fashion to the nWo had taken over and Bullet Club shirts were everywhere.

Bullet Club’s international impact really came to light when ROH and New Japan teamed up this past May for combined shows in Toronto and New York City. People were there to see The Bullet Club and the faction looked like bonafide stars not only in Japan, but the U.S.

Bullet Club has also in a lot of ways has given life to performers who seemingly had nothing else left. AJ Styles has been reborn since getting away from TNA, The Young Bucks have become a sensation and Doc Gallows has done the best work of his career so far over the last year. Jeff Jarrett is now aligned with the group in an attempt to capitalize on the group's popularity to push the NJPW debut on PPV as part of Jarrett's Global Force Wrestling company. Some fans have rolled their eyes at Jarret and look at him as riding the coattails of pro wrestling’s coolest act and others are afraid it will diminish Bullet Club’s cool factor. This all remains to be seen, but more eyes will be on Bullet Club come January.

Take a look at the group in 10 man tag team action as the take on CHAOS here.

Bullet Club will add a new member on November 8th at Power Struggle.

Stay tuned for Part Two of the Primer on The Bullet Club this Monday, when we take a closer look at the members of The Club!

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