In 2013, the team of Prince Devitt (now known as Finn Bálor) and Ryusuke Taguchi, known as Apollo 55, was one of New Japan Pro Wrestling‘s best tag teams. Together they had won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships four times, a then-record for New Japan. The duo hadn’t held the belts in five months when they were given a title shot against Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA, the Time Splitters. Bálor and Taguchi were unsuccessful, and after the match, Bálor turned on his partner with the help of Bad Luck Fale. Fans in attendance didn’t know this, but they had just witnessed the debut of what would become the biggest thing in pro wrestling, Bullet Club.
That was three years ago, and despite what dirtsheets have said, the faction is still going strong. It’s true that leadership has changed multiple times, and the faction doesn’t look like it did in 2013, but that’s also not a bad thing. The faction started in New Japan, but it has moved on to Ring of Honor, CMLL, and even the WWE. When AJ Styles (the man who’d replaced Balor as leader), Doc Gallows, and “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson left for WWE in January, many people predicted the demise of Bullet Club. Oh how wrong they were.
Bullet Club Rules the World
Gallows and Anderson
Considered one of the world’s best tag teams, Gallows and Anderson may finally claim WWE Tag Team gold this Sunday at SummerSlam. The team won the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships three times, as well as winning the G1 Tag League in consecutive years. The big men have put on quality matches since joining WWE earlier this year, but ending The New Day‘s tag reign would put them in the spotlight, where they belong. It’ll be interesting to see if the duo are finished after their match or if they’ll resurface to help or hurt AJ Styles or Finn Bálor later.
Considered Mr. TNA for the longest time, when AJ Styles made his WWE debut at this year’s Royal Rumble, it thrilled wrestling fans all over the world. Styles had been a huge part of every other major wrestling promotion in the world, but nobody thought he would ever appear on WWE television. Not only did Styles finally show up on Raw, he immediately began a fantastic feud with wrestling legend, Chris Jericho. After a good feud with Jericho, Styles pulled the very best out of then WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Roman Reigns, and main-evented consecutive pay per views.
But arguably Styles’ biggest impact in WWE came when he reunited with Gallows and Anderson to form “The Club“. Despite being a New Japan and Ring of Honor product, Bullet Club had finally showed up in WWE. And their first mission was to beat up John Cena. A high profile feud with WWE’s biggest star has been huge for Styles, as their SummerSlam match should tear the house down. Should Styles beat Cena in Brooklyn, he’ll be first in line for a shot at Dean Ambrose‘s WWE Championship.
The Young Bucks
Earlier it was stated that Bálor and Taguchi used to hold the record for most IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships. This is because the team of Matt and Nick Jackson, the Young Bucks, broke that record when the world’s most polarizing duo defeated the team of Matt Sydal and Ricochet at Dominion 6.19. One of the most popular tag teams in all of pro wrestling, the Bucks epitomize the driving force behind wrestling’s revolution. Choosing to pull the curtain back, poking fun at kayfabe, these good christian boys manage to infuriate old timers while thrilling hardcore fans. It’s unknown whether the duo will ever join “The Club” in WWE, but as long as they stick together, they’ll remain one of the elite tag teams in wrestling.
Adam Cole (Bay-Bay!)
Adam Cole has been in pro wrestling for almost a decade. He’s wrestled everywhere from CZW to Ring of Honor to PWG, and he’s always gotten over. But his career got a major shot in the arm this year when it was revealed that he was the newest member of Bullet Club. With Adam Page and the Young Bucks, Cole has taken over Ring of Honor. Cole has relentlessly stalked ROH World Champion, Jay Lethal for months now, and at Death Before Dishonor, he’ll receive a championship opportunity. Lethal has been champion since June of last year, and frankly, he’s defended his title against everyone else in the company. Don’t be surprised if Cole brings the ROH title to Bullet Club, especially if the Young Bucks get involved.
Since signing with WWE back in 2014, it became obvious that Bullet Club’s founder was meant for big things. When WWE’s developmental brand, NXT, became wildly popular, Bálor was the face. His 292 day reign as NXT Champion is the longest in the brief but illustrious history of the belt. However, Bálor’s big break came when he debuted on Monday Night Raw, defeating Rusev and Roman Reigns in the same night to earn a Universal Championship match with Seth Rollins at SummerSlam. Despite being his first pay per view match on the main roster, there’s a good chance that Bálor comes away s the winner.
Despite being stars from the independent circuit, there’s a very real chance that Bálor, as well as Gallows and Anderson, leave SummerSlam with all but one of Raw‘s championships. There are eleven matches on the SummerSlam card, and three of the most important bouts feature members of Bullet Club
As impressive as winning a world championship in WWE and Ring of Honor is, Canadian wrestler Kenny Omega accomplished something even greater. Last weekend, Kenny Omega became the first gaijin to win the prestigious G1 Climax tournament. Winning the tournament means that Omega has earned a championship opportunity, similar to WWE’s Money in the Bank briefcase. While this likely means that Omega will eventually became the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, that’s not what makes this achievement so impressive.
To understand just how significant this win is, you need to look at the history of westerners that have competed in this tournament. The likes of Vader, Bam Bam Bigelow, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, Terry Taylor, Rick Rude, Ric Flair, William Regal, Bálor, and even AJ Styles have competed in the G1 Climax without winning.
While it’s unsure if Omega will be able to keep his championship contract until Wrestle Kingdom 11, winning the tournament alone is a big deal. Not only did Omega win the tournament, but he did so by turning in two serious Match of the Year candidates. If his bout with Tetsuya Naito isn’t already the favorite for the prestigious award, it’s only because they haven’t seen it yet.
Bullet Club is f-f-for Life
Despite reports of their demise, Bullet Club is still very much at large. They’re well positioned around all three of the world’s biggest wrestling promotions, and look to stay there. When Monday rolls around, Bullet Club could have the G1 Climax winner, the Universal Champion, the WWE Tag Team Champions, the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champions, and the Ring of Honor
World Champion. WCW‘s nWo only had enough steam to stay at large for two years. Three years after Bálor turned on his partner, it seems the villainous faction is only beginning to hit their stride. For critics or doubters of Bullet Club, the talented band of brothers only has two words for you.