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Cafe Puro (5/24/16): The State of The Bullet Club

 
If I told you three years ago that an Irishman, an American, and two dojo graduates would significantly change the wrestling world, you would have immediately called me an idiot for saying something so stupid.

But look where we are now: an industry that has forever been altered by the actions of a little faction known as the Bullet Club, a group that greatly grew in size and influence over time, And in the three years of existence, it has made more of an impact than any other New Japan faction has ever done. Widely known as the more talented (in terms of wrestling skill) version of the nWo, they are the cool faction that fit the demands of today's wrestling fans. And you know that you're doing something right when so many wrestling fans (and even non-wrestling fans) are seen wearing the iconic Bone Soldier T-shirt in any wrestling event at any promotion, or even just in a public setting.

Seeing as though AJ Styles made quite an impression at yesterday's Extreme Rules event, when he competed for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Roman Reigns in another Match of the Year candidate, now is as good a time as any to look at how much influence the Bullet Club has made throughout various promotions, be it looking at their current situation or looking at their past influences.




NJPW-ROH-NWA-CMLL-GFW


It is only fair to group Bullet Club's current activities through the current business relationship between New Japan and their various partner companies.

Today's version of the faction is a direct result of WWE's mini-raid of talent during the Wrestle Kingdom 10 season, when three major faction members in the form of AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, and Doc Gallows lured into WWE (more on them later).

While the core members of the faction are still around in the form of the Young Bucks, Cody Hall, Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, and the Guerrillas of Destiny, on the New Japan front, the main man of the faction is the current IWGP Intercontinental Champion, Kenny Omega, who has been involved in a heated rivalry with the veteran Ace of New Japan, Hiroshi Tanahashi. And this is besides the fact that Omega and the Bucks make up a subgroup of the BC known as The Elite, the current reigning NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Champs.

Recently, during the joint tour of New Japan and Ring of Honor in the US, Adam Cole was revealed as the newest member of the group, a move that made sense considering Cole's relationship with the Bucks. This may ultimately lead to him chasing the ROH World Title, potentially bringing a new belt to the group. Joining the faction from the ROH front is their own young gun, Adam Page.

Since New Japan and the NWA renewed their working relationship in 2013, the latter was able to send in talent from their end to work the former's major events, including Rob Conway. One of the beneficiaries is the former NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champion, the Crown Jewel, Chase Owens, who was made a member of the group late last year. And through this relationship (and some unfortunate bad luck for the Bucks), he is the sole Junior representative of the #BizCliz in this year's Best of the Super Junior Tournament.

And as a side note, CMLL had their own version of the Bullet Club, known as Bullet Club Latinoamerica, a group that only lasted in 2013. And we should also take note that Jeff Jarrett became a member of the group as well under the GFW banner. That did happen.

While it can be argued that the talent raid of WWE greatly affected the mystique of the faction, as well as the presence and intrigue of Los Ingobernables de Japon, the group was given new life through this interesting arrangement between the companies, being given two top names in two active promotions. This also allowed Tonga and Fale a much needed opportunity to be given more focus as major players as compared to Devitt's, Anderson's, and Styles' management. And speaking of Devitt...



NXT


Prince Devitt left NJPW after his farewell bout against former partner, Ryusuke Taguchi, in 2014. And eventually, he became the first former member to be lured to WWE after an entire year of running the faction, a move that eventually paid off dividends for the talented Irishman.

Taking on the new name of Finn Balor and becoming one of the famed NXT 5, he ultimately left an impression in the entire WWE by becoming the undisputed face of NXT and one of the best wrestlers in the company. His accolades include being the longest reigning NXT Champion in history and the first winner of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic (alongside Samoa Joe). This coming June, he will have one final opportunity for the NXT Championship against the Samoan Submission Machine in the first ever Cage Match in NXT history, adding another accolade to the growing resume of the former Real Rock and Rolla.

A main roster call up for Balor is an inevitability. It is just a matter of when at this point, but when he does make a debut, he'll have the chance to become the first BC alumnus to become WWE World Heavyweight Champion. That is, unless...




WWE


By early 2016, the Bullet Club would be a hot commodity that was simply too good to ignore, and thus, WWE pulled off an unprecedented talent raid during that time that saw Shinsuke Nakamura and the aforementioned trio of Bullet Club members leave NJPW to join WWE.

And at the Royal Rumble match, after years of anticipation, AJ Styles finally made his WWE debut, and in a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match no less. AJ Styles would be involved in a huge feud with fellow NJPW alum, Chris Jericho, and eventually get world title opportunities with the divisive Roman Reigns in a pair of top notch matches, the latest being at Extreme Rules last night.

During that time period, the former IWGP Tag Team Champions, Gallows (reverting to his previous name, Luke) and Gun (going by Karl Anderson without the "Machine Gun" moniker) would make their debuts and attack the Usos, effectively improving the landscape of WWE's growing tag team division. The trio eventually reunited to form WWE's version of the faction, simply known as The Club.

If you think about it, AJ managed to get that call to WWE not through his endeavors in TNA, a company he helped build, but rather through these two years in New Japan. If that is not a testament to both his in-ring ability and the overall impact of the faction, who knows what it is. And the fact that WWE got the spirit of the BC in Karl Anderson while giving Gallows a second chance at the company is still an amazing thought that is worth wrapping your head around to this day.

It is only a matter of time before Styles and Balor, the two faces that never crossed paths previously, will finally meet each other face to face. And that, my friends, will be a sight to behold.

What do you think about the Bullet Club's rise to worldwide superstardom? Sound off in the comments!

                                                           *****

Lance Tan Ong has been a banking guy for the past few years but a wrestling guy for most of his life. And after checking out matches of Mitsuharu Misawa and Shinya Hashimoto at an early age, he's also pretty much a puro guy as well. Currently checking out WWE (mostly NXT), NJPW, DDT, and other promotions that catch and demand attention. He currently handles NJPW news and coverage for Smark Henry.

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