The Bullet Club took the wrestling world by storm when it debuted in New Japan Pro Wrestling on May 3, 2013. The group was created by Prince Devitt – aka Finn Balor – after he grew a cocky, villainous attitude following years of being a fan-favourite junior heavyweight. The Irish grappler was joined by fellow foreigners “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson, Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga as the original four man group of foreign wrestlers in NJPW.
The Bullet Club soon began to grow in popularity and it wasn’t long before the group’s logo was popping up at wrestling shows around the world. New members Doc Gallows and The Young Bucks would join later that year, increasing the coolness factor of the exclusive heel faction.
The Bullet Club’s attitude and villainous tactics made them stand out in Japan, a country that has remained very traditional in its pro wrestling. Wrestling fans worldwide also took to the group in a huge way, making them one of the biggest things in wrestling since the WWE’s Attitude Era. Unfortunately, only two original members remain in the Bullet Club today – Fale and Tonga – as both Devitt and Anderson work for the WWE. Other members that helped make the group one of the best factions in wrestling history have also gone – including Gallows and AJ Styles.
In 2017, four years after the Bullet Club’s debut, the group seems a shell of its former self. Fans would be forgiven to think it is just a vehicle to sell t-shirts as the original group that made wrestling exciting again, has turned into something far from cutting edge. In the same way that the N.W.O. ran its course and had fringe members coming out of the woodwork, it seems the Bullet Club has overstayed its welcome. Like the N.W.O., the Bullet Club has had some terrible members, but it has also had members that rocked!
16. Terrible: Jeff Jarrett
In 2014, Jeff Jarrett created Global Force Wrestling and the wrestling world held its breath with excitement over what might follow. What actually followed was a bunch of sparsely attended wrestling shows in minor league baseball stadiums and TNA eventually rebranding as GFW in 2017. There were also those 2015 TV tapings that were filmed in Las Vegas but only saw the light of day in 2017, because Jarrett couldn’t get television networks interested in the product. However, things were very different for Jarrett in 2014 when he became a member of the Bullet Club. His inclusion was obviously pointing to the possibility of a GFW-NJPW business partnership. What resulted instead was just Jarrett appearing at a few NJPW shows, including Wrestle Kingdom 9, when his errant guitar shot caused his six-man tag team to lose their bout. “He broke 6,000 guitars and never drew a dime.”
15. Rocked: Bad Luck Fale
Bad Luck Fale is one of only two remaining Bullet Club members that were with the team when it formed. The former professional rugby player trained to be a professional wrestler with the NJPW dojo, and that is where he became friends with Devitt and Anderson. The “Underboss” was supposed to be Devitt’s bodyguard and the pair were to be a duo akin to Shawn Michaels and Diesel in mid-1990s WWE according to Devitt’s Talk is Jericho appearance. However, plans changed and the two along with (Anderson and Tama Tonga) laid the groundwork for what the Bullet Club would become in its first year. Still a member, Fale seems to be going nowhere at the minute. The group has evolved into a faction that makes people money from t-shirt sales rather than generating heat.
14. Terrible: Frankie Kazarian
If you blinked, you may have missed Frankie Kazarian’s run with the Bullet Club. You may not even have realized he was in the group as it was an angle run by Ring of Honor. Kazarian turned on his best friend of 16 years Christopher Daniels as the latter feuded with Adam Cole for the ROH World Heavyweight title. Turns out, Kazarian’s heel turn was just a ruse to help Daniels get the best of Cole, who would be kicked out of the Bullet Club in May 2017. Kazarian’s brief month run with the Club was another point in the group’s history to have ROH shoehorn a new member in for their storylines. Like the N.W.O. did years ago, the addition of members for these purposes has only served to water down the group.
13. Rocked: Tama Tonga
One of the Bullet Club’s original members, Tama Tonga is one of the most physically impressive wrestlers in NJPW. The adopted son of former WWE and WCW wrestler Haku/Meng, much of Tonga’s work with the faction has come as a tag team partner to another member. He has also been a bit of fringe player compared to the group’s more well-known grapplers. In 2016, Tonga formed a tag team with his brother and Bullet Club member Tanga Loa. The two have captured the IWGP tag team titles on three occasions. Although his time as a Bullet Club member hasn’t been star studded, Tama Tonga has rocked due to being one of the original four members of the faction.
12. Terrible: Chase Owens
In October 2015, Chase Owens joined the Bullet Club after being touted as a junior heavyweight with loads of talent and potential. Trained by the Rock’n’Roll Express’s Ricky Morton, Owens is quite the innovator of offensive wrestling manoeuvres, and has been using them to impress crowds the world over. His potential influenced NJPW to sign him for tours throughout the last few years. Paired with Bullet Club leader Kenny Omega in tag team matches, Owens got a chance to work with one of the promotion’s top talents. He also made it possible for Omega to lose on a nightly basis without being pinned. Owens is only a part-time worker for NJPW while keeping a schedule on the indies in the United States. Still a member of the Bullet Club, many have proclaimed him to be the most underrated member of the group.
11. Rocked: The Young Bucks
The Young Bucks joined the Bullet Club on their NJPW debut, the 2013 Super Junior Tag Tournament. It was a competition the duo would go on to win, and since then The Young Bucks haven’t looked back. Prior to joining the Bullet Club, the tag team had long been seen as a tandem with plenty of potential; however, their size held them back. After joining Prince Devitt and his band of foreign heels, the team skyrocketed in popularity, and have proven that wrestlers don’t have to work for the WWE to be a financial success. According to reports, t-shirt and merchandise sales make up most of The Young Bucks’ money over the course of the year. In February 2017, Forbes reported that the team’s shirts were the third highest seller on Pro Wrestling Tees’ website. The ability to sell shirts and get booked all over the world has helped the duo make money similar to their friends and former Bullet Club partners in the WWE.
10. Terrible: “Bullet Babe” Amber Gallows
Amber Gallows – aka Amber O’Neal – joined up with the Bullet Club in early 2015 and made her first appearance as “The Bullet Babe” on the Wrestle Kingdom 9 card. The real-life wife of Doc Gallows, her inclusion in the group seemed tenuous. She would later wrestle in a six-person mixed tag match alongside Gallows and Anderson, but overall her work with the faction was mostly bad. The idea of including an attractive female in Japanese wrestling as eye candy went against tradition, and made the Bullet Club an even more despicable foreign group. Unlike other new members of the “Biz Cliz”, Gallows didn’t water down the group. In fact, used a bit differently, she could have got the team a lot more heat from fans.
9. Rocked: Kenny Omega
A relative nobody in wrestling until he joined the Bullet Club, the “Cleaner” has since risen to be one of the top wrestlers in the world. Similar to how AJ Styles’ career took off after joining the Bullet Club, Omega has been on a collision course to win his first IWGP World Heavyweight title, a belt that has so far proven elusive. Since he took over as leader of the Bullet Club from Styles and Anderson, Omega has had numerous high-profile matches. His Wrestle Kingdom 11 match against Kazuchika Okada was regarded as the best match in years, but it was topped months later by their follow up, which got 6.25 stars from the Wresting Observer’s Dave Meltzer. Omega isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but his work with the Bullet Club has helped make him a big name, and it has kept the group going. Known as “The Elite” when teaming with The Young Bucks, Omega has shown he is a top performer and a move to the WWE is not unlikely.
8. Terrible: Cody Hall
Cody Hall joined the Bullet Club with plenty of fanfare. How could he not when his dad was one of the founding members of the N.W.O. and has had plenty of well publicized personal issues? Hall was positioned as the group’s young boy, and ate plenty of pins in his first year of working in NJPW. Most of his time was spent working in tag team and multi-man matches, which allowed him to learn. It also gave the very green Hall a chance to watch veterans work. Hall’s exit from the Bullet Club was nothing spectacular. In April 2016 at NJPW’s Invasion Attack show, Hall caught Nick Jackson of The Young Bucks as he dived off a barrier. The move injured Hall’s neck bad enough to keep him out of the ring for just over 12 months. During that time, he was quietly removed from the Bullet Club and resurfaced in Pro Wrestling Noah. Unfortunately, Noah’s relationship with NJPW is no more, but the group’s new alliance with Global Force Wrestling (TNA) could make the big man a star stateside someday soon.
7. Rocked: Doc Gallows
The tag team partner of Karl Anderson and one of the group’s core members after its debut in 2013, the nearly 300-pound Gallows had been overlooked by wrestling companies for years prior. Made into a joke by the WWE before joining the Straight Edge Society, Gallows bounced around as a wrestler before joining the Bullet Club in November 2013. Although Gallows wasn’t one of the original members, he became synonymous with the faction and it is hard to think of the earliest version of the Bullet Club without the big man. Gallows and Anderson first teamed up together at the 2013 World Tag League, and the formation proved successful as the duo won the tournament. Less than a month later, Gallows and Anderson won the NJPW tag belts. Now in the WWE, Gallows and Anderson are in the best physical condition of their careers. Members of “The Club” with AJ Styles, the two wrestlers have the potential to be major stars in the WWE just like they were in NJPW.
6. Terrible: “Hangman” Adam Page
Another of ROH’s Bullet Club members, “Hangman” Adam Page has held the company’s six-man tag titles with partners The Young Bucks. The group is known collectively as the “Hung Bucks” when wrestling in six-man matches. Since debuting with NJPW in 2016, Page has been on the periphery of the Bullet Club, and has mostly featured in tag team matches in Japan. Unlike the original members, Page’s involvement with the club has been less cutting edge and cool, and mostly just boring. Once again, it makes the Bullet Club look far past its prime as a faction, over four years since it began as what was truly meant something in wrestling. The Bullet Club has strangely enough done wonders for Page’s career. The former teacher was able to become a full-time wrestler thanks to his inclusion in the exclusive group.
5. AJ Styles
On the same night that original Bullet Club leader Prince Devitt was removed from the group, AJ Styles was unveiled as the faction’s newest member. Styles made his mark by laying out IWGP World Champion Kazuchika Okada following his title match at the April 2014 Invasion Attack show. Over the course of the next 18 months, Styles would rise to become the best wrestler in the world. His new Bullet Club persona was far more fitting than the clean cut babyface he portrayed in TNA, and his arsenal of devastating wrestling moves made him one of the most exciting grapplers to watch. His Wrestle Kingdom 9 match, at the height of NJPW’s recent popularity, against Tetsuya Naito was a masterclass of holds and high-flying. Some have said Styles didn’t truly fit in the Bullet Club, which is not true at all. While the other members were more villainous as individuals, Styles was the wrestler of the bunch, and his role in the group was a perfect fit.
4. Terrible: Adam Cole
Adam Cole spent a little over a year in the Bullet Club from 2016 to 2017. Cole wasn’t a major member of the team and served as more of a representative of the Bullet Club on United States soil with Ring of Honor. Cole’s time in the Bullet Club was cut short due to his signing with the WWE. His removal from the faction was one of the biggest moments in ROH and NJPW’s working relationship. The grappler was kicked out of the Bullet Club when new addition Marty Scurll revealed he had be recruited. Cole’s time with the group was unspectacular and was just more of the Club being overstretched with members that added little to the original concept. Although a great individual wrestler, being a member of the team didn’t improve either side.
3. Rocked: “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson
Karl Anderson’s career is very similar to the Bullet Club’s original leader Prince Devitt. Both trained in the NJPW dojo and both were close friends during their time in the company. While Devitt would go for singles gold during his Bullet Club tenure, Anderson and tag team partner Doc Gallows were the most dominating duo on NJPW’s tag team roster. The two can be credited with bringing tag team wrestling back to the forefront of the sport, although they have since been eclipsed by another Bullet Club duo. Anderson and Gallows were so over as a team, the two even had an extremely popular podcast on the MLW Radio Network. Recorded in their hotel rooms in Tokyo, the show was often a bunch of drunken rambling with the occasional interview thrown in. The podcast grew the legend of the Bullet Club and helped to make the group a household name. Anderson became the Bullet Club’s leader after the departure of Devitt, and even in troubled times, held the faction together. The group would also see Styles leave, but Anderson kept the team united as one of the best to ever be formed before handing the reins over to Omega. Many comparisons have been made between Anderson and Arn Anderson, the kayfabe family the “Machine Gun” was born into. The comparisons are appropriate as Arn Anderson fulfilled a similar role in the Four Horsemen. Without Anderson, the Bullet Club has been missing something it has not been able to find since he left.
2. Terrible: Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes has become a bigger star in professional wrestling away from the WWE than he was with the company. Rhodes has been with the Bullet Club for about a year, and has worked in both the US and Japan on shows representing the faction. The only problem is, Rhodes doesn’t really fit with the group, and should really be the protagonist fighting against the tyranny of the Bullet Club. His father, Dusty Rhodes, became an icon to a generation of wrestling fans due to his battles against the Four Horsemen. Cody Rhodes should be positioned in the same way, and despite his three-piece suit gimmick that is more Ric Flair than himself, he just doesn’t fit into being a true Bullet Club member.
1. Rocked: Prince Devitt
On May 3, 2013, Prince Devitt changed wrestling history by starting the Bullet Club. After more than seven years with New Japan Pro Wrestling, and seen as one of the more likeable foreign wrestlers, Devitt had enough of being a respected babyface. During the Wrestling Dontaku 2013 NJPW show, Devitt and tag team partner Bad Luck Fale defeated the tag team of Captain New Japan and Ryusuke Taguchi. However, it was later that night that the duo would really throw gasoline on the fire. Following Karl Anderson’s loss to Hiroshi Tanahashi the American turned on his Japanese rival. The move led to Anderson, Devitt, Fale and Tama Tonga beating down the NJPW homegrown star. For the next 11 months, Devitt led the original – and best –incarnation of the Bullet Club. Under Devitt’s leadership, the team became the hottest wrestling faction since the N.W.O. and the group would use many of the older faction’s mannerisms. The cocky Bullet Club, led by the cockiest member of all, showcased an attitude that Japanese wrestling had never seen before, and his idea for the faction is still going strong today. Devitt’s time as the Bullet Club’s leader ended in April 2014 when he lost a “Loser Leaves Town” match to former tag partner Taguchi. The outgoing leader was then attacked by Bullet Club members The Young Bucks, sealing his fate as he exited the group. During the final days of his Bullet Club life, Devitt had begun to see the errors of his ways. One month later, it was reported Devitt had joined the WWE, leaving the Bullet Club in his past. If he hadn’t left NJPW, the future and even current existence of the Bullet Club may have been completely different.
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