Whilst The Elite continued their exploits in America, a major development was underway with the Firing Squad back in Japan. A month earlier, Jay White had walked out of Chaos, attacking both Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada, with Okada’s long-serving manager Gedo joining the ‘Switchblade.’ Tanahashi was able to get one over on White in Sumo Hall however, advancing into the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 13. Outraged at losing one of the biggest matches of his career, White savagely attacked the Ace in the aftermath of his defeat, prompting Okada to save the day.
White narrowly escaped, but left Gedo alone in the ring with Okada, as the Rainmaker looked primed to teach his former ally a lesson. Jado, still aligned with Chaos, put a stop to this, trying to talk Okada out of attacking his wrestling brother. This was an expertly calculated plan however, as the Firing Squad hit the ring and laid out Okada, welcoming Jay White back into the ring only to twist the knife further. Jay White swore that he’d one day stand atop a New Japan faction, but no one envisaged that that faction would turn out to be Bullet Club after all.
Ties ran deep with White and Bullet Club, as he impressed Prince Devitt enough to introduce him to Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga, keeping the door open for whenever the time was right. It quickly became apparent that White’s rejection of Omega’s Bullet Club offer was more to do with ‘The Cleaner’ than the group itself. The Jay White led Bullet Club forced Kazuchika Okada into facing the ‘Switchblade’ at Wrestle Kingdom 13, with the Rainmaker pulling out all the stops to ensure that Bullet Club wouldn’t spoil this one-on-one affair. White shocked the wrestling world by picking up the victory.
Perhaps even more shockingly, At the New Beginning in Osaka, White defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi with a Blade Runner to win the IWGP Heavyweight Title, capturing the title for the first time in his career. White’s reign would be short-lived however, as Kazuchika Okada dethroned the ‘Switchblade’ just 54 days into his reign, unfortunately producing zero successful title defences. Nonetheless, IWGP Intercontinental glory was next on the agenda for White, defeating Tetsuya Naito in September 2019. This eventually led to Naito reclaiming the gold at 2020’s Wrestle Kingdom 14 Night One, before winning the IWGP Heavyweight Title on Night 2 to become a double champion.
Naito’s celebration would be cut short , as KENTA hit the ring and attacked the LIJ leader. KENTA had joined Bullet Club in the summer of 2019, turning on Chaos members Tomohiro Ishii and Yoshi-Hashi in a six-man tag team match against Bad Luck Fale and G.O.D. KENTA was coming back to Japan after a disappointing spell in WWE as Hideo Itami, entering NJPW having previously been a member of rival promotion Pro Wrestling NOAH’s roster, making him an outsider in his own right. KENTA would be unsuccessful in challenging Tetsuya Naito, but the road ahead for LIJ’s leader was about to become a whole lot more treacherous.
Naito’s reign as double champion came to an end at the hands of another Bullet Club member, although the events leading up to it had hardly involved the despicable faction. Los Ingobernables de Japon member Evil had displayed a new mean-streak throughout the 2020 New Japan Cup, defeating Kazuchika Okada to earn an opportunity at his stablemate’s titles. Naito joined Evil in the ring to celebrate, but Evil had other ideas and betrayed Naito, joining Bullet Club in the process. The next night at Dominion, Evil defeated Naito to become IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion, with the help of his ‘Parejo’, Dick Togo.
Following waves of criticism by New Japan fans, Naito would reclaim his titles in August at Summer Struggle in Jingu, and whilst Evil’s reign as double champion was over, Jay White hatched a plan to bring the gold back to Bullet Club. In November at Power Struggle, Jay White defeated Kota Ibushi for his G1 Climax Title match certificate briefcase, making him the first person in history to do so. It was once again commiserations for Bullet Club at Wrestle Kingdom however, as Jay White was unsuccessful in the main event against Kota Ibushi. White would cut a heartfelt promo after the show, stating “maybe my time should be spent somewhere else”. After a month-long hiatus, White returned on February 1st, attacking Tomohiro Ishii and reasserting himself at the top of Bullet Club’s hierarchy.
Bullet Club and the Forbidden Door:
On the February 3rd episode of AEW Dynamite, KENTA made a shocking appearance and attacked IWGP US Champion Jon Moxley. This led to KENTA teaming with former Bullet Club leader and then AEW World Champion Kenny Omega in a tag team match against Moxley and Lance Archer. The duo were victorious, although KENTA made his thoughts clear on Omega and The Elite’s attempts to reclaim their Bullet Club status, notifying ‘The Cleaner’ that the two are not friends. Omega and The Young Bucks had recently been joined in AEW by The Good Brothers and had begun referring to themselves as ‘The Bullet Club’, despite not officially being apart of the modern incarnation of the stable.
Jay White, who had recently captured the NEVER Openweight Championship in order to become the first Grand-Slam Champion in New Japan history, made his own opinions clear after his title victory, referring to himself as “The REAL Belt Collector”, a shot at Omega who had been winning titles across AEW, IMPACT, and AAA. Another Bullet Club subgroup was in the midst of developing at this time, as Roppongi 3K’s SHO turned on YOH during the Junior Tag League. Following a grudge match between the pair, which SHO won, Bullet Club’s Evil, Yujiro Takahashi and Dick Togo entered the ring and presented SHO with a Bullet Club shirt, signalling his invitation to join the faction. The quartet would go on to be known as The House of Torture, and their antics since have made them one of the wrestling world’s most hated acts.
Bullet Club’s expansion wasn’t done there either, as Jay White had his sights set on IMPACT. On the July 19th tapings, White offered Chris Bey a Bullet Club shirt and the pair threw up the “Too Sweet”, making Bey the faction’s first African American member. Bey continued to fly the Bullet Club flag in IMPACT alongside Hikuleo and El Phantasmo in the ensuing months, before White eventually made his IMPACT return, bringing G.O.D. with him. In a dramatic twist to the tale though, White would go on to cost G.O.D. their IMPACT Tag Team Title opportunity at No Surrender 2022, kicking them out of the group altogether and welcoming The Good Brothers back into the fold.
Now back in Japan, Tama Tonga fell to Evil on March 13th, after which the rest of Bullet Club attacked G.O.D. and Jado, officially ejecting them from the group and making it clear which side they were collectively on. Bad Luck Fale’s decision to align with Jay White came as a particular shock to fans, as he and Tonga were BC OGs, meaning many naturally presumed that he would align with the Tongans. It also brought an end to Jado and Gedo’s 33-year long tenure as a tag team, another surprising breakup as a result of White’s actions.
At this weekend’s Wrestling Dontaku 2022, a notoriously Bullet Club oriented show, the faction returned to their headline-making best. Gold was captured in the form of the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship via Taiji Ishimori, as well as Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale reigning victorious in a three-way tag bout for the IWGP Tag Team Championships. Furthermore, despite claiming that retirement was on the horizon, Juice Robinson made his shocking return to NJPW, aligning with Bullet Club by attacking IWGP US Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi in a scene reminiscent of AJ Styles’ New Japan debut. The Good Brother also made their returns to Japan, and the night closed with the faction standing tall over IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada alongside their leader, Jay White, who himself made a surprise return to close out a tremendous night for the group.
The top title in New Japan certainly appears to be in Bullet Club’s sights, but what else could be on the horizon as the faction moves forward under ‘The Catalyst’?
This leads us to the modern landscape of Bullet Club, with both American and Japanese wings united under Jay White. Two members yet to indicate their allegiances are Hikuleo and KENTA. Hikuleo has understandably taken issue with White’s betrayal of his brothers, although perhaps acknowledges that his future would be more secure as part of Bullet Club. KENTA on the other hand is yet to return to in-ring competition following an injury he suffered at Wrestle Kingdom 16. The former GHC Heavyweight Champion is currently playing coy on twitter, not giving a definitive answer on where he lies amongst the conflict.
There is also the small matter of The Elite, with White making an appearance on AEW TV in February, seemingly helping the group take out Trent Barreta and Rocky Romero. This contrasts White’s previous comments, although with Gallows & Anderson now at his side, its possible that White has changed his opinions on The Young Bucks and Omega. It is also possible that White’s brief allegiance with the Bucks only occurred due to the absence of Omega, with the pair sharing a rivalry that perhaps, has White looking to get one over on Omega once again.
Additionally, a new link between Bullet Club and WCW’s nWo was also recently established, as the legendary Scott Norton made his NJPW return alongside Bullet Club USA’s team for the 6-on-6 match against United Empire at NJPW’s Windy City Riot in Chicago. The former 2-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion adds only more prestige to an all-star line-up, and certainly bolsters the group’s American wing. One thing is for certain, no matter how popular or mainstream Bullet Club may be, their influence over the past decade in pro-wrestling is undeniable, and their next moves across New Japan, IMPACT, and AEW have the potential to change the game once again.