How Bullet Club Disrupted WWE and the Modern-Day Wrestling Landscape

Philip LindseyContributor IIMay 3, 2022

Photo credit: All Elite Wrestling

Many stables in professional wrestling don't last that long. To put this in perspective, New World Order only lasted for about four years in their prime. So, it's all the more impressive that Bullet Club have remained relevant since their inception nine years ago.

On May 3, 2013, Prince Devitt continued to break bad as he and Bad Luck Fale defeated his former tag partner, Ryusuke Taguchi, and Captain New Japan at New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Wrestling Dontaku.

Later, Karl Anderson joined the Real Rock 'n' Rolla and hit Hiroshi Tanahashi with the Gun Stun that changed everything.

Along with Tama Tonga, they formed Bullet Club. The revolutionary group became the hottest gaijin faction in the history of the Japanese promotion, introducing Western heel tactics to a traditional setting.

In the process, the influential stable launched the careers of a Who's Who list of stars, including Devitt who went on to be Finn Balor in WWE. Other notable members include AJ Styles, The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, Adam Page, Cody Rhodes, Adam Cole and Kenta.

The current leader, Jay White, recently made his mark in the United States as a part of NJPW of America, but he has also infiltrated Impact Wrestling and All Elite Wrestling. Over the weekend, The Switchblade returned to Japan at the event where it all began in a big way as several members of Bullet Club claimed championship gold again.

The Good Brothers also returned and Anderson ironically nailed Tonga with a Gun Stun to continue their rivalry from Impact. Juice Robinson also stunned his loyal fans as he resurfaced, coincidentally attacked Tanahashi, and joined their ranks in pursuit of the IWGP United States Championship.

At the end of the night, the group gathered around White as he ambushed Kazuchika Okada after the main event and laid claim to the world heavyweight title.

It felt like old times again, but this could be just the beginning. One has to assume 2022 could be a big year for the faction, as wrestlers are allowed to travel in and out of Japan again.

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Well-Laid Plans in the Works

Bullet Club always offered New Japan a long-sought foray into the U.S. market.

At the height of their success, The Elite were the biggest stars in both NJPW and Ring of Honor. Their popularity led to the success of All In in September 2018, which in turn paved the way for AEW.

Is it any wonder WWE took notice and signed six members of the stable over the past eight years. Balor and Cole were instrumental in the success of NXT as two of its longest-reigning champions. Meanwhile, Styles has enjoyed a prosperous run on the main roster.

This is a testament to the lasting impact Bullet Club has had on the industry. In fact, The Prince teamed up with The Phenomenal One on the latest episode of Raw. It's a moment that was long overdue as the two both led the stable at one point. However, it's just the company's latest attempt to cash in on the pop-culture phenomenon.

Nevertheless, all eyes will be on White as he continues to execute his plan to reshape Bullet Club and reclaim his spot as the top gaijin star. In April 2019, the New Zealander competed in the main event of G1 Supercard as IWGP heavyweight champion during WrestleMania Weekend.

The cross-promotional supershow was the first non-WWE wrestling show to take place at Madison Square Garden in nearly 60 years. This is significant as Bullet Club will likely play a role in Forbidden Door, AEW and NJPW's first joint pay-per-view. After all, Cole and The Switchblade interrupted Tony Khan and Takami Ohbari's announcement to break the news about the event.

It's hard to ignore this was probably an honor that would've belonged to Omega if he wasn't injured. Similarly, The Best Bout Machine may have headlined G1 Supercard if he hadn't left NJPW to sign with AEW.

White has a long history with Omega going back as far as January 2018 when The Cleaner attempted to recruit him.

The formation of AEW and the rise of Bullet Club's Cutthroat Era are undeniably linked because King Switch took over in The Elite's absence. Watching their worlds converge is the most compelling and unpredictable storyline heading into Forbidden Door.

The man who fittingly calls himself "The Catalyst" has clearly constructed a plan, and his uneasy pact with The Undisputed Elite is at the heart of it. Cole said, "When you're Bullet Club, you're Bullet Club for life" when the 29-year-old showed up on the Feb. 9 episode of Dynamite.

Still, it's just hard to figure out who's playing who, or who will strike first.


A Step into Uncharted Territory

Tuesday marks the ninth anniversary of the formation of Bullet Club, but their biggest feat could still be ahead. This year could finally be the one when the group makes its long-awaited move into mainstream wrestling in America.

The Elite did so on a smaller scale with ROH and planted the seeds of healthy competition with WWE. The industry leader even tried its hand at allusions to Bullet Club with contemporary stables such as The Club, Balor Club and The O.C.

This isn't even the first time AEW has tried to recapture the magic of The Elite's iteration. Omega started using the name during his time with Impact, and he staged a short-lived reunion on Dynamite last January.

Nevertheless, the genuine article has never made an appearance on network TV despite their undeniable reach. To that end, there was a point when you couldn't turn on any wrestling show without seeing rows of Bullet Club shirts in the crowd. Still, it somehow took this long for the stars to align, and that's likely because New Japan owns the name.

However, AEW's partnership with NJPW ensures that the popular heel stable will be able to finally step into the spotlight on a bigger stage. One could argue this may be a few years too late, but this could also be the perfect time to take part in a historic moment.

The United Center is also a fitting venue because All In occurred in Chicago. In many ways, Forbidden Door is the culmination of what The Elite started at the event. Reigniting a positive professional relationship with New Japan and facing ghosts of their past in Bullet Club was the logical next step in creating an alternative to WWE in the U.S.

The group initially made waves by disrupting social norms in Japanese wrestling. Now, the iconic stable could help to upset the status quo in America as a part of a massive partnership on June 26.