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History of Bullet Club: Can The Rebel Revive the Faction?

1 year ago

History of Bullet Club: Can The Rebel Revive the Faction?

By: Sonal Lad

One of the most famous factions in the world is the Bullet Club. Since it was created, it has become a much bigger and more known entity than its humble roots that started in New Japan Pro Wrestling.

The Start Of A New Legacy

In May 2013, Prince Devitt, who was one of the most beloved Jr Heavyweights in NJPW at the time, shocked fans when he turned on his tag team partner Ryusuke Taguchi.

If that wasn’t surprising enough, Devitt then joined forces with fellow foreigners Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, and Karl Anderson to form a villainous faction of gaijin. From that moment, the newly dubbed Bullet Club aimed to turn things around in the company. It gained more members, including the Young Bucks and Doc Gallows.

Credit: NJPW1972

The Trend Of Leaders Being Overthrown Became The Norm

While many New Japan factions have remained consistent with members and leadership, the same couldn’t be said with Bullet Club. The faction has unsurprisingly become known for betrayals, especially when it comes to their leaders.

Prince Devitt was betrayed by the faction he created after losing a “Loser Leaves Town” match against former partner Taguchi. He was replaced by AJ Styles in 2014. A year later, Kenny Omega turned against Styles after a match against Shinsuke Nakamura to become the faction’s newest leader.

Kenny’s reign was also far from smooth. In particular, as Kenny became more popular, he seemed to stray from the faction’s original message.

The first challenge to his leadership came from Cody Rhodes. Yet, the biggest challenge came through the “Civil War” with the “OG” members of the group, including G.O.D and Bad Luck Fale. Kenny had become a crowd favorite, especially after reuniting with Kota Ibushi.

On July 7, Kenny Omega defeated Cody to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Title. Yet, when Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, and King Haku came out, they attacked Kenny and the Young Bucks, They then revealed new “B.C. Firing Squad” shirts and declared themselves to be the true Bullet Club.

After a feud between the “OG Bullet Club” and the newly formed “The Elite,” the end of the civil war seemed convenient. Cody announced that he was no longer a member of the Bullet Club via his official Twitter account, and the rest of the Elite later confirmed they were going as The Elite. They eventually left NJPW and joined the brand-new promotion All Elite Wrestling.

The Start of the Switchblade Era

After The Elite left NJPW, Jay White was announced as the new leader became the new leader on December 2022.

Throughout his time in the faction, he made huge changes to the group by bringing in new talent, including El Phantasmo, and bringing the faction back to the roots it was originally known for. Along with that, he also brought success to the group as the members seemed to be bringing back gold from every angle. In particular, within a few months of becoming leader, Jay beat Hiroshi Tanahashi at the New Beginning in Osaka show to win the IWGP Heavyweight Title.

While Jay White brought the faction back to its roots, even he couldn’t completely maintain power.

At one point, after EVIL joined the faction and in the midst of the pandemic, the former Los Ingobernables de Japon member became a de facto leader. Although there was no real battle, there always seemed to be tension between the Switchblade and the leader of House of Torture, a sub-faction within the group.

The End For The Switchblade Era

Jay White’s luck seemed to change for the worst after he lost the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship to Kazuchika Okada.

After Hikuleo turned on Bullet Club in September 2022, the Young Gun became the new target of Jay White as he was blamed for the Bullet Club leader’s failures. So, rather than just a normal match at New Beginning, Jay White made it a “loser leaves Japan” match. Whoever lost would no longer be allowed to wrestle in Japan. In a strong showing from both men, it was Jay White who came out with the loss as he bid his final farewell to the Japanese fans.

After not being able to wrestle in Japan, Jay seemingly thought he had nothing to lose. With a match set with Eddie Kingston for Battle in the Valley, the Switchblade shocked fans when he put his career on the line. If he lost, he wouldn’t be able to wrestle for New Japan anywhere.

Shockingly, Jay White lost the match to Eddie Kingston, bringing his time in New Japan to an end and that’s when David Finlay came to start a new era.

A New Start With The “Rebel”

Despite Jay’s strength and accomplishments, even he couldn’t bring together a faction that seemed to continue growing but not uniting as one. So, when Jay White was forced to leave New Japan, it seemed like the perfect time for a new start – in the form of David Finlay, who betrayed his former friend Jay White and took control of his faction.

The idea of a new leader and a new side to David Finlay seemed to intrigue fans. It might have been the change many needed. However, it seems as if Finlay’s start as the Bullet Club leader hasn’t gone as smoothly or been as impactful as previous leaders.

For many, David Finlay hasn’t cemented himself as a strong enough force to be the leader of the most villainous faction in NJPW.

The transformation from a well-meaning, loved personality to a despicable and despised man seemed almost generic. Finlay seemingly took on inspiration from other Bullet Club members. It included Jay White’s patented red “X” and the drama of EVIL’s ring gear. Throughout his short time in Bullet Club, Finlay has incorporated aspects of his father Fit Finlay’s offense and personality. Yet, while incorporating the different “influences,” Finlay has not cemented his own identity as the Rebel.

Quantity Doesn’t Always Equal Quality

Along with the problems with David Finlay and the lack of personal identity since usurping Jay White as the new leader, he hasn’t solved any of the problems the faction faced. While El Phantasmo left, the faction continued to prove they were looking for new members. After recruiting Clark Connors, the Rebel’s actions, including at Capital Collision, proves he is still scouting new talent.

Although Finlay is bringing in fresh and new talent, he hasn’t solved the disunity within the faction.

Bullet Club and House of Torture still seem to be two separate entities that work separately under the same banner. David Finlay wants to direct the faction in a more serious manner. It is seemingly impossible, with the likes of KENTA and the House of Torture still resorting to cheating to win their matches. With such contrasting styles, the members are not working together towards a united goal for the faction.

Jay White Still Continues To Fly The Bullet Club Banner

If that wasn’t enough, Jay White is still working under the Bullet Club banner in All Elite Wrestling. New Japan Pro Wrestling and AEW do have a working relationship. It would have made the faction’s widespread influence plausible if it wasn’t for the ending of Jay’s time in NJPW.

Jay’s match with Eddie Kingston at Battle in the Valley had the stipulation that he would leave the company if he couldn’t win. After losing, as Jay bid farewell to the NJPW fans, he was attacked by David Finlay. Taking the microphone, Finlay hit a promo on his former friend, “From the bottom of my heart, f*ck your era.”

Yet, after seemingly overthrowing his former best friend, the Switchblade was ousted from his position, Jay made his AEW debut with fellow Bullet Club member Juice Robinson under the name “Bullet Club Gold.”

Now, David Finlay is working with Jay White’s former manager Gedo after he also betrayed him. Even during his win against Tama Tonga for the NEVER Openweight title, Gedo was a strong presence, similar to his time with Jay.

After everything Finlay did to Jay White, the idea of the faction continuing with the Switchblade in another company seemingly works against NJPW’s booking. It makes Finlay seem weaker as Bullet Club’s new leader after his statement against Jay meant nothing.

While all the Bullet Club leaders have had their own identities, David Finlay has yet to make an impact on the faction as an individual. Rather than bringing in new talent, Finlay needs to find a way to reunite the faction and bring Bullet Club back to its former glory.

Written by:

Hi, I’m Sonal. A history graduate with a degree in Modern and Contemporary History at Queen Mary University Of London. I carry a gold standard NCTJ qualification, and work as a full time journalist. I fell in love with wrestling because it combines sports and storytelling. I’ve always loved telling stories through words and for me, journalism is the perfect way to share the lives of real people and make sure all voice are heard. It’s also an industry that, despite a bad reputation, it can be used for good and make a difference in the world.