“The Bullet Club has sort of become this pop-culture phenomenon. You don’t even have to like wrestling or follow our product, and you can wear a Bullet Club shirt, and it’s cool.” ― Kenny Omega
Hello! Today, we continue the Bullet Club series with the Kenny Omega era. The faction’s previous success ensured that its members would reap the rewards, but it was the beginning of a tumultuous time. The civil war split the group in two, with some showing loyalty to “The Elite”, while the rest represented OG Bullet Club or “The Firing Squad”.
If I were to compare it to anything, it’s like what happened in WCW with the nWo Wolfpac Elite. However, the OG Bullet Club should not be seen as a “B-Team”, but as a face group looking to defend their factions’ roots from a group who didn’t care. I will highlight how this war started and show each wrestler’s allegiance. The color blue will show those representing The Elite, and red will be used for OG Bullet Club members.
Did you miss the previous volumes? You can find them in the links below:
Prince Devitt (#1) / AJ Styles & Karl Anderson (#2)
#16. Kenny Omega – 3rd Leader, 2nd IWGP Heavyweight Champion (November 8, 2014 – October 30, 2018)
We talked about Kenny Omega in the previous article, but this time it’s about his reign as Bullet Club leader. Unlike AJ Styles & Karl Anderson, Kenny Omega was the undisputed leader for a while, although he didn’t seem to appreciate it. Kenny previously questioned his inclusion, given that the faction was about gaijin’s (foreigners), which he had tried hard not to be. His appreciation of Japanese culture started during childhood, and as he grew up and began wrestling, he wanted nothing more than to be accepted and not be seen as an outsider.
During an interview with Rolling Stone in early 2016, Omega talked about the state of Bullet Club. He felt it wasn’t like it was, and he was more interested in moving forward with The Young Bucks as The Elite. As they shared the same mindset, he wanted to push a distinct style, which promised more silly entertainment on social media. Neither he nor The Young Bucks really wanted to be in Bullet Club as they saw it as too much of a parody, but they didn’t mind New Japan saying they were in the group because it made the company money.
You could say that The Elite were trying to Americanize Bullet Club, more so than ever before. Instead of being a pack of wolves, they were more concerned about building a profile online. Omega & The Young Bucks teamed together a lot, which showed they were more interested in doing their own thing. The remaining founding members of Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga did not step up to challenge this, at least not right away. Omega felt Bullet Club’s ranks had been watered down. Also, whenever anyone talked about something cool that Bullet Club did, it was always a member of The Elite.
It took a while for the tension to boil over, though. Before then, Omega was winning titles. First, he took the Intercontinental title from Hiroshi Tanahashi. He & The Young Bucks won the NEVER Openweight 6-Man titles twice. The Elite wrestled in Ring of Honor for a while, bringing part of the Bullet Club to the United States like AJ Styles before him. Omega made history at the 2016 G1 Climax, when he became the first non-Japanese wrestler to win the tournament and earn a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Champion at Wrestle Kingdom. At the biggest show of the year, he would face Kazuchika Okada at the Tokyo Dome.
While Omega was unsuccessful, they wrestled the longest match in the series history of annual shows on January 4th. Dave Meltzer and Wrestling Observer rated it six stars, which was the highest score they had ever given a match. Many wrestlers reacted positively to it, including Daniel Bryan, Mick Foley and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Omega hadn’t risen to the top as quickly as AJ Styles, but he’d left his mark before going on hiatus. Upon his return a month later, his goal was to challenge for the IWGP title again. He got his wish in June, again against Okada. Omega lost again, and the Wrestling Observer awarded them 6 1/4 stars, beating their previous encounter. They proved the first one wasn’t a fluke.
We’re leaving Kenny Omega for now to carry on with other members, before getting to the Civil War.
#21. King Haku – Toughest Manager (January 4, 2016 – July 7, 2018 / Mid-2021 to Present)
Haku is a legend known for his time in the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling. He previously worked as a WWF Tag Team Champion with André the Giant under Bobby Heenan’s management. He is known not just for being a reliable worker, but as one of the toughest men in wrestling, to where even André wouldn’t mess with him.
During retirement, he has spent much of his time supporting his son Tanga Loa, and adopted sons Tama Tonga & Hikuleo. He played a role in the formation of The Firing Squad, as all his sons betrayed The Elite. Haku stopped accompanying them in mid-2018, but returned to their side by mid-2021. This time, he escorted Hikuleo during their All Elite Wrestling debut, and shortly after, joined back up with Bullet Club in Japan.
#22. Tanga Loa – Guerillas of Destiny (March 12, 2016 – February 19, 2022)
Pictured on the left with his brother Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa previously worked as a WWE Superstar. He signed a development contract in 2009 and wrestled for FCW, where he became a tag team champion with CJ Parker (aka Juice Robinson). Most will remember him for his run as Camacho, who was the tag team partner of unmasked Hunico. When NXT started, he worked there and on WWE’s other shows like Main Event. He was released from contract in 2014 and joined TNA the following year. Now going by Micah, he joined a stable called The Rising with Drew McIntyre & Eli Drake. The concept was one of pushing former WWE Superstars who deserved better. While the other two rose through the ranks, Micah suffered and was released by 2016.
He didn’t find his place until he united with his adoptive brother Tama Tonga in New Japan, who introduced him as part of the Bullet Club. They formed the Guerillas of Destiny, who became one of the most successful gaijin teams in New Japan history. Together, GOD are 7-time IWGP and 1-time ROH Tag Team Champions. Last year, they became the longest serving tag team in Bullet Club history. They began appearing in America for Impact Wrestling, under Jay White’s leadership. Last month, during a match with The Good Brothers, Jay White & Chris Bey betrayed and kicked GOD out of Bullet Club. They were replaced by Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows, who are now in a heated rivalry with those they replaced.
Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa could be considered the leaders of The Firing Squad while they distanced themselves from The Elite.
#23. Adam Cole – ROH World Champion (May 8, 2016 – May 12, 2017)
Adam Cole’s inclusion in Bullet Club was a big deal because he was the ROH World Champion. Also, he and The Young Bucks formed the Superkliq trios team, giving Bullet Club another formidable mini-stable. There was a time in 2017 when Kenny Omega was on hiatus, following his loss to Kazuchika Okada. Adam Cole stepped up, but perhaps felt the power going to his head. He tried firing The Young Bucks for not having his back during a ruse which saw him lose the title to Christopher Daniels. They told Cole he wasn’t the leader, so he had no power to make that decision.
When Kenny Omega returned, he fired Adam Cole and replaced him with another ROH wrestler. Adam Cole lasted a little over a year in Bullet Club, which isn’t long compared to some others. While he associates with The Elite in AEW, he was never technically part of it in New Japan, although he did like teaming with other Elite members.
#24. Adam Page – Most Improved (May 9, 2016 – October 30, 2018)
Before Bullet Club, Adam Page was a mid-card talent trying to get ahead in Ring of Honor and the indies. After betraying other ROH wrestlers, he revealed his new allegiance with the faction. He got a noose and hung Chris Sabin, which gave him the new nickname of “Hangman”. Much like Adam Cole, he formed a trios team with The Young Bucks, which they called the “Hung Bucks”. Together, they won the ROH World Six-Man titles.
While Page has seen a lot of success in AEW, these years were about learning. He didn’t win any New Japan titles, nor any singles titles in ROH. Page worked mostly in tag teams and rarely won singles encounters. It wasn’t until he got to AEW that he started getting pushed in to the main event scene, which some fans initially resisted because they felt he was getting preferential treatment for being part of The Elite. Over time, especially during his partnership with Kenny Omega, The Cowboy proved his worth to the AEW faithful.
#25. Bone Soldier – Failed Mascot (September 25, 2016 – January 5, 2017)
Originally known as Captain New Japan, he worked as a masked super hero. As part of Yoshitatsu’s Hunter Club (anti-BC group), they removed him for his poor performances. Bullet Club picked him up, renamed him the Bone Soldier, and stuck a new mask on him.
He was representing the skull character shown on Bullet Club shirts, but again, Captain New Japan failed to live up to expectation. A couple of months later, Kenny Omega labelled him an “intergalactic disaster” and kicked him out of the group. Shortly after, New Japan released him from contract. It is unknown what he did after that.
#26. “Tokyo Latina” Pieter – Sexiest Valet (September 22, 2016 – Present)
When Mao was released from New Japan, Yujiro Takahashi sought a suitable replacement. Enter Pieter, who has proven successful as one of Bullet Club’s longest serving part-timers.
Not much is known about her, other than she has Japanese & Spanish heritage, and for being in a relationship with Bad Luck Fale. Also, she’s hot. That’s all we need to know, right?
#27. Cody Rhodes – Nightmare Powermonger (December 10, 2016 – October 24, 2018)
Cody Rhodes’ entry in to Bullet Club changed the game. Here is a well-known former WWE Superstar looking to prove his worth to the world. He has a chip on his shoulder and wants to unite professional wrestling. After being a good member for six months, Cody Rhodes & Kenny Omega started showing friction. Cody felt Kenny was too injured during a match and wanted to throw in the towel, which his leader didn’t appreciate. It was mostly mind games, as Rhodes wanted more power in Bullet Club. During this time, Cody defeated Christopher Daniels to become the ROH World Champion.
This was a busy time, as Cody had appeared for Impact, and was wrestling for New Japan & ROH. He would later challenge Nick Aldis for the NWA World title, and became the IWGP United States Champion. Things turned for the worst when Cody lead the Bullet Club to attack Omega’s old tag team partner, Kota Ibushi. Omega always had a soft spot for Ibushi, so he protected him from the attack by standing in the way. After Jay White defeated Omega for the United States title, Cody hit him with Cross Rhodes and began the infighting. The Elite was split, and the rest of Bullet Club looked to distance themselves.
Through 2018, Bullet Club was split as The Elite fought among themselves. There were questions over who the leader was, so Cody & Kenny Omega had a match at ROH’s Supercard of Honor XII. There is a source saying their match decided the leader of Bullet Club, but no other sources confirm this. Cody won the match because of a mistake by The Young Bucks, but he never became the leader. Omega moved on to teaming with Kota Ibushi to reform the Golden☆Lovers, although he remained the leader of Bullet Club, and Ibushi was only a member of The Elite.
In June, after ending Okada’s 720 day reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kenny Omega reunited with The Young Bucks. With Kota Ibushi, they began calling themselves The Golden Elite. After retaining the title against Cody in July, other Bullet Club members appeared to congratulate him before turning on their leader. This included Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa and King Haku, who were now going by the Firing Squad name. Bad Luck Fale & Hikuleo later confirmed their allegiance with Firing Squad. It officially split Bullet Club in two, and here is a list of the groups:
The Elite – Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Cody & Brandi Rhodes, Yujiro Takahashi & Pieter, Adam Page, Marty Scurll, Chase Owens and Stephen Amell. Kota Ibushi was an outside ally.
OG Bullet Club – Bad Luck Fale, Guerrillas of Destiny, King Haku, Hikuleo, Gino Gambino, Taiji Ishimori, Jay White, Gedo, Jado & Robbie Eagles.
By the end of October 2018, The Elite broke away from Bullet Club. Kenny Omega, Young Bucks, Cody, Brandi Rhodes, Adam Page and Stephen Amell left New Japan. Yujiro Takahashi, Pieter and Chase Owens rejoined Bullet Club for a short time before being kicked out for siding with The Elite. Tama Tonga allowed them to rejoin not long after the rest of The Elite were gone, and they are still part of the group.
#28. Brandi Rhodes (December 10, 2016 – October 24, 2018)
While Brandi was technically part of Bullet Club, she did little other than accompany her husband to the ring and provide interference. She had the occasional match in Impact Wrestling and Ring Of Honor, but never worked a match in New Japan. Outside of wrestling and managing, Brandi mostly helped to advertise Cody’s Nightmare merchandise with the Bullet Club design.
#29. Frankie Kazarian – Elite Betrayer (February 11, 2017 – March 10, 2017)
During a ROH show in early February 2017, Frankie Kazarian turned on his best friend Christopher Daniels, and revealed he was now a member of Bullet Club.
However, a month later, Frankie revealed this was a ruse after helping Daniels defeat Adam Cole to become the ROH World Champion. You’d think it would happen more often, but Kazarian is the only member to join in the short term just to screw over the Bullet Club.
#30. Marty Scurll – Villain Club (May 12, 2017 – October 30, 2018)
Remember when I said Kenny Omega fired Adam Cole and replaced him with another ROH wrestler? It was Marty Scurll, who proved to be a popular member with his Villain Club branding. During his time, he became a Junior Heavyweight Champion and NEVER Openweight 6-man tag team champion with The Young Bucks.
For some unknown reason, Scurll did not join the rest of The Elite when AEW opened its doors. He showed up in the NWA, and made rare appearances in New Japan, before being signed as the head booker of ROH in early 2020. He would have faced Nick Aldis for the NWA World Championship, but they scrapped this after news broke. During the Speaking Out movement, it was revealed that Marty Scurll had sex with a drunk 16-year-old. In the UK, 16 is the legal age of consent, and Scurll twice made a statement saying the act was consensual. Here’s his statement:
“I am aware that a young woman has bravely come forward with her account of sexual abuse by some members of the wrestling community in the UK 5 years ago, a community I was a part of. Although I truly believe that our encounter that evening was consensual, and the fact that the encounter was legal; is almost not the point. I understand that she now views our encounter as part of a bigger problem within the wrestling community.
What concerns me at this moment is that from what I have been reading, she is a fan of wrestling and was made to feel unsafe within that community. This is not acceptable. I also understand that people have been attacking her on social media, and I implore you to please stop. She has a right to her voice, and it is our responsibility to listen.”
Despite this, the news was looked down upon, and both Scurll & ROH mutually agreed to part ways. He has since struggled to get work, and is spending much of his time in Puerto Rico.
#31. Hikuleo – Tallest Member (September 6, 2017 – Present)
Standing at 6 foot 8 inches, Hikuleo is the tallest member in Bullet Club history. The Dudley Boys trained him at the Team 3D academy, and he also spent time in the NJPW & Fale Dojos.
His debut was in late 2016, so has only been wrestling for five years. He has yet to win any championships and is one of only a few members to have made their AEW & Impact Wrestling debuts.
#32. “Mr Juicy” Gino Gambino – First Australian (November 11, 2017 – June 30, 2019)
Gambino will be unfamiliar to most people, and there isn’t a lot of information about him. Bad Luck Fale introduced him to Bullet Club after a tag team match in Australia.
Gambino has also done commentary and often did so while representing the faction. He won no IWGP titles, but is a former MCW World Champion. Gambino spent much of his time working tag matches before being let go in mid-2019. His current status is unknown.
#33. Stephen Amell – Famous Actor (November 17, 2017 – September 1, 2018)
During his time in WWE, Stephen Amell teamed with Cody Rhodes. This opened the door for him to join Bullet Club in New Japan, bringing the faction another form of star power. The Canadian actor is known as the star of super hero TV show Arrow.
While he didn’t wrestle in New Japan, we often saw him with The Elite in ROH. He worked a tag match with them, where he was put through a table by The Addiction tag team. Amell tried getting his revenge on Christopher Daniels at All In, but fell short in their match. He is now working on “Heels”, a drama TV show based on independent wrestling. Amell was the last Bullet Club member recruited to The Elite.
#34. Taiji Ishimori – Best Bone Soldier (May 4, 2018 – Present)
Over a year after they kicked the original Bone Soldier out of the group, another man showed up under a similar mask. The identity of the masked man turned out to be Taiji Ishimori, who had made a name for himself in Impact Wrestling as a very credible X Division Champion. Now back in Japan, Ishimori wanted to prove he belonged in the country’s biggest promotion. Given his success in Pro Wrestling NOAH as a 3-time Junior Heavyweight, and 6-time Junior Tag Team Champion, Ishimori looked to do more of the same in New Japan.
And he has done just that! By becoming a 2-time Junior Heavyweight, and 3-time Junior Tag Team Champion (w/ El Phantasmo). He’s also a six-man tag champion with Guerillas of Destiny, showing he has potential with a range of partners. As someone who followed his Impact Wrestling career, this was a grand loss for them. New Japan got a solid worker here, and I’m not surprised he remains Bullet Club’s best Bone Soldier.
#35-38. Jay White, Gedo, Jado & Robbie Eagles – 4th Leader & New Recruits (October 8, 2018)
In the last month of Kenny Omega’s reign, Jay White, Gedo, Jado & Robbie Eagles joined the ranks of the OG Bullet Club. Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale carried the group during the civil war, and Tonga did not announce that Jay White had taken over as leader until December 11th, 2018.
The most shocking part of this was the departure of Gedo from the Chaos stable. As Kazuchika Okada’s manager for years, he had helped him to great success. Not only that, but Gedo was one of its original members from way back in 2009. His tag partner Jado followed him, so two of the original members defected to Bullet Club, and took Jay White (he had only been with Chaos since early 2018) with them.
I can’t go too much in to this because they play a part in the last volume of the series. This should be enough background information to bring us to the end of the Kenny Omega era. New Japan knew The Elite were on the way out, and the changing of landscape was necessary for its future booking.
All Elite Wrestling
Perhaps the most important thing about this era is The Elite. Without that, would we have All Elite Wrestling? Would Cody Rhodes & The Young Bucks have teamed with ROH to produce All In, without Dave Meltzer betting they couldn’t sell 10,000 tickets for a show? Would Tony Khan had been so impressed that he would accept the launch of a new promotion? The Bullet Club gave The Elite the platform to get noticed on a worldwide stage, to the point they could draw enough American fans to hold such a magnificent event.
It generated enough buzz to motivate guys like Chris Jericho to leave New Japan and join them, instead of going back to WWE. The Bullet Club played a major role in bringing the New Japan style of wrestling to the rest of the world. The Kenny Omega era cemented the faction in the history books, for changing the business forever. Not just in Japan, but in America and beyond, the “Too Sweet” gesture made famous by The Kliq, and the wolf pack nature of the New World Order, continues to grow to this day. Bullet Club has found its way to America, and it may only be a matter of time until it invades the promotion it inadvertently helped to create.
With that said, I hope you have enjoyed the first three volumes. The fourth will touch on the Jay White era, which has taken the faction in a different direction. Bullet Club might not be what it was, but if you’re not moving forwards, you’re moving backwards. Each era of Bullet Club has seen a drastic shift in personnel, but the same mentality remains. It’s a numbers game and they don’t care about honor. As soon as you show weakness, be prepared to get thrown to the wolves. As Jay White says: “It’s not personal… it’s just business”. Thank you for reading! See you next time.
Also Read: Bullet Club for Life: Listing Every Member in the Faction’s History (4/4)
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