February 24, 2015
GFW Staff (429 articles)

Bullet Club Seizes Power In New Japan Pro Wrestling


By: Steve Te Tai

The Bullet Club again staked its claim as the most powerful faction in professional wrestling by winning back all of their belts in New Japan Pro-Wrestling at “The New Beginning” event on Feb. 11 in Osaka.

The Bullet Club had emerged from the huge Wrestle Kingdom 9 event on Jan. 4 with a mixed bag of results. While Kenny Omega won the IWGP junior heavyweight title, the Young Bucks couldn’t recapture their IWGP junior tag team titles, and Gallows and Gun saw their yearlong reign as IGWP world tag team champs come to a surprising end.

But New Beginning was all Bullet Club, including AJ Styles recapturing the IWGP heavyweight championship from Tanahashi.

Here’s a look at what went down:

The Young Bucks defeated reDRagon and the Time Splitters to win the IWGP junior heavyweight tag team titles. In a WK9 rematch, (minus the Forever Hooligans), these three teams once again put on a showcase raising the bar for what wrestling action is in 2015. And this time it was the Bucks who came out ahead. After targeting Kushida with the “Indy-taker” Bobby Fish broke up the pin to preserve their title reign, but ended up eating a superkick from Matt, which allowed the Bucks to finish Kushida with the “More Bang for your Buck” combo. The significance of pinning Kushida is that the Bucks originally lost these belts to the Time Splitters in summer 2014. This was the theme for the Bullet Club all night, avenging their past title losses to prove who the real champs are.

As this match ended without the defending champions having been pinned, Fish & O’Reilly have every right to contest the new champs, as this epic tag team rivalry is far from over.

Kenny Omega retained the IWGP junior heavyweight title against Ryusuke Taguchi. In another WK9 rematch, “The Cleaner” Kenny Omega seemed even more prepared for Taguchi this time, winning with the same move that won him the title at WK9, the “one-winged angel.”

But it was the aftermath where the Bullet Club really flaunted their dominance over NJPW when the Young Bucks came in and continued a triple beatdown on Taguchi. It wasn’t until the Time Splitters and masked luchador Mascara Dorada came down to save Taguchi that the beating stopped. Having seen enough, the Mexican star Dorada challenged “The Cleaner” for the IWGP junior heavyweight title in a matchup that really exemplifies the diversity of the NJPW roster.

“Machine Gun” Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows defeated Shibata and Goto for the IWGP world tag team titles. Gallows and Gun quickly closed the book on the “feel-good” story of Shibata & Goto. Lifelong friends Shibata and Goto ended their heated rivalry by forming a fantastic tag-team in 2014, capped off by winning the G1 Climax tag team tournament and an emotional win over the “Machine Gun” and Doc to win the IWGP tag belts at Wrestle Kingdom 9. At New Beginning, order was restored.

AJ Styles defeated Tanahashi for the IWGP world heavyweight title. “The Styles Clash” has become the most devastating finisher in the wrestling world with victims forced to make the worst decision of their lives: Either try to escape by trying to roll forward and risking a broken neck like Yoshitatsu, or accepting your fate and getting knocked out face-first, like an ever-growing list of wrestlers. The Tokyo Dome gasped in horror at WK9 when Naito was forced to make that choice, and now add Tanahashi to that list. The Osaka crowd witnessed Tanahashi doing all that he could to avoid the “Styles Clash,” but in the end, Styles hooked in the move, delivering it first as a modified piledriver-like “Styles Clash” then a “Sunday Bloody Sunday DDT,” and one more clean “Styles Clash” right in the middle of the ring. A bloody and battered Tanahashi had to be carried to the locker room, while the entire Bullet Club faction celebrated their historic night in the ring in front of a standing room only crowd.

Like the other members of the Bullet Club, this was Styles’ revenge, as he originally lost the title to Tanahashi last October, taking Styles out of the Wrestle Kingdom 9 main event. Styles joins Big Van Vader and Scott Norton as the only Americans with multiple reigns as IWGP champ.

As for the strongest faction in all of wrestling, the Bullet Club now prepares for the “New Japan Cup” tournament on March 5 in Tokyo. The first round will be highlighted by a “dream” showdown that has been brewing for weeks between Bad Luck Fale and Okada. The first-round matchups are as follows:

Okada vs. Bad Luck Fale
Tanahashi vs. Yano
Kota Ibushi vs. Doc Gallows
Naito vs. Karl Anderson
Makabe vs. Honma
Yoshi-Hashi vs. Takahashi
Yuji Nagata vs. Goto
Kojima vs. Shibata

The winner of this tournament is not only the New Japan Cup champion but will receive the title shot of his choice. While wrestlers such as Okada, Tanahashi and Naito will be fighting for another crack at Styles, if a member of the Bullet Club were to win the Cup, he probably would target the only title the Bullet Club doesn’t have — Shinsuke Nakamura’s IWGP intercontinental championship.

While the world speculates on the next moves of the Bullet Club, they’re also speculating on the next moves of another Bullet Club member, Global Force Wrestling CEO Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett is expected to make some very exciting announcements in the coming weeks on the big plans GFW has for 2015. Could we see the Bullet Club and all of the NJPW gold defended on American soil under the GFW banner? Stay tuned.