Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bullet Club: Taking NJPW to Another Level

This past Sunday, NJPW presented “KIZUNA ROAD 2014" to a sold-out crowd in Tokyo's legendary Korakuen Hall. The main event was Tomohiro Ishii vs. Yujiro Takahashi for the NEVER Openweight Championship, which resulted in Takahashi winning and becoming the new Champion. Not only is this an accomplishment for Takahashi, but it is also an accomplishment for the Bullet Club faction, as they now have control over all of NJPW's heavyweight titles: AJ Styles holds the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson are the IWGP Tag Team Champions, and Bad Luck Fale holds the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.

While NJPW prides itself on sportsmanship, Bullet Club goes against everything that the company stands for, with the faction members interfering in each other's matches, keeping themselves at the top of NJPW. Many long-time NJPW fans say that Bullet Club has sabotaged the company, as they conduct themselves in a manner that NJPW fans are unaccustomed to. While that may be debatable, one thing is certain- Bullet Club is one of the best things that has ever happened to NJPW.

Bullet Club has a great amount of potential, with most of its members being talents who are very familiar to fans even if they are not necessarily very familiar with NJPW. The Bullet Club brand has even expanded into Mexico, where a sub-group (Bullet Club Latinoamerica) proudly represents the faction. With Bullet Club's current high standing in the pro-wrestling industry as a brand, their influence is helping NJPW gain more popularity not only in Japan, but outside of Japan as well. Fans are ordering NJPW iPPVs to see the best known Bullet Club members, which then leads to them being exposed to the Bullet Club members who they are not familiar with, along with the other members of the NJPW roster.

Bullet Club is frequently compared to the legendary NWO, especially since the Bullet Club members do poses and gestures that NWO members used to do. Bullet Club and the NWO are perfect examples of how even though wrestling and puroresu have different styles, they inspire each other- just as the Bullet Club was inspired by WCW's NWO, the NWO was inspired by a UWF invasion of NJPW that took place before the NWO made its debut. And along with the comparisons between Bullet Club and the NWO is the question of whether or not Bullet Club will ultimately have a positive impact financially on NJPW as the NWO did on WCW. The fact is, they already have begun to- Bullet Club Bone Soldier T-shirts are currently among the company's top-selling merchandise items.

With Bullet Club having a lot of momentum right now, the faction members should be utilized to their fullest potentials. Bullet Club already has all of the major titles in NJPW- they should go after the other titles in the company as well. The faction now setting their sights on the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship would increase the value of these titles in the eyes of fans, which would benefit NJPW. Although Tama Tonga mainly has tag team matches in NJPW, he is talented enough to shine as a singles talent, and would be a good choice as the person to pursue the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for the faction. The Young Bucks held the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship until they were recently defeated by Time Splitters, so it would make sense for them to once again represent Bullet Club in an attempt to bring the title back to the faction.

Lastly, I think Bullet Club should have its own website, as the NWO did. The NWO website was a place where the faction launched propaganda, drawing attention from both fans who liked and disliked them. The bottom line was that it drew visitors, which benefited WCW as a company. The same can be done for NJPW via a Bullet Club website. It could feature a Bullet Club mission statement, bios of each member, a merchandise page, a news page updating visitors on what the faction is up to, and pro-Bullet Club articles.

Bullet Club does not represent any of the traditional aspects of puroresu, and tradition is highly regarded in Japan. But instead of Bullet Club (and to an extent NJPW) being an alternative to traditional puroresu, what they really are is an aspect of puroresu/NJPW that makes it more interesting than it already was. NJPW has been one of the most successful pro-wrestling companies in Japan for 42 years, and Bullet Club has helped NJPW increase in popularity in the United States. If the faction is utilized to its fullest extent, Bullet Club will benefit NJPW in the long-term as the company's fan base grows and continues to expand into other countries.

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