BULLET CLUB: 11 Years to Life

By Melody Leighton


A number that signifies an awakening. An increase of power and new cycles… a cycle of new beginnings. 

Let’s turn back the clock. 

May 3rd, 2013.

Let’s travel to Japan, a country vital to today’s story. 

Japan is known for its culture and other elements, such as architecture, nature, language, video games, anime, and food. 

You would think Japan is all about the kimono that the women would wear and the samurai that men feel they should become and live honorably as. 

You would think it’sis all about sushi, cherry blossoms, technology, and the fashion that line the streets of Akihabara and Tokyo.

No, my friends. Japan has something more to offer than just that. Japan also is home to one of the biggest professional wrestling companies in the world: New Japan Pro Wrestling. 

You may have heard of New Japan Pro Wrestling; you may have even heard of the matches that took place under its banner. You may have seen its wrestlers past and present, people like Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Katsuyori Shibata, or Tetsuya Naito wrestle in that iconic blue ring.

But along the lines of amazing Japanese wrestlers that flourished in said company, there are also their non-Japanese counterparts. The foreigners. The ‘gaijin’ (外人).

There are plenty of wrestlers from all over the world who dream of going to Japan and wrestling amongst the finest athletes that grace the wrestling world day in and day out.

But amongst those people, one group remains in the heads of many, rent-free. One stable that is still running today, spanning across multiple companies in the world of professional wrestling. The name of this group that you can still see the shirts worn by many, and a hand gesture given that was just too sweet. Eleven years later, this group still reigns as the biggest long-standing stables of wrestling history.

This is Bullet Club.

Today, on the 11th anniversary of Bullet Club, we will celebrate the leaders of this notorious, yet prestigious stable, past and present, as well as the accomplishments made during, after, and currently in Bullet Club. 

Starting with the founding father of Bullet Club: The Real Rock n’ Rolla, Prince Devitt.

Prince Devitt (プリンス・デヴィット): born on July 25, 1981, in Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland. He was 31 years old at the time NJPW’s event,  Wrestling Dontaku was held on May 1st, 2013, the event that birthed Bullet Club.

Credit: New Japan Pro Wrestling

Devitt was in a tag team match along with his partner, Bad Luck Fale. 

They were going against Ryusuke Taguchi and Captain New Japan (Mitsuhide Hirasawa). You see Devitt and Fale having their hands raised high, signifying them as the winners of said match. You see a post-match interview with Devitt. Then, you see the unspeakable happen. After a match with Karl Anderson, with Tama Tonga accompanying him in said match versus Hiroshi Tanahashi (who is now the current President of New Japan Pro Wrestling as of this writing) with the latter being the victor, Devitt and Fale ruthlessly attack Tanahashi after the match. Then you see Anderson turn on Tanahashi and attack him as well with a vicious cutter. Tama was also in agreement with what just unfolded. Then you realize that you are now a part of something historic. You now are witnessing the birth of Bullet Club. And with four arms raised, and a Too Sweet declared… it was a done deal.

Devitt. Fale. Anderson. Tonga.

These four men would raise hell in New Japan Pro Wrestling as Bullet Club. But today, we focus on the leader of Bullet Club himself. And the rest of the leaders thus far.

During his tenure as leader in Bullet Club from 2013 to 2014, Devitt would go on to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and was the winner of the Best of Super Jrs. Tournament, which heightened the significance and high status that Bullet Club came to be. Devitt also brought in Doc Gallows and a tag team to the now-growing roster of Bullet Club: Matt and Nick Jackson, The Young Bucks.

But after that tenure, Devitt left NJPW in 2014 to sign with WWE as Finn Balor, leaving a dominant stable without a leader. But soon after, Bullet Club would see a new leader come to fruition. There was another member brought in by Devitt during his tenure to help Bullet Club rise to stardom, and would then quickly be the successor to Devitt as the new leader of Bullet Club.

Enter a phenomenal athlete. Welcome to Bullet Club – The Phenomenal One – AJ Styles.

AJ Styles (AJ スタイルズ): born on June 2, 1977 in North Carolina. He was 36 years old in April 2014 when he joined Bullet Club, shortly before Devitt departed from New Japan Pro Wrestling.

AJ would be the next leader to join the ranks of Bullet Club and would further dominate New Japan Pro Wrestling as its leader. 

During his leadership in Bullet Club, Styles would win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the first American since 2005 to hold that title.

From 2014 to 2016, he brought in new members to Bullet Club, like Yujiro Takahashi, Jeff Jarrett, and Scott D’Amore (the latter two names leaving Bullet Club in January 2015). There was also one other person added to the group that changed the history of Bullet Club forever. Before Styles, Gallows, and Anderson left for WWE (where he, Gallows, and Anderson would form the stable, The OC (Original Club), Anderson was appointed as temporary leader of Bullet Club while Styles was working on American independent circuits, but as he only led the group for a short period, Anderson is not, and has never been officially appointed as a full-fledged leader of Bullet Club, but rather than a de-facto leader. He would bring in the man who would soon lead Bullet Club, as little did they know, would be the man to put Bullet Club on the map on a more global scale.

The Cleaner, Kenny Omega.

Kenny Omega (ケニー・オメガ): born on October 16, 1983 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He was 31 years old when he joined Bullet Club during the NJPW event, Power Struggle, on November 8, 2014.

Credit: New Japan Pro Wrestling

Now, if I listed everything Kenny Omega has done in Bullet Club during his 2-year tenure of leadership in Bullet Club (2016-2018) and his 4-year tenure as a member from 2014 to 2018, it would be a novel. However, to put it shortly, Kenny Omega would not only become the inaugural IWGP United States Champion in 2015, but he also would become the first and only non-Japanese wrestler in the company (and still is to this day, as of writing this) to win the G1 Climax tournament in 2016. He would proceed to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Kenny also brought in members of Bullet Club such as Taiji Ishimori, Adam Cole, “Hangman” Adam Page, King Haku, Tonga Loa, Frankie Kazarian, Cody Rhodes, Robbie Eagles, Cody Hall, Chase Owens, Gino Gambino, and even actor Stephen Amell.

Kenny would extend Bullet Club to tremendous new heights and also start The Elite with the Young Bucks, Matt and Nick Jackson in 2018. There they began their YouTube blog/show, “Being The Elite”, which also extended Bullet Club to a broader audience. 

Important to note is that Kenny was the only member and leader of Bullet Club with a 7-star rated match. This particular match was against none other than Kazuchika Okada, Omega’s long-time rival, at NJPW Dominion in June 2018.

Following Wrestle Kingdom 13, Kenny and the Young Bucks would leave NJPW in 2019, as their contracts were expiring and they opted not to renew. Instead, they chose to help start AEW with Cody Rhodes together as Executive Vice Presidents in 2019, where they reigned together before Cody left for WWE in 2022.

Before Kenny left to start AEW, “Switchblade” Jay White, a former member of CHAOS, teased on joining Bullet Club at first. This was but a ruse, as he attacked Kenny Omega and hit him with his Blade Runner Finisher. But in 2018, he betrayed CHAOS, being joined by the likes of  Gedo (Okada’s former manager) and Jado, completing their defection from CHAOS. Jay then appointed himself as the new leader of Bullet Club.

And if you thought Kenny Omega’s resume as Bullet Club leader was impressive, then you have no idea the accolades this next athlete had in store.

We now go on to Breathe with The Switchblade. “Switchblade” Jay White.

Jay White (ジェイ・ホワイト): born on October 9, 1992 in Auckland, New Zealand. He was 26 years old when he was made leader of Bullet Club in 2018, making him the youngest Bullet Club leader.

If Kenny’s resumé as leader was a novel, Jay White’s resumé as leader is considered the Bible. There are a few things that he has Omega beat for as far as leadership goes.

Jay White is considered to be the only Bullet Club leader to remain a leader for Bullet Club to this day and was the only Bullet Club leader to have members spanned across three different wrestling promotions (NJPW, AEW, and TNA). Jay White is a former IWGP Heavyweight Champion, IWGP Intercontinental Champion, and NEVER Openweight Champion. He also won the IWGP United States Championship in 2017, before his leadership in Bullet Club, and is a former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, making him the 5th NJPW Triple Crown Champion, and the first-ever NJPW Grand Slam champion. He is also the first ever NJPW wrestler to win the G1 Briefcase in contendership (against Kota Ibushi) without winning the G1 Climax tournament. He did all this before he reached the age of 30.

As for his members spanning three different promotions, he brought in El Phantasmo in 2019 for NJPW, Chris Bey in 2021 and Ace Austin in 2022 for TNA, former NJPW Bullet Club member Juice Robinson in 2022 while White was working for TNA and AEW as a free agent, Austin Gunn, and Colten Gunn in 2023, forming Bullet Club Gold (also known as the Bang Bang Gang), Bullet Club’s American contingent stable. He still currently leads this stable to this day as one-third of the Unified Trios Champions with Austin and Colten Gunn. He left NJPW after losing a “Loser Leaves NJPW” match against Eddie Kingston in 2023 before becoming leader of Bullet Club Gold and signing with AEW later that year. Jay White is technically the longest-tenured Bullet Club leader at 5 years running, as having never denounced his leadership in Bullet Club.

Upon Jay White working in TNA under NJPW partnership in 2020, NJPW’s Bullet Club was left without a leader. It was until someone… evil joined the ranks of Bullet Club in 2020 as a de-facto leader with Jay White’s absence from Bullet Club, unable to travel due to the pandemic.

This is EVIL.

EVIL (EVIL): born on January 26, 1987 in Mishima, Shizuoka, Japan. He was 33 years old when he joined Bullet Club in 2020, leaving his former stable Los Ingobernables de Japon after betraying Tetsuya Naito.

Credit: New Japan Pro Wrestling

EVIL’s leadership in Bullet Club was… unique, to say the least. It was technically the shortest main Bullet Club leadership at only 4 months. EVIL brought in Dick Togo as his manager when he became the leader in July of 2020. He would win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and the IWGP Intercontinental Championship during NJPW Dominion in 2020. He also was still NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion along with his former LIJ stablemates, Bushi and Shingo Takagi, despite his betrayal, making him the first Triple Champion in NJPW history (not to be mistaken for Triple Crown, meaning to hold 3 major Heavyweight Championships in the company as Jay White has done). However, NJPW vacated the 6-man tag titles, EVIL stating he had no interest in defending them with his former stablemates.

EVIL would then form the sublet Bullet Club stable, House of Torture, later that year with SHO and Yuijro Takahashi. Despite being a leader of Bullet Club, House of Torture is still considered a Japan contingent stable to Bullet Club, suddenly ending his main stable leadership in Bullet Club in November of 2020.

Which leaves NJPW’s Bullet Club without a main leader yet again.

However, it didn’t take long for Bullet Club to have a leader. As someone who has had his fair share of wrestling Bullet Club members and leaders alike, the next man in charge took the reigns of Bullet Club and brought it back to its former roots, as Prince Devitt did before him.

Meet David Finlay.

David Finlay (デビッド・フィンレー): born on May 16, 1993 in Hanover, Lower Saxony, Germany. He was 30 years old when he joined and was made leader of Bullet Club in March of 2023, attacking Jay White after he was forced to leave NJPW. Finlay is a fourth-generation professional wrestler, being the son of former WWE wrestler, Fit Finlay.

He is also the seventh and current leader of Bullet Club today, as of this writing. 

Since joining and leading Bullet Club, he became NEVER Openweight Champion, and the inaugural IWGP Global Heavyweight Champion earlier this year in 2024.

The current Bullet Club roster of his leading is Chase Owens (joined in 2015 during Omega’s leadership and re-joined in 2019 during Jay White’s leadership), Clark Connors (April 2023 under Finlay), Drilla Maloney (June 2023 under Finlay) Gabe Kidd (June 2023 under Finlay), Gedo (remained in Bullet Club after Jay White’s leadership in 2018), KENTA (remained in Bullet Club after Jay White’s leadership in 2019), and Taiji Ishimori (remained after Kenny Omega’s leadership in 2018). Finlay also brought in Alex Coughlin in 2023.

There has been a total of 65 members of Bullet Club, including leaders, part-time members, and subgroups. Now that is one impressive number for a stable still thriving after 11 years.

May 3, 2013. 

The day that changed not only NJPW’s history but the history of professional wrestling today. 

Whether we see Bullet Club still running for 11 more years after today, it is still the name that is brought up whenever professional wrestling is concerned. Just like The Four Horsemen, NWO, and D-Generation-X, Bullet Club has their name forever etched into the history of wrestling factions as a massive success story.

No matter what you’re doing now, no matter if you’re in another company, no matter if you are actively wrestling or have retired from the industry, once you’re Bullet Club, you are always Bullet Club.

Bullet Club is, and forever will be, just fine.

That’s just Too Sweet to contain.

It’s for real.

And it’s for life.

You can follow Melody on X at @TheLadyLeighton.