The landscape of New Japan Pro Wrestling, more specifically Bullet Club, has experienced drastic changes over the last two years. Top stars like Kenny Omega, Cody and the Young Bucks — who brought mainstream attention to the group — have departed to create their own promotion.
In October 2018, they officially separated from Bullet Club. Later would announce the creation of their own wrestling promotion, All Elite Wrestling. Bullet Club was left without a leader and NJPW had lost some of their top draws.
By Wrestle Kingdom 14 in January 2020, Los Ingobernables de Japon cemented its top spot in NJPW. Shingo Takagi, Bushi and EVIL won the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Championships. Hiromu Takahashi became the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. And Tetsuya Naito redeemed his Wrestle Kingdom 8 loss against Kazuchika Okada by defeating him. In the process, he bdcame the first wrestler to hold both the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental titles.
Bullet Club had taken a backseat in NJPW despite finding new leadership in Jay White and recruiting stars in El Phantasmo and Kenta. Although the “Cutthroat Era” of Bullet Club established Jay White and Kenta as top heels in the company, it couldn’t quite compare to Bullet Club’s run with Kenny Omega. After all, Omega won the hearts of many fans, both in Japan and around the globe, with epic matches.
Fast forward to July 2020 at the New Japan Cup finals. In the midst of an already draining year due to the pandemic, EVIL aligned himself with Bullet Club. He betrayed his long-time friend Naito, becoming the first member of LIJ to defect. The following night at Dominion, EVIL defeated Naito to become double-champion.
EVIL’s victory established him as acting leader of Bullet Club in Jay White’s absence due to travel restrictions. His heel turn immediately gave him all the attention. This begs the question of what happens when Jay White comes back to Japan?
Personally, I believe EVIL should continue to run Bullet Club. Though Jay White makes a solid villain leader, it only took EVIL one night to become the most hated man on the roster. Watching Hiromu scream in agony as EVIL stood with his new companions in Bullet Club shattered more hearts than Jay White ever has during his reign.
Naito has already proved himself to be one of the best wrestlers in the world. EVIL has potential to be his greatest rival. White can go back to playing the anti-hero while EVIL lives up to his name and brings Bullet Club back to the top of NJPW.
BANNER: ゾーヒョー//Wikimedia Commons