In 2013, Prince Devitt turned on Apollo 55 partner Ryusuke Taguchi and teamed up with fellow foreigners Karl Anderson, Bad Luck Fale, and Tama Tonga to form a heel stable that loved gun imagery and hated following the rules. Since then, New Japan Pro Wrestling‘s Bullet Club has grown to become the most popular wrestling faction in the world. Bullet Club has won titles, ousted some prominent members, run roughshod over Ring of Honor as well as NJPW, made one hundred episodes of the Being The Elite web series, and sold many, many, many t-shirts.
Bullet Club is currently in the midst of a civil war of sorts, centered around the leadership struggle between Kenny Omega and Cody. We’ve had a break from their drama between ROH Supercard and this upcoming weekend’s Wrestling Dontaku, so now seems like a good time to take stock of the club’s 12 current members. Emily Pratt and Bill Hanstock have ranked the Biz Cliz boys with an algorithm that combines personal opinion and attempts at objective analysis. Behold:
Section 1: Rank the current Bullet Club members according to personal preference.
This part was just putting them in order from most to least favorite. On each person’s list, the highest ranking wrestler was awarded 12 points, the lowest 1 point, etc.
Section 2: Give each wrestler between 1 and 5 points in each of the following categories (for a maximum of 10 and minimum of 2 points in each category after we combined our scores.)
- Wrestling ability
- Character (Meta): How well-defined/unique/resonant/good is this wrestler’s persona/wrestling character?
- Character (Kayfabe): Rate this character on a scale of 1 to 5 as if they were a real person and it made sense to rate a person on a scale of 1 to 5. Given that Bullet Club is a heel faction, our fives aren’t exactly saints. You might ask, given that Bullet Club is a heel faction, shouldn’t the worst people get fives and the best get ones? That is a very valid point, but we did it the opposite way and didn’t think of that until just now.
- Contribution To Bullet Club: How much does this person bring to the faction? How valuable are they to the team?
Section 3: Bonus points!
Award one point to whomever you think should be Bullet Club leader. (It was possible to award this to more than one person if you thought those people should be co-leaders.) Subtract one point from whomever you think should be kicked out of Bullet Club. (This could be any amount of people.)
From there, we added all the points together. The most any one wrestler could get was 74 without bonus points, or 76 with the maximum bonus points. Without further adieu, here are our very scientific rankings of the member of Bullet Club, listed from lowest to highest scoring.
12. Yujiro Takahashi
25 points (Personal Preference 3 + Aesthetic 4 + Wrestling Ability 3 + Character (Meta) 10 + Character (Kayfabe) 3 + Contribution To Bullet Club 2)
Emily Pratt: I have a pretty low Tokyo Pimp tolerance. He’s like one of those early ’90s WWF jobbers who seems way more committed to their day job than wrestling. His wrestling is fine and consistent, and doesn’t seem like it’s going to get any better or worse any time soon. His girls do add a lot of heel-faction-appropriate sleaze though, and his mentor-mentee relationship with Hikuleo has been fun recently.
Bill Hanstock: This guy stinks. If Michael Elgin wasn’t in New Japan, Takahashi would probably be the most unsavory guy in the company. I hope whoever runs Bullet Club next runs him out of town on a rail.
11. Chase Owens
27 points (Personal Preference 6 + Aesthetic 3 + Wrestling Ability 5 + Character (Meta) 4 + Character (Kayfabe) 6 + CTBC 3)
Emily Pratt: Chase Owens has gotten a lot more enjoyable as a character since the last World Tag League or so. He is one hundred percent committed to his identity as an honorary Tongan now, and he established himself as the nicest guy in Bullet Club during the Ibushi Meets The In-Laws undercard storyline throughout New Japan Cup. We haven’t seen a lot of standout wrestling from him at this point, but he’s a solid supporting player in tag matches.
Bill Hanstock: The epitome of “he’s just there” in the Bullet Club, there’s nothing very interesting about Chase Owens, and he looks like Jason Schwartzman grew a foot and is starring in a weird Wes Anderson movie about wrestling. That would normally sound awesome, but he’s Chase Owens.
29 points (Personal Preference 9 + Aesthetic 4 + Wrestling Ability 3 + Character (Meta) 4 + Character (Kayfabe) 6 + CTBC 3)
Emily Pratt: Hikuleo is very tall! Since he’s still so green, he seems too tall as well as too nice, like he’s worried he’s going to step on someone and squish them. I feel like maybe he shouldn’t have been let into Bullet Club until he got better at wrestling, but I guess he’s learning from experience. And I appreciate that that’s basically his character arc right now too. Sorry you got injured, Leo!
Bill Hanstock: This guy sure is tall! And he sure is inexperienced! There isn’t a lot to say about the tertiary Guerrilla of Destiny. One assumes there will be a big role for him once Tonga assumedly takes over the BC, but until then, he’s one of the guys in the Club who’s just hanging around, and he’s not very good as a performer yet, to boot.
9. Hangman Adam Page
35 points (Personal Preference 6 + Aesthetic 5 + Wrestling Ability 8 + Character (Meta) 6 + Character (Kayfabe) 5 + CTBC 5)
Emily Pratt: Hangman Page is a good wrestler who is hurt for me by weird packaging. He’s a hangman, yes, okay, and he’s also a hung man (get it, he has a huge penis, which they’ve made a lot of jokes about on BTE, which some people outside of the BTE cast must find funny sometimes, I guess). He also has kind of a train robber vibe, and mostly he’s just an angry guy? I would constantly mix up him and Chase Owens for a really long time, and I refuse to feel bad about that. I think Page is the best wrestler I’m never excited to watch.
Bill Hanstock: Page’s match against Jay White impressed me, and he’s a fun character on Being the Elite. I still don’t fully understand his Bullet Club character, and neither does he. But he has a good presence, is a strong performer, and a very good wrestler. That vaults him above the “just sort of there” members of the Bullet Club in my book.
8. Tanga Loa
40 points (Personal Preference 11 + Aesthetic 6 + Wrestling Ability 6 + Character (Meta) 6 + Character (Kayfabe) 7 + CTBC 4)
Emily Pratt: Tanga Loa is a strong supporting player. The Guerrillas of Destiny are super rad. I enjoyed his profuse swearing at Wrestle Kingdom 11 because I’m immature and always entertained by English language swearing in NJPW. I wish he had changed his finisher to just yelling “Eat sh*t!” and kicking someone in the face.
Bill Hanstock: I’ve been high on Loa since his final days in NXT, and his work in the Guerrillas of Destiny has proven that he’s got the goods. I love watching him in matches, especially tag matches. He’s got such a great presence that I don’t really care he doesn’t have a whole lot going on beyond just being a tag wrestler in the Bullet Club.
7. Bad Luck Fale
41 points (Personal Preference 11 + Aesthetic 8 + Wrestling Ability 5 + Character (Meta) 7 + Character (Kayfabe) 5 + CTBC 5)
Emily Pratt: It would be super weird to ever see a Bullet Club without Bad Luck Fale. The Underboss is a cornerstone of the group, and there’s something about his stage presence that sets him apart from the other New Japan Big Guys. Maybe it’s how mean he can get. He has a valuable spot on the roster as one of the few people that can beat Tanahashi.
Bill Hanstock: The Underboss is strangely compelling as a character and as a force. One imagines he’ll have a big role to play in the future as Tonga’s lieutenant, but for now he’s just existing and being one of the two giants in the group. Maybe I just like to pretend he secretly has Taiki Waititi’s voice and personality, but he’s a cooler dude than the rest of the “these guys are also in the Bullet Club” guys.
6. Nick Jackson
50 points (Personal Preference 12 + Aesthetic 6 + Wrestling Ability 9 + Character (Meta) 8 + Character (Kayfabe) 7 + CTBC 8)
Emily Pratt: I have never, ever had the impulse to cheer for the Young Bucks for something that isn’t a cool move because they are so aggressively obnoxious, and probably because I don’t have Lived Experience memories of watching the Monday Night Wars. Anyway, Nick is the more annoying Buck, and he’s great at that. Matt’s had more interesting stuff to do lately and more significant spots in matches, but Nick is an incredible athlete and incredible wrestler.
Bill Hanstock: Nick has always been the flashier of the two Bucks, and perhaps the more instantly hatable one just on presentation alone. He’s been doing strong work, and he’s one half of the best tag team in the world, bar none, but he’s been overshadowed by his brother of late. That’s not because Nick’s been doing anything wrong; that’s just a testament to how lights-out Matt is these days.
53 points (Personal Preference 17 + Aesthetic 10 + Wrestling Ability 7 + Character (Meta) 10 + Character (Kayfabe) 2 + CTBC 8 + Bonus Points -1)
Emily Pratt: Holy carp, I hate Cody so much. The character of Cody. The performer Cody is doing amazing work and has been making the most of his creative freedom on the indies/in ROH/in NJPW to take creative risks. One of the best parts of the BC soap opera has been watching Cody’s narcissism and manipulation drive everyone apart to get him what he wants, which left him rejected and alone at the end of BTE 100.
I gave him a negative bonus point because 1) If he got kicked out of Bullet Club, I think he would go next level unhinged and it would be super fun to watch, and 2) You can’t keep hanging out with a guy who’s been alternating between attacking your friend’s partner and forcibly kissing him. I know this is wrestling friendship, but I just don’t see how that relationship can be repaired.
Bill Hanstock: If Omega is one of the most complex characters in pro wrestling, Cody is one of the most simple … but that simplicity, in turn, results in him being one of the richest and most fully-formed. Cody is nothing but a dickhead f*ckface who wants to be the most important person in the room. And while he may think he wants control of the Bullet Club outright, what he cares most about is stealing Omega’s friends away from him. What a delightfully horrible person.
t-3. Marty Scurll
60 points (Personal Preference 16 + Aesthetic 8 + Wrestling Ability 10 + Character (Meta) 10 + Character (Kayfabe) 8 + CTBC 8)
Emily Pratt: Scurll is such a great, old school wrestler, and he’s such a fantastic showman that he can make people go crazy for a chickenwing. I’m always excited for his matches, and for whatever extra non-wrestling gimmicks he’s going to bring to the table.
Bill Hanstock: Scurll has found his sweet spot in the Bullet Club (and of course, on Being the Elite), because Party Marty has always been at his strongest when free to just be a personality. Him going prematurely gray due to Bullet Club drama is a great gag, and he’s finally freely leaning into his long-held insistence that he’s a villain through his beatdown and mask-stealing from Rey Mysterio. Scurll does almost everything right, and he’s a great pro wrestler, but he’s an even better performer.
t-3. Matt Jackson
60 points (Personal Preference 20 + Aesthetic 6 + Wrestling Ability 9 + Character (Meta) 9 + Character (Kayfabe) 6 + CTBC 10)
Emily Pratt: Matt Jackson is so great at everything about being a wrestler. All the stuff I said about the Young Bucks in Nick’s section applies again here. Matt’s also been doing next-level character work since Wrestle Kingdom with the selling of his long-term back injury and being the more bitter Buck during their feud with Omega. He was the MVP of the Golden Lovers vs. Young Bucks match at Strong Style Evolved, though Kenny was the star.
Bill Hanstock: Matt has always been the workhorse of the Bucks, but he’s also always been the better all-around performer, particularly where acting and charisma is concerned. He’s been telling wonderful stories lately with his in-ring work, and of course his forcing Omega to deliver the One-Winged Angel to him in Long Beach caused fans the world over to catch feelings. Matt has always been my favorite Buck, and over the past year or two, his spectacular work has done a lot toward making me feel vindicated in that assessment.
2. Tama Tonga
67 points (Personal Preference 21 + Aesthetic 10 + Wrestling Ability 6 + Character (Meta) 10 + Character (Kayfabe) 9 + CTBC 9 + Bonus Points 2)
Emily Pratt: Tama Tonga’s been a fun supporting player in Bullet Club since its inception, but he really started standing out when the G.o.D. formed, and even more so since last year’s G1. He can pivot from a legitimately threatening [guerrilla] tactician to conniving, more comedic heel and come out the other side with no character damage. During the Team Kenny vs. Team Cody storyline, the Bad Boy has consistently come off the most like an adult. He’s basically the functional leader of half the Bullet Club already (you can see we ended up both giving him the leadership bonus), and watching him cut Super Ominous Promos and just watch the drama while the Elite kill each other has been one of my favorite parts of this storyline.
Bill Hanstock: Tonga is the actual leader of the Bullet Club and always has been. When that reveal is finally made, it’s going to be incredibly satisfying. He’s been there the whole time steering the ship while the Elite has been farting around with Cody, Marty, Flip, Joey Ryan, and whoever else. Tonga’s slow burn to (we assume) eventually just wrecking the world is worth a whole bunch of points, and anyone who doubts his badass credentials is … well, they’re just deluding themselves, really.
1. Kenny Omega
72 points (Personal Preference 24 + Aesthetic 10 + Wrestling Ability 10 + Character (Meta) 10 + Character (Kayfabe) 9 + CTBC 9)
Emily Pratt: I am a steadfast member of the Kenny Omega Is The Best Pro Wrestler In The World camp. I love his in-ring style (still unique despite many bandwagon hoppers/copiers), his complex and engaging character, and the way he cuts promos. After achieving all of the glory (with star ratings and hype if not wins and titles) in singles matches over the past few years, it’s been cool to see him renew his dedication to tag team wrestling as an art form. Omega, like Cody, makes the most of his creative freedom to keep evolving.
It’ll be interesting to see where his character goes in the Bullet Club. It seems like he’s more dedicated to the Golden Lovers than the Biz Cliz and is only hanging on to the leadership position out of spite for Cody and to maintain the associated glory. I actually enjoy the Elite a lot more now that they’re fighting each other, and Lovers vs. Bucks could definitely turn into a cool Fight Forever, long-term rivalry.
Bill Hanstock: One of the most complex characters in all of professional wrestling, Omega is a strange case (in a lot of ways, but in one particular way I want to address here). In many ways, the former “Cleaner” of the Bullet Club seems like the only true leader the group has ever had, but in even more ways, he seems like he was never actually part of the group at all. The Elite were always their own thing, and Omega and the Young Bucks have been rent asunder by Cody driving a wedge between them. Omega may not ever be a part of Bullet Club anymore, but that doesn’t make him any less compelling, or any less important to the Bullet Club story that is being told.